Select Committee on International Development Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by CARE International UK

  CARE International UK (CIUK) welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback to the International Development Committee on DFID's recently published White Paper "Eliminating world poverty: making globalisation work for the poor". CIUK belongs to CARE International, one of the world's largest humanitarian organisations which is currently working in 65 developing countries with over 35 million of the world's poorest people.

  CIUK welcomes the new White Paper as a timely response to global inequalities and the opportunities globalisation brings. There is much to welcome. However, there is a surprising omission: a failure to address the specific problems and opportunities of urbanisation. As the centres of commerce and finance, thriving cities are the embodiment of globalisation. They are also the consequence: industries needing good transport and communication links head for the cities, while jobs created by the new economy are mostly in urban centres. If globalisation is to benefit the poor, both rural and urban, then well managed towns and cities are paramount. The White Paper needs to make a special case for improving towns and cities if globalisation is to benefit the poorest countries.


Urbanisation is bringing about one of the most significant transformations in the history of humanity:

    —  nearly 50 per cent of the world's population live in towns and cities

    —  one on four urban dwellers live below the poverty line[1]

    —  Asia, Africa and Latin America accommodate 180,000 new urban dwellers per day—over one million people per week.[2]

By 2025 it is predicted that:

    —  Eighty per cent of the world's urban population will live in cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America[3]

    —  over three fifths of the world's population will be urban

    —  Mumbai alone is predicted to have 28 million residents, the same population as present day Kenya.[4]

  Towns and cities have always been identified as the social, cultural and economic centres of nations. The Habitat Agenda[5] states that:

    "During the course of history, urbanization has been associated with economic and social progress, the promotion of literacy and education, the improvement of the general state of health, greater access to social services and cultural, political and religious participation. Democratisation has enhanced such access and meaningful participation and involvement for civil society actors, for public-private partnerships and for decentralized, participatory planning and management, which are important features of a successful urban future. Cities and towns have been the engines for growth and incubators of civilization and have facilitated the evolution of knowledge, culture and tradition, as well as of industry and commerce. Urban settlements, properly planned and managed, hold the promise for human development and the protection of the world's natural resources through their ability to support large numbers of people while limiting their impact on the natural environment."

  While many of the richest in society live in urban areas, towns and cities also represent unprecedented concentrations of poverty. Most of those born into cities or moving from the countryside in search of a better life face incredible hardship. For hundreds of millions of poor urban dwellers, cities represent long hours of work for little pay, living in cramped and overcrowded slums or squats, vulnerable to disasters, disease and violence.


  The White Paper recognises the rapid demographic, social, economic and cultural changes resulting from globalisation. Yet there are no sections in the White Paper dealing with town and city growth, urban management, or the massive predicted increases in urban poverty. The few passing references to urbanisation are as follows:

    —  paragraph 13 states that by 2025, 61 per cent of the world's population will be urban. This is probably a conservative figure: predictions used by DFID and others state that as much as 80 per cent of the world will be urban by 2025[6]

    —  paragraph 91 refers to seasonal migration patterns of poor people between rural and urban areas

    —  paragraph 99 lists urbanisation as a cause of greater disease transmission

    —  paragraph 122 states that there is a risk that richer people in cities will get internet connections whilst poorer people will not

    —  paragraph 129 states that airport and telecommunications should be "to many parts of the country, not just to one or two large cities".


  In November 2000 DFID published the Target Strategy Paper (TSP) consultation document "Meeting the challenge of urban poverty". Within the TSP the case is made for the national social and economic benefits that accrue from well managed cities:

    "Dynamic, well managed cities generate benefits far outside their boundaries. A buoyant regional economy which fosters productive exchanges of goods, services, people and capital between rural and urban areas, makes a significant contribution to national economic growth. Indeed, all the nations in the South with the greatest economic success over the last 30 years have urbanized rapidly; most of those with the least economic successes have not."

