Liza Rose Cirolia is a senior researcher at the African Centre for Cities. Her work is largely focused on the social, political, technical and institutional dimensions of urban infrastructure, decentralization, and human settlements in African cities. Liza is currently leading several projects including:

PEAK-Urban ‘Sustainable Human Settlements and Infrastructure’ research (2018 – 2021)
PEAK-Urban is a four-year Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project involving researchers from the UK, Colombia, China, South Africa, and India.  Liza is the ‘theme lead’ for the Cape Town project which focusses on land occupations, spatial integration, financing infrastructure, housing trends, and administrative practices.

Mistra Urban Futures ‘Urban Public Finance’ comparative project (2016 – 2020)
Mistra is a Swedish funded project bringing together researchers from Kenya, South Africa, the UK, and Sweden. Liza leads the comparative Urban Public Finance project. The project explores public finance in African cities, with a focus on Cape Town and Kisumu. Her work addresses the paradoxes and challenges associated with financing urban areas and local government.

Migrant Margins – LSE (2019-2020)
Migrant Margins is an ethnographic research project on the experience of migrant women in Cape Town. Liza’s work within this project looks at the technical and financial processes of remittances, tracing both formal and informal remittance service providers. The research includes interviews and participant observation.

Post-networked City: Sanitation, Water and Energy – GCRF (2020-2023)
Working with scholars in Bristol, Freetown (Sierra Leonne) and Kampala (Uganda), the project explores combinations of on and off grid service provision. Liza leads the governance work on this project, working closely with the leads in each city. The project will include designing a ‘pilot’ in each city.

#NextGenCities – Dark Matter Labs/UNDP (2020-2021)
#NextGenCities supports three African cities to design and implement innovations related to service delivery, digital technology, and accountable governance. Liza’s role includes developing inputs for the selected cities, working with city governments and UNDP branches, and documenting the process.

Pinsent Masons African Cities Thought Leadership Programme (2018 – 2019)
The Programme brings together urban experts and private sector infrastructure actors to unpack the paradox of financing African urban infrastructure. Liza developed and am implementing the Programme. She facilitated five roundtable sessions, documented the sessions, and developed learning material for dissemination.

GCRF Infrastructure Interfaces in Ethiopia (sanitation/housing focus) (2018 – 2019)
Working with the London School of Economics, Addis Ababa University and the ACC, Liza conducted conducting six weeks of field work in Addis Ababa, analyzed research material, participated in public dissemination sessions, and led the writing of an academic paper and policy brief. 

Fiscal decentralization: This includes work on various cities in South Africa, Senegal, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Part of this work includes her recently completed PhD, entitled: ‘Accounting for the C/city: Analyzing Kisumu’s Fiscal Configurations’; Contributions to the UCLF/OECD sub-national finance observatory; work on property taxation in secondary cities in Africa; and work on land based finance as part of the CIG-East Africa DFID project.

Liza Rose received her PhD from University of Cape Town. She received a Master in City and Regional Planning from the University of Cape Town. She received her undergraduate degree in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.


Journal Articles

Baptista, I., & Cirolia, L. R. (2022). From problematisation to propositionality: Advancing southern urban infrastructure debates. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Pollio, A., & Cirolia, L. R. (2022). Fintech urbanism in the startup capital of AfricaJournal of Cultural Economy.

Cirolia, L. R., Hall, S., & Nyamnjoh, H. (2021). Remittance micro‐worlds and migrant infrastructure: Circulations, disruptions, and the movement of moneyTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Nyamnjoh, H., Hall, S., & Cirolia, L. R. (2021). Precarity, permits, and prayers:“working practices” of Congolese asylum-seeking women in Cape TownAfrica Spectrum

Cirolia, L. R. & Robbins, G. (2021) Transfers, taxes and tariffs: fiscal instruments and urban statecraft in Cape Town, SouthAfricaArea Development and Policy. Cirolia, L. R. & Harber, J. (2021) Urban statecraft: The governance of transport infrastructures in African cities. Urban Studies.

Cirolia, L. R., Hailu, T., King, J., da Cruz, N. F., & Beall, J. (2021). Infrastructure governance in the post-networked city: State-led, high-tech sanitation in Addis Ababa’s condominium housing.Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space

Hall, S., Nyamnjoh, H., & Cirolia, L. R. (2021). Apportioned city: Gendered delineations of asylum, work and violence in Cape Town. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

Ngwenya, N., & Cirolia, L. R. (2021). Conflicts between and within: The ‘conflicting rationalities’ of informal occupation in South Africa. Planning Theory & Practice. 

