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Spatial Inequalities in Asia and Africa -Demystifying the Drivers

Keith Kintrea



Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Multifunction Hall Room 15
University of Glasgow
United Kingdom
Equitable urban futures
NE 135


Inequality is a multifaceted phenomenon with economic, social, spatial, environmental and political dimensions. Each dimension varies across culture, class, race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion and citizenship status. Spatial inequality is one of the dimensions which has gained importance, particularly under the widely adopted neo-liberal urban development regime. Spatial inequality shapes the horizons of urban lives. It affects mobility, asset values, infrastructure, housing as well as access to health and education. It determines narratives of the "core" and "periphery" and reflects both land markets and public attempts to regulate them. It offers insights into the distribution of resources, as well as their associated risks. In doing so, it critically affects, and is affected by, urban policies, especially in large metropolitan cities where intra-urban differences can be of very large magnitudes and affect many thousands of people. Urban inequality has long been an important theme for social science but research tends to focus on income inequalities and analyses are largely carried out at the national or city level through the lens of globalisation, neoliberal economic restructuring and government policies. However, urban spatial inequalities and segregation are under-studied, particularly in the Global South. This event aims to facilitate rethinking urban inequality through a spatial lens. It will help to understand its forms, drivers, implications and solutions, so that cities can be transformed for a better urban future which is more equitable and sustainable. Understanding spatial inequality in the global south is all the more important in relation to the achievement of UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 10 (Reduce inequality within and among countries) and SDG 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable). Beyond some generic studies on the striking division between the rich and the poor, the slums and gated communities, very little is known about the incidence and the impacts of spatial inequalities, especially after pandemic. This event will build knowledge on how COVID-19 pandemic has widened the spatial inequalities and undermined social cohesion, eroded public trust, and deepened political polarization, all of which have undermined governments’ ability and readiness to respond to the Urban planning and governance. The event will centre on presentations from Asian and African cities that will explore the drivers of spatial inequalities and initiate dialogues and debate among researchers, policy makers and civil society. The presentations will help to develop understanding of the relationship between sustainability, inequality, and justice at the neighbourhood level rather than at city or regional level. They will facilitate exploration of whether spatial inequalities in these cities resemble those found in global north, and identify good practice in creating equitable spaces.


The key objectives of the event will be as follows: • Initiate policy and theoretical debates to understand the relationship between sustainability, inequality, and justice at the neighbourhood level rather than at city or regional level • Explore the role played by access to education, health facilities, and social security in shaping neighbourhood segregation, combined with population age composition (dependency ratio) and migration trends • Understand to what extent spatial inequalities and residential segregation in African and Asian cities resemble or differ from those found in western cities • Build and share knowledge on the value of granular data in devising policy measures with regard to spatial inequality • Convene an action-oriented conversation on practical and innovative approaches adopted by the develop countries in addressing the challenges arisen due to urban spatial inequality while ensuring increase in urbanisation, economic growth and resilience in cities • Create/strengthen research partnerships among African, Asian and European cities on spatial inequalities and residential segregation.

Session speakers

Mr. Remy Sietchiping
Chief, Policy, Legislation and Governance Section, Urban Practices Branch
Ms. Debolina Kundu
National Institute of Urban Affairs
Ms. Shilpi Roy
Associate Professor
Khulna University
Mr. Francis Levira
Research Scientist
Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania
Mr. Keith Kintrea
Professor of Urban Studies
SHLC, University of Glasgow