Knowledge Note

Although Ethiopia is one of the least urbanized countries in sub-Saharan Africa, it also has one of the continent’s highest urbanization rates, with cities of all sizes expanding rapidly. This is linked to the country’s impressive economic growth – its gross domestic product grew 10.6 percent annually between 2004 and 2011. But rapid urbanization has also led to a host of social and economic problems, including greater income disparity, deepening poverty, rising unemployment, severe housing shortages, and poorly developed physical and social infrastructure. Some 80 percent of Ethiopia’s urban residents live in under-served areas, and two-thirds of the housing is inadequate. Recognizing the enormous role cities can play as engines of growth and development, Ethiopia’s government has decentralized many functions in order to bolster cities’ autonomy and effectiveness. It has also launched comprehensive poverty alleviation and urban development programmes. But city administrators have lacked the experience and capacity to fulfill all of their newly assigned tasks, thus compromising the implementation of these initiatives.

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Cities Alliance in Action