Informal Settlements and The Right to the City - Kampala, Uganda

May 2015. The Geographical Bulletin, 56(1): 3-26.

In the developing world, the vast majority of urban poor have been marginalized from their cities, denying them what Henri Lefebvre called the right to the city. In response to this denial, many turn to the informal sector as a means to claim access to space and to the economy. However, using interviews from citizens participating in the informal sector in Kampala, Uganda, this paper argues that while the informal sector provides access to socioeconomic benefits (which is positive), it cannot guarantee them as rights because all activity taking place within it is unprotected and therefore easily and often challenged. The essay then argues that the informal sector cannot and does not confer the right to the city. Finally, it advances that those participating in the informal sector can only achieve the right to the city if they are 1) able to claim rights to shelter and to the economy and 2) able to successfully challenge laws that infringe upon their pursuit of self-improvement.

Keywords: right to the city, informality, rights, urban development

Full article available here.