Weekly Urban News Update
April 20th, 2018
In This Update

Adopting electric transportation systems is becoming a popular move for cities to make. It boasts many benefits, including decreasing environmental impacts while creating economic, environmental and health benefits, and improving quality of service and reducing costs in the long run. But not every city has the opportunity to make this switcheroo, and some face more challenges than others. WRI Ross Center looks at three cities that are going through the process to become electric- Santiago, Chile; Bangalore, India and London, England- and evaluates their very different experiences, ranging from finance to confidence in the new technology.

Read more here.
While there have been significant strides towards inclusivity in the urban world over the past few decades, making cities accessible for those with physical challenges has often been less of a priority than other goals, and in response, some disability advocates have taken matters into their own hands using a valuable resource: urban data. Frustrated with the lack of access points for wheelchairs in Barcelona, resident Josep Esteba developed Mapp4all, which allows wheelchair users, as well as the blind, hearing-impaired and others, to find out how accessible a building is before they visit it. Like with the map apps that chart violence in Rio de Janiero, Esteba's creation is another example of how cities can harness smart technology for good, and why urban officials should look to their residents for innovative ways to improve the lives around them.

Read more  here .
Sylvia Luchini, the managing director of IHC Global's Chicago office, had the pleasure of sitting down with the NTV Property Show in Kampala, Uganda, in November 2017, during IHC Global's pilot project analyzing property rights and markets through a gender lens. In the interview, Luchini discussed IHC Global's mission to support sustainable and inclusive urban development, as well as the project, which used data to evaluate women's access to property rights in Uganda.

Watch the video below:

This 50/50 Day (a day committed to achieving gender parity), join the Women in Public Service Project for a conversation about the policies and best practices government leaders can use to drive gender parity within their countries and around the world. A panel of global voices will discuss challenges and opportunities in transforming commitment into action for a more equal world.

When: Thursday, April 26
4:00 - 5:00 PM
Where: The Wilson Center
6th Floor 
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 2004

Learn more about the event here.
Why urban needs to be a key word for global action on health

The Issue
It may seem obvious that cities are petri dishes of germs; the sheer number of people brushing past each other on the street, breathing the same air, and grabbing onto the same train poles, means that urban residents are always on the alert for illnesses like the cold and the common flu. But what is often looked over is how vulnerable these residents are to much more dangerous diseases that still make the rounds. Even with the benefits of modern science, cities, especially in the developing world, are easy targets for older diseases like tuberculosis, cholera, and the plague, as well as newer ones like dengue, HIV/AIDS and Ebola virus. And unplanned, inadequately managed urbanization can make these diseases even more pervasive. 

This scenario is playing out in New Delhi, India, where, according to collaborative studies  conducted by the CNRS, the Institut Pasteur, and the National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), nearly 40% of the population "have been infected by the dengue virus at least once in their lifetime," and the rate of chikungunya infections has gone up by an alarming 390% in the past three years. Experts lay the blame of these statistics on the rapid urban growth that the city, and India in general, has gone through in the past 30 years, interconnecting every part of the urban environment with each other and with their more rural surroundings. Dengue in New