RurbanAfrica is all about collaboration. Linking rural and urban parts of sub-Saharan Africa and addressing the critical connections, this project is championing progress and challenging some of the myths that hinder development.

April 2012 - March 2016

Cecilia Tacoli, Principal researcher

Women selling bananas in a street market (Photo: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Creative Commons via Flickr)

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is a partner in African Rural-City Connections, which in its name illustrates the interconnectedness between rural and urban.

RurbanAfrica explores the connections between rural transformations, mobility, and urbanisation processes and the impact these have on poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. With our partners, IIED is addressing a number of crucial components, such as:

  • Agricultural transformation
  • Rural livelihoods
  • City dynamics, and
  • Access to services.

To underpin these, IIED is supporting policy dialogue so ideas can be captured and shared, and is looking at how the findings can be managed and shared. All this depends on integrating policy research, on policy dialogue, on knowledge sharing and on empirical research.

The project is challenging a number of generally accepted 'truths' about rural and city development. We are questioning the overall negative interpretations usually assumed about the economic role of rural-urban mobility and migration in sub-Saharan Africa. And we are generating new insights into the relationship between rural-city connections and poverty dynamics.

There is great collaboration between researchers from sub-Saharan African and European partners, and co-supervising of PhD students. The project is contributing to capacity building and, we hope, even to curriculum development. It's supported by a scientific advisory board, again with members from European and sub-Saharan African research institutions.

RurbanAfrica partners from Africa and Europe (Photo: RurbanAfrica)

The group collaborating on RurbanAfrica has partners from Africa and Europe and is diverse and interdisciplinary: just the kind of combination that is needed to address the complexities of rural:urban linkages.


European Union (from the Seventh Framework Programme for research technological development and demonstration)


Copenhagen University (This is the host site for RurbanAfrica)

University of Toulouse le Mireil

University of Utrecht

University of Ghana

Loughborough University

Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania

Ardhi University, Tanzania

University of Dschang

National University of Rwanda


Cecilia Tacoli (, principal researcher, Human Settlements; team leader, rural-urban