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Poverty and the City


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									                                 International Poverty Centre

    United Nations Development Programme         August 2005

 Gávea                                                               Rio de Janeiro


   0.97                      Human Development Index              0.73
   80.5                         Life Expectancy at Birth          67.3
   98.1                             Adult Literacy Rate           87.9
 1,174.4                             Income Per Capita           120.7
  100.0                             School Attendance             69.5

Poverty and the City
   12.4                         Mean Years of Schooling
2      United Nations Development Programme

       FROM THE                                          D     escribing Britain in the 1840s, Benjamin Disraeli famously spoke of “two nations
                                                               between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are ignorant of each
                                                         other’s habits, thoughts and feelings, are formed by different breeding, fed by different
              EDITOR                                     food, ordered by different manners, and governed not by the same laws, as if they were
                                                         dwellers in different zones or inhabitants of different planets… the rich and the poor”.

                                                         Disraeli’s is a fitting description of the reality in many large cities of the world, where
                                                         poverty exists amidst concentrated wealth. Sometimes, poverty´s presence is simply
                                                         just too obvious to ignore — slums and tenements in the middle of a city, beggars
                                                         near a street light, homeless families eating and sleeping on a sidewalk. As often, it is
In Focus is a regular publication of the UNDP            hidden from the public’s sight, secluded in areas into which better-off residents, and
International Poverty Centre (IPC). Its purpose          data gatherers, do not normally venture.
is to present the results of research on poverty
and inequality in the developing world.
                                                         By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s people will live in cities. Such growth is bound to
Based in Brazil, IPC is a global policy think-tank
established by UNDP in 2004 to promote greater
                                                         outstrip the capacity of poorly resourced governments and feeble urban economies to
understanding of the challenges of tackling              absorb new residents and provide them with adequate jobs, shelter and services. Many if
poverty and deprivation in developing countries.         not most will end up in substandard housing in un-serviced and marginal locations, with
IPC activities are aligned with UNDP´s key
objective of supporting the Millennium                   insecure tenure, limited access to basic amenities and high exposure to health hazards.
Development Goals, as unanimously adopted
during the Millennium Summit in 2000.
                                                         This month, we devote In Focus to the theme of urban poverty. Accurate estimates of its
IPC Director                                             spread are hard to get. In fact, our opening article argues that official poverty statistics
   Nanak Kakwani                                         tend to understate the actual scale of need in urban areas of the developing world. This
Editor                                                   is because standard poverty lines often fail to reflect the real cost of living in a city and
   Alejandro Grinspun                                    to capture key dimensions of well-being, thus neglecting the great scope for improving
International Advisory Board                             the lot of the poor through provision of public goods. Housing tenure is especially
   Oscar Altimir, CEPAL, Santiago de Chile               important for them. In its absence, the urban poor are constantly exposed to the threat
   Giovanni A. Cornia, Università di Firenze
   Nora Lustig , Universidad de las Américas, Puebla
                                                         of eviction, as vividly described in the articles on Karachi and Lagos that also highlight
   Gita Sen, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore   the failure of formal sector planning to solve the problem of low income housing, the
   Anna Tibaijuka , UN Habitat, Nairobi                  negative impact of market driven real estate development and ill conceived transport
   Peter Townsend, London School of Economics
                                                         policies on the poor, and the institutional abuse and harassment often meted out to them.
   Philippe van Parijs, Université de Louvain

Desktop Publisher                                        Next, a piece on Kingston sheds light on the interaction between social exclusion
  Roberto Astorino
                                                         and violent crime. The latter is not merely an outcome of the cumulative disadvantages
Front-page photo                                         faced by inner city residents but, in a perverse manner, serves to reinforce the stigma
   Cidade Partida / Broken City, Rio de Janeiro
   Custódio Coimbra, 2001                                and discrimination that society thrusts upon them. This theme is further developed
                                                         in the following article, devoted to the phenomenon of urban violence. Analyzing the
Editor’s note: The figures on the front cover            implications of fear and insecurity for people’s well-being, the author provides a useful
come from the Human Development Atlas of Rio             typology of violence and draws important lessons for improving measurement and
de Janeiro, produced by IPP, IUPERJ, IPEA and
                                                         policy to curb it, and thereby avoid the fragmentation of the urban space.
FJP-MG in 2001. Monthly income per capita is
expressed in US dollars of 2000. Life expectancy
is in years, while adult literacy and combined           Such fragmentation seems already underway in Montevideo, where changes in the
gross school attendance are percentages. The             economy and the polity are affecting the social morphology of the city through their
figures show that the HDI for the neighborhood
of Gávea surpasses that of Norway, the country           repercussions in the sphere of work, space and non-market entitlements — and are so
at the top of the HDI ranking presented in this          reconfiguring the urban space as to foretell a ‘hardening’ of poverty for the socially and
year’s Human Development Report of UNDP. In              spatially segregated poor. But this is not inevitable, as the article on Manila shows.
contrast, adjoining Rocinha has the same value
as Georgia, ranked 100th in the report.                  Pointing to the crucial role of ‘agency’, particularly by poor women who often led the
                                                         struggle for rights and recognition in the Tondo shanty settlement, the author explains
Special thanks to Anna Tibaijuka, Executive              how organization and collective action have helped recast the rules of engagement
Director, as well as Nicholas You from UN Habitat,       between the urban poor and city and national authorities in the Philippines.
and the following colleagues from UNDP: Juan
Carlos Espínola (Kingston), Mohammad Z. Iqbal
(Islamabad), Zé Carlos Libânio (Brasília), Shu'aibu      In today’s rapidly urbanizing world, the shifting locus of global poverty towards cities
Musa (Lagos) and Corazón Urquico (Manila).               seems beyond doubt. To slow down the formation of slums and prevent an urbanization
                                                         of poverty, our closing article proposes an agenda focused on strengthening urban
    United Nations Development Programme
    Internatinal Poverty Centre                          governance and improving coordination among national and local authorities, private
    SBS – Ed. BNDES, 10º andar                           and non-profit actors, and the urban poor to ensure that they have tenure security as
    70076-900 Brasilia DF Brazil                         well as greater access to land, basic services and infrastructure. We hope our selection
    povertycentre@undp-povertycentre.org                 of articles can provide pointers to help meet these challenges so as to avoid the
    www.undp.org/povertycentre                           crystallization of “two nations” living side by side in one city.
The content of this publication does not
necessarily reflect the official views of UNDP.                                                                                  Alejandro Grinspun
                                                                                         International Poverty Centre In Focus August 2005     3

Under-Counting the                                                                              by David Satterthwaite,
                                                                                                International Institute for Environment
                                                                                                and Development (IIED), UK

Urban Poor
One of the most puzzling aspects of            Clearly, what poor households spend
official poverty statistics is that, in many   on non-food needs is not a measure of                         The official statistics used by
low income nations, apparently only a          whether these are being met. The meager                       governments and
small proportion of urban dwellers are         amount a family of five spends on                             international agencies tend
poor. This is so even when more than           renting a single room in which they all                       to understate the scale and
a third of them live in poor quality,          live — a room that lacks secure tenure                        depth of urban poverty —
overcrowded shacks in squatter                 and provision for piped water and                             sometimes grossly.
settlements lacking provision for water        sanitation — surely cannot be an
and sanitation, as well as schools and         indication of the income it needs if it                       One reason is the over-reliance
health services. Living in such                is to afford adequate accommodation.                          on poverty lines and the lack
settlements generally means lacking                                                                          of attention to living
a legal address and so not being able to       In some poverty lines, the allowance for                      conditions in urban areas,
vote or access public services, as well        non-food needs is unreasonably low                            mainly with regard to
as living under the constant threat of         because it is based on the amount that                        housing, infrastructure
eviction. In many such places, conditions      a household spends on non-food items                          and services.
are so poor that infant and child              when its total spending is equivalent to
mortality rates are ten to twenty times        the cost of an adequate diet. In other                        This suggests the need to
higher than in places with little poverty.     words, members of that household will                         extend poverty definitions
                                               not eat enough if they devote any                             beyond income or
The main reason for this discrepancy           portion of their incomes to items other                       consumption. It also
between official statistics and conditions     than food. Other poverty lines assume                         highlights the potential for
on the ground is that poverty definitions      that households that spend enough to                          reducing poverty through
seldom reflect the reality of urban            get sufficient calories must also be                          better provision of public
settings. Most are based only on               meeting their non-food needs. But no                          goods — hence, the critical
consumption levels with no consideration       data is collected to see if they are actually                 importance of more
of living conditions. Definitions and          met, or what income level would be                            competent and effective
measurement are seen as the preserve of        required to do so.                                            local governance.
‘experts’ — and the poor, who know how
they live, are not consulted in the process.   The lack of research to establish the
                                               actual cost of meeting non-food needs
Measuring poverty through poverty lines        has serious implications for urban
would seem particularly fitting for urban      locations where such needs are often
areas, where access to goods and services      particularly expensive. Yet some poverty
is highly monetized — as long as their         lines make no allowance for the higher
limitations are recognized and sufficient      monetary cost of acquiring goods and
allowance is made for non-food needs.          services in an urban context, while others
Normally, poverty lines are set drawing        make some adjustment but typically
on data on the cost of a minimum food          based on variations in the cost of food
basket or the lowest income that allows        alone. This fails to accurately reflect the
household members to get sufficient            higher cost of living in a city, which would
calories, with some amount added for           involve considering the differential in the
non-food items. But the allowance for          cost of non-food needs along with spatial
non-food consumption is often too small        variations in food prices.
to enable a poor urban family to cover its
needs adequately. It is commonly based         Indeed, the costs of non-food items can
on what a defined set of low income            be very high, and many empirical studies
households spends on necessities other         show the high proportion of income
than food, not on the level of resources       that poor urban families must devote
they would need to satisfy them.               to them. This is especially so in cities that
4    United Nations Development Programme

