This small country in western Africa had been considered politically stable since its independence from France in the 1960s. The economy was booming, and the country was at peace until a military coup in 2002, when the country was torn in two: rebels controlled the north and government troops the south. Despite the 2007 peace treaty, the country is still divided. But the government is working on reconciliation and reunification of both parts of the country. The political quarrels of the past two decades have long weakened this otherwise resource-rich country. Today, the economy is visibly recovering; Côte d’Ivoire exports oil and is regarded worldwide as the main supplier of cocoa and cashew nuts.
The unstable conditions of the past two decades have created major difficulties in providing adequate standards of living for many citizens. In 2016, the Government adopted a new National Development Plan (NDP) designed to transform Côte d'Ivoire into a middle-income economy by 2020 and further reduce the poverty rate.
Nevertheless, the Constitution does not make provisions for the standard of housing and related rights, but does at least protect against arbitrary forced evictions. The municipal urban agency distinguishes between precarious neighbourhoods that can be upgraded and slums. Slums are unlikely to be changed, which hinders development or leaves their residents prone to environmental risks. These neighbourhoods in particular are the subjects of upgrading programs. During the time of colonial activities in the harbour of Abidjan, precarious settlements developed rapidly along the quays. As the city grew, new precarious settlements developed in satellite towns, such as Abobo. The PSUP pilot projects will be undertaken in the neighbourhoods of these two cities.
In the 1980s and early 1990s slum upgrading consisted mainly of land regularization and the provision of infrastructure in particular places. The authorities could cancel a customary land title when the land was needed for urbanization. The titleholder then had to be compensated via a lump sum or with a future serviced plot. Participation existed by acknowledging the residents’ priority to gain secure land tenure, yet they were not supposed to participate in the planning process and its implementation. Many residents were also relocated in order to realize a project. What the precarious settlements and slums today have in common is the lack of security of tenure, exposure to environmental risks and high crime rate. 21 per cent of the residents of the precarious settlements indicate that they own the land and another 22 per cent indicate that they own the house.
PSUP Contributions and Achievements
PSUP analysed and formulated detailed information with stakeholders on the slum situation in Côte d’Ivoire – specifically for Abobo and Treichville. PSUP Phase 2 encouraged stakeholders to discuss necessary policy changes. The research done also highlights three priority areas for Abobo that need to be considered for Phase 3. The inhabitants are in need of secure tenure, water and sanitation provision. Also, with the help of PSUP, slum upgrading and the delivery of basic services to disadvantaged communities are continually improving and well recognized within the five-year Plan National de Developement (2016-2020). Crime however, is still a problem. The physical space, which lacks adequate lighting and policing, increases the daily risk of being victimized. For PSUP Phase 3 a highlighted recommendation is to enhance public lighting. Experience from other countries shows that alternatives such as the concepts of defensible spaces and eyes on the street could be considered for the future, too. Priority goals for the government of Côte d’Ivoire are to institutionalize Ordinance 1977 and to consider incorporating slum upgrading into it, in order to incorporate precarious settlements into the urban planning structures and to implement upcoming World Bank projects.