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Satterthwaite D.,IIED
Environment and Urbanization | Year: 2016

This paper reviews progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water and sanitation in urban areas. Drawing on UN data, it shows the disastrous performance of many low- and middle-income nations in relation to the goal of halving the proportion without drinking water sources piped on premises and improved sanitation between 1990 and 2015. It also describes how even such a poor performance is actually understating the problem because of deficiencies in the data available. For water, there are no data sources with global coverage on who has “sustainable access to safe drinking water” (what the MDGs specify). UN statistics record whether households have drinking water sources piped on premises, but this does not necessarily mean the water is safe to drink or that there is a regular, reliable supply (what is implied by sustainable access). For what is termed “improved” or “basic” sanitation, the bar is set too low in the quality of provision needed in urban areas, so large numbers of urban dwellers said to have improved or basic sanitation still lack sanitation that greatly reduces health risks. The paper emphasizes that assessments of provision for water and sanitation need to make allowances for different contexts; what can work well in rural contexts does not do so in large and dense urban agglomerations. The paper ends with a discussion of what the experience with the MDGs for water and sanitation implies for the Sustainable Development Goals. © 2016, © 2016 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Source

This paper considers the collective knowledge about housing design and construction that was developed over 30 years by the Indian Alliance of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), Mahila Milan and the National Slum Dwellers’ Federation (NSDF) in its pursuit of secure shelter for the pavement dwellers in Mumbai, the most vulnerable people in the city. It traces the learning and innovations developed by these women pavement dwellers, mostly illiterate, in this one specific aspect of their much larger joint journey towards a safe, secure home in the city, something that seemed almost inconceivable when they began. The deeply political aspects of this larger journey are only briefly touched on here, allowing space to describe the hands-on learning about planning, design and building that was also essential in this process. The paper is one of an ongoing series tracing the work of this Indian partnership since 1986, examining the critical milestones that have emerged from discussion, reflections and collective exploration. © 2015, © 2015 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Source

Grassroots organizations that have sought to scale up improvements to their urban neighbourhoods through engaging the state have found themselves drawn into relationships with professionals. The potentially negative consequences of such engagements have long been recognized. This paper explores the nature of relations between professionals and organizations of the urban poor, identifying and discussing associated relational tensions. It considers the ways in which one alliance of urban poor federations and support NGOs has responded to the challenge to build alternatives within professionalized mainstream urban development practice. © 2013 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Source

Sverdlik A.,IIED
Environment and Urbanization | Year: 2011

This paper reviews the literature on health in the informal settlements (and slums) that now house a substantial proportion of the urban population in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Although this highlights some important gaps in research, available studies do suggest that urban health inequalities usually begin at birth, are reproduced over a lifetime (often reinforced by undernutrition), and may be recreated through vulnerabilities to climate change and a double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. The review begins with a discussion of papers with a life-course perspective on health, poverty and housing, before considering recent literature on chronic poverty and ill-health over time. It then discusses the literature on the cost, quality and access to care among low-income groups, and the under-recognized threat of unintentional injuries. This includes recent literature that discusses where low-income residents may suffer an urban penalty rather than benefiting from urban bias - although there are also studies that show the effectiveness of accessible, pro-poor health care. The concluding section examines emerging risks such as non-communicable diseases and those associated with climate change. It notes how more gender- and age-sensitive strategies can help address the large inequalities in health between those in informal settlements and other urban residents. With greater attention to the multi-faceted needs of low-income communities, governments can create interventions to ensure that urban centres fulfil their enormous potential for health. © 2011 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Source

Stage J.,Gothenburg University | Stage J.,Umea University | Mcgranahan G.,IIED
Environment and Urbanization | Year: 2010

Urbanization has been mentioned as one possible cause of higher food prices, and in this paper we examine some of the suggested links between urbanization and food prices. We conclude that urbanization, conventionally defined as the increasing share of the population living in urban settlements, is being conflated with related but separate processes, such as economic growth, population growth and environmental degradation. We discuss factors that affect food prices and conclude that the one important way in which urbanization in poor countries may affect food prices is that it increases the number of households that depend on commercial food supplies, rather than on own production, as their main source, and hence are likely to hoard food if they fear future price increases. One policy option for managing this is larger food reserves. Attempts to curb urbanization, on the other hand, would be ill-advised. © 2010 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Source

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