         Official poverty in Dar es          those with incomes above the poverty            lines were first used widely in high
                                             line may still be deprived of essentials.       income countries when virtually
         Salaam was 17.6% in                 In most urban contexts, indeed, whether         everyone had access to health care and
         2000, a time when its               a household is above or below the line          schools — and to accommodation that
         under-five mortality was            may have little bearing on its capacity         had provision for water, sanitation and
                                             to access goods or services. Even poor          electricity. In most of these countries,
         reaching 173 per 1,000              families often have to turn to private          poverty lines were also one among
         live births.                        provision, which is why urban                   several measures of deprivation.
                                             households typically need higher cash
                                             incomes to avoid poverty than most rural        By contrast, poverty lines came to be
are poorly governed and where much of        households. Proximity, clearly, does not        applied in low income countries as the
the low income population have to            imply access.                                   main or only method of measuring
resort to illegal markets to access                                                          poverty, in contexts where large sections
services, housing or land on which to        There are other reasons for the under-          of the population lack access to basic
build their homes.                           estimation of poverty in official statistics.   necessities. Thus the methods for
                                             In setting poverty lines, children are          measuring poverty are often reproduced
Housing expenses are usually for renting     often assumed to require a fraction of          by governments and international
accommodation or building a house.           the income needed by adults because             agencies without questioning their
Even renting a room in a poor quality        of their lower calorie requirements.            limitations — and mostly with less
shack may take 20% to 30% of a               But having one-third the calorie needs of       generosity, for instance in the allowance
household’s income. Slum or pavement         adults does not mean that the expenses          made for non-food needs.
dwellers may have to make informal           on children’s non-food consumption are
payments to stop the police from             one-third of an adult’s. In fact, affording     Fortunately, some of these limitations are
evicting them. Building in an illegal        health care for children or keeping them        being addressed in recent years,
settlement can also be expensive as          at school can be quite expensive for poor       particularly through the inclusion of data
the land has to be acquired and the          urban families. Even if education is            on housing conditions and basic services
construction materials, fixtures and         nominally ‘free’, families generally have to    in poverty measures — as in, for instance,
fittings paid for, all of which is rarely    pay for uniforms, books and exam fees,          estimates of the proportion of
cheap. Loans may be needed to purchase       as well as transport to and from schools.       households with unsatisfied basic needs.
land — and, in the absence of credit         Children are also more vulnerable to the        Similarly, adjustments for spatial
markets which the poor can access on         health burdens associated with poverty.         variations in prices or costs in different
fair terms, repaying the loans to informal   So expenditures on health care and              locations have become more common,
moneylenders can be highly onerous.          medicines for them are likely to be             and allowances for non-food necessities
                                             high, unless their illnesses and injuries       less ungenerous.
To escape high rental costs, many low        go untreated.
income households go to peripheral                                                           But even if poverty lines are set at levels
locations to get land they can afford.       Still another problem with poverty              that accurately reflect the income needed
But this increases their transport costs,    measurement is that household surveys           to avoid poverty, they will still give an
especially to and from work and for          often are not representative of urban           incomplete picture of deprivation. Most
accessing services, which can also take a    populations. They may have sample sizes         make no allowance for household
large portion of their incomes. Or they      large enough to indicate conditions in          savings despite their importance for
have no choice but to walk long distances.   ‘urban areas’, but fail to capture the          allowing poor families to cope with
Those living in illegal settlements and      situation of many poor families who,            shocks and stress. Nor do they place
relying on water vendors normally pay        because they are homeless and sleep on          a price on time, even though accessing
much more per liter than those with piped    the street or in public spaces, lack a legal    some services may imply a trade-off —
water connections. Many also have to pay     address — or live in illegal settlements or     often in women’s time — if queuing in
for garbage collection and access to         boarding houses into which data                 an urban clinic or at a public standpipe
latrines — and, in the case of families      gatherers are reluctant to go. For most         or toilet is required.
with children, for child care, which can     illegal settlements, there are no maps,
be quite costly unless they resort to        official addresses or household records,        Conventional poverty measures also fail
leaving young children unattended at         which make their inclusion in official          to capture intra-household differentials in
home or in the charge of older siblings,     surveys difficult or impossible.                consumption and command over income
with all the attendant risks.                                                                and assets, which can be large enough
                                             The lack of attention to living conditions      as to hide the presence of deprivation
Thus, despite the common assumption          in poverty measurements — and to the            within otherwise non-poor households.
that city residents are better served by     income needed to afford adequate                And they do not capture the vulnerability
infrastructure and services than rural       housing in poverty lines — is linked to         to falling into poverty but only the
populations, the fact is that public         the uncritical transfer of methods from         proportion of households who, at the
provision is often so limited that even      high to low income nations. Poverty             time of a survey, are below the income
                                                                                           International Poverty Centre In Focus August 2005       5

cutoff. So no distinction is drawn
between chronic and transient poverty,            Setting a poverty line: Key questions for urban areas
even though households facing a
temporary income drop need a different              Due to lack of data, misplaced assumptions or inadequate handling of the information
policy response to those who have long              that does exist, poverty lines tend to understate the scale of poverty in urban areas or
                                                    among certain urban groups. They should be questioned on several counts, such as:
had inadequate incomes. Worse, families
that take children out of school to work
                                                    Is the food allowance based on the kinds of food low income families actually consume?
may appear better off in household
                                                    If based on the ‘cheapest minimum food basket’ defined by experts, poverty lines may
surveys even as they become more                    underestimate the expenses incurred by poor families to meet their calorie
vulnerable and compromise their                     requirements — influenced, for instance, by time shortages due to long working hours
children’s future earning capacity.                 or queuing to access services, or by the choice of higher quality food such as meat or fish.

There is clearly a need to widen poverty            Is allowance made for meeting non-food needs? Is it based on the real cost of non-food
definitions to include aspects other than           items? Many poverty lines are based on the cost of food alone. When allowance is made
income or consumption. Of critical                  for non-food needs, it normally reflects what a reference low income family spends on
importance are assets and other means to            such items regardless of whether its needs are met. Sometimes, this allowance is based
                                                    only on the expenditure on non-food items of households whose total spending is just
reduce vulnerability to stress and shocks,
                                                    enough to get sufficient food.
housing conditions and tenure, access
to services, and the rule of law. They not
                                                    Is allowance made for the cost of housing? If allowance is made, it is usually imputed
only highlight dimensions often ignored             because of lack of data from official surveys. Most often, the allowance for the income
in standard measurement, but also help              needed to pay for adequate housing is very inadequate.
identify many more entry points for
poverty reduction.                                  Is allowance made for spatial variations to reflect the higher cost of non-food items in
                                                    urban settings? Where this is done, it is often based on differences in food costs only
Unless these dimensions are included,               even though spatial variations in the cost of non-food needs may be much larger.
many well-intentioned programs will
miss the great potential to reduce                  What allowance is made for children’s consumption? Because children require fewer
                                                    calories than adults, their food allowance is often adjusted downwards when converting
poverty through public goods. After all,
                                                    household data to individual data in defining a poverty line. Yet the same factor is
many deprivations associated with low
                                                    typically used to compute the costs of meeting children´s non-food needs, even though
incomes are rather the result of the
                                                    they can be as high as those of an adult due to expenses on schooling, health and day care.
incapacity of weak or ineffective public,
private or non-profit institutions to
ensure provision. A well-managed
municipal system for piped water,
sanitation, drainage, and garbage              and international agencies. For instance,            organizations of the urban poor, local
removal can greatly reduce the cost of         the availability of small-area data drawn            authorities and international agencies
accommodation for city residents, even         from censuses can provide critical                   work in partnership.
without increasing their incomes.              information for identifying and
                                               prioritizing interventions for specific              In the end, one of the critical determinants
This widening of poverty definitions is        groups in specific locations, yet it is rare         of the success of poverty reduction
part of a more fundamental shift in            for local governments to be able to get              programs is the quality of the
development thinking. It is a shift from       such information.                                    relationship between the poor and
official perceptions of poor people as                                                              the organizations with the resources
objects of government policy to poor           Local initiatives to generate the data               or powers that can help address their
people as citizens with rights and             needed for local programs must also be               deprivations. Improving that relationship
legitimate demands. It is a shift that         supported, including those that urban                calls for the ‘experts’ to engage with the
requires a greater focus on definitions        poor organizations can undertake                     people they intend to serve, who also
and data that can support local action         themselves. There are many examples of               have knowledge, resources and
by governments and civil society.              very detailed city-wide slum surveys, slum           capabilities that can contribute much
                                               enumerations and slum mapping by                     to poverty reduction. Ultimately, this
For city officials and other local bodies,     organizations and federations of the                 is a shift for poverty specialists from
household surveys based on                     urban poor and local non-governmental                recommending what should be done
representative samples for national            organizations. They provide strong                   to understanding what local processes
populations are of little use because they     information bases for improving housing              need support in order to influence what
do not identify which households are           conditions and tenure security, as well as           is done at the local level.
deprived and where they live. National         upgrading basic infrastructure and
statistical offices should rather be serving   services. Many of these initiatives have
                                                                                                    David Satterthwaite, The under-estimation
the needs of local authorities and civil       been catalysts for large-scale programs for          of urban poverty in low and middle-income
society as well as national governments        poverty reduction, where representative              nations, IIED Working Paper 14, 2004.
6    United Nations Development Programme

      URBAN                                 A Tale of Three Cities:
                                            Karachi, Kingston and Lagos

