The African Centre for Cities launches a new publication, Reforming Urban Laws in Africa: A Practical Guide. The guide, written by Stephen Berrisford and the late Patrick McAuslan, provide hands-on guidance to officials, practitioners and researchers working on the urgent task of improving, modernising and rationalising urban legislation in the Sub-Saharan region.

Drawing on the authors’ combined experience of over 70 years of work on urban legal reform in Africa, the guide is written from the starting point that the process of urban legal reform is absolutely essential to ensure the successful implementation and uptake of the law. The guide considers how the law is written, who is involved and what information is taken into account by the drafting team and the combined effect of these factors in determining whether the law is likely to achieve its desired outputs.

“For too long we have complained that our urban laws – legislation dealing with urban planning, land, urban governance and housing, just to name a few examples – are outdated and ineffective,” says co-author Stephen Berrisford. “When we try to create new laws to replace the problematic older ones, some so old that they date back to colonial times, we find that the new laws are just as ineffective.”

This guide aims to help everyone involved in urban legal reform to work together, following new processes, asking new questions, consulting new people, to ensure that new urban laws are fit for purpose and play the role they need to play in realising the goals of the New Urban Agenda agreed to in 2016 in Quito at the Habitat III conference.

Download the English version here.

Download the Portuguese version here.

Download the French version here. 

The guide was developed with the generous support of the Cities Alliance, Urban LandMark and UN-Habitat.