From informal to formal: Towards the sustainable transformation of small towns in Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The African continent has enormous difficulties in accessing urban services and public health. The fragile economy that characterizes small towns on the African continent is a reflection of the informal nature of settlement models, which are obstacles and limits to development for rapid transformation.

The last century shows the informal settlements as an urban problem, with the demolition of these areas being considered a unique solution with the relocation of inhabitants to formal areas.

Recently, this perspective has been changing, not only because resettlement has become financially unviable, but also because informal settlements have started to be seen as important social and economic centers, given their human and economic capital must be supported to develop.

This chapter presents an applied study of a transformation from informal to formal areas applicable to small towns in different countries on the African continent.

The method identifies the relationships of local social life seen through the lens of urban planning. The use of the element of regeneration of open spaces allows maintaining the base of the social ties of cultural identity, which occur through the transmission of knowledge and the ways of stimulating the local economy, and which is the main engine for transition and change (Lichfield, 2009).

The results show the regeneration of open space as the element that, in the mosaic of spatial, social and economic variables, emerges as a determinant in the sustainable transformation of informal settlements, leading to formal models with the potential to be replicated and implemented incrementally in a context where a link of rurality is maintained.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Small Towns
EditorsJerzy Bański
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781000421637
ISBN (Print)9780367555900
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2021


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