                                            Karachi                                        informal settlements or katchi abadi.
Insecurity is a fact of life for                                                           The earlier settlements, built between the
                                            by Arif Hasan
the poor urban citizens of                  Urban Resources Centre, Pakistan               1950s and 1970s, are now within the city
many countries. It may arise                                                               and have acquired basic infrastructure
from the lack of secure                     Since the early 1950s, the Pakistani           and improved their homes. Yet many
housing tenure, which means                 government has seriously tried to work         informal houses cannot be regularized
living with the constant fear               out housing solutions for low income           since they are on what is considered to
of eviction. Or it may reflect              communities. First it set out to build core    be ‘ecologically unsafe’ areas, prone
high levels of personal                     houses to resettle refugees, but was           to flooding or encroaching on amenity
insecurity stemming from                    not able to service even 10% of the            plots and reservations along natural
police harassment, abuse in                 requirement. In the 1960s, it launched a       drainage channels. Recent government
the hands of bureaucracies                  massive housing program that would build       policies are increasing the katchi abadi
or the breakdown of public                  200,000 housing units in five years. Yet       population as never before.
safety in the neighborhood.                 only 10,000 units were completed in two
                                            years before the project came to a halt.       In the meantime, the Karachi middle class
Whether one or the other,                                                                  has expanded due to the growth of the
the consequences for the                    In the 1970s, authorities developed            services sector and the emergence of a
poor can be traumatic — loss                over 300,000 small sites and services          market economy over the last ten years.
of critical assets and income               plots, ostensibly for low income families,     Banks and leasing companies flush with
earning opportunities,                      but more than 70% of plots remained            funds have started giving easy loans for
disruption of community ties                vacant for over 15 years. In any case,         housing, both to individuals and formal
and a general deterioration                 they were unaffordable to the poor, had        sector developers.
of the quality of life for the              complex procedures for allotment and
individuals as well as the                  took years after allotment to acquire          This has fuelled the upper and middle
households affected.                        basic infrastructure. In the late 1970s        income housing market. There is now a
                                            and 1980s, the government initiated            huge demand for vacant land within the
                                            a program to regularize and improve            Karachi urban sprawl. Since such land is
                                            informal settlements. Although most of         unavailable, a powerful nexus involving
                                            Karachi’s settlements have been notified       politicians, developers and bureaucrats
                                            as fit for registration, the program has       has emerged that is bulldozing and
                                            progressed at a rate of only 1.5% per          burning down irregular inner-city
                                            year. At this pace, it will take 75 years to   settlements — even some that were
                                            regularize the settlements. Meanwhile,         marked for regularization.
                                            new ones are being created.
                                                                                           According to one estimate, some 17,500
                                            Beginning in the 1990s, the government         housing units were demolished between
                                            has abandoned all attempts at social           1992 and 2001 to make room for middle
                                            housing. Its current plans revolve round       income housing, without counting other
                                            providing loans to access the land and         units that were cleared for infrastructure
                                            housing market. Since the poor are not         projects. Still other settlements have been
                                            deemed creditworthy, they are excluded         removed on the grounds that they were
                                            from the process. Besides, what they           in ‘ecologically unsafe’ areas. After their
                                            need is small-term loans for house             removal, however, embankments were
                                            improvements such as building a toilet,        built so as to prevent flooding and
                                            getting an electric connection or adding       drainage channels.
                                            a room, but such loans are not available.
                                                                                           The residents of these katchi abadi
                                            As a result of these failures, over 50%        were evicted and pushed into the city’s
                                            of Karachi’s 13 million people live in         periphery. They are now far away from
                                                                                        International Poverty Centre In Focus August 2005   7

their places of work and have to spend         invest in development and infrastructure.       Nationwide, poverty dropped to 19% in
a sizeable part of their income on             Privately funded projects have thus             2003 from 30% a decade ago. However,
transport. They are also far away from         replaced planning. These private                it remains concentrated in rural areas
the places of recreation and the better        initiatives are governed by the logic           and inner city pockets in and around
health and educational facilities. The         of the market, not the public good. The         the capital, where many of the poorest
major damage of this dislocation has           partnership between foreign investors,          Jamaicans are crowded. In 2002, the
been done to children’s education.             banks and insurance companies, and              poorest 10% of the population spent
In addition, women who used to work in         local developers can turn easy profits          one-eleventh as much as the wealthiest
their old neighborhoods can no longer do       only if it caters to the needs of the           10% on consumption and less than one-
so, which represents a considerable loss       better off sections of Karachi’s                thirtieth on non-consumption items
of income for their families.                  population, which are increasingly              such as life insurance, house mortgage,
                                               imbued with an ethos of consumerism.            car payments or weddings — which, in
Financed by foreign investment in the                                                          practice, means they do without most
real estate market, expensive housing          To address these concerns politically is        of these things.
schemes are being developed along the          more difficult now than it was ten years
sea front, often in contravention of the       ago. The devolution of power to an              It is in the inner city of Kingston
Karachi Coastal Management Plan and            indirectly elected city government has          and Spanish Town that one finds the
despite protestations by civil society         turned these issues ‘non-political’ while       ‘garrison’ communities where the largest
organizations and threats of legal action.     sparing the national and provincial             number of homicides takes place. As is
Seven hundred acres of protected               governments the need to tackle them.            commonly acknowledged, violence in
mangroves have already been ‘reclaimed’        Perhaps direct elections for the Karachi        the country has its roots in partisan
for housing purposes. So too are the           mayor will help introduce some real             politics and the regular use of thuggery
city’s natural recreational assets being       politics at the local level.                    by Jamaica’s two main political parties
taken over and ‘privatized’ for the                                                            from the 1940s on. In the 1980s and
exclusive use of the rich.                                                                     1990s, the proliferation of youth gangs,
                                               Kingston                                        gun distribution and hard drugs sent
Banks are also providing easy loans for                                                        back home from Northern cities by
                                               by Horace Levy
the purchase of vehicles. With 700 cars        University of the West Indies, Jamaica          Jamaican posses and yardies added to the
added to Karachi’s roads every day, travel                                                     partisan arsenal of the previous decades.
time within the city has increased by          Jamaica’s foremost problem today is not
more than 150% in the last six years.          poverty but violent crime. It has grown         Today party loyalties remain strong,
The worst victims of this increase are         relentlessly over the past 15 years, though     although intolerance of opposed views
those who live in the periphery and have       with a lull between 1998 and 2003 that was      has weakened among the youth. Turf
to travel to the city for work. Almost all     followed by a 50% jump in 2004 to the           wars continue, however, and the
are katchi abadi residents.                    third highest murder rate on the globe —        connection between political bosses
                                               three, five, seven murders in single            and criminal area leaders known as dons
The government is responding to traffic        episodes, bleeding the nation without pity.     persists, creating marked ‘areas of
congestion by building expressways                                                             exclusion’ in parts of Kingston and
along Karachi’s seasonal rivers. Better        For a small country with only 2.6 million       Spanish Town. These are the critical
options, such as segregating local and         people, to have recorded nearly 1,500           constituencies termed ‘garrisons’.
thorough traffic, developing link roads        homicides in one year and be heading, at
and a rational land use plan, are not          the current rate of five murders per day, to    Clearly, the cultural and social exclusion
being explored seriously. One expressway       over 1,800 in 2005 is just staggering. The      that is at the core of Jamaica’s violence
alone is displacing 25,000 families            problem is concentrated in Kingston and         goes back centuries. The entire history of
and over 8,000 commercial units. It is         the adjoining townships of Spanish Town         the island, from slavery up to the present,
affecting 40,000 jobs and the education        and Portmore, which together accounted          has been one long struggle of the African
of 26,000 children. More viable and            for 70% of the murders in 2004 — twice          majority for their rightful place in society.
cheaper solutions that do not have to          their share in the island’s population.
evict people were placed before the                                                            Even now, primary and secondary
government, but they have not been             Even aside from damage to the economy,          schools continue to privilege the white-
accepted. Expressways along the rivers         the present wave of violent crime is            and brown-skinned minority, while the
offer an opportunity to occupy land for        having an intense impact on people’s            Jamaican language has only recently
upper income commercial development,           consciousness. The middle class panics          begun to be treated as a socially
which may explain why they are chosen          after the murder of a few prominent             acceptable vehicle of expression.
over alternative plans.                        citizens, calling for capital punishment        Exclusion extends to health care, where
                                               by hanging to be resumed. Inner-city            the poor have to endure long hours in
There are a number of reasons for the          children are traumatized by the                 out-patient clinics and months of
current state of affairs. With the emergence   gunshots and dead bodies in their               waiting for treatment. The legal system
of a market economy following structural       midst. Worse, they are socialized to see        inherited from the British maintains a
adjustment, the state has ceased to            violence as normal.                             heavy bias against many traditional
8    United Nations Development Programme

