Negotiating the Livelihoods of Children and Youth in Africa’s Urban Spaces. Edited by Michael F.C. Bourdillon with Ali Sangare. Dakar, CODESRIA, 2012, 245 p., ISBN : 978-2-86978-504-5Number of visits: 3546
This book deals with problems facing children and youth in African cities
today. African populations have high growth rates and, consequently,
relatively high proportions of young people. Population growth in rural
areas has stretched resources leading to urban migration and a rapid
growth of cities. Economies have not grown apace with the population; and
in some countries, economies have even shrunk. The result is a severe lack
of resources in cities to meet the needs of the growing populations, shown
in high unemployment, inadequate housing, poor services, and often
extreme poverty. All the essays in this book draw attention to such urban
environments, in which children and youth have to live and survive.
The title of this book speaks of negotiating livelihoods. The concept of
‘livelihood’ has been adopted to incorporate the social and physical
environment together with people’s responses to it. It considers not only
material, but also human and social resources, including local knowledge
and understanding. It, thus, considers the material means for living in a
broader context of social and cultural interpretation. It, therefore, does
not deal only with material and economic existence, but also with leisure
activities, entertainments and other social forms of life developed by young
people in response to the dictates of the environment.
The book contains country-specific case studies of the problems faced by
youths in many African cities, how they develop means to solve them, and
the various creative ways through which they improve their status, both
economically and socially, in the different urban spaces. It recognizes
the potentials of young people in taking control of their lives within the
constraints imposed upon them by the society.
This book is a valuable contribution to the field of child and youth
development, and a useful tool for parents, teachers, academics, researchers
as well as government and non-government development agencies.