Addis Ababa’s Sefers: Communities in Transformation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterProfessional


Since the turn of the millennium, many African cities have witnessed a
rapid urbanization the rate of which is seen with skepticism. This skepticism
is usually targeted at the risk that such a fast-tracked urbanization
might cause loss of existing socioeconomic relationships that are
sources of income and social security for low-income dwellers. And,
the possibility that spatial qualities that accommodate such pertinent
values may be written off without an appropriate survey and consideration.
Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is one such city gripped
with this challenging phenomenon. Over the last decade, a number of
housing projects have been realized through a Development-induced
Resettlement Program (DiRP) that relocated the low-income urban population
that were dependent on, and living in, the center of the city. Such
a practice has put many livelihoods at risk. Thus, the persistent question
that calls for a practical and epistemological response is: In such
rapidly urbanizing cities of Africa, what socioeconomic and spatial values
are being compromised?
This chapter aims at reviewing the evolution of Addis Ababa and
introducing its historic but poorly serviced neighborhoods, locally known
as sefer, as products of a process of self-actualization. By illustrating
the indigenous aspects of these neighborhoods, this chapter brings
forth the socioeconomic and spatial values that are threatened by the
looming rapid urbanization.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Housing
Subtitle of host publicationDwelling in Addis Ababa
EditorsDick van Gameren, Nelson Mota
Place of PublicationPrinsenbeek
PublisherJap Sam Books
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-94-92852-20-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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