African customs, for instance on                The crescendo of murder that has            planning laws. Most often, the people at
property. Exclusion is also rampant in          gradually mounted in Jamaica must be        the receiving end are the weakest — the
the way ghetto people are treated by            seen as the direct consequence of the       poor, women, aged and children —,
the police — with a death toll of 140 to        social exclusion thrust upon a large        who usually receive no compensation
150 a year up to 2003, two-thirds of them       segment of the population. It is a form     for the destroyed property and the loss
reported as ‘executions’. While pressure        of protest, of suppressed rage.             of earnings. Either they have no way of
from human rights groups and the                                                            fighting for their rights or they are
adoption of ‘community policing’ have           Jamaicans, however, have never taken        deemed to be illegal residents and
brought some improvements, police               their marginalization with complete         simply denied reparation. Some are even
treatment of poor people as ‘second-class’      passivity. Dependence on hand-outs          fined for constituting ‘public nuisance’.
citizens remains, including killings under      from politicians has long been combined
the pretext of a shoot-out.                     with political demands for recognition      Even in the United States where it initially
                                                and other assertions of independent         developed, urban renewal was seen as a
By and large, exclusion from the labor          identity. The latter have been most         disastrous public program because it ends
market has fallen hardest on the youth,         evident in the prevailing forms of family   up destroying neighborhoods and
their unemployment running at over              structure and religion, in reggae and       reducing available low cost housing.
30% in 2004 compared to a ten-year              dancehall music — and, not least, in an     Typical of such programs is the clearing
average of 14.8% for 1995-2004, inclusive       informal economy that now probably          of slums through the demolition of sub-
of adults. In inner city communities the        accounts for over 40% of Jamaica’s GDP.     standard buildings and the construction
idle jobless number over 60 out of every                                                    of low and middle income housing
100, with young women among the                                                             projects. At best, where a program is
hardest hit. This state of affairs is not       Lagos                                       followed through, the mere replacement
just seen in straight income terms but,                                                     of old buildings with new structures rarely
                                                by Kayode Ogunbunmi
above all, as discrimination, as hurtful        The Guardian, Nigeria                       leads to the elimination of slum conditions.
disrespect by the wider society.
                                                In April 2005, state officials carried      The experience has been no different
The worst damage of this spiral of              out a demolition exercise that cleared      in Nigeria. In a place like Lagos where
exclusion and violence is felt at the level     about 200 buildings at Makoko, a slum       government participation in housing
of the family. So many parents have             settlement in Lagos. The exercise was       provision is weak, displaced people
migrated, so many women become single           allegedly meant to upgrade the              typically end up relocating to other slums
mothers prematurely and so many males           community and provide a better              because they cannot afford the rate for
have multiple partners and do not offer         environment for its residents. Yet the      the new housing units.
the needed father figure that children are      gloom and despair of the newly
being thrust without love and guidance          homeless families were enough to judge      The urban poor, who are now dominant
into a maelstrom of violence.                   their appreciation of government’s          in Lagos and elsewhere in the country, are
                                                decision. They knew they would get no       transforming the city to meet their needs,
It is no wonder, then, that male youth,         new housing or compensation for their       often in conflict with official laws and
well backed up by women drawn to                lost dwellings.                             plans. They are just interested in solving
dependence on those known as gunmen,                                                        their problems of accommodation and
are both the chief perpetrators and the         It was not the first time demolitions       employment, which they try to do on
chief victims of the violence. About half       were carried out in the state. Already      their own terms. According to official
of those arrested for major crimes in 2004      four other slums were destroyed this        estimates, only 20% to 40% of the
were from the age group of 16-25 years,         year, along with several stand alone        physical development in Nigerian cities
and males of the same age accounted for         shacks, shops and kiosks. Since 1985,       is carried out with formal government
61.5% of the victims.                           public urban renewal programs have          approval. Inadequate oversight of
                                                sought to upgrade slum communities          buildings and shoddy handling
In a vicious circle, such violence has only     by providing roads and drainage             of building permits create additional
deepened the exclusion faced by the poor,       channels, along with schools, health        problems for the poor, including the
bringing down stigma and paralysis on           clinics, water supply and electricity.      collapse of housing structures that
inner city communities. Employers rely          Despite a stated aim of making cities       causes them a major loss of assets.
on stereotypes to reject applicants for jobs.   more livable for their dwellers, urban
Stigma drives out businesses, particularly      renewal in Lagos has of late translated     The Nigerian Land Use Decree was
with the recent turn to extortion to            into an almost unbridled destruction of     introduced in 1978, ostensibly to
compensate for the lack of legitimate           entire neighborhoods.                       facilitate speedy and equitable access to
income. It also drives out more ambitious                                                   land for development. The decree vested
residents, leaving communities bereft of        There is, in fact, a worrisome trend in     the proprietorship and control of all
needed talent and leadership. Even worse        most Nigerian cities that has turned        land in the state. In practice, the
is the blow to the social capital, solidarity   demolitions into the most potent            procedure for obtaining and developing
and social life of communities.                 instrument for enforcing urban              land became excessively bureaucratized
                                                                                          International Poverty Centre In Focus August 2005   9

and riddled with corruption. The                 the urban sector so as to promote                           From housing provision
resulting restrictions on the availability       employment for the poor, ensure a safe
of land, especially for the poor, have           and healthy environment for its most
                                                                                                              to infrastructure to public
encouraged the unrelenting growth of             vulnerable residents, and guarantee their                   security, ill conceived
irregular settlements on the fringes             ‘right to the city’. At the same time, urban                plans or outright neglect
of towns or on vacant public land.               planners must foster environmental
                                                 awareness and find ways of containing
                                                                                                             by government cause
Nowhere is this more evident than in             the negative impact of some activities                      lasting damage to the
Lagos. Despite being one of the smallest         carried out by the urban poor but                           urban poor.
states in Nigeria, it remains the country’s      without disrupting their livelihoods or
industrial and commercial center. Its            causing social distress.
population of over 12 million has been
steadily on the rise so that Lagos is            This is not being done. Even though
projected to become one of the world’s           people are said to be the main focus
five largest cities this year.                   of renewal programs, they are hardly
                                                 consulted before implementation and
Some of its problems include over-               seldom play a role in it. Indeed, one of
crowding and a growing stress on the             the main drawbacks of urban renewal
city’s infrastructure as a result of migration   in Lagos is the total lack of participation
from rural areas. Lagos also features            by those affected. Often the first thing
a poor solid waste disposal system,              residents know about government plans
inadequate provision of amenities and            to ‘renew’ their community is a quit
unregulated planning, which has led to           notice, followed by the razing or
haphazard development, flooding and              burning of their property. Demolitions
erosion. A large number of its residents         are carried out swiftly and punitively,
are engaged in informal activities. Most         with no offer of compensation for
live in the poor districts and squatter          disrupted lives and broken homes.
settlements of the city.
                                                 After a slum is cleared, there are usually
It is then little wonder that government         no relocations for the displaced. So the
should be overwhelmed. Since the early           absence of resettlement plans following
days of independence, the informal               demolition has made people wonder
sector has been the main provider of             whether the whole purpose of the
urban land and housing in the country.           program is any other than pushing them
The pressure to provide accommodation            back from land that has suddenly
for the rising number of city dwellers is        appreciated. The fact that well-
compounded by official ineptitude and            connected companies sometimes
graft. Weaknesses in government                  connive with government officials to
planning controls, and the haphazard             purchase land from under the feet of
developments associated with the                 long-standing tenants has only lent
informal sector, have created disorderly         support to this view.
and unhealthy urban environments.
                                                 Yet it is wishful to expect the poor to
Yet it was not until 1991 that Nigeria           vacate the cities and return to farming
adopted its first urban development              in the hinterlands to feed themselves
policy, although nothing was done to             and city dwellers. Officials might
implement it until the end of that               rather realize that the path to urban
decade. The policy turned out to be              sustainability lies in developing
heavily tilted against the poor. Many of         more inclusive and socially equitable
its components, such as access to                cities. This would not only involve
mortgage banks and land deeds, were              efforts to upgrade slums, provide
unaffordable to the poor because of              affordable housing and improve the
their meager earnings and, ironically,           security of land and housing tenure for
their inability to use their property as         the poor, but to strengthen urban local
collateral for loans that could help             governance as well.
them formalize their tenancy.
                                                 Without these actions, pressures on over-
The challenge for city planners, therefore,      burdened cities will continue unabated,
revolves around supporting and regulating        and the poor will suffer most.
10   United Nations Development Programme

                   by Caroline O. N. Moser,
                     Brookings Institution,
                                              City Violence and
                                              the Poor
                                              In many nations in Africa, Asia                normalized into daily life, provoking
Induced by growing                            and Latin America, urban violence has          references to ‘failed cities’ and ‘cities of
perceptions of violence, fear                 become so ubiquitous that it is now            chaos’ to describe the loss of control by
and insecurity are reshaping                  rightly considered to be a major               public bodies and the victimization of
the urban space of many large                 development constraint. Not only does          urban residents.
cities in the developing world.               violence affect people’s health and well-
                                              being, but it also has a devastating           It is hard to ascertain the spread of urban
As the rich retreat to fortified              impact on the social fabric and economic       violence accurately. Mortality statistics,
enclaves, the poor become                     prospects of entire cities.                    often used as proxies, are notoriously
increasingly isolated in their                                                               unreliable due to under-reporting and
segregated neighborhoods —                    It is no wonder, therefore, that the range     difficulties in interpreting the data. The
fearful of random violence,                   of researchers, policy makers and              most commonly used indicator of violent
vulnerable to the erosion                     practitioners focusing on the issue            crime, the homicide rate, disregards non-
of key livelihood assets, and                 of violence, fear and insecurity has           fatal violence and usually includes both
often fending for themselves                  expanded in the past decade beyond             intentional and unintentional deaths,
owing to the state’s failure to               the traditional disciplines — criminology,     such as from car accidents. National and
protect them.                                 social work and psychology — and today         regional differences in data collection
                                              includes economists, sociologists, political   methods, recall periods and cultural
Violence and crime are hugely                 scientists, transport planners, architects     definitions of crime and violence further
detrimental to well-being,                    and community workers.                         complicate comparisons across countries.
and demand urgent and
innovative approaches to                      Along with this change has come a              Despite these limitations, it is a fact that
curb them.                                    growing recognition that violence is not       cross-country differences in homicide
                                              merely a problem of individual criminal        rates can be quite striking, ranging from
                                              pathology, but a complex, dynamic and          6.4 per 100,000 in Buenos Aires to 248 per
                                              multi-layered phenomenon that shapes           100,000 in Medellín in the year 2000.
                                              people’s lives in multiple ways. Violence      While less pronounced, there may be
                                              forces girls and young women to drop           sharp contrasts even among cities within
                                              out of night school to avoid streets that      the same nation. In Brazil, for instance,
                                              are no longer safe after dark. It erodes       the homicide rate in São Paulo rose by
                                              the assets and livelihood sources of the       103% between 1979 and 1998 — three
                                              poor, compromising their ability to            times as fast as in Rio de Janeiro.
                                              improve their life chances. And it instills
                                              fear and insecurity into the daily lives of    Within individual countries, urban growth
                                              city residents, undermining social trust and   is generally a stronger indicator of crime
                                              increasing the fragmentation of the urban      rates than city size. Intra-city variations, in
                                              space and the isolation of its people.         turn, are often linked to neighborhood
                                                                                             income levels. Crime related to property
                                              Although accelerating rates of violence        is typically more common in prosperous
                                              and crime are by no means an urban             areas, while lower income districts tend
                                              specific problem, they are particularly        to concentrate severe violence, especially
                                              severe in many large cities of the             in a city’s marginal periphery where
                                              developing world. In Latin America, cities     the grim living conditions of the poor
                                              such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo           serve to heighten the potential for crime
                                              account for more than half the total           and conflict.
                                              homicides nationwide, and so do Mexico,
                                              Lima or Caracas. Indeed, the sheer scale       Levels of violence also vary greatly by
                                              of violence in many poor urban areas           age and gender. By and large, young
                                              and slums is such that it has become           men are most likely to be both the main
                                                                                         International Poverty Centre In Focus August 2005       11