  There have been several recent developments by other donors and multilateral organisations for combating urban poverty. These include:

    —  the Global Urban and Local Government Strategy of the World Bank (1999)

    —  The Urban Governance Initiative (TUGI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2000)

    —  development of an Urban Strategy by DG VIII of the European Commission (1997-2000)

    —  the 1999 ratification of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) HABITAT as "The City Agency" of the UN. UNCHS is responsible for convening a Special Session of the General Assembly in New York in June 2001 which will review five years of implementation of the Habitat Agenda.

  The UK National Report[7] to the 2001 Special Session of the UN General Assembly HABITAT argues why urban poverty is important, referring to DFID's first 1997 White Paper:

    "The 1997 White Paper on International Development, "Eliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century"—shows that 23 per cent of the world population (1.3 billion people) are living in extreme poverty (less than US$1 per day at 1993 prices). Since nearly 50 per cent of the world's population live in urban centres, which is expected to rise to 80 per cent by 2025, the `urbanisation of poverty' is likely to increase and measures to tackle urban poverty are therefore of the highest priority." (Paragraph 5.15)

  The Declaration of the Urban 21 Global Conference on the Urban Future[8], 6 July 2000, with representation from "1,000 cities, governments and civil society organisations from over 100 countries" states that:

    "We are entering the urban millennium. Cities, always the engines of economic growth and incubators of civilization, today are beset by tremendous challenges. Millions of men, women and children face a daily struggle for survival. Can we turn this around? Can we give our people hope for a brighter future? We believe that if we harness the positive forces of education and sustainable development, globalisation and information technology, democracy and good governance, the empowerment of women and civil society, we shall truly build cities of beauty, ecology, economy and social justice".


  CIUK believes that the White Paper does not adequately address the specific conditions and importance of towns and cities. Cities represent the greatest opportunities, and challenges, for reducing a nation's poverty. Yet the aid world has been slow to address this, arguing that to focus on urban poverty is to ignore the poorest (rural dwellers) and to promote migration. But this no longer stands. Cities are vital engines for building economies, and most urban growth today is not through migration but by the natural increase of existing populations who already live in cities.

  The White Paper therefore needs to address urbanisation as a macro issue closely linked to globalisation, for the following reasons:

  1.  Vibrant, well regulated and soundly managed cities reduce poverty and increase growth. The World Bank estimates that cities account for 65 to 80 per cent of the gross domestic product of developing countries[9]. If these countries are to take full advantage of globalisation, then their towns and cities need to be made to work.

  2.  Global competition for investment demands well run cities. Paragraph 52 of the White Paper states that "private capital . . . will go to where business can be carried out safely and where it can make best return". This is equally true on a city level. Badly run cities do not attract investment and risk loosing out in reaping the benefits of globalisation.

  3.  Unmanaged urbanisation threatens countries from benefiting from globalisation. Urbanisation is as inevitable as globalisation. This fact needs to be recognised, and its consequences harnessed to work for the poorest in society.

  4.  Cities represent unprecedented concentrations of poverty. Most of those being born into or moving to towns and cities are the poorest in society. Yet cities also present considerable opportunities for the poor to escape poverty. If seriously addressed, urbanisation can be made to benefit the poor, in both rural and urban areas.

  5.  New approaches need to be developed which address the urban poverty. DFID's urban TSP presents an approach for addressing urban poverty. Yet without any serious reference to urban poverty or urbanisation within the White Paper, DFID's commitment to tackling urban poverty is weakened. Whilst other agencies are developing and promoting urban poverty strategies, DFID ought not to be seen to be lagging behind.

CARE International UK

January 2001

1   United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), "The Urban Governance Initiative (TUGI) Declaration", 2000. Back

2   DFID, meeting the challenge of urban poverty, consultation document, November 2000, 1.1.5. Back

3   as reference 2, 1.1.7. Back

4   The World Bank, "World Development Report, 1998-99", 194. Back

5   United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS), "Habitat Agenda", 1996. Back

6   as reference 3. Back

7   Roger Tym and Partners, "Report to the 2001 Special Session of the UN General Assembly, HABITAT, UK National Report", second working draft. Back

8   as reference 1. Back

9   The World Bank, "Urban policy and economic development: an agenda for the 1990s", 1991. Back

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