The ACRC urban reform database is a curated platform, designed to spotlight and share insights from a wide range of urban reform initiatives in African cities.

Free to use, the database provides a platform for cross-city learning and comparison. It is primarily aimed at urban researchers and practitioners who want to find out more about successful urban reform initiatives that have already been implemented in African cities.

The case studies provide short summaries of recent urban reform efforts, detailing key information, success factors and practical and political challenges, as well as identifying important lessons.

Arising out of the African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC), the database aims to support ACRC partners and others by documenting pertinent projects and reform efforts. Building on ACRC’s conceptual framework and approach to catalysing urban reform, the database is also intended to bolster our evidence base – particularly around the role of urban reform coalitions.

Read more here > ACRC blog: introducing the urban reform database

The ACRC urban reform database is a work in progress. New case studies are continually being sourced, compiled and published on our platform – but many urban reform initiatives are still undocumented. You can help us improve coverage by contributing a case study or idea.

Using the database

The database is designed to be easily navigable – whether you have specific search criteria or want to browse case studies more freely.

This short video covers all the basics, including how to:

  • Navigate using the map view or case index view
  • Search by keyword
  • Filter by date range, geographic scope, city, theme, sector and lead agency
  • Sort by publication date, title or project start year
  • Print or download individual case studies


The ACRC urban reform database is coordinated and edited by Kate Lines, with oversight from ACRC’s CEO Diana Mitlin. The project is steered by a working group, comprising senior figures from ACRC and which also acts as editorial panel.

A dedicated postdoctoral research associate, Elizabeth Dessie, prepares and supports others in preparation of many of the case studies. Other case study authors are drawn from across the ACRC and its wider network.

A core team based at The University of Manchester provides editorial support along with data entry, content management and production.


Q: How are case studies sourced/assessed?

A: Case study topics are nominated from across the ACRC and our wider network. Suggestions are assessed according to an evolving criteria.

Q: Who writes the case studies?

A: Case studies are prepared by a core research team based at The University of Manchester, ACRC partners and others in our wider network.

Q: How rigorous are the case studies?

A: Project experts are consulted as part of the writing process and evidence gathering draws on resources like secondary, technical and peer-reviewed material, assessments and evaluations. Case studies also undergo peer review and copy editing.

Q: What locations/types of initiative does the database cover?

A: Case studies span ACRC’s eight urban development domains and 12 focus cities, and beyond. Initiatives documented are recent or ongoing projects, processes, programmes and policies, led by a many different kinds of agencies or groups of actors.

Q: How is “success” qualified?

A: In analysing how successful an initiative has been in influencing urban reform, case study authors are strongly encouraged to prioritise the assessments of whichever groups are defined as its ‘target population’. Where this is not possible – for example, if monitoring and evaluation has not yet been carried out – the assessment of people who have been closely involved in the implementation of the project is considered to be the closest barometer for how well the project meets the needs of ‘beneficiaries’.


If you have any questions about the database or encounter any technical issues, please contact Kate Lines.