This post completes the previous one, which focused on a neighbourhood in Praia (capital of Cape Verde islands) which, despite being formally planned and relatively affluent, shows several limitations in terms of accessibility and urban environment.
The case study in this post is diametrically different. The area was settled in the late 1990s, mostly by migrants from other parts of the country. It is an informal settlement and it lacks access to basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation.
The majority of the men in this area have always worked in the construction industry, and so they had the skills to build a whole neighbourhood almost overnight.
What is remarkable is that the neighbourhood includes several of the characteristics of a good urbanization plan.
The built up area and the street patterns, have followed the contours of the terrain, and no constructions are to be found in the area closest to the river bed, reducing the risk of flooding during the rainy season:
The structure for a future paved street network is also visible, with the angles of the houses adjusting to the curves of the terrain, and space left open for an eventual road intersection:
Many footpaths were also created to link the neighbourhood to the main road up the hill, where most services are located, and where the population can access the bus network:
Inside the neighbourhood, some areas have been designed to become public spaces. On the top of a rock there is a mini ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue similar to the one in Rio, and the space around the rock has remained open. Allegedly, the builder of the statue could not afford to build a roof to his own house, but spent time and effort creating and installing this statue, based on the belief that the roof would protect only his household, while the Christ statue would protect the whole neighbourhood.
Other informal public spaces exist, such as the one below, and are used for example during the celebrations of a religious festival (link to a video in Portuguese).
This example is another interesting case study of the local population’s resilience in adapting to a harsh geographical environment, building the structure of a liveable neighbourhood despite the poverty and lack of access to basic facilities.
A plan for the legalization and formal urbanization of this neighbourhood has been announced recently. In recognition of the vital role of the community, a “social pact” has been signed by the municipal government and population, where the former is responsible for providing access to basic services and constructing collective equipment, and the latter is responsible for preventing the appearance of further illegal constructions, and for making efforts to improve the conditions and appearance of the existent buildings.
Many thanks to Dr. Judite Nascimento for the excellent background to this case.
A large number of studies analysing other examples of environmental issues and community resilience around the world can be found here.