Trans-disciplinary research and strategic urban expansion planning in a context of weak institutional capacity: Case study of Huambo, Angola

Harry Smith, Paul Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
163 Downloads (Pure)


Increasingly online public access to satellite imagery and the development of qualitative GIS have, in principle, the potential to provide action- and strategic planning approaches with more economical spatial information to monitor and plan physical urban transformation. This is of particular use in rapidly urbanising contexts in the global South, where lack of resources prompted the development of rapid and participatory urban appraisal techniques since the 1990s. However, in such contexts weak institutional capacity, unclear responsibilities and poor integration among key actors may still be major barriers to effective decision-making and implementation of strategic land use plans. In addition, as most urban expansion is driven by popular demand, understanding the nature of this demand has to be the basis for effective supply of urban land etc. This means exploring change in important core social and cultural values, as well as participatory engagement with key stakeholders on immediate and mid-term strategic objectives. This paper reflects on the experience of an Urban Development Priority Action Strategy being developed for the city of Huambo, Angola, by the city administration in partnership with local NGO Development Workshop (DW), with support from a European academic institution, the Centre for Environment & Human Settlements (CEHS). This initiative seeks to embed trans-disciplinarity in a meaningful manner at the local level to permit the identification and implementation of a realistic set of priority actions. This paper reports on the type of information and understanding that is generated through this approach, as well as on the de facto constraints and boundaries that are created by the relationships between the key stakeholders, their capacities and interests. It also illustrates the more immediate and short-term results that can be achieved through this approach in comparison with traditional master planning approaches – including key stakeholder engagement with identified actions and proposal of new organisational and financial models for urban land development and management – as well as highlighting the advantages of mutual knowledge exchange between praxis and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
JournalHabitat International
Early online date31 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • Trans-disciplinarity
  • Urban strategies
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Institutional capacity
  • Angola

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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