perpetrators and the main victims.
The estimated homicide rate among men            Urban violence: Definitions and categories
aged 15-24 in Brazil was 86.7 per 100,000
                                                    Violence is usually defined as the use of physical force, which causes hurt to others in
inhabitants in 1999, compared to only 6.5
                                                    order to impose one’s wishes. It almost invariably entails the exercise of power to
for women of the same age. Even in
                                                    legitimize the use of force for specific gains. Broader definitions of the term extend
countries with much lower levels, not
                                                    beyond physical violence to include psychological harm, material deprivation as well
only is male juvenile violence mounting             as symbolic disadvantage.
but so is its intensity.
                                                    For purposes of designing interventions to prevent or reduce its incidence, it is useful
It is nonetheless useful to distinguish             to distinguish between different types of urban violence according to its more common
between structural causes and trigger risk          manifestations and perpetrators. One such typology would distinguish between
factors when analyzing urban violence.              political, institutional, economic and social violence.
The former largely reflect unequal power
relations (whether based on class, gender,          Much social violence is linked to gender power relations, such as intimate-partner
                                                    violence and child abuse inside the home as well as sexual abuse in the public arena.
ethnicity, territory or identity), while the
                                                    Social violence further includes ethnic and territorial or identity-based violence
latter refer to situational circumstances
                                                    linked to gangs. Economic violence, motivated by material gain, is associated with
that can exacerbate the likelihood of
                                                    street crime, including mugging, robbery and criminal acts linked to drugs and
violence occurring. For instance, drug              kidnapping. Closely related is institutional violence, perpetrated by state institutions,
and alcohol use can be a trigger for gang           especially the police and judiciary, but also by officials in sector ministries such as
brutality or gender-based abuse, but it is          health and education, as well as groups operating outside the state such as social
important to discern the underlying                 cleansing vigilante groups. Finally, political violence includes guerrilla or paramilitary
structural factors behind such violence             conflict and political assassination, often associated with a context of armed struggle
no matter what its triggers might be.               or war but present during peacetime as well.

One also has to acknowledge that no                 Since violence is a complex and multi-layered phenomenon, it is clear that there can
                                                    be no hard boundaries between the different types described here. In reality, our four
single cause determines or explains
                                                    categories represent an interrelated continuum with close linkages between them.
urban violence. While poverty has long
been considered to be among its chief
determinants, this relationship has
recently been challenged as being too
simplistic. Interpretations based on           Whatever its causes, it is undeniable               neighborhoods and the rich in their
statistical modeling have shown that,          that violence has a dramatic impact on              gated communities, perpetuating a fear
with regard to national level data on          people’s well-being. Even if perceptions            of the ’other’ and thus contributing to
murder rates, inequality tends to have         of fear cannot be properly captured in              the social, economic and political
greater influence than poverty, with           statistics, they fundamentally affect the           fragmentation of urban areas.
income disparities characteristically being    livelihood security of the poor and
more marked in urban than rural areas.         their ability to access resources for               This fragmentation has intensified with
Bouts of violence have likewise been           survival, as well as the functioning                recent increases in kidnapping for
associated with the implementation             of local social institutions. The spatial,          ransom and vehicle robbery as against
of structural adjustment programs, as          economic and social constraints                     vehicle theft, which have heightened
well as with processes of globalization        imposed by street crime and endemic                 insecurity among the wealthier
and democratization.                           violence, and the uncertainty they                  population in cities throughout the
                                               generate, pervade people’s lives, with              world. Panic stricken, the rich react by
In reality, poverty and inequality             serious implications for the various                cutting themselves off from the poor,
frequently overlap to generate                 assets and capabilities that underpin               whom they see as the main culprits.
conditions in which acts of violence           their livelihood strategies.
become more likely. Of great consequence                                                           Residential fortification is one of many
in this regard are the spatial dangers so      Violence, in fact, erodes financial assets          fear-management strategies through
prevalent in city peripheries, where           through its drain on criminal justice               which they try to cope with the anxiety
unsafe places such as unlit or isolated        services and the health care system, as             generated by a perception of rising
lanes, bus stops and public latrines           well as decreased investment and rising             criminality. In some cases, the urban
become ripe with physical assault, rape,       institutional costs. It has a huge impact           space is being so reconfigured that it is
robbery. The presence of such places           on victims’ human capital, through                  leading to the emergence of what has
usually reflects poor infrastructure           reductions in life expectancy, educational          been called a ‘networked community’ of
or design, and the fact that the urban         opportunities and productivity in the               wealthy residents who are somehow dis-
poor have to commute long distances            workplace. And by reducing social                   embedded from the city, their fortified
to work early in the morning or late at        contact and trust among city dwellers,              residences linked to a constellation of
night only enhances their exposure to          violence weakens social capital too. It             shopping malls through a sophisticated
being assaulted.                               isolates the poor in their segregated               transport network of highways and
12   United Nations Development Programme

roundabouts. It is as though parts of          minimize and naturalize abusive behavior                   Increasingly, policies
the city were ‘lifted out’ so that they are    of that sort. Effective prevention thus
increasingly alien from the rest of the        demands a close examination of how,
                                                                                                          seeking to improve
metropolis — spatially and socially apart      and when, a society responds — or fails                    living conditions in
from the sprawling, chaotic, impoverished      to respond — to specific manifestations                    urban areas will need
mass of its residents.                         of violence in different realms.
                                                                                                          to tackle the thorny
For the urban poor, the ensuing socio-         Difficult as it is, assessing the costs of                 issue of violence.
spatial exclusion and the ever-present         violence is equally important for policy
fear stemming from random violence are         making. Probably the greatest progress
compounded by an almost unqualified            has been made with regard to estimates         health approach aimed at prevention,
distrust of the state’s capacity to control    of direct economic costs, such as the          to more integrated strategies seeking to
or prevent criminal behavior, and the          associated losses due to deaths and            prevent crime and improve citizen security
structural problems associated with            disabilities (or ‘transferals’ from property   through urban renewal, as well as spatial
existing police and judiciary systems. The     crimes) as a percentage of, for instance,      and environmental design.
lack of confidence in the public security      GDP. Such measurements can help to
system has led to a rapid expansion of         assess the impact of crime on both             But, to date, there has been little rigorous
informal, non-state mechanisms of social       individuals and society, allowing for a        evaluation of the efficacy of these
control that include revenge violence,         comparison with the costs of other social      various approaches, despite a wide
vigilante crime and other extra-judicial       ills — with important policy implications      recognition that there can be no magic
forms of justice. These self-help              in terms of cost-benefit assessments.          bullets or one-off solutions to curb or
community responses may serve to                                                              prevent city violence. This has led to an
maintain social cohesion and mitigate          But in many contexts, measurement is           expectation that a diversity of strategies,
conflict, but at the cost of generating        constrained by the lack of access to           used in varying combinations in different
perverse forms of social capital.              information on expenditures incurred by        places, will together achieve the desired
                                               the police, the judiciary, the penal system    outcome. Some approaches clearly work
The perceived failure of the public forces     and even the armed forces. And there are       better than others, and some are more
to protect the citizens has also led to the    many indirect costs as well, for individual    appropriate in settings where other
proliferation of private security measures,    victims as well as society as a whole,         interventions would likely fail.
with state authorities either contracting or   which are intangible and for which no
condoning private firms to conduct public      reliable quantitative data exist.              At the same time, rising concern with
policing. But the resulting privatization of                                                  political and institutional violence has
security offers solutions that focus more      So the realization that quantitative           brought issues of human rights to
on the rich than the poor, at the same         methodologies fail to reflect people’s         the forefront. There is, as a result, a
time undermining efforts to develop            daily encounters with violence has             broadening consensus about the crucial
adequate policing solutions.                   encouraged the use of qualitative              importance of consulting community
                                               techniques in recent years. These have         residents in designing appropriate
Effective solutions must recognize that        proved invaluable in eliciting people’s        solutions — whether it means drawing
as much as the spatial consequences of         perceptions of fear and insecurity.            on young people’s perceptions about
urban crime and violence differ from one       Similarly, incorporating specific              solutions for gang warfare or promoting
place to another, so too do socially           questions on these topics into broader         partnerships between the police and
constructed thresholds of tolerance and        household surveys could help address           local communities.
perceptions about acceptable levels or         some of the existing measurement
types of violence.                             problems, providing a low-cost way to          Missing still are efforts to confront
                                               procure data that is probably more             and incorporate the issue of fear into
It is typical, for example, to find a strict   accurate than police records.                  violence prevention and reduction
distinction between public and private                                                        strategies. Locally grounded approaches
spaces that serves to render much of           This would certainly provide a stronger        to rebuild trust and social capital at the
women’s victimization invisible. The           information basis for policy initiatives       community level are equally in need of
demarcation between citizen security           aimed at preventing or reducing urban          development. Ultimately, though, these
and issues of intra-family violence            crime and violence, which have become          may provide a crucial mechanism for
normally means that gang violence is           a ‘growth industry’ in the last few years.     redressing the impact of violence on the
unacceptable, while that taking place          There are now numerous policy                  lives and livelihoods of the poor in cities
among intimate partners is tolerated.          approaches to tackle these problems,           around the world.
This is so despite the fact that gendered      many of which deliberately target the
violence occurs in both the public and         urban poor. They range from sector
the private spheres. It is not space per se    specific interventions, such as using the      Caroline O. N. Moser, “Urban violence
                                                                                              and insecurity: An introductory roadmap”,
that matters, but rather the cultural          criminal justice system to control and         Environment and Urbanization, Vol. 16 No. 2,
norms regulating gender relations that         treat economic violence or the public          October 2004.
                                                                                   International Poverty Centre In Focus August 2005   13

