Weekly Urban News Update
November 20, 2020
In This Update
Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia is the Story of Urbanization
What Climate Change Means for Urban Sanitation
Study Finds Women Bear the Brunt of Poverty Transportation in Africa
Proposed Pakistan Megacity Threatens Environment and Jobs, Opponent Say
COVID-19, Racial Injustice, Climate Change: The State of the Nation's Housing 2020
New York City Pilot Will Dispatch Health Workers In Place of Police
In the News And Around the Web
In Ethiopia, Poverty Reduction is the Story of Urbanization
A newly published World Bank study found that poverty reduction in Ethiopia occurs at a faster rate in urban areas. Between 2011 and 2016, the poverty rate in Ethiopia declined from 30% to 24%, but reduction concentrated in urban areas regardless of how poor the regions started off. The study's authors observe: “Poverty reduction in Ethiopia is a story of urbanization.” But, the authors also warn COVID-19 may reverse poverty reduction achievements as its economic impact has disproportionately hurt urban areas: a World Bank study early in the pandemic found that 20% of Ethiopian urban workers lost their job compared to 3% of rural workers. 

Read more here.
What Climate Change Means for Urban Sanitation
Climate change has serious consequences for urban sanitation, especially for the urban poor who live in disaster-prone areas without access to basic services, according to Kariuki Mugo, Steve Metcalfe, and Jillian Du at TheCityFix. The authors point to Mukuru, a slum of Nairobi, where flooding often bursts overfilled, poorly maintained pipes, spilling raw sewage into the community and to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where drought forces the urban poor to stand in line overnight to collect water. They urge cities to invest in resilient and sustainable sanitation systems that can withstand floods and droughts, reduce unreasonable demand for water, and promote waste resource recovery and reuse.

Read more here.
Study Finds Women Bear the Brunt of Transport Poverty in Africa
A new report by the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations shows that women bear the brunt of “transport poverty” in Africa. Transport poverty, or the negative impact of inaccessible or inadequate transport on quality of life, is a critical issue facing residents of urban African slums. The study found that the ability of women to access educational and economic opportunities is especially compromised by long, expensive, and unsafe commutes. To mitigate social exclusion, increased poverty, and inequality, the study urges governments to engage with residents, transport unions, and rights groups to improve the ease and safety of city travel. 

Read more here.
Proposed Pakistan Megacity Threatens Environment and Jobs, Opponents
A proposed island megacity off the coast of Karachi will threaten endangered wetlands and the livelihoods of six million local fisherman, according to activists and residents of the twin islands of Bundal and Buddo. Last month, Pakistan announced it would begin the development of a megacity that will “surpass Dubai,” create 150,000 jobs, attract $50 billion in investment, and be the home to “world’s tallest building.” But, conservationists fear the development will damage the unique ecology of the delta, while the government has already begun to restrict the movement of fisherman there.

Read more here.
New York City Pilot Will Dispatch Health Workers in Place of Police
In February, New York City will launch a pilot in two-high need communities where 911 dispatchers will send out emergency medical services and mental health crisis workers instead of police for mental health-related calls that do not involve a weapon or imminent danger. The project follows months of nationwide protests and activism around racial justice and police violence since the death of George Floyd in May. New York City has modeled the pilot on a similar program in Eugene, Oregon, launched in 1989, which has reportedly saves the city $8.5 million a year in public safety and $14 million a year in emergency medical costs by diverting mental health incidents from the police.

Read more here.
COVID-19, Racial Injustice, Climate Change: The State of the Nation's Housing 2020
The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University released its 2020 State of the Nation’s Housing report. This year's report illuminates how the impact of the major trends of 2020 on America's housing crisis especially COVID-19, racial injustice, and climate change. The economic fallout of COVID-19 worsened affordability for both renters and homeowners, especially for persons of color; activism against racial injustice underlined racial disparities in housing as a cause and a consequence of other social inequalities; and climate change exacerbated energy insecure households in addition to the 16 different billion dollar natural disasters that occurred in the U.S. this year.

Read more here.
In the News and Around the Web

  • The Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals: The interactive data visualization for Sustainable Development Goal 11 homes in on city air pollution levels.

  • Tenant Satisfaction Measures Announced in England: The reforms, inspired by the Grenfell Tower fire in London, allow residents of public housing to demand improvements.

  • In Delhi, Fireworks and Air Pollution : Fireworks during the Diwali holiday last weekend caused concern about rising air pollution.
The Mukuru Kwa Niema slum in Nairobi is more vulnerable to the impact of climate change than more affluential, adjacent neighborhoods. (Photo Credit: Johnny Miller/Unequal Scenes)
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