In an effort to harness the benefits of urbanization and improve the living conditions of the urban poor, Latin American countries have experimented with housing subsidies. Now that the region has several decades of experience under its belt, it is time to look back and ask: Have subsidies worked? What kind of impact have they had on the lives of lower-income residents? Moving forward, how can cities pay for ongoing urban renewal?
To address those questions and share their experiences, officials in charge of designing and implementing national housing policies in eight countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru) recently met in Washington DC, along with representatives from the World Bank, Cities Alliance, the Urban Institute, and Wharton’s International Housing Finance Program.
Looking into the future, while the discussions covered a lot of ground, at least three major issues caught my attention.
1. How to align the national level policies and programs with local level decision making in urban planning and management?
Each country’s housing policy has its own unique scale, context, political circumstances and measure of progress, but a number of common challenges were clear: How to implement national housing policies when working with local governments with very diverse technical and financial capacities; and avoid and/or manage the costs of urban sprawl (both formal and informal)? The Urban Institute synthetized the US experience working with block grants channeled from Washington to local governments for community development and housing so that participants could see what best fits their realities. Although the contexts are different, all governments were interested in learning from what has worked (or has not).
WHO ~ Urban Health: Major Opportunities For Improving Global Health Outcomes, Despite Persistent Health Inequities
New data on the health of city-dwellers in almost 100 countries show that as the world’s urban population continues to grow, health inequities – especially between the richest and poorest urban populations – are a persistent challenge, according to a report by WHO and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
For example, only half of households in urban areas of 91 countries with comparable data have access to piped water, with the richest 20% of households being 2.7 times more likely to have access to piped water than the poorest 20%. In Africa, this ratio is closer to 17 times.
About 3.7 billion people live in cities today. A further 1 billion people will be added by 2030, with 90% of the growth being in low- and middle-income countries. This intensifies the need to realize the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of ensuring universal health coverage (UHC): that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them, by 2030.
Health inequalities undermine progress
The report finds that in 79 low- and middle-income countries, children in the poorest one fifth of urban households are twice as likely on average to die before their fifth birthday compared with children in the richest fifth. In nearly 9 of 10 countries for which comparable data was available, the urban poor did not achieve the Millennium Development Goal target for reducing under-five mortality.
Read more: http://who.int/urban-health-report/en/
Of all the ways in which Mumbai has been called a city of dreams, at least one is literal. It is sometime in the late 18th century, and the engineers of the East India Company in Bombay are losing a battle against the sea. They’re dumping boatloads of stone into Worli creek to build an embankment, but it has collapsed once and it collapses again.
That’s when an engineer named Ramji Shivji Prabhu has a dream: the goddess Mahalakshmi and two others inform him their stone idols lie submerged in the creek. Can some space be made for them on land? Prabhu has them fished out and installed in a shrine built nearby on land gifted by the administration. The wall holds.
This story was found in a bakhar, a Marathi literary form that recounts colourful histories, and may seem a little fanciful for our times. But that embankment – the Hornby Vellard, completed in 1784 – was very real and can be said to have given shape to the modern city of Mumbai (the official name since 1995). It was built at the initiative of William Hornby, then governor of Bombay, and over the next few decades was followed by the construction of causeways to link the seven islets separated by sea and swamp.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/mumbai
What is the city but the people?” asks the opening sentence of the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) website. The sentence – originally from Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus – expresses a sentiment appropriate for this government-owned public benefit corporation, tasked with running and maintaining the master plan of the capital city of Pakistan. Upon researching the CDA’s establishment, I discovered a lineage of military leadership starting with General Ayub Khan and the organisation’s first chairman, General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, who defined the charter of this organisation and its role in building Islamabad. This essay provides a preface to a longer discussion about public space in Pakistan by analysing perceptions of the ideal city, in popular and official discourse.
On a sweltering July day in Islamabad this year, images of bulldozers, riot gear, and protesting men, women and children dragged from their homes in a katchi abadi,poured into news circuits and social media. The CDA announced a successful removal of all illegal occupants from sector I-11, who posed (among other things) security threats and sanitation risks to the city. It is almost tragic that a government institution tasked with representing the ‘people’ of a city, could be responsible for the eviction of thousands of them from their homes, with no alternatives for resettlement.
Read more: http://herald.dawn.com/news/
A vintage film (mid-1960’s) on the importance of architecture in everyday life. Produced by Ann Seltman Smart, formerly of WPTF-AM in Raleigh, North Carolina. Narrated by Ted Daniel.