Weekly Urban News Update
March 29, 2019
In This Update: 
The Struggle for Public Space in Buenos Aires
The Link Between Green Cities and Increased Foreign Investment
Over Half of Sub-Saharan Africa's Urban Population Live in Slums
How Cities Can Use Digital Innovation to Improve Safe Water and Sanitation
Photographer Spotlights Sao Paolo Residents Living in Abandoned Buildings
A New Escalator in Medellin Linked to Neighborhood Rejuvenation 
IHC Global Presented at the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference
Smart City Just Brings Focus to Women's Experience of the City
In the News and Around the Web
The Struggle for Public Space in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is in the midst of a struggle for public space, writes The Guardian. In January, the municipal government proposed to evict approximately 300 street vendors from the Feria de San Telmo market and relocate them to "order" and formalize the space. Buenos Aires Undersecretary for General Administration and use of Public Space explains the evictions stem from efforts to formalize city space: "We had a situation for some time that was irregular, that wasn't legalized." The artisans, however, are fighting back against possible relocation. So far, mediation efforts between the city government and the vendors have failed. Nonetheless, vendors have continued to protest for a formalization process that excludes eviction. Street vendor Soledad Pratolongo says: "We want our blocks to be legalized. That's what we've been asking for years."

Read more here.
The Link Between Green Urban Policies and Increased Foreign Investment
Urban air pollution, especially in developing countries, is often seen as the price to pay for enhanced economic activity, given its close relation to industrialization. These authors set out to see if that was true by testing the relationship between air and water pollution reduction and increased foreign direct investment in 185 Chinese cities over a 7 year period. Their conclusions are significant for urban governance: FDI did increase in cities that prioritized sustainability because international firms preferred to invest in green cities. This is because firms desire to demonstrate an increased commitment to their employees' well being and corporate responsibility when choosing location.

Read more here.
Over Half of Sub-Saharan Africa's Urban Population Live in Slums
A new study by the United Nations asserts that housing conditions in sub-Saharan Africa have seen dramatic improvements in livability: the proportion of homes that have met UN criteria for building standards, living space per person, and water and sanitation has more than doubled. But, more than half of sub-Saharan Africa's population continue to live in slums. This is especially concerning given that the U.N. anticipates Africa's urban population will triple in the next 50 years. But, the research findings, which examined over 600,000 houses in 32 countries over 15 years, are themselves key to meeting international standards for housing and water and sanitation, says lead author Lucy Tusting, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. According to Tusting: "(This research) provides robust baseline data on African housing conditions for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the housing needs of millions of Africans." IHC Global is advocating for greater focus, resources, and practical approaches to address this untenable situation.

Read more here.
How Cities Can Use Digital Innovation to Improve Safe Water and Sanitation
The challenges facing cities are well-known: climate change, rapid urbanization, and managing access to safe water and sanitation among others. At the International Water Association (IWA), Director Kala Vairavamoorthy asks: "How can the digitalization of urban services increase sustainability?" For Vairavamoorthy, the answer is a resounding yes. Vairavamoorthy points to the employment water ATMs in Nairobi settlements as evidence of the success of using digital innovation in the water sector. Water scarcity often obligates Nairobi slumdwellers to purchase potentially unsafe water from vendors. These ATMs allow users to (use) mobile payment services to key in the amount of water they would like to purchase, which is then dispensed into a waiting container.
Read more about the use of smart technology and digital innovation in the water sector here.

Read more here.
Photography Spotlights Sao Paolo Residents Living in Abandoned Buildings
In the Washington Post, photographer Javier Alvarez spotlights the Marconi building in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Once office space, the now abandoned Marconi houses 400 people in 13 stories. Sao Paolo is dynamic, vibrant, and wealthy, writes the Post. But, "like any large urban areas, it has economic disparities that spur people to find ways to eke out a dignified existence - for instance, by inhabiting Sao Paulo's many abandoned buildings." For Alvarez, the experience of photographing Marconi was especially emotional, as his own family was recently evicted from their home in Chile. Alvarez says: 'When I saw that places like this exist in the middle of a city and people actually fight for this cause, I just wanted to learn and get in."

View Alvarez's photos and read more here.
A New Escalator in Medellin Linked to Neighborhood Regeneration
The Medellin neighborhood Comuna 13 was once the most dangerous neighborhood in Colombia, says Emanuela Barbiroglio. Formally controlled by guerillas and then paramilitaries meant Comuna used to be a "separate world altogether," lacking basic services and security and avoided by government officials. But new infrastructure is changing that. The installation of escalators by the Comuna 13 hill facilitates its connection to the rest of Medellin and means residents can reach the top in 6 minutes rather than climbing the equivalent of a 28 story building. The aesthetic of new street and city artwork has also made a difference, changing the image of Comuna 13 in the minds of both city dwellers and tourists.

Read more here.
Smart City Just City Brings Focus to Women's Experience of the City
What does a "smart city" look like from a gender perspective? Does technology help or hinder that experience? How can its powers be harnessed to purposefully address those challenges of most concern to women? These are some of the questions IHC Global seeks to answer in its new blog series "Smart City. Just City: Bringing Women's Voices into the Dialogue." Over the next several weeks, IHC Global will explore these issues through the perspective of women leaders, thinkers, and activists. IHC Global was pleased to launch the series this past Tuesday.

Read the first article of this several part series here.

IHC Global Presents at World Bank Land and Poverty Conference
IHC Global was pleased to present its paper "Storytelling: A Powerful Strategy to Increase Women's Access to Land and Property Rights in Uganda," at the 2019 World Bank Land and Poverty Conference this week. CEO and President Judith Hermanson joined a dynamic panel on "Beyond Joint Titling: Making Land Institutions Gender-Sensitive," that also included presentations from the Ugandan Ministry of Housing, Land, and Urban Development, Resource Equity, and Meridia. Dr. Hermanson discussed IHC Global's efforts to promote women's property rights in Uganda through a theater for development pilot with Makerere University that aimed to help bridge the gap between women's constitutionally-guaranteed rights to property ownership and their ability to exercise those rights. The paper can be found here.
In the News and Around the Web
  • UN Rapporteur on Housing: U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing Leilani Farha argues that government authorities must actively regulate investment in residential real estate to support adequate housing.
  • Boston's Push for Affordable and Accessible Housing: Hawaii is facing a major housing shortage. State Senator Stanley Chang looks to Singapore for inspiration.
  • The Cities Issue: National Geographic's April issue is all about cities.
  • HUD Charges Facebook with Housing Discrimination: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has charged Facebook with housing discrimination through ad-targeting that enables landlords and real estate agents to exclude certain people from viewing their ads.
 Ministry of Arts and Communications in Singapore featured in  National Geographic's Cities issue.
(Photo credit: Andrei Z, National Geographic)

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