Analysis of Space Manipulation in an Informal Urban Settlement: The Case of Ng’ombe in Lusaka, Zambia

Jonathan Simbeya Mwamba


Urban informality remains a consistent challenge and matter of debate by planners and policymakers in the urbanising cities of sub-Saharan Africa. A common manifestation of urban informality in African cities is the sprawling informal settlements that constitute the only available housing option for the majority of the urban poor. The analysis of informal urban settlement’s environmental composition, physical modelling and socio-economic and policy analysis have been areas of recent study. However there is limited literature on how the urban poor communities in Zambia manipulate their social, spatial and economic environments to meet their needs. This article seeks to broaden the knowledge base on the way informal urban settlement communities manipulate their urban space. The built environment provides the setting for human interaction and the explanatory theory of Environment-Behaviour Relations provides a suitable analytical framework for the identification of useful parameters for developing future settlement interventions. The study employs a case study method of research to analyse the informal urban settlement settings. Ng’ombe, a peri-urban informal settlement in Lusaka, Zambia is the case study location for this research. Analysis of social, spatial and economic environment at neighbourhood level provides vital information about the informal urban settlement conditions. The study in particular addresses the question of how the social-spatial circumstances of the informal urban population in the developing world influence and defines their built environment. The study shows that systems of settings and system of activities in Ng’ombe offer a suitable analytical framework for studying the settlement characteristics that can guide in formulating strategies for settlement regularisation. Residents devise means of adapting and manipulating their informal urban space to suit their immediate needs and they also devise livelihood coping strategies in the midst of their informal settings. The paper likewise contributes to the growing body of knowledge in urban informality.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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