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Research Report

A future that low-income urban dwellers want, and can help secure

David Satterthwaite
Diana Mitlin
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2013
Pages: 44
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-6)

    The most important conclusion from our work is that in most urban contexts in the global South, poverty can only be reduced significantly when urban poor groups and their organizations can influence what is done by the local and national government agencies that are tasked to support them, and when they have the space to design and implement their own initiatives and then scale-up with government support. It is the learning from their own work and from each other and the demonstration to local government of what they can do that enables creative co-production with the state and larger-scale programmes...

  2. (pp. 6-9)

    There is little disagreement about some aspects of poverty reduction – for instance, reducing hunger and deficiencies in the provision of some ‘basic services’ (such as schools and health care, water and sanitation) – although there are disagreements as to how best these are provided and paid for (and for water and sanitation what should be provided). There is also little disagreement that an important part of poverty reduction is reducing or removing the large preventable disease and injury burdens and premature death (for instance, for infants, children, youth and mothers). The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be seen as...

  3. (pp. 9-14)

    There is the potential for another kind of development assistance; an alternative approach that works with urban poor women and men and their organizations. One that is oriented to their needs and priorities because they can influence what is chosen as well as its design and implementation. One that is also accountable to them as well as to governments (and when they are involved, to international agencies). One, above all, that recognizes their knowledge, skills and agency. This involves ‘expert’ staff from local and national governments and international agencies engaging with them, listening to them and being influenced by what...

  4. (pp. 14-15)

    The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set up to make governments and international agencies focus on some aspects of reducing poverty and meeting needs for some basic services such as water, sanitation and health care. But many of the MDG targets leave the job half done – halving the proportion of people who have inadequate incomes, suffer from hunger, unsafe water and inadequate sanitation between 1990 and 2015. The MDG target for achieving significant improvements in the lives of slum dwellers was for just 100 million, which is around 10 per cent of those in need when the target was...

  5. (pp. 15-16)

    Almost all the conventional responses to urban poverty face the contradictions between the cost of what is needed, the funding required and the very limited capacity of low-income groups to pay14. But getting full cost recovery for any form of infrastructure or service from low-income households for which they choose to pay brings great advantages. The number of households reached is not limited by the lack of subsidy. It also avoids the need for external funding. The same is true for loan finance. The expansion and extension of good quality sewers and drains to which all households connect supported by...

  6. (pp. 16-20)

    This policy report suggests that there are many examples of using finance in different ways and drawing it from different sources. This includes the money mobilised by informal savings groups and the many functions this has – providing loans, supporting group capacity to manage finance and initiate their own initiatives.

    Box 1 described how the Asian Coalition for Community Action (ACCA) has provided small grants to 950 community-initiatives to upgrade ‘slums’ or informal settlements in 165 cities in 19 nations, but with each community choosing what to do. It also supported all the initiatives in each city coming together to...

  7. (pp. 20-21)

    Perhaps it is too early to suggest that this shows a new trend or (to use a much over-used word) even a new paradigm in development. It has certain features shared with other initiatives. First, it makes funding available direct to low-income groups. But many forms of social protection now do this at the household level. Second, unlike social protection initiatives that provide income-supplements to individuals, it funds collective initiatives chosen by grassroots organizations. In so doing, it encourages them to plan and act collectively and, as noted previously, to bring this to the city-level and engage local governments. Collective...

  8. (pp. 21-28)

    Many discussions are now underway on the development framework that will replace the MDGs post-2015. As mentioned earlier, this includes a ‘High-level Panel of Eminent Persons’ appointed by the UN Secretary-General to advise him on the post-2015 process. There are the many UN agencies involved in developing thematic papers for the post-2015 discussions. There are also the international discussions on sustainable development goals coming out of Rio+20 (the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012) seeking to re-invigorate a concern for local and global environmental issues within development. There are also the evolving discussions on aid effectiveness within a ‘High-Level...

  9. (pp. 29-30)

    Here are eight points for development assistance agencies to consider, if they really want to reduce urban poverty:

    1: Don’t just set targets, be clear about how they can be met and by whom. The MDGs and their various targets are clear about what they want to achieve (and by when) but say nothing about how. They don’t set out who is responsible and capable of meeting the targets and who needs their capacity to act enhanced. Most goals and targets will not be met unless grassroots organizations and their federations and networks, as well as local governments and the...