DW AngolaCounting rooftops - IDRC Bulletin - April 2013

Counting rooftops - IDRC Bulletin - April 2013


A longstanding IDRC grantee combines satellite observations with old-fashioned grassroots data gathering to measure the impact of Angola's rapidly growing slums on the environment. Since 2002, when decades of civil conflict ended, Angola has struggled to rebuild. Its planners are hampered, however, by a shortage of reliable data about their own country’s population and environment. During the long conflict, Angola’s cities mushroomed when the rural economy collapsed and many parts of the countryside became unsafe. An influx of poor people settled in the urban districts they could afford — that is, in slums that are vulnerable to flooding or erosion, and that lack
basic services and economic opportunities. Poverty, in other words, has a spatial aspect and a circular effect. The poor are likely to settle in environmentally sensitive areas where their presence is likely to exacerbate environmental damage, thus aggravating their poverty. If Angolan policymakers were to take effective measures to tackle urban destitution and environmental degradation, they needed a clear picture of the geographic distribution of slum dwellers and of their social and environmental circumstances.