                     by Rubén Kaztman,
                    Universidad Católica,
                                            Spatial Segregation
                                            and the Hardening of
                                            Historically, the city of Montevideo            In fact, widening income differentials
Poverty in Montevideo                       has had relatively low levels of poverty        do not automatically translate into
has more than doubled                       and inequality and a fair degree of social      increasing social distance among city
since the mid-1990s — from                  cohesion among its residents. This,             dwellers. But once better off families stop
9% to 21% of households                     however, is changing rapidly.                   consuming public services and turn to the
between 1994 and 2003.                                                                      market for their education, health, security
                                            Like other countries in the region, Uruguay     or transportation, the services they leave
As important, though,                       has been going through intense economic         behind, which now cater mostly to the
has been the progressive                    restructuring in recent decades. The demise     poor, lose an important constituency and
weakening of the links tying                of import substitution and the retreat of       begin to deteriorate. The resulting quality
low-skilled workers to formal               the state, together with erratic and modest     gap between public and private services is
labor markets, which has                    overall economic growth, have slowed            not the only problem, though. As the
been accompanied by a                       down the pace of job creation, particularly     middle class deserts the public schools,
growing segmentation in                     in the public and manufacturing sectors,        hospitals and squares, these cease to
the demand for and quality                  traditionally two important sources of jobs.    provide a space where people from
of public services and a                    These changes have been accompanied by          different backgrounds can interact as
noticeable concentration                    an expansion of services, where wages and       equals — and the scope of concerns that
of low-income families in                   employment conditions differ markedly           were previously perceived as common
‘pockets’ with high density                 across occupations, as well as a rapid          becomes narrower.
of material deprivation.                    incorporation of technology in the most
                                            dynamic productive areas.                       Segmentations in the labor market and
Both processes are changing                                                                 the use of publicly provided services are
the social and urban landscape              The combined result of these changes            having a visible expression in the novel
of the city in a manner that,               has been a decline in the demand for            fragmentation of the urban space.
left unchecked, can have                    low-skilled work, an increase in under-         Since the 1980s, Montevideo has seen
long-term effects on the very               employment and unemployment, and a              unprecedented changes in the spatial
fabric of Uruguayan society.                widening of the gap in pay and working          distribution of households from different
                                            conditions among workers with different         income groups. Large numbers of urban
                                            qualifications. Absent a well developed         poor fled the city center to settle in the
                                            welfare regime, the spread of irregular and     periphery, where irregular settlements
                                            precarious jobs is impacting negatively         expanded notably. At the same time,
                                            on the urban poor, undermining their            middle and upper class families moved to
                                            ability to accumulate tangible and              exclusive areas to the east of the city,
                                            intangible assets that could help them          increasing the physical and social distance
                                            gain access to critical qualifications,         separating the haves and the have-nots.
                                            services and entitlements.
                                                                                            This phenomenon is certainly not new to
                                            Greater occupational instability among          Montevideo. Starting in the 1950s, rural
                                            the urban poor is being reinforced by           folk who migrated to the capital settled in
                                            two other processes that are profoundly         the city’s outskirts where they established
                                            altering the social morphology of many          precarious settlements known as cantegril.
                                            South American cities. I am referring to the    By then, the urban landscape was already
                                            growing segmentation in the demand for          punctuated by a number of solidly
                                            and utilization of public services, and the     working-class and other low-income
                                            polarization of the urban space into ever       neighborhoods that had developed since
                                            more socially homogeneous areas. Unlike         the early days of industrialization. But
                                            changes in the labor market, these two          the current process of spatial segregation
                                            processes may be harder to reverse once         differs from the past, not only in its
                                            they become firmly established.                 intensity but in other key aspects.
14       United Nations Development Programme

                                                                  Life in the new urban slums does not         incidence of social ills such as teenage
    Intra-urban residential mobility                              revolve around work, as it did in the        pregnancy and out-of-school youth who
    and socio-spatial polarization                                traditional working-class districts whose    are neither working nor seeking a job.
    Montevideo, 1985-1996 (%)
                                                                  residents shared a sense of identity and
                                                                  loyalty that arose from a commonality of     Exploring the impact of residence on
                               Population dynamics*
    Neighborhoods         Net out-                 Net in-        interests and life experiences at work and   poverty is a new area of inquiry in the
                          migration               migration       at home. Nor do the slums reveal the         region. But initial findings from research
    By social composition**                                       dense web of local associations and          suggest that the neighborhood does exert
                                                                  small-scale businesses that characterized    an independent effect on people’s
      Low                      4.8       22.2        69.6         many mixed low-income neighborhoods          chances of moving out of poverty. The
      Medium                  38.1       38.9        21.7         in the past. And unlike the rural migrants   mechanisms at work are many and
                                                                  who were pulled into the city by the         reinforce each other. Accessing good
      High                    57.1       38.9         8.7         prospects of a better life and saw their     jobs is harder for those who live on the
                                                                  residence in a cantegril as temporary,       city periphery, who may rather take lowly
    By social risk***
                                                                  today’s irregular settlements are largely    paid jobs closer to home to avoid the
      Low                     57.1       38.9         4.3         inhabited by people who, after having        high costs of transport to and from work,
                                                                  acquired the habits and aspirations          in time as well as cash. Meanwhile,
      Medium                  33.3       44.4        26.1
                                                                  typical of an urban lifestyle, are being     employment opportunities in the vicinity
      High                     9.5       16.7        69.6         pushed out in a context of downward          are rare, since the spatial clustering of
                                                                  mobility. Their physical move to the         poorly endowed households on one
*   Percentage of neighborhoods, classified according to the      periphery represents a step towards          location conspires against the emergence
    changes in the number of residents from 1985 to 1996.
                                                                  social exclusion, rather than a              of viable economic ventures. The few
** Measured by the share of high-status occupations among
    residents (professionals, managers, etc).                     springboard into full citizenship.           family businesses that exist mostly rely
*** Based on indicators of teenage pregnancy, schooling gap                                                    on unpaid family labor, so they cannot
    and dropout rates among children aged 8-15, and youngsters
                                                                  It is perhaps unsurprising that families     be counted upon as a source of
    who are neither studying nor working or seeking employment.
                                                                  on low and irregular incomes should          remuneration or experience that might
                                                                  cluster into the poorer areas of the city.   ease someone’s entry into the labor force.
                                                                  But once there, it seems that their very
                                                                  concentration in spatially segregated        For a growing number of unskilled and
                                                                  neighborhoods with poor services and         semi-skilled workers, the lack of formal,
                                                                  high material deprivation makes it harder    stable jobs heralds a slow but steady
                                                                  for them to obtain stable jobs.              erosion of the role ‘work’ has traditionally
                                                                                                               played in Uruguay’s relatively open
                                                                  Our own research in Montevideo shows         society — a channel for social mobility
                                                                  that, whether young or adult, male or        and integration, a source of self-esteem
                                                                  female, people who have completed 11         and identity, as well as a promoter of
                                                                  years of study have a higher incidence of    citizenship. The physical concentration
                                                                  unemployment, or self-employment in          of working-age people with little hope
                                                                  precarious jobs lacking social protection,   of advancement through gainful
                                                                  if they live in a poor neighborhood than     employment can breed a strong feeling
                                                                  in other parts of the city. The social       of relative deprivation among those who,
                                                                  make-up of the place of residence also       no longer able to partake in the urban
                                                                  appears to be a stronger predictor of        lifestyle into which they were socialized,
                                                                  the probability of a youngster being         see a widening chasm between their
                                                                  out of school and out of work than           symbolic and their material satisfaction
                                                                  the educational level of his family.         of the consumption patterns and
                                                                                                               aspirations associated with it. Their
                                                                  Unemployment is higher in the irregular      location in areas with high levels of
                                                                  settlements around the city. So is the       material want also limits the development
                                                                  spread of self-employment in informal        of neighborhood associations and
                                                                  activities and of precarious jobs with       reciprocity networks, precisely at a time
                                                                  limited or no social protection. These       when their role as informal safety nets
                                                                  are the areas that have exhibited the        could prove most valuable.
                                                                  greatest demographic growth of the last
                                                                  two decades. They are also the ones that     As the new urban poor crowd into highly
                                                                  cluster the greatest number of spatial       deprived areas and their links with the
                                                                  disadvantages: lack of critical services     labor market turn weaker and more
                                                                  and infrastructure, a high density of poor   unstable, they are becoming increasingly
                                                                  households, and an above-average             isolated from the rest of society. In a
                                                                                      International Poverty Centre In Focus August 2005   15

