Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Urban and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Urban and Public Affairs, PhD

Committee Chair

Zhang, Sumei

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Simpson, David

Committee Member

Simpson, David

Committee Member

Walker, Margath

Committee Member

Awiti, Alex

Author's Keywords

urban planning; vulnerability; land use; Africa; sprawl; informal


This dissertation explores intersections between vulnerability and urban planning in Sub-Saharan Africa, where distinct forms of urbanization are occurring and where there are significant data constraints limiting local studies and urban assessments in the region. The three studies which make up this dissertation offer methodological and theoretical pathways toward examining and measuring the influence of urbanization and planning factors on vulnerability of urban populations in the region. The first study is a literature review and examines existing literature for vulnerability conceptualization in urban environments, the notion of ‘urban vulnerability’, and roles of urban planning and related factors in relation to vulnerability specifically in the sub-Saharan context. The second study explores approaches to quantitatively constructing more recent urban land use data in the absence of available land use datasets in the Sub-Saharan context, particularly data with informal and formal urban land use distinctions. The third study offers a methodology and estimation models to measure and quantify planning and urbanization variables (i.e. sprawl) in vulnerability assessment. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania serves as the study area because of its rapid urbanization processes, substantial informal development and sprawling, as well as availability of reliable datasets for recent years (2014/2015) for the vulnerability assessment. Findings of the literature review include challenges in conceptualizing vulnerability in an urban environment beyond a climate focus, gaps in urban vulnerability conceptualization, underrepresentation of planning factors and measurement in vulnerability assessment, and limitations in local and urban data availability and studies in Sub-Saharan cities. Results for the second study include the construction of a 2014 urban land use dataset based on estimates from binomial logistic regression models. Results for the third study indicate formally planned urban areas are associated with higher level of quality of life and mobility. Further results indicate no impact of sprawl on social vulnerability factors of residents in the urban areas of Dar es Salaam, however, informal (i.e. unplanned) sprawl impacts residents negatively. These results provide initial steps toward investigating the influence of broader planning and spatial aspects in quantitative urban social vulnerability assessments in the Sub-Saharan context as well as similar contexts in the global south.