By 2030, almost five billion people, or 60% of the world’s population, will live in urban areas [1]. In Africa in particular, where cities are poorly prepared to absorb large-scale migration from rural areas, major challenges need to be addressed.

The Ethiopian government recognized the problem 10 years ago. The current administration is increasingly promoting the development of new urban centres. In accordance with the federal constitution of the country and the urban planning goals of the Ethiopian government, the Arthur Waser Foundation supports the development of cooperative small towns and neighborhoods as an alternative to the collapsing megacities. For example, on the initiative of the University of Addis Ababa and the regional authorities of Amharas, the model of a cooperative rural town in northwest Ethiopia has been created since 2010.

The initiatives supported by the Arthur Waser Foundation illustrate how existing, vital challenges in Ethiopia can be tackled with the help of interdisciplinary models of urban development. The foundation therefore pays special attention to the processing of experiences made by the project partners themselves and to the provision of coherent guidelines for collective action for schools, authorities and future urban communities.

[1] United Nations (2014) World Urbanization Prospect. The 2005 revision. New York: the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs)