M.Sc. Els Keunen

M.Sc. Els Keunen

M.Sc. Els Keunen

Researcher and Lecturer, PhD Candidate


Since 2023
Lecturer and Researcher, International Urbanism, University of Stuttgart, Germany

Since 2021
PhD Candidate, International Urbanism, University of Stuttgart, Germany
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Astrid Ley

2021 – 2023
Advisor Citizen Participation for Littoral & South West Regions, Programme for Municipal Development, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), Cameroon

2015 – 2021
Urban Planning Expert, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2010 – 2014
Advisor Urban Planning for the municipalities of Chimoio, Gondola and Gorongosa, Decentralisation Programme, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), Mozambique

2008 – 2010
Junior Assistant Urban Planning, Kampala Integrated Environmental Planning and Management Project (KIEMP), Belgian Development Agency (BTC, now Enabel), Uganda

2000 – 2007
Master, Architecture, Provinciale Hogeschool Limburg (now University Hasselt), Belgium
Master, Cultures and Development Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium

CV Summary

Els joined the Department of International Urbanism at the University of Stuttgart as lecturer and researcher in October 2023. She is teaching courses on Urban Planning; Methods and Tools; and Critical Perspectives. She is also involved in the EU-funded DASH project on delivering safe and social housing.

Before joining the institute, Els worked as advisor citizen participation in the Programme for Municipal Development implemented by the German Development Agency (GIZ) in Cameroon. She worked with three civil society organisations in Littoral and South West Regions to improve citizen participation in municipal budgeting and infrastructure management. Concurrently, she carried out field work for her PhD research which focuses on housing pathways of tenants in Douala.

Between 2015 and 2021, Els worked as Urban Planning Expert at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. At IHS, Els was teaching in the Master Programme Urban Management and Development, coordinating and teaching courses such as Urban Governance, Policy, Planning and PPPs; Cities and Migration; Urban Strategies and Planning; GIS Methods for Urban Research; and the Research Workshop Urban Socio-Spatial Dynamics. She also supervised Master theses. Apart from teaching, Els was involved in various research projects. Between 2017 and 2020, she was a researcher in the ‘Spatial Inequality in Times of Urban Transitions: Complex Land Markets in Uganda and Somaliland’ research project and in 2016, in the ‘The urban expansion and compactness debate in the context of Mozambique’ research project. In 2015, she was involved in a desk study on supporting cities to address institutional bottlenecks for inclusive local economic development in South-East Asia. Furthermore, she co-developed and implemented various short trainings, among others a hybrid training for the Ministry of Construction of Myanmar early in 2021 and a 4-module training on strategic spatial planning processes for urban advocacy purposes for NAHNOO, an organisation of urban activists in Lebanon, which took place in 2019. Moreover, between 2017 and 2019, she worked as a consultant with 6 municipalities in Mozambique to improve their building permit processes.

Between 2010 and 2014, Els advised 3 municipalities in the centre of Mozambique in the area of urban planning. She assisted the municipalities in developing their master plan and detailed neighbourhood plans; setting up a basic GIS land register; enhancing land register software; and improving the land registration processes. Before Mozambique, she worked for over 2 years in Uganda through the Belgian Development Agency (BTC, now Enabel). She was part of the Kampala Integrated Environmental Planning and Management Project (KIEMP), an urban upgrading project in 3 neighbourhoods in Kampala which had the objective to improve infrastructure and housing conditions, change behaviour in the use, operation and maintenance of local infrastructure and build capacity of Kampala City Council in environmental planning and management.

Els holds a Master’s degree in Architecture and an Additional Master’s degree in Cultures and Development Studies.


Mady, C., Ruijsink, S., Chemali, J. & Keunen, E. (forthcoming). Insurgent planning in a state of exception: The reopening of the Beirut Pine Forest, Lebanon. In R. Rocco & G. Sylvester (Eds.), Insurgent Planning Practice. Agenda Publishing. https://www.agendapub.com/page/detail/insurgent-planning-practice/?k=9781788216760

Keunen, E. (2023). ‘Daniel E. Agbiboa, They Eat Our Sweat: Transport Labor, Corruption, and Everyday Survival in Urban Nigeria. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022, 288 pp.’, book review. Africa, 93(1), 182-183. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972023000049

Keunen, E. & Ley, A. (2023). Understanding residential mobility: Why the African context matters. Journal of Urban Affairs, 45(3), 335-352. https://doi.org/10.1080/07352166.2022.2063134

Jachnow, A., Keunen, E. & Nyamai, D. (Eds.) (2022). ‘Just Cities’. Trialog 4/2019 https://www.trialog-journal.de/en/current-issues/

Keunen, E. & Ruijsink, S. (2021). ‘Planning for all? Guiding principles for selecting multi-stakeholder tools in urban planning processes’. In J. Fransen, M.P. van Dijk & J. Edelenbos (Eds.), Urban Planning, Management and Governance in Emerging Economies. Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781800883840.00017

Keunen, E. (2020). Finding a Place to Live in the City: Analysing Residential Choice in Kampala.  Housing & Society, 47(3), 215-243. https://doi.org/10.1080/08882746.2020.1776063

IHS, DPU and IPE Tripleline (2020): Complex Land Markets in Uganda and Somaliland. Rotterdam, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies. ISBN: 9789064330469. https://issuu.com/ihsrotterdam/docs/pdr_final_complex_land_markets_in_uganda_and_somal

Keunen, E. & Lunetta, C. (2017). Analysing urban growth in Mozambican cities: the influencing factors of urban expansion and their impacts. Trialog 129, 10-16.  https://www.trialog-journal.de/en/journals/trialog-128-urban-transitions-in-africa/

Jachnow, A, Keunen, E., Lunetta, C. and Mazzolini, A. (2016): Urbanization in Mozambique – Assessing actors, processes and impacts of urban growth. Research monograph. Brussels, Cities Alliance. https://www.citiesalliance.org/sites/default/files/Urbanization%20in%20Mozambique.pdf

Jachnow, A. & Keunen, E. (2016): Mozambique: Guiding the Development of Liveable Cities. Cities Alliance Series. Available at: https://www.citiesalliance.org/sites/default/files/PB_Mozambique_WEB.pdf



Keunen, E. (2023, 31 May – 3 June). To move or not to move: Anglophone migrants’ housing experiences in Douala, Cameroon [Conference presentation]. ECAS9, Cologne, Germany

Keunen, E. (2022, 29 June – 1 July). Housing pathways of internal migrants in Cameroon [Conference presentation]. 19th IMISCOE Annual Conference, Oslo, Norway (hybrid)

Keunen, E. (2019, 28-30 August). Residential mobility in 4 African cities [Conference presentation]. RGS-IBG 2019, London, UK

Rabé, P., Keunen, E., Marx, C. and Walls, M. (2019, 4-5 July). Spatial Injustice in Urban Land Markets in East Africa: What is the evidence? [Conference debate]. LANDac Annual International Conference 2019, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Keunen, E. (2019, 19-21 June). Analysing residential location choice in Kampala [Conference presentation]. DSA 2019, Milton Keynes, UK