The Kingdom of Swaziland (Umbuso weSwatini) is a landlocked country, bordered to the north south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique. No more than 200 km north to south and 130 km east to west, it has an estimate population of 1,2 million inhabitants. Wikipedia and CIA – The World Factbook have all the introductory info. MovingCities shares the images and provides background to Swaziland’s urban growth (increasing by 6%/year) and what role the World Bank plays in upgrading the country’s settlements and peri-urban living conditions.
We drove in one day through Swaziland, from North to South, and as such just have a fleeting impression of the Kingdom. Along the road, we climbed and descended hills, saw the sprawling form of unplanned habitation and informal settlements dotting the landscape; and at one moment we pass through Swaziland’s largest urban center, Manzini (about 110,000 inhabitants).
In 2002, The World Bank published their Swaziland country assessment report called ‘Upgrading Low Income Urban Settlements‘ (pdf alert!):
Most urban growth that has taken place in Swaziland has been unplanned and informal. More than 60 percent of the population living in the Mbabane–Manzini corridor live in informal, unplanned communities in sub-standard structures on un-surveyed land without legal title.
Further on it, the document states that the problem of informal settling is due to the lack of formal controls on the development: a lack of any central agency that is responsible for policy and oversight of urbanization. Next to that, gender issues with regard to land ownership for women, and the Local Government system being in a state of flux with decentralization underway all contribute to the development challenges Swaziland is facing.
The aforementioned document highlights the policy context and institutional framework, the need to upgrade projects and programs and offers a few case-studies. To conclude, it states the peri-urban condition and its transformation as the ultimate challenge for the years to come:
Following completion of the upgrading of the major priority informal settlements included in the Swaziland Urban Development Project – SUDP – the major challenge facing Swaziland’s politicians, central and local government officials, traditional leaders and communities will be how to deal with the growing peri-urban informal settlements which are growing rapidly, mostly on Swazi Nation Land immediately outside existing city jurisdictions.
As a consequence, or in line with the aforesaid analysis, the Government of Swaziland (GoS) requested the assistance of the World Bank in preparing and implementing the Swaziland Local Government Project (SLGP). A document from 2007 entitled ‘Resettlement Policy Framework’ (pdf alert!) provides further updates:
The Swaziland Urban Development Project, for which the World Bank loan closed in March 2005, was the first phase of the Government‟s long-term local governance development program. The SUDP aimed at increasing the delivery and improving the management of basic services and improving living conditions of low-income urban household in the two main cities of Swaziland.
Pictures by movingcities.org