Mizes, C. and Cirolia, L.R. (2019). Contournements. Fiscalité et exceptions informelles dans les villes de M’Bour et de Kisumu. Politique Africaine.

Berrisford, S., Cirolia. L.R., and Palmer, I. (2018). Land Based Financing in Sub-Saharan Cities. Environment and Urbanization.

Cirolia, L.R. and Scheba, S. (2018). Towards a multi-scalar reading of informality in Delft South Africa: Weaving the ‘everyday’ with wider structural tracings. Urban Studies.

Amin, A. and Cirolia, L. R. (2018). Politics/Matter: Governing Cape Town’s Informal Settlements. Urban Studies.

Cirolia, L.R. and Smit, W. (2017). Fractured Approaches to Urban Transformation:  Analysing Parallel Perspectives in South Africa. Transformation.

Cirolia, L.R. (2017) Overcoming the disjunctures: competing discourses on informal settlements in South Africa. International Development Planning Review.

Cirolia, L. R. and Berrisford, S. (2017). ‘Negotiated Planning’: Diverse Trajectories of Implementation in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Harare. Habitat International.

Croese, S., Cirolia, L. R., and Graham, N. (2016). Towards Habitat III: Confronting the Disjuncture between Global Policy and Local Practice on Africa’s ‘challenge of slums’. Habitat International.

Cirolia, L. R. (2015). Reframing the ‘Gap Market’: Lessons and Implications from Cape Town’s Gap Market Housing Initiative. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment.

McGaffin, R., Cirolia, L. R., and Massyn, M. (2015). Overcoming the Challenge of Vertical Consolidation in South Africa’s Low-Income Settlements: a Case Study of Du Noon. Urban Forum.

Cirolia, L. R. (2014). South Africa’s Emergency Housing Programme: A Prism of Urban Contest. Development Southern Africa.

Cirolia, L. R. (2014). (W)Escaping the Challenges of the City: A Critique of Cape Town’s Proposed Satellite Town. Urban Forum.

Edited Books

Cirolia, L. R., Görgens, T., van Donk, M., Smit, W., and Drimie, S. (Eds.) (2016). Pursuing a Partnership Based Approach to Incremental Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa.  Juta.

Book Chapters

Sassman, N and Cirolia, L.R. (2018 forthcoming) Overcoming urban sprawl: Exploring the potential and challenges of implementing social housing in Cape Town (in print).

Cirolia, L. R. (2017). Negotiating Cities: Nairobi and Cape Town. In J. Rokem and C. Boano (Eds.) Urban Geopolitics: Rethinking Planning in Contested Cities. Routledge.

Pieterse, E. and Cirolia, L. R. (2016). Shaping the urban horizon in South Africa: reflections on the Integrated Urban Development Framework process. In: Pursuing a Partnership Based Approach to Incremental Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa.  Juta.

Cirolia, L. R., Görgens, T., van Donk, M., Smit, W., and Drimie, S. (2016). Introduction. In: Pursuing a Partnership Based Approach to Incremental Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa.  Juta.

Cirolia, L. R., Smit, W., and Duminy, J. (2015). Grappling with Housing Issues at the City Scale: Mobilizing the Right to the City in South Africa. In P. Herrle, A. Ley, and J. Fokdal (Eds.), From Local Action to Global Networks: Housing the Urban Poor.  Ashgate.

Cirolia, L. R. (2012). Recasting the Development Agenda for Informal Land and Housing Markets in Nairobi: a Critical Examination of Actors, Claims, and Urban Governance in Kibera.  In L. Herzer (Ed.) Changing Cities: Climate, Youth and Land Markets in Urban Areas. Woodrow Wilson Center Publication.

Working Papers

Cirolia, L. R. and Rode, P. (2019) Urban infrastructure and development. London School of Economics.

Cirolia, L. R. and Mizes, C. (2019) Property Tax in African Secondary Cities: Insights from the Cases of Kisumu (Kenya) and M’Bour (Senegal). International Centre of Tax and Development.

Popular Media

Huchzermeyer, M. and Cirolia, L. R. (2016). When property rights and occupational rights clash. The Mercury.

Cirolia, L. R. (2014). The architect can’t save the slum: reflections on design fix housing solutions. SLUMLab.

Cirolia, L. R. (2012). The logistics corps: Colombo’s urban militarization. CityScapes – Rethinking Urban Things.