context of declining economic opportunity,      circle, the crystallization of codes and                 Public policy must
neighbors seldom provide an effective           norms so alien from those that regulate
source of help for obtaining a job or           behaviors in ‘mainstream society’
                                                                                                         not only seek to
information for accessing services and          will affect the public image of these                    alleviate poverty,
training opportunities. At the same time,       neighborhoods and foster the creation                    but also incorporate
the physical and social distance between        of stigma, especially when perceived as
the spatially segregated poor and their         tolerant of illicit activities.
                                                                                                         socially those who are
better off counterparts in other                                                                         being left behind.
neighborhoods deprives them of vital            Even those who reject resorting to illegal
connections that could otherwise be put         means in their quest for the elusive goals
to gainful use, while the ‘flight’ of those     of consumerism are increasingly prone          better-off families will care for the
who can afford to leave robs these              to be perceived as being at odds with          poverty around them.
communities — mostly the youth —                the norms sanctioned by society.
of much needed role models who could            As a result, an exclusionary stigma is         The segregated urban poor may therefore
provide a living example of the positive        collectively imposed upon everyone             become the paradigmatic case of social
association between work and                    who happens to live in such segregated         exclusion. There are those who will resist
achievement. Finally, the shallowness of        places. By erecting a barrier to the           it — and eventually succeed. Many others
local institutions weakens the mechanisms       accumulation of assets that might help         won’t, resigning themselves to their fate as
for informal social control in the localities   them escape poverty, the growing social        ‘second class’ citizens. Consequently, the
where they live, undermining basic rules        isolation of the urban poor thus sets the      progressive polarization of space along
of conviviality among neighbors.                ground for a ‘hardening’ of poverty for        class lines seems to portend a worsening
                                                the present and future generations.            of the extreme disparities that already
Community trust may eventually break                                                           characterize so many cities in Latin America.
down. The public and personal insecurity        Ominously, the current economic climate
that follows will have the effect of further    in the region seems to promote the             To arrest these trends, public policy in
restricting people’s mobility, their choice     development of areas that resemble             the region must go beyond current
of occupations and their efforts to             urban ghettos. These are places where          notions of poverty as resulting merely
mobilize household labor, forcing them to       the chances of accumulating useful social      from the vagaries of the economic cycle.
divert key resources away from income           capital for obtaining a job become             It can no longer be assumed that
generation into unproductive uses, such as      narrower, where insecurity precludes the       improving the living conditions of the
looking after the house, assets or children     mobilization of household labor, and           poor would, by itself, enable them to
who can no longer be left unattended.           where stigma and discrimination                become full participants in society. It is
                                                conspire against those who seek to             only now that the problem of residential
It is in this milieu that an alternative set    progress through a regular job. They           segregation and how it affects social
of norms seeps in. It is one that questions     are places inhabited by people expelled        integration are entering the urban
the normative and behavioral codes              from other areas of the city, as well as       research agenda. So as notions of
which, in the eyes of those with little         those who cannot afford to leave — a           exclusion, disenfranchisement, isolation and
hope for the future, have failed to             residual population living in ever more        the like gain currency in contemporary
prevent the exclusion and isolation that        precarious conditions.                         accounts of poverty, so too does it
permeate their lives. Thus emerge the                                                          become more pressing to understand
most disruptive, self-reproducing traits        As the disparities between socially            how economic process and social
of poverty — the ghetto subcultures             homogenous neighborhoods deepen,               morphology combine and interact to
that not only express the precarious            so will the gaps in the quality of social      fragment the urban space, congeal
living conditions of the new urban poor         services, infrastructure and amenities,        social relations and erect barriers to
but create additional obstacles for their       drawing even sharper contrasts between         equity and citizenship.
integration into society.                       the localities that house the poor and
                                                the rest of the city. Worse, the decay of      It is this perverse interaction between work
These subcultures are a natural corollary       public spaces due to the overlapping           and space that public policy must address
of the gradual build-up of adaptive             segmentations in the labor market, the         if it is to promote more cohesive and
responses to the experience of severe           use of public services and the urban           integrated societies. The notion of an open
hardship and persistent unemployment,           space is bound to weaken feelings of           city — a city open to all — should serve
the lack of successful role models and          empathy and moral obligation towards           as a guiding principle for efforts to not
reasonable expectations of social               the least advantaged, which must be            only address poverty, but also respond
mobility, and the weakening of local            constantly renewed to remain active. By        to the demands for incorporation of its
mechanisms for self-regulation, all of          limiting the frequency of interactions,        excluded groups.
which make the residents of these               the growing physical and social distance
communities more susceptible to the             between poor and non-poor may end
                                                                                               Rubén Kaztman y Alejandro Retamoso,
codes and norms prevailing in their             up reducing society’s aversion to              “Segregación espacial, empleo y pobreza
immediate environment. Yet, in a vicious        inequality and making it less likely that      en Montevideo”, Revista CEPAL no. 85, 2005.
16   United Nations Development Programme

                        by Mary Racelis,
             Ateneo de Manila University,
                                            Recasting Urban
                                            Power Relations
                                            The reality of urban poverty                    recognition. In the Philippines, this urban
Since it first emerged                      assaults the senses of those who venture        awakening came about largely through
in the 1960s, community                     near the many shanty settlements of             community organizing.
mobilization by poor informal               Philippine cities. Those who enter the
settlers has changed the                    maze of paths, alleys and wooden                Informal settlers began to organize in the
political dynamic in many                   walkways over low-lying swamps                  mid-1960s, in response to a government
large Philippine cities.                    discover another kind of city. There,           plan to demolish the homes of thousands
                                            hundreds of families live in flimsy             of poor families in the Tondo foreshore
Now, city officials can no                  houses, crowded in densely packed               area and relocate its 180,000 residents to
longer neglect the demands                  neighborhoods that mix physically               a site 40 km from the city. Despite the
of the urban poor when they                 degraded settings with a wide array             repression of the Marcos authoritarian
are organized. At the                       of productive small-scale enterprises.          regime, a group of non-governmental
forefront of this movement                                                                  activists and progressive Catholic leaders
have been women — fighting                  These are the people who represent some         convinced the foreshore residents to
for their rights, pressing for              one-third of the population of large            form the Zone One Tondo Organization,
reform, demanding better                    Philippine cities. Metro Manila alone,          or ZOTO, a federation of mass-based
services for their communities.             with its 14 cities and three municipalities,    neighborhood organizations that would
                                            accounts for over half of the 8.4 million       oppose government plans to convert the
                                            informal settlers nationwide.                   narrow strip of land along Manila Bay
                                                                                            into a modern container pier, with upper
                                            Whether tucked away in pockets of land          income housing units, commercial
                                            dispersed throughout the metropolis             buildings and small-scale industry.
                                            or all too visible on large tracts of public
                                            land invaded long ago, informal settlers        Through the use of popular education
                                            nonetheless easily disappear in urban           and social mobilization tactics backed
                                            statistics. Rarely do the latter disaggregate   by marches and rallies, ZOTO would
                                            urban populations so as to identify             manage to recast unequal power
                                            informal settlers separately from the rest      relations between government and
                                            of the population. Urban figures rather         people. It would help Tondo residents to
                                            tend to merge the wealthy with the poor         identify, prioritize and mobilize around
                                            in urban-rural comparisons of income,           local problems, linking them with
                                            health, education, clean water and other        national issues while resisting outside
                                            basic features. The emerging skewed             manipulation and rejecting dependency
                                            averages thus hide the depth of poverty         attitudes in favor of democratic and
                                            existing in the shantytowns, where most         egalitarian modes of collective action.
                                            of the city’s poor live.
                                                                                            Hundreds of meetings and many
                                            To this day, many city maps still               mobilizations later, Tondo’s occupants had
                                            show open spaces for areas in which             succeeded in pressuring the government
                                            thousands of poor settler families have         to grant them titles or leasehold rights to
                                            actually lived for years. But because they      land onsite or nearby, upgrade their
                                            are residing on the land illegally, elites      community and guarantee basic services
                                            and officials dismiss as unjustified their      on terms negotiated with the government
                                            claims to secure tenure, basic services or      and the World Bank. The participatory
                                            other benefits.                                 processes demanded by ZOTO — always
                                                                                            with the latent threat of protest
                                            The exclusion of poor people from               mobilizations — yielded program and
                                            serious planning circles persists until the     policy solutions that were mutually worked
                                            day they assert their rights and demand         out between people and government.
                                                                                                International Poverty Centre In Focus August 2005   17

Many positive developments over the                 difficult for government to undertake                organizing, from the early ZOTO era to
intervening twenty years have shown                 unless acceptable and nearby relocation              today. Although men participate and
the efficacy of community organizing                sites have been agreed upon by those                 take on leadership positions, it is the
in enabling marginalized people to gain             threatened with displacement. More                   women in poor communities who most
recognition of their rights and dignity —           distant resettlement communities may                 avidly join and lead local efforts to
and claim a fair share of resources and             only be considered if they build in                  improve their localities.
power. Had urban informal settlers not              alternative income opportunities,
mobilized to confront recalcitrant                  affordable transportation, school                    It is women who have to face hungry
officials, criticize unresponsive institutions      facilities, potable water, health services,          children when there is no food, nurse
and put forth their own solutions, many             electricity, and other amenities.                    them back to health, or explain why
pro-poor programs that national and city                                                                 they cannot join the school outing or
governments are currently implementing              Although some local governments still                buy lunch for lack of pocket money. It is
would likely not have come into being.              ride roughshod over informal settlers,               women who press for street lights, mindful
Those programs range from fostering                 especially if they are not well organized            that a daughter walking home along dark
land rights and providing basic services,           and cannot articulate their points of view           alleys after work or night school is an easy
information and participation in decision-          effectively, officials are now much more             target for rape. It is they who bear the
making to a host of income, employment,             aware that unwillingness to listen to and            brunt of violence from a drunken or angry
health insurance and micro-credit                   address some of their needs may lead to              husband and seek change. Since, by
schemes for the poor.                               defeat in the next election. Accountability          virtue of their child-minding roles, many
                                                    of city politicians to their constituent             women are home or neighborhood
A product of intense grassroots lobbying,           voters is emerging as a reality that must            bound or engage in petty trade at the
the Urban Development and Housing                   be taken seriously.                                  fringes of their settlements, they possess
Law of 1992 has opened up more just                                                                      an intimate knowledge of local life —
and humane opportunities for urban                  It is noteworthy that, all along, women              and strongly held aspirations for
shelter. Forced evictions now prove                 have been at the forefront of community              bettering their community.

                                                                                                         It comes as no surprise, then, that women
                                                                                                         appear the most motivated to press for
  Targeting children in informal settlements                                                             reform and act. Women can generally be
      More than their richer urban counterparts, poor children are likely to begin life as               counted on to struggle for land, housing
      low-birth-weight babies susceptible to the many diseases endemic to poverty. Diarrhea,             and other assets. They are the first to
      typhoid fever and cholera come from contaminated water and food, dengue fever from                 demand better services and press for
      mosquitoes breeding in stagnant canals, and respiratory diseases from leaking roofs                income and employment opportunities
      and drafts blowing through perforated cardboard walls. The high levels of infant and               in their communities. The results of their
      child mortality and morbidity attest to the degraded environments where they live.                 engagement emerge in their own sense
                                                                                                         of efficacy, the meaning and direction in
      Measles and tuberculosis spread quickly in crowded shanties and densely populated
                                                                                                         their lives, and their ability to manage
      neighborhoods. All too common there are infected cuts from broken glass and cans,
                                                                                                         the family when a husband dies or
      festering sores untreated for lack of medicine or nerve ailments from dumpsite fumes —
      and, for young street vendors and scavengers, permanent disabilities from vehicle
                                                                                                         abandons them.
      accidents or garbage slides. Those who beat the odds and reach adolescence face new
      threats to their well-being in the form of gang warfare and drugs.                                 Perhaps women’s strengths derive from
                                                                                                         their greater optimism about the future,
      Of the estimated 240,000 street children in 22 major Philippine cities, most return                compared to poor men. Yet, even as they
      home each night. But the rest join gangs of children and youth who spend day and                   forge ahead, Filipino women make an
      night on the street, banding together for protection and emotional support. To this                effort not to leave their husbands behind,
      street population have recently been added push cart families and sleeping-space                   aware that men’s positive self-images
      renters, who settle down on city sidewalks once the shops have closed.                             must also be strong.

      Yet even if city governments wanted to target poor children for program benefits,
                                                                                                         As time passes and people’s experiences
      they would be hard pressed to do so because data on living conditions is so woefully
      inadequate at the barangay or community level. In the 1990s, a promising attempt
                                                                                                         sharpen, their capacity to tackle broader
      to gather data on minimum basic needs flourished so long as local officials and                    policy issues for justice and redistribution
      communities used them in programming for children. But the experiment ended                        grows. Much still has to be done, but the
      as soon as the national government lost interest.                                                  seeds for social transformation have
                                                                                                         already been planted.
      Thus, there is no way city officials can identify children in need or ascertain whether
      their interventions make a difference. Targeting, monitoring progress and evaluating
      impact call for a sound database that allows follow-up assessments for comparisons                 Mary Racelis, “Begging, requesting,
      over time. This is a crucial component of a genuine pro-poor program.                              demanding, negotiating: Moving toward
                                                                                                         urban poor partnerships in governance”,
                                                                                                         in Nabeel Hamdi, ed., Urban Futures (2005).
18   United Nations Development Programme
     United Nations Development Programme

INSIGHT                                      Poverty and the
                                             Urban Agenda
                                             by Anna Tibaijuka, UN-HABITAT

Confronting the unremitting                  Well over half of the world’s population will live in urban and peri-urban areas by
urbanization of poverty                      2015, the target date for reaching the Millennium Development Goals. The majority of
requires a clean break                       these people will be in developing countries and, if present trends continue, most will
with the fragmented and                      be living in slums without access to decent shelter, water and sanitation.*
uncoordinated approaches
to development planning of                   The urbanization of poverty constitutes one of the major challenges of our times. Its
the past. Decentralization,                  underlying causes have been well documented — rapid and unprecedented urban
participation, flexibility,                  growth, inequitable distribution of wealth, and the inability of the formal economy
innovation — these are some                  to create sufficient jobs, combined with the failure of public policy to ensure people’s
key ingredients of integrated                access to basic needs.
development management at
city level.                                  Slums, and the informal economy of which they are part, are the physical manifestation
                                             of urban poverty. It is ironic that the homes of the poor, which are not only their place of
Equally important is to enforce              residence but also a potential source of earnings for many low income families, are seldom
the right of every citizen to                recognized as houses, which means they cannot be insured or used as collateral. Thus
secure housing and basic                     the largest single investment that most households make in their lifetime is, in the case
services, which will help                    of the urban poor, discounted as having no economic value.
prevent the proliferation
of slums in coming decades.                  The difficulty of providing housing for low income groups has long plagued rich and
                                             poor countries alike. Rapid urbanization has only worsened the problems that have
                                             beset a whole range of strategies in the past, from subsidized public housing to inner
                                             city rehabilitation, and from sites and services to slum upgrading. Yet access to land
                                             and security of tenure are critical for the integration of slums into the urban economy
                                             and the improvement of living conditions for their residents.

                                             Tenure security, in particular, is commonly acknowledged as the first and most critical
                                             step towards slum improvement, but it is often hampered by the fact that most slums
                                             and informal settlements are deemed illegal. Interventions by public authorities
                                             to regularize or upgrade these settlements are politically sensitive as they could be
                                             interpreted as de facto recognition of the legal status of slums. This often leads to a
                                             vicious circle whereby slum dwellers are reluctant to improve their living environment
                                             in the absence of regular titles, while service providers are unwilling to assume the
                                             risk of investing in infrastructure. Slum dwellers end up paying dearly for their lack of
                                             access to basic amenities and services, both in economic terms and in terms of their health
                                             and lack of security. Those who are fortunate enough to run a small scale business have
                                             little or no access to formal credit, and are often subject to harassment and eviction.

                                             Breaking from this vicious cycle requires a departure from conventional planning
                                             and decision making by sector towards more integrated policies aimed at promoting
                                             socially inclusive development. Legal and institutional frameworks and governance
                                             systems must be reshaped so as to include all spheres of government, local authorities
                                             and, especially, the urban poor as participants in devising any solution. Needed
                                             foremost are actions seeking to reduce existing inequities in housing security and
                                             access to services, and to plan and manage the growth of cities so as to prevent the
                                             proliferation of slums and unplanned settlements.

                                             Achieving this will not be easy. In most developing countries, municipal authorities
* For a review of global trends, see pages   lack the flexibility and the instruments to link administrative decisions with physical
  12-13 of the May 2004 issue of In Focus.   planning for infrastructure, services and local development. Officials often compete for
                                                                                       International Poverty Centre In Focus August 2005   19

resources, each operating according to their own logic and losing sight of how their
decisions affect overall socio-economic and environmental conditions. This competition
and the resulting fragmentation tend to exacerbate existing inefficiencies and inequities
in access to vital services and amenities, with detrimental effects on the poor.

Decentralization and administrative reform can significantly strengthen the capacity
of city officials to tackle these challenges, and should be a central component of a
new agenda for effective urban governance. In recent years, for instance, participatory
planning is proving to be effective in reducing poverty and stimulating local economic
development by linking social, economic and environmental planning and management
through the involvement of all stakeholders in government and society.

Already many countries and cities are devising innovative ways to relieve the plight of the
urban poor. In Brazil, a pro-poor land act passed in Belo Horizonte has allowed tens of
thousands of slum dwellers to obtain tenure security and regularize their status. Based
on enabling federal legislation, the local authority suspends and relaxes planning laws
and building standards on a temporary basis to facilitate housing improvements and
land tenure regularization, thereby providing the space for slum dwellers to invest in
their houses, comply with codes and standards, and gain legal recognition and title deeds.

Likewise, China has managed to curb the problems posed by high rates of urbanization
and a real estate boom following the liberalization of its housing sector, which has
largely bypassed those with limited income and savings. To ease their access to
formal housing, cities like Chengdu and Baotou have adopted a ‘dual track’ policy of
stimulating demand and supply through the combined use of equity grants for the
poor and fiscal incentives for developers who provide affordable housing within a
negotiated price range. This policy has put some six million housing units on the
market each year, avoiding the formation of slums and the social ills often associated
with low income housing projects that tend to evolve into urban ghettos over time.

South Africa, in turn, has revised its national policy and legal framework for water and
sanitation so as to redress the imbalances inherited from apartheid. The new legislation
complies with principles of fairness, equity and sustainability, with a view to ensuring
universal access to basic water supply by 2008 and to basic sanitation by 2010. The
strategy separates regulatory from operational functions, devolving management
and decision making to the lowest administrative level consistent with the benefits of
economies of scale. It also provides for the participation of civil society in planning and
monitoring, and the private sector in assisting, rather than replacing, local authorities
in water provision and management. Between 1994 and 2003, the reforms in South
Africa had already expanded access to basic water supply from 60% to 86% of the
country’s population, and from 49% to 63% for basic sanitation.

Another good example comes from Morocco, where a participatory planning and
budgeting exercise was successfully carried out in the city of Tétouan. Involving all
spheres of government and the citizenry, the exercise resulted in the leveraging of
resources for the implementation of a pro-poor investment plan, alongside a city
poverty alleviation strategy that includes urban upgrading and local development
initiatives. Important outcomes from this experience have been a more transparent and
accountable process of decision making, a more responsive administrative and
governance system, and a public that not only became better informed of the resource
allocation process but was able to influence the decisions taken.

These experiences show how inclusive and integrated approaches to development
planning and administration can make a noticeable difference on the ground. They
confirm that decentralization and empowerment of adequately resourced local
authorities can not only contribute to poverty reduction, but to a dynamic urban
economy in which everyone has a stake. They suggest, in short, how we can keep the
promise of the Millennium Declaration and ensure that every person, rich as well as
poor, fully enjoys a ‘right to the city’.
International Poverty Centre
SBS – Ed. BNDES, 10º andar
70076-900 Brasilia DF

                                       August 2005

Telephone +55 61 2105 5000

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