Several SSA cities amongst the least liveable


Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, Douala in Cameroon, Harare in Zimbabwe and Lagos in Nigeria have been rated as cities with some of the worst living conditions in the world.

“The concept of liveability is simple: it assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions,” stated the EIU’s report.

“Assessing liveability has a broad range of uses, from benchmarking perceptions of development levels to assigning a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages.”


The ranking provides scores for lifestyle challenges in 140 cities worldwide and covers five broad categories, namely: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

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Of the four SSA cities, Harare has the lowest healthcare rating on 20.8, and Douala and Lagos were joint bottom regarding standards of education on 33.3.


The report did however indicate that there has been some improvement in the cities at the bottom of the ranking.

“Of the poorer-scoring cities, 13 continue to occupy the very bottom tier of liveability, where ratings fall below 50 per cent and most aspects of living are severely restricted,” said the report.

“A gradual return to stability has seen improvements in the scores of Tehran in Iran, Tripoli in Libya and Harare in Zimbabwe, although all three cities remain firmly entrenched in the bottom tier of liveability.”

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The report further stated that the Middle East, Africa and Asia account for all 13 cities in the bottom tier, with violence, whether through crime, civil insurgency, terrorism or war, playing a strong role.


While the top tier, which includes the likes of Melbourne in Australia, Vancouver in Canada and Helsinki in Finland, remains fairly unchanged, the ranking reflects a long-term decline in scores. 

According to the EIU, this is driven by a growing number of global hotspots of instability. The ranking shows that since 2009, average liveability across the world has fallen by 0.7 per cent, led by a 1.3 per cent fall in the score for stability and safety.

“Over the past six months only nine cities of 140 surveyed have experienced changes in scores. Over half of the changes taking place over the past 12 months have been driven by deteriorating scores, with instability re-emerging as a key factor in influencing global scores,” the report said.

Jon Copestake, editor of the survey, said, “Liveability trends tend to move slowly, so it is unsurprising to see little or no movement among the top ranked cities. But destabilisation has had a catastrophic impact for some cities with a possible knock-on effect in neighbouring countries.”


According to the report, there does appear to be a correlation between the types of cities that sit right at the very top of the ranking.

“Melbourne remains the most liveable location of the cities surveyed, followed by the Austrian capital, Vienna. Vancouver, the most liveable city surveyed until 2011, lies in third place. For the very top tier of cities, with scores of over 80 per cent, there is no change to report over the past 12 months,” it said.

“Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density. Eight of the top ten scoring cities are in Australia and Canada, with population densities of 2.88 and 3.40 people per square km respectively.”