November 08, 2018
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This Friday November 9th, the Navarra Center for International Development (NCID) hosts the NCID Workshop on Urban Issues in Developing Countries. This event will analyze and discuss on the most advanced techniques available to design the future of cities. “Up to 90% of the people living in South Sudan and Central African Republic do so in informal settlements without any basic infrastructure”, says NCID’s research assistant, Ángela Abascal. This is a growing phenomenon. “In Nairobi 75% of new inhabitants will end up in new informal settlements. They are growing quicker than cities”, she says.

The main reason for this is that the cities can’t absorbe the massive demand of population they have. “There is no more space in the city”, says the organizer Abascal. She gives two reasons why cities are saturated. “It usually is people who migrate from rural areas believing in the city they will find a job. However, another reason are conflicts such as the Boko Haram one, which force people to flee rural areas and come to the city, where they feel more secure. All that sums up to the demographic bomb that is expected in the African continent”.

This settlements grow rapidly and they are built near the working places of those who occupy them. These people usually go walking to work, so these areas are located near industries or rich neighborhoods for which people living in slums work for.

Quantiative and interdisciplinary event

These are just some of the challenges which will be tackled at the workshop. The event pretends to analyze urban variables and offer quantitative solutions. Three experts from different disciplines will participate in the event. Reinhard König, professor of Computional Architecture at Bauhaus-University Weimar will be the first one. He works for the optimum design of cities, for which he uses programming tools which are mixed with law, mobility, density and endowment variables.

The second of the experts is Belén Gesto, director at the Instituto de Cooperación en Habitabilidad Básica (ICHaB). She did her thesis on decent housing and has developed a methodology named ‘guided occupancy’ which intends to prevent future urban settlements.

On last place will speak Primoz Kovacic, engineer and director of Spatial Collective. His work focuses on the problems at settlements in Nairobi, where he lives. He maps the informal settlements and does a census to include those people living in them, which are not counted in the municipal census.

The event organizer says it is designed for any type of people interested in the futuro of cities. “Cities join the interests of diverse people: sociologists, economists, urbanists, geographers, doctors, journalists, etc”.  The objective is to measure the problems to find solutions. “This congress has a quantitative focus, with the objective of measuring urban variables to contribute to real solutions”, stresses Abascal.