Urban Governance and City Transformation

About the House

Africa’s urbanisation rate is the highest in the world. Depending on the degree and efficacy of urban governance and planning, this can be either be an opportunity or a challenge.

Poorly planned cities can result in increased inequality, poverty, crime, slum proliferation and public health hazards. Alternatively, effective urban governance and planning can facilitate economic growth, poverty reduction, cultural renaissances and transformation.

The House activities are inspired by a set of studies conducted by the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) on ‘Urban Governance and Turning Cities around in Africa’ and works closely with policy actors to bridge the gap between research evidence being produced in this area and public policy and practice. Urban governance is being implemented in Nairobi and Kigali


Policy Issue

The overall goal of the house is to promote inclusive urbanism that provides multiple rationality and innovations. The following specific objectives forms the cornerstone of the house;

  • To promote Just and Equitable Access to physical, Social Infrastructure and Basic Services;
  • To provide Evidence for good Urban Governance that can be used in design and operationalization of Urban Boards and Citizens Forum;
  • To consolidate and Promote Innovative Framework of Urban Stakeholder Engagement that can advance Social Dimensions of Infrastructure.

Anchor Study (Primary Evidence Sources)

The House relies on evidence from studies conducted on Urban Governance in Luanda, Angola, Johannesburg South Africa and Lagos Nigeria. To achieve its objectives’, the house has designed well thought out activities that entails a mixture of research, policy actors’ engagement, debates and exchanges, structured dialogues and media outreach, to address difficult development and policy issues and improve the lives of urban residents of Kigali. The forums bring together various stakeholders on urban governance to co-create and co-produce throughout the research cycle include the uptake process.


Countries of Focus

Kenya and Rwanda

House Workstreams

Urban Governance and City Transformation House works across two workstreams. 

Stream I: Urban Governance, Rwanda

The House in Rwanda was launched on January 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. The House represents a diverse set of stakeholders including representatives of the residents of Kigali, government officials, members of parliament, legal experts, academics, public intellectuals, development partners and agencies.

This House focusses on promoting the use of evidence based advocacy to influence policy on urban governance in Rwanda. The provision of affordable housing, access to effective and affordable public transport, and improving waste management for enhanced public health are some of the priority issues collectively identified by the stakeholders in the house as areas which need evidence for policy intervention.

The house is guided by the following specific objectives;

  • Build, facilitate, enhance and sustain a vibrant research-policy community on Urban Governance and City Transformation in Kigali through well planned programme activities;
  • Synthesize new and existing relevant research evidence on Urban Governance and turning African Cities Around in Kigali and make them available to policy makers and practitioners. using policy briefs, newspaper articles and info-graphics;
  • Engage key policy makers and practitioners through direct contact, policy advocacy and use of productive urban governance issues especially the secondary Cities.

Cities of Focus

Kigali and secondary cities including Rubavu, Muhenga, Nyagatare, Huye, Musanza and Rusizi

Host Organisation

The Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda)

House Resources/Outputs

Policy Briefs

Affordable Housing in Kigali: Issues and Recommendations – Published, July 2018

This policy brief highlights the root causes of large housing deficits in Kigali, explains why existing initiatives are not functioning as they should and offers a number of recommendations that can enhance the provision of affordable housing across the city.


First Utafiti Sera Forum on Urban Governance and City Transformation: The Case of Kigali, Rwanda

Media Resources

Newspaper articles and blogs

Researchers Call for More Collaboration to Spur Urban Development – The New Times

Using Research Evidence to Inform Debate On Affordable Housing In Kigali -The New Times

Stream II: Urban Governance and City Transformation in Nairobi

The house was launched in January 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The House brings together a community of practice and interest working groups to enhance policy processes and outcomes around issues related to Urban Governance and inclusive city dwelling in Nairobi, Kenya. The House focuses on providing evidence for productive engagement and policy processes aimed at improving social aspects of urban infrastructure development in Nairobi.

The House work is segregated into different thematic groups which are led by key state actors such as the Strategic Planning theme by Council of Governors, the Stakeholder Engagement theme by Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA). These teams have enabled the house further provide evidence through engaging closely with the Urban Boards and duty bearers to entrench evidence in their governance frameworks specifically in the Urban Boards Strategic Plans, Lake Region Economic Bloc Citizen’s Engagement Framework and Stakeholder Engagement Frameworks for KURA.

Key areas of intervention include:

  • Mechanisms for public participation in infrastructure projects,
  • Devising a national framework for just compensation; and
  • Resettlement schemes for person affected by infrastructure development and securing land tenure rights for the urban poor)

It’s Theory of Change is based on the following fundamental truths:

  • The power structures are largely skewed in urban areas and these power structures influences the outcomes of development interventions;
  • Urban regeneration and mega infrastructure investment development involves reorganizing the meaning and control of space, with potential class dynamics and power social differentiation;
  • Whether mega-projects succeed or fail, they set off a spatial restructuring process which can advance and distribute economic benefits to city dwellers or/ and displace and disposes.

City of Focus


Host Organisation

Pamoja Trust

House Resources/Outputs

Policy Briefs

Towards A Policy on Evictions and Resettlement 

Published, May 2018

Infrastructural development goes beyond building of roads, bridges, and highways and impact social justice. The brief offers policy recommendations for various stakeholders towards formulation and implementation of the a robust social-justice centred policy in evictions and resettlement.


First Utafiti Sera Forum on Urban Governance and City Transformation in Kenya

Media resources

Newspaper and blogs

Respect of human rights key as we develop infrastructure – The Standard Newspaper