Development in Africa's Informal Settlements: Below the Proletariat

by Angela R. Pashayan (American University, Washington, DC)

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[...] Highlights key issues that are important for effective poverty reduction in informal settlement. [...]

[Extract from book review appearing on the 'Journal of Economic Literature' (Volume 62, no. 2), June 2024.]

This book discusses the effectiveness of international development programs in African informal settlements (slums). It also represents the voices of slum dwellers and how they view the programs offered. With over 60% of Africans living in slums, the book intends to foster dialogue among development professionals to determine how to improve service to their clients, people experiencing extreme poverty. This book examines the critical thinking disconnect between development professionals and slum dwellers. It enables practitioners, professors, and their students to investigate the gap between the types of development programs offered versus what is most beneficial to reduce extreme poverty in slum communities. With a sample of 500 residents from Mukuru Slum in Nairobi, Kenya, and 100 development professionals with expertise in poverty reduction in slums, this book sheds light on the similarities and differences between various programs. Most importantly, this book provides a theoretical way forward (The Theory of Extreme Poverty Reduction) based on Freirean pedagogy to stimulate discussion on how to program new strategies for authentic dialogue with slum dwellers that leads to the critical consciousness necessary for successful poverty reduction.

List of Figures
List of Tables
About the Author
List of Abbreviations
Tools for Instructors and Practitioners
Chapter Overview

Chapter 1 The Proletariat
1.1. George
1.2. UN SDGs
1.3. The Proletariat and the Development Professional

Chapter 2 Context and Significance
2.1. Scope and Setting - Mukuru
2.2. Theoretical Premise
2.3. Research Questions and Significance
2.3.1. Significance to Pre-colonial History
2.3.2. Statistical Significance of the Informal Settlements
2.3.3. Significance to Human Aid
2.3.4. Significance to Inclusive Development
2.3.5. Significance to US State Interests
2.3.6. Significance Revealed by COVID-19

Chapter 3 Theory
Freire and critical consciousness
3.1. Theme One - Development and Ethnographic Work
3.2. Theme Two - Socio-political and hermeneutic theory
3.3. Theme Three - Critical Consciousness Primary Research
3.4. Development program analysis

Chapter 4 The Inquiry
Sample Size for Interviews and Community Survey
4.1. Community Survey
4.1.1. Question categories
4.1.2. Unpredicted occurrences - Community Survey
4.2. Development Professional Interviews

Chapter 5 Data and Analysis
5.1. Community Survey Variables
5.1.1. Community Survey Findings and Analysis
5.2. Community Survey Freirean variables
5.2.1. Community Survey Freirean Findings and Analysis
5.2.2. On critical consciousness
5.2.3. Basic Human Rights
5.2.4. Housing Improvements
5.2.5. Social Support
5.2.6. Economic Support
5.3. Interview variables
5.3.1. Interview findings and analysis
5.3.2. Categories of Organizations and Professionals
5.4. Interview cross-tabulations
5.5. COVID-19 Questions Survey and Interview Responses

Chapter 6 Conclusion
6.1. Six Key Takeaways
6.2. Theory of Extreme Poverty Reduction
6.2.1. CISR Economic Potential
6.2.2. Support of Theory
6.3. Recommendations
6.3.1. Example #1 Fresh Water
6.3.2. Example #2 Health
6.3.3. Example #3 Food Security
6.3.4. Example #4 Safe Shelter
6.3.5. Example #5 Electricity
6.3.6. Example #6 Financial Insecurity
6.3.7. Example #7 Education
6.4. Future Research

Appendix A.1 – Community Survey
Appendix A.2 – Interview Questions
Appendix A.3 – Terminology

Dr. Pashayan is a full-time professor at American University in Washington, DC, in the School of International Service. A Ph.D. graduate from Howard University, Dr. Pashayan was in the top 5% of her class and earned the distinguished status of Pi Sigma Alpha National Honor Society in Political Science. Her expertise in extreme poverty reduction leads the way in the field of International Development for Informal Settlements (slums). Pashayan’s multidisciplinary approach to poverty reduction intersects health, human rights, climate impacts, and international relations. Her academic knowledge, backed by 10+ years of field experience, includes poverty reduction work in Peru, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Kenya. As an Africanist, Realist, and Humanist, Pashayan’s research on slum communities embraces ethnography, qualitative, and quantitative research methodology. Her dedication to conducting primary research demonstrates the social capital she has gained working in slums. Pashayan’s current research, “Settling the Informal Settlements,” is a collaborative effort with a Kenyan team to produce a blueprint for African leaders to reclaim their most significant asset - human capital in urban informal settlements. Having consultative status at the United Nations as a member of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Pashayan spoke on the UN floor in February 2022 during the 60th Commission for Social Development. Dr. Pashayan continues to support and coordinate innovation toward sustainable development for informal settlements on the African continent.

Extreme Poverty, Africa, Slums, Informal Settlements, UNSDGs, Development

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Development in Africa's Informal Settlements: Below the Proletariat





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

December 2023