Corruption in Urban Planning: A Training Course for Urban Planning Students and Professionals


Urban planners are entrusted with the power to make critically important, long-term decisions that determine the future development of cities and towns around the world. These choices shape the urban environment and directly affect the lives and livelihoods of entire communities.

Unfortunately, planning systems are particularly prone to corruption. Decisions taken by planning professionals and departments are frequently made to secure private gains – whether for financial, political or social advantages – at the expense of the public good.

Corruption in urban development is by no means a uniquely African phenomenon. However, in African cities some issues associated with corruption are particularly acute, including the negative impacts of outdated planning laws and under-resourced local governments. Furthermore, the number of professional planners in most African countries is low compared to the overall population, resulting in a mismatch between the limited number of trained professionals and the rapidly growing demand for planning services from both the public and private sector.

The goal of this course is to equip prospective and established urban planning professionals in the sub-Saharan Africa region – from the public, private and civic sectors – with the necessary knowledge, tools and tactics to recognise and push back against corrupt practices in their day-to-day work, and within the planning and urban development sector more generally. The course explores the various dimensions of corruption in urban development and land use management through conceptual inputs, tangible case studies and interactive teaching methods. It has been extensively workshopped with urban development practitioners from across the continent over the past seven years and was reworked as the Corruption in Urban Planning: A Guide for Professional and Trainee Planners in 2023.

Though the course was developed with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa, its practical examples and guidelines are relevant and applicable in many contexts outside the continent.

Course objectives

The course aims to:

  • Raise awareness of the complex causes and effects of corruption in African cities, in particular those faced in urban planning
  • Strengthen integrity and advance public responsibility in the local planning profession
  • Equip urban planners in various stages of their career with the tools, tactics and networks to help tackle issues of urban corruption
  • Provide an open platform for the reflection of personal moral and development of collective professional ethics

General learning outcomes

By the end of this course participants will have:

  • Gained a deeper, evidence-based understanding of the nature, scale and scope of corruption and how it relates to their own experience as African/Africa-based planning professionals
  • A better awareness for the multiple dimensions of corruption in their profession and how corrupt practices negatively affect broader society and the long-term sustainable development of cities
  • Strengthened their sense of professional responsibility and moral agency against the backdrop of prevailing systemic challenges posed by rapid urbanization, increasingly polarized spatial development, political expediency, etc.
  • A good knowledge base of practical tools, strategies and mechanisms to identity and act against corruption in their daily practice
  • Understood the value of harnessing their professional expertise for becoming advocates of urban integrity and systematically address corruption in their respective professional bodies

Course structure

The course consists of five “Building Blocks”. Each Building Block (A-E) is between 2.5-4 hours long (excluding the immersion exercise, which can vary in length).

To facilitate this course, please start with the Teaching Manual below. This manual will walk you through how to deliver this course and how to use the accompanying teaching materials.

For questions, please email us at [email protected]


Course Outline Teaching Manual

Class Materials

Building Block A Video



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