Case Examples


Example of:

    • Large-scale city-wide upgrading
    • Parallel development of City Development Strategy
    • Empowered communities and enhanced decentralization

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Nouakchott, Nouadhibou; Mauritania
(Status: Initiated March 2001)

Based on the success of this small home-grown and self-financed pilot program, the central and local governments of Mauritania, in partnership with urban poor communities and the private sector, combined forces to scale-up and develop a national strategy and program for slum upgrading. This program is to be financed primarily from the World Bank as well as other international donors. It aims to ameliorate living conditions in the slums of the main towns of Mauritania--Nouakchott and Nouadhibou--as well as to improve and consolidate the institutional framework for urban and land management systems.

It hopes to achieve:

  • Citywide slum upgrading in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou with a target to scale-up, including review of the land policy, the provision of: secure land tenure, access to basic urban infrastructure, infrastructure in support of economic activities and employment creation (mainly for the artisanal fishery activities, stock raising); and affordable serviced land and/or shelter;
  • Community targeted micro-credits and technical assistance for the construction of shelter and latrines; and income generation activities;
  • Empowerment of communities (associations and NGOs) and enhanced decentralization (municipalities and associations);
  • City Development Strategy (economic, urban, institutional and environmental); and
  • Capacity building for urban and land management

For further information:

Project Appraisal Document on a Credit to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania for an Urban Development Program. The World Bank. March 21, 2001.


Develop a national strategy and program for slum upgrading, in partnership with central and local governments, and urban poor communities and the private sector.

  • Investment in economic infrastructures.
  • Upgrading program and prevention of squatter settlements (land regularization and re-housing, the populations and the NGOs are implied in all the phases, progressive realization of the basic infrastructures and the community equipment, and preparation of new zones equipped with basic services).
  • Support programs with urban upgrading for the integration of squatter settlement.
  • Support of the micro finance sector for urban upgrading and the promotion of income generation activities.
  • Improvement and provision of water to squatter settlements (increase in the production and volume available in the districts, and installation of community system of management and by small private contractors) 
  • Program for the secondary cities (plan of the existing urban structure, economic infrastructures, strategic plan of cleansing, reinforcement of the municipal capacities, water supply in Kiffa and Sélibaby).
  • Institutional development program and capacity building (small companies, NGOs, institutional partners, creations of adequate structures of setting up, follow-up and evaluation).

Nouakchott is a young city; founded in 1957 with only some 4,000 inhabitants. Rapid urban growth was driven by massive rural migration. In 2000 the total population was estimated at 600,000 inhabitants. Persistent droughts and the resulting desertification generated a rapid increase of the urban population from less than 4 percent in 1962 to the current estimate of 61% (1.4 million of the total population of 2.3 million). Such urban growth was not coordinated with adequate city planning, resulting in fast expansion of uncontrolled urban development as more than 40% of urban land is currently occupied by squatter settlements. This was coupled with high incidence of poverty. The proportion of individuals living below the poverty line was estimated at 50 percent in the 1990s.

The public authorities response to such problems started in the 1970s by organizing the first local elections to reflect the voice of the poor, followed by several schemes of land subdivision. In the 1990s, the government launched series of projects and programs basically targeting poverty reduction; Development Project of Construction Industry (DICE) with Creation of an Agency for Execution of public interest work (AMEXTIPE), and Decentralization of Urban Infrastructure Project (DIU).

The Government launched a pilot anti-poverty program in Dar el-Beida district in 1999 with a total cost of $640,000, which has now been replicated in another three districts. The program provided vocational training and micro-credits to improve income and living conditions. The program methodology comprised four participatory levels of intervention: housing, education, improvement of the infrastructure (sanitation, water supply, electricity and household refuse), and Micro-finance. To date, 103 jobs were created in 3 districts, 196 latrines were constructed, while credit repayment rates were 95,7% in Dar el-Beida district and 100% in Saada district. The communities have established two committees to represent their interests as well as several cultural and sport groups to carry out community activities in each district. A, manual is now under preparation capitalizing on lessons learned during the pilot phase, to give guidelines for the procedures during the replication phase (scale-up) in other districts of Nouakchott (2001-2003).

What worked and why?
What didn't work and why?


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