Weekly Urban News Update
March 6, 2020
In This Update: 
Rethinking the Global Livability Index
The First Freely Elected Woman Mayor of An Arab City
Climate Gentrification in Little Haiti
Quintero, Chile Fights Environmental Contamination
Protestors in Beirut Reclaim Historic "Egg" Monument
World Bank Improves Water Access and Sanitation in Nairobi
In the News and Around the Web
This Week in Photos
Rethinking the Global Livability Index
The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Vienna as the world's most livable city last year, but a new report by the Barcelona Institute for Global Helath (ISGlobal) suggests that the EIU's view of what constitutes livability is too narrow as it excludes significant environmental metrics EIU's Global Livability Index measures heat and humidity, housing, healthcare, public transit, and sporting amenities. But, ISGlobal says it neglects green space, noise pollution, urban heat islands, and level of residents' physical activity. ISGlobal sees these factors as responsible for 8% of premature deaths in Vienna. The report's co-author Sasha Khomenko believes that: "The main issue with the Global Livability Index is that it's not developed for the citizens of the city. It's mainly built for ex-pats who are moving to cities on the index, so they can be given more wages if they go to worse places to live."

Read more here.
The First Freely Elected Woman Mayor an Arab City
In a NextCity interview, Souad Abderrahim mayor of Tunis, Tunisia describes her experience as the first freely elected woman mayor of an Arab capital city. Before the Arab Spring in 2011, the President of the Republic appointed the mayor, always a man, of Tunis, the country's political and economic capital. Abderrahim's electoral victory in July 2018 therefore was important symbolically as well as politically. Abderrhaim explains: "My candidacy was a huge disruption to the political establishment which felt as though a woman cannot be a politician, cannot sell ideas, cannot inspire confidence in her citizens. Even the very progressive political parties did not nominate women." In her time in office, she has so far focused on making Tunis a more inclusive city by investing in cultural programs throughout the city, particularly disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Read more here.
Climate Gentrification in Little Haiti
Activists in Little Haiti, Miami are organizing against "climate gentrification." In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of Haitian refugees settled in the Lemon City neighborhood of Miami which became known as "Little Haiti" as Haitian businesses, shops, and stores proliferated. But now, Grist says "climate gentrification" is pushing residents out. Developers are attracted to Little Haiti's low cost, high real estate supply, and proximity to beaches, downtown, and two airports.  Little Haiti's attractiveness has also grown on par with increased effects of climate change. Miami is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels and so Little Haiti's location at 13-32 feet above sea level make it one of Miami's most resilient neighborhoods. One activist explains that residents of Little Haiti feel that the fight against climate gentrification is "a fight for our very existence."

Read more  here .
Quintero, Chile Fights Environmental Contamination
Residents of Quintero, Chile are fighting environmental contamination from nearby industrial plants, asserting that the health of the local people and nature have been sacrificed for economic development. Last year, the Supreme Court ordered the national government to take preventative measures to prevent environmental disaster. President Sebastian Pinera also introduced new environmental policies in the lead up to COP25 that Chile hoped to host last fall. But, when widespread protests over inequality in Santiago forced Pinera to pull out of hosting the conference, many of the environmental policies were discarded including his plan to decarbonize by 2040. Yet, Quintero residents say their needs are simple. One activist explains: "It's not realistic to think that the whole industrial park will close...What we want is better ventilation, that the companies reinvest their money into making improvements to their facilities or machinery, and to invest in the town."

Read more here.
Protestors in Beirut, Lebanon Reclaim its Historic Egg Monument
When demonstrations against political corruption broke out in Beirut, Lebanon last year, one of the protesters' firsts acts was to reclaim the "Egg," a modernist-style, abandoned cinema. The Egg, built in the 1960s during Beirut's golden age of cinema and architecture, represents tolerance and inclusion for Beirut's older residents. Philippine Eid, age 84, explains: "No one was excluded. Everyone was welcome." Although the landmark monument survived the destruction of Lebanon's civil war and the redevelopment of Old Beirut after the war's end, it has been closed for years. One of the first acts by the protesters was to restore public access to the Egg, hosting meetings, talks, and cultural events there. Tour guide Sari Haddad says: "The revolution gave us back our public property. So we raved inside the Egg. We watched movies inside the Egg."

Read more  here .
World Bank Improves Water Access and Sanitation in Nairobi's Informal Settlements
Over the past decade, the World Bank-supported Nairobi Sanitation Project connected nearly 85,000 people in Nairobi's informal settlements with access to improved water sources and 130,000 people to the sewage network. Rapid and unplanned urbanization in Nairobi has pushed large numbers of poor urban dwellers into formal and low-income settlements without access to basic water and sanitation, forcing residents to walk up to twelve kilometers for clean water. From 2012-2018, the Nairobi Sanitation Project improved water and sanitation access for people in urban settlements by financing infrastructure, supporting community engagement, and implementing social marketing and hygiene promotion activities. One Nairobi resident reports that with access to clean water and toilets provided by the Project: "I now feel like a Kenyan with a lot of dignity."

Read more here.
In the News and Around the Web
  • U.S. Lawmakers Oppose Cuts to Foreign Aid: U.S. lawmakers oppose proposed cuts to foreign aid in 2021 foreign aid budget.
  • New York City's Quarantine: UN New York City quarantined nearly 3,000 people in their homes.
  • Coronavirus Around the World:  Coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000
This Week in Photos
  • China's Blue Great Wall: A blue wall divides Tianjin, China, a port city of 15 million people, to stop the spread of coronavirus.
  • The Aftermath of Nashville's Tornado A tornado earlier this week killed 25 people in Tennessee and destroyed a number of buildings in Nashville.
A series of blue walls have popped up across Tianjin, China to manage the spread of coronavirus.
(Photo Credit: Yuyang Liu/The New York Times)
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