A refugee in my own country: Evictions or property rights in the urban informal economy?

Dar es Salaam - Kariakoo Market

Normative approaches to urban governance and planning and idealised visions of city space too often result in relocation or forced eviction of street traders and other informal economy workers from public space as a policy of choice. Often a response to a short-term political imperative, clearances take place with little understanding of the interconnected nature of the urban informal economy or widespread poverty impacts that result. As a result, street traders feel ostracised and often describe themselves as refugees. Drawing on a property rights perspective, and the ‘legal empowerment’ paradigm, this paper compares the major clearances of street traders that took place in Dar es Salaam in 2006–2007 and Dakar in 2007, with very different outcomes for traders. It explores the political initiatives behind the clearances, the dual property rights regimes in both countries, and the different roles of social movements, resulting in emerging political power in one city and passive marginalisation in another. Finally it argues that the conceptualisation of public space as a hybrid ‘public good’ would allow for a more appropriate property rights regime for the urban informal economy.

Source: Urban Studies via Sage Journals Online (subscription required)

Photo Credit: Marco Zanferrari


Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher Urban Studies (Sage Journals Online)
Year 2015
Author(s) Alison Brown, Colman Msoka, Ibrahima Dankoco
Other Numbers September 2015, 52 (12), Pg. 2234-2249.
DOI 10.1177/0042098014544758
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