Weekly Urban News Update
April 19, 2019
In This Update: 
Civil Society Organization Reports Large Numbers of Forced Evictions in India
Digitizing Architectural History May Help Rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathedral
Iran's Slum Population Increases by One Million, According to Parliament Commission
The "New Vibe" in Onagawa, Japan
Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative West Africa Regional Summit Meets in C รด te d'Ivoire
Local Governments Increasingly Influence International Policy
Smart City Just City: Tools for Justice
Housing News Around the United States
In the News and Around the Web
Civil Society Organization Reports Large Numbers of Forced Evictions in India in 2018
In India, civil society organization Housing and Land Rights Network reports that state and central authorities demolished over 40,000 homes and forcibly evicted their residents in 2018. "Forced Evictions in India," states that this "serious crisis" means many have been rendered homeless and that even "those who received some form of resettlement...the sites they have been relocated to are remote and extremely inadequate." Some identified reasons for evictions include slum-clearance, city beautification, environmental projects, and disaster management. HRLN has previously made the connection between forcible evictions and policies implemented by India's Smart Cities Mission to create 100 "smart cities" by 2020.

Read more here.
Digitizing Architectural History May Help Rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathedral
In Paris, the digitization of architectural history may be key to rebuilding the Notre-Dame Cathedral in the aftermath of Monday's devastating fire. Architectural historian Andrew Tallon, who died in November 2018, employed sophisticated technology to scan and take high resolution panoramic photos of Notre Dame over the past several years. The Atlantic reports that the 1 billion data points collected is stored on software that will help fully recreate the detail and resolution of the Cathedral onto precise 3-D models. Architectural historian Lindsay Peterson says: "Historic drawings or even modern drawings are only accurate up to a certain degree. Laser scans get you accuracy up to the millimeter."

Read more here.
Iran's Slum Population Increases by One Million According to Parliament Commission
Ali Kord, a member of Iran's parliament reports Iran's slum population increased by one million people over the past year. In July 2018, Iran's Ministry of Roads and Urban Development estimated 19 million people, or 24% of Iran's population, live in shantytowns. Kord, a member of the parliament's social commission, says: "The government did not have much success in dealing with slums last year," or with what the Ministry identifies as Iran's "urban homeless."

Read more here.
The "New Vibe" in Onagawa, Japan
In Japan, the town Onagawa hopes limiting urban sprawl will rebuild city vitality and bolster resilience eight years after it was devastated by the 2011 tsunami. In Onagawa, the tsunami killed over 800 people and destroyed over 2/3 of the town buildings. Now, its municipal authorities have banned non-residential facilities in housing settlements, meaning residents must go to the city center to shop, eat, work, attend school, and use public services. Yoshinori Taura, assistant director of Onagawa's recovery promotion division explains: "This town planning takes into account the population decrease. By having these facilities in the center of town we hope that we will be able to attract a new energy and a new vibe."

Read more here.
Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative West Africa Regional Summit Meets
This week, leaders attended the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), West Africa Regional Summit in Cote d'Ivoire. We-Fi, launched in 2017, aims to unlock barriers to women's access to finance and their ability to create small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Such legal barriers include prohibitive property rights laws or companies entering contracts with women. Research shows that women's economic empowerment and financial inclusion can help strengthen civil society, support good governance, and increase the annual GDP. This week's summit focused on changing the perception that women are a financial risk for investment, credit, and lending.

Read more about the summit here .
Local Governments Increasingly Influence International Policies
At City Lab, Chrystie Flournoy Swiney and Sheila Foster make the case that more than ever cities will play a crucial role in shaping international policy. As Swiney and Foster assert that despite the perception cities are concerned with local affairs and challenges, they are incredibly involved, savvy, and ambitious at the global level. Although municipalities may remain "structurally powerless in international relations," rapid urbanization, economic dynamism, and the amplification of global challenges like climate change in cities has increased their influence. The authors point to the incorporation of cities into international instruments and agendas like the Paris Climate Agreement or the formation of the United Cities and Local Governments network as evidence cities are increasingly leading the way in responding to global challenges.

Read more here.
Smart City Just City: Tools for Justice
This week, IHC Global featured guest blogger Camila Jordan for its Smart City Just City blog series. Jordan, Program Director for the nonprofit Basement Conversion Pilot Program in East New York at Cypress HIlls Local Development Corporation provides insight on how to use technology to create "equitable cities" and not just "gadget cities." Jordan especially examines how to employ smart technology in places like Rio de Janeiro and New York here with social justice in mind.

Read Jordan's insights and analyses here.
Housing News Around the U.S.
  • HUD : The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) may limit public housing aid for undocumented immigrants
  • Some U.S. Cities May be Teetering Towards Housing Crises: Forbes Magazine identifies ten U.S. cities in danger of a housing crisis in 2019.
In the News and Around the Web
  • In Photos: The Notre Dame Cathedral Fire : The Atlantic features photos from inside Notre-Dame Cathedral after the fire.
  • How Kenya Can Benefit from Hosting the First UN-Habitat Assembly: The Media Council of Kenya explains why Kenya and its urban development policies can benefit from hosting the first session of the UN-Habitat Assembly next month.
     
  • Britain's "New Slums": The Guardian investigates unsafe and unaffordable housing in Britain.

In 2012, the Brazilian government closed Jardim Gramacho landfill (pictured above) in preparation for the Rio + 20 conference, leaving large numbers of people who worked in the landfill unemployed. Despite government promises to rebuild into an advanced and greener recycling property the favela remains largely untouched.
(Photo credit: Camila Jordan)

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