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Urban Informality and Vulnerability: A Case Study in Kampala, Uganda

Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY 10996, USA
United States Army, CMR 388 Box 417 APO AP 96208
ACTogether, Kampala Uganda
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Urban Sci. 2018, 2(1), 22;
Received: 5 February 2018 / Revised: 28 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 March 2018 / Published: 7 March 2018
PDF [3022 KB, uploaded 7 March 2018]


Urbanization increasingly means that the poorest, most vulnerable people move into large, highly distressed informal areas. These areas exhibit high levels of poverty and inequality. This paper uses Kampala, Uganda to identify drivers of vulnerability in informal communities that are a consequence of urbanization. Specifically, this paper adapts a vulnerability framework, developed for Uganda as a whole, for an urban environment. Using data collected by the NGO ACTogether along with interviews, this paper determines that the most important drivers of vulnerability in Kampala’s 57 slum communities are water and sanitation. Vulnerability caused by water and sanitation issues can be alleviated with adequate urban planning. However, planning in Kampala is difficult and not well implemented. This paper concludes that informal settlements are a critical part of the fabric of the city, yet poor planning creates risk which in turn increases vulnerability. As these cities grow, the burden on environmental resources, such as water, will continue to increase making adequate municipal services and infrastructure even more important. Bottom-up approaches to urban planning capture the individual requirements of each community and can more effectively inform urban planning and policy that focuses on reducing overall water vulnerability. View Full-Text
Keywords: informality; vulnerability; Kampala; Uganda; governance; planning; slum informality; vulnerability; Kampala; Uganda; governance; planning; slum

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Richmond, A.; Myers, I.; Namuli, H. Urban Informality and Vulnerability: A Case Study in Kampala, Uganda. Urban Sci. 2018, 2, 22.

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