Nformal Settlements’ Planning Theories and Policy-Making in Sub-saharan Africa – from ‘Site’ to ‘People’: A Critical Evaluation of Operations ‘Murambatsvina’ and ‘Garikai’ in Zimbabwe

Nformal Settlements’ Planning Theories and Policy-Making in Sub-saharan Africa – from ‘Site’ to ‘People’: A Critical Evaluation of Operations ‘Murambatsvina’ and ‘Garikai’ in Zimbabwe

Cyril Fegue

New York University Wagner, New York, USA.

14 December 2007
| Citation



This article explores the theoretical debates on informal settlements and presents a critical overview of the related planning strategies. Operations Murambatsvina and Garikai have been the response of the Zimbabwean government to the rapid growth of uncontrolled and spontaneous settlements in major cities. This response sparked an avalanche of criticism throughout the international community. The article’s fundamental research question is to assess whether that response was structured in accordance with the ideal and recommended planning practices for informal settlements. Operations Murambatsvina and Garikai were gigantic failures; they were confi gured for humanitarian crisis. The proposal for remedial action in the long term is to take decentralization, good local governance, and community participation seriously. The article suggests that the revamp of the institutional and legal framework is hereby the conditio-sine-qua-non pathway.


African context, civil society, community participation, decentralization, development administration, informal settlement planning, rapid urbanization, slum, squatter settlement, urban poor.


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