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Poverty, Living Conditions and Infrastructure Access

Policy Research Working Paper
A Comparison of Slums in Dakar, Johannesburg,
and Nairobi
Sumila Gulyani
Debabrata Talukdar
Darby Jack
July 2010

27 avril 2023

In this paper the authors compare indicators of development, infrastructure, and living conditions in the slums of Dakar, Nairobi, and Johannesburg using data from 2004 World Bank surveys. Contrary to the notion that most African cities face similar slum problems, they find that slums in the three cities differ dramatically from each other on nearly every indicator examined.
Particularly striking is the weak correlation of measures of income and human capital with infrastructure access and quality of living conditions. For example, residents of Dakar’s slums have low levels of education and high levels of poverty but fairly decent living conditions. By contrast, most of Nairobi’s slum residents have jobs and comparatively high levels of education, but living conditions are but extremely bad. And in Johannesburg, education and unemployment levels are high, but living conditions are not as bad as in Nairobi. These findings suggest that reduction in income poverty and improvements in human development do not automatically translate into improved infrastructure access or living conditions.

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