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Aid’s urban footprint and the challenges of operationalizing equity in development practice

December 9, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 6:15 pm

Aid’s urban footprint and the challenges of operationalizing equity in development practice

Second DGSG-DIE research-in-progress seminar to be held on Thursday, December 9, 16:00-17:15 CET on Zoom [the link will be sent to all registered participants on the day of the event].

A book project by Professor Gabriella Carolini (MIT) tentatively entitled, “Equity, Evaluation, and International Cooperation.” will be discussed.

Please register at:


A related working paper, “Aid’s urban footprint and the challenges of operationalizing equity in development practice” focuses on the case of Maputo, Mozambique. It will be sent to all participants one week prior; see below for an abstract. Please share this invitation with other interested faculty and students, practitioners, and organizations. We hope to gather a global audience!

Jamey Essex & Daniel Esser, Development Geographies Specialty Group, American Association of Geographers


How is local urban development, and governance therein, being shaped by the explosion of actors within the donor and investment community in African countries like Mozambique? Drawing on qualitative fieldwork in Maputo, existing data on aid and private sector flows to Mozambique, and a spatial analysis of new real estate developments between 2009 and 2017, I forward two arguments about the negative externalities fostered by the growing density of international development professionals and their foreign private-sector counterparts in the Mozambican capital of Maputo. First, I show that the increasing density of international actors in the capital city and their living needs, as well as how those needs are treated by the public sector, are deepening a housing, infrastructure, and amenities divide between the rentier and international classes in the city and the majority of low-income residents. Second, I contend that the very readiness of non-tax revenue sources from international agents is enabling a continued reliance on external funding, rather than own-source revenues, for major capital investments. This balance in favor of external financing further diminishes the already weak tax bargaining potential of the local population in making demands for urban development projects that directly serve them. In conclusion, I argue that the international development organizations portending an interest in the enhancement of urban equities and fiscal responsibility across cities like Maputo especially need to rethink their operational presence to better address the perverse externalities of their physical and socio-economic imprints on the urban landscapes in which they operate.


December 9, 2021
5:00 pm - 6:15 pm
Event Category: