Weekly Urban News Update
July 26, 2019
In This Update: 
Notre Dame Cathedral Fire Released Dangerous Levels of Lead into Paris
Conspiracy Theories in Butembo Exacerbate Ebola Outbreak
How Urban Design Can Prevent Traffic-Related Child Deaths in African Cities
USAID Assesses its Urban Policy
Informal Waste Pickers in Tunisian Cities Demand Recognition
Bangladesh Wants to Convert its Largest Slum into a Technology Software Park
A Day in the Life of San Francisco's Homeless Population
Spotlight Event: USAID Urban Policy: Lessons After Five Years of Implementation
In the News and Around the Web
Notre Dame Cathedral Fire Released Dangerous Levels of Lead into Paris
The French environmental NGO Robin Des Bois is suing the city of Paris for "deliberate endangerment of people" in the aftermath of April's Notre Dame Cathedral fire. The organization claims that the city neglected to pay attention to increased levels of lead emitted by the fire. The fire reportedly melted 450 tons of led from the Cathedral structure, but the city did not test lead levels at nearby schools and kindergartens until one month later. Even then, the NGO reports that the city  "went no further than advising everyone to clean away dust with a wet cloth and seek medical advice 'if necessary.'" The lawsuit highlights the severity of the situation as for now two schools in close proximity have been closed indefinitely and cathedral repairs have stalled.  

Read more here.
Conspiracy Theories in Butembo Exacerbate Ebola Outbreak
Last week, the World Health Organization declared that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo an international emergency. In the DRC city of Butembo, ethnic and political strife, along with suspicion and resistance to outsiders, has inspired conspiracy theories that allege that Ebola is not real. Furthermore, local politicians and leaders aver that that health responders, both from within and outside of the DRC, are growing rich off medical treatments at the expense of locals. The rumors' salience has inspired over 200 attacks and violent incidents against health responders so far this year. Beyond the attacks, the popularity of the conspiracy theory has meant large numbers of people in the city are  "unaware they are dangerously exposed to a virus spread by the kind of close physical contact unavoidable in crowded markets."

Read more here.
How Urban Design Can Prevent Child Traffic-Related Deaths in African Cities
500 children die each day in traffic-related accidents globally, and children in Africa are 2x as likely to die in a traffic accident as their global counterparts . According to Ayikai Poswayo, Program Director at nonprofit Amend, car-centric designs of sub-Saharan African cities. Poswayo asserts that safety of child pedestrians requires child-specific urban design. Because children are small they are at a lower eye level, it is harder for them to perceive the speeds of vehicles and make judgments on safe gaps in traffic to cross, and they walk slower than adults. Over 80% of schoolchildren in sub-Saharan African cities walk to school, meaning it is key for urban designers and engineers to ask themselves:
"Who are the people I am designing for? How are they currently traveling? How do they experience their cities?" 

Read more  here .
USAID Report Assesses its Urban Policy
In June USAID released a Policy Implementation Assessment (PIA) of its Urban Policy conducted since 2013. The policy, "Sustainable Service Delivery in an Increasingly Urbanized World," aims to guide USAID governance and service delivery programs working in urban and peri-urban communities. The Policy emphasizes four development principals: pro-poor service delivery, public-private collaboration, sustainability, and municipal resilience. The publicly available PIA examines and offers recommendations about the integration of the Policy into the program cycle and strategic planning; urban programming and USAID capacity and resources for policy implementations; and leadership and institutional support structures. Find information on an IHC Global supported panel about the Assessment below.

Read the assessment here.
Informal Waste Pickers in Tunisian Cities Demand Recognition

In Tunisia, a proposed law to establish a "social and solidarity economy" may ensure health benefits, safety, and prevent exploitation for the large number of Tunisians who work in its informal urban economies. Among the law's advocates are Tunisia's "barbechas" or informal waste pickers. The 15,000 barbechas collect 2/3 of the country's recycled plastic, yet live in poverty, work in insecure and unhealthy conditions, and are subject to exploitation by recycling "middlemen." Tunisian unions and nonprofits believe that giving barbechas the ability to self-organize and register their activity will also enable Tunisia to address waste and recycling management deficiencies. But, key political leaders oppose the law, which is awaiting debate in parliament. The Minister of Local Affairs and Environment, Mokhtar Hammami, explains his opposition: "They [the barbechas] are outside the state, they work in the private sector."

Read more here.
Bangladesh Wants to Convert its Largest Slum into a Software Technology Park
Bangladesh wants to convert Dhaka's largest informal settlement, Karail, into a software technology park. Experts warn the current development plan will undermine inclusiveness and sustainability. The Ministry of Science and Community Technology, which owns the land Karail sits on, promises that the new park will generate 30,000 future jobs. But, according to University of Melbourne researcher Tanzil Shafique this comes at the cost of evicting 40,000 families as well as replacing 116,000 jobs in Karail now.  In order to protect the security and livelihood of large numbers of people from mass demolition in Karail, Shafique urges planners to integrate UN-Habitat core values into development plans, namely  to "recognize the rights and contributions of slum dwellers and change the view that they are illegal." 

Read more here.
A Day in the Life of the Homeless of San Francisco
Last month, thirty-six journalists from the San Francisco Chronicle spread across the city to document twenty-four hours in the life of San Francisco's homeless populations. The interactive piece puts a human face on key issues for San Francisco. The city has budgeted $300 million to fight homelessness in 2019, yet a housing shortage, drug epidemic, and lack of adequate mental health care has increased the numbers of unsheltered individuals. The exposé portrays an array of experiences and situations including veterans, LGBTQ, immigrants, families, and populations with mental illnesses.

Read more here.
IHC Global Spotlight Event
USAID Urban Policy: Lessons After Five Years of Implementation

The Society for International Development- Washington Infrastructure & Urban Development Working Group will host a public discussion on USAID's recent Assessment of the Implementation of USAID's Urban Policy. The event is organized by the Working Group co-chairs David Painter and IHC Global President Judith Hermanson

Thursday, August 8th

Find the event here
In the News and Around the Web
  • The Red Summer in PhotosThe Guardian remembers the Chicago race riot of July 27-August 3, 1919. 
  • Jakarta Is In Desperate Need of Pedestrian Infrastructure: The Indonesian capital will invest in downtown sidewalks.
  • Abu Dhabi Hosts UN-Habitat Executive Director Ahead of WUF 10This week, Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities hosted UN Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif ahead of the World Urban Forum 10 to take place in Abu Dhabi, February 2020.
  • Lyft's Electric Bikes Have Caught Fire San Francisco: Lyft is pulling some of its electric bikes from San Francisco after some caught fire while in use.
  • India's Smart Cities and the New Urban Agenda: Can Prime Minister Narendra Modi advance the New Urban Agenda in India?
Butembo in the Eastern DRC, at the center of the Ebola outbreak  ( The Guardian /Finbarr O'Reilly

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