Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Urban Studies

First Advisor

Garth Myers

Second Advisor

Xiangming Chen


The Dakar Metropolitan area is a vast area containing the capital city of Senegal, Dakar and the four departments or administrative zones of Dakar, Pikine, Guédiawaye and Rufisque. Dakar is the economic, cultural and political center of the country. Its location and opportunities draws migrants every year from the rural areas. Finding a high cost of living, migrants settle into the suburbs while adding pressure to a system already facing rapid urbanization and failing infrastructure. Through a mixed method analysis of primary data composed of questionnaires, interviews and observations, this case study of Pikine seeks to understand the built environment and lived experiences of residents in the “banlieue” or “suburb” of Dakar and the process by which people differentiate between Pikine and Dakar. This analysis responds to this question: Is Pikine a city that’s increasingly independent and shaping its own destiny or is it still heavily defined by its identity as “une banlieue” of Dakar? The conclusion of the study is that Pikine is a suburb by urban form and functionality, which is defined by the failing built environment, an area lacking employment opportunities and one where the residents are victims of misconceptions about crime and danger. In contrast, the communities within Pikine envision themselves as a city; offering opportunities for everyone and serving as a model for other cities in Senegal.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies.