Weekly Urban News Update
February 22, 2019
In This Update: 
Dhaka Fire Leaves More Than Seventy Dead
French Mayor Draws ire from National Government for Migration Policy
In Zimbabwe, Security Forces Crack Down on Informal Economy
Cape Town Celebrity Chefs Promote Food Security
A Housing Revolution in Berlin?
International Mayors Say Women Are "Uniquely Placed" to Inspire Climate Action
Broad-Based and Inclusive Prosperity in Northwestern Cities
In the News and Around the Web
Dhaka Fire Leaves More Than Seventy Dead
On Thursday, a fire broke out in  the Dhaka historic district of Chawkbazar and that left more than seventy dead. The fire burned rapidly through the mixed-use building that housed a chemical warehouse on the ground floor and apartments above. The crowded conditions, in addition to poor infrastructure, lack of safety regulations, and the presence of illegal chemical depositories has rendered Dhaka especially vulnerable to large-scale disasters, such as fires. In June 2010, a fire in the Nimtali district killed 124 people due to the presence of illegal chemical warehouses while in 2013, 1,100 people died when a garment factory collapsed.  With a population of 18 million, including 3.5 million slumdwellers, the Bangladeshi capital will continue to reckon with the consequences of overcrowding.

Read more here.
French Mayor's Migration Policy Draws Ire from National Government 
The migration policy of French town Bayonne is clashing with national directives. The office of French President Emmanuel Macron seeks to limit the number of African migrants crossing the Spanish border. To their chagrin, Bayonne  Mayor Jean-Ren é  E tchegaray has created shelters and supplied hot meals to unemployed and homeless migrants. While the French government is concerned that such trends will transform Bayonne into another Calais, Etchegaray is focused on how to ensure all residents in his city live in "a condition of dignity." T he controversy is demonstrative of tension around "front-line management of Europe's migration crisis and contradictions," especially between urban and national governments. Etchegaray explains: "It was cold and raining. We couldn't leave them [outside] anymore. They were cold, sick and hungry...this was an emergency."

Read more here.
In Zimbabwe, Security Forces Crack Down on Informal Economy
In Harare, Zimbabwe, security forces demolished the stalls and shops of thousands of informal vendors and traders under the instruction of local authorities.  The action highlighted the tensions between political motivations and the enforcement of legal norms. Activists and evicted vendors wondered if demolition was an act of retribution by the national government in response to three days of strikes and anti-government disturbances that occurred shortly before. The local council, however,  insisted the destruction was a matter of public health, urban renewal, and missed payments.  Harare shopkeepers  maintained they had paid weekly rentals to intermediaries who failed to pass the money along to the council. Regardless, said local activist William Ongule, the government must recognize the crucial role played by the informal sector in Zimbabwe's economy. Ongule asserts that: "Over 90 percent of the population is surviving through the informal sector, so there is a need to review policies like the criminalization of street vending."

Read more here.
Cape Town Celebrity Chefs Promote Food Security
In 2016, Cape Town was voted the best overseas city for restaurants and bars in the Conde Nast Traveller Readers' Travel Awards. Despite its internationally-recognized "foodie culture," more than eighty percent of residents in the heart of the city are food insecure. Pricing at big-name supermarkets has "widened the gap between farmer and consumer enormously": although most poor households in Cape Town shop at the big-brand supermarkets, they have a difficult time affording the prices.
But, collaboration between celebrity chefs and nonprofits are supporting food security by bringing marginalized producers into the food economy. Programs such as the Philippi Economic Development Initiative are working with the city of Cape Town to train and accredit small-scale organic farmers and enable them to participate in the mainstream economy.  

Read more here.
A Housing Revolution in Berlin?
In Berlin, rising rent prices has produced potentially radical housing reform ideas. The goal of politicians like district councilor Florian Schmidt is to improve housing affordability and accessibility by making half of his district's home under some form of public or community control. Other ideas include limiting the number of properties owned by individual landlords and instating a five-year rent freeze.  Schmidt claims these policies are not an attack on private ownership, but intend to make "life more difficult for private investors...driving down the price." Surprisingly, these proposals have support from voters across the political spectrum, says one poll. Even so, referendums and votes will not be enough to secure this type of housing reform. According to the German Parliament's Scientific Service, actions like a city-wide rent freeze lie within the purview of the national, not municipal, governments.

Read more here.
Broad-Based and Inclusive Prosperity in Cities of the Northwest
A new essay from the George W. Bush Institute, "Cities Point the Way in Promoting Opportunity and Reducing Poverty," examines how some cities have promoted opportunity and reduced poverty Authors  J.H. Cullum Clark, Kristin Kent Spanos, and Sarah Beth Luckey highlight the success of  Minneapolis-St. Paul, Salt Lake City, Denver, Portland, and Omaha. They assert that affordable housing is crucial for "broad-based prosperity" in these cities. Affordable housing improves the quality of life for working-class people and attracts diverse professionals. In turn, this entices e mployers and businesses that can create high-opportunity environments for disadvantaged people.

Read more here.
In the News and Around the Web
  • What Happens When Sister Cities Break Up?: In Fall 2018, Osaka ended its 60 year relationship with San Francisco following controversy over the legacy of the Second World War.
  • Crime Alert App Expands to Baltimore: A controversial app that aims to increase public safety is coming to Baltimore. 
  • Kenya Confronts its Cartels: The Kenyan national utility service confronts cartels that illegally supply precarious electricity service to residents of the Kibera slum.
Activists in Berlin pursue housing reform.
(Photo cred:  Joachim Hermann//Reuters  )

Help IHC Global spread our message by forwarding our newsletter to organizations and people who want to help create inclusive and sustainable cities. Support IHC Global further by becoming a member of our growing coalition. 

Please join us either as an individual or as an organization.  Your financial support and your voice are vitally important With your U.S. tax deductible membership, you will provide meaningful help in addressing the worldwide challenges of rapid urban growth, urban poverty and inequity. Help IHC Global "change cities for good" and secure a better urban future for us all - we need your help and your voice more than ever .

  SIGN UP
Head Office: 5425 Wisconsin Ave, Ste 600, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Satellite Office: 430 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
301-718-4821  Email | Website
STAY CONNECTED: