Urbanisation, poverty and sexual behaviour: The tale of five African cities

Meredith J. Greif, F. Nii Amoo Dodoo, Anuja Jayaraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The question of how urbanisation and poverty are linked in sub-Saharan Africa is an increasingly pressing one. The urban character of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa exacerbates concern about the urbanisation-poverty relationship. Recent empirical work has linked urban poverty, and particularly slum residence, to risky sexual behaviour in Kenya's capital city, Nairobi. This paper explores the generalisability of these assertions about the relationship between urban poverty and sexual behaviour using Demographic and Health Survey data from five African cities: Accra (Ghana), Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania), Harare (Zimbabwe), Kampala (Uganda) and Nairobi (Kenya). The study affirms that, although risky behaviour varies across the five cities, slum residents demonstrate riskier sexual behaviour compared with non-slum residents. There is earlier sexual debut, lower condom usage and more multiple sexual partners among women residing in slum households regardless of setting, suggesting a relatively uniform effect of urban poverty on sexual risk behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-957
Number of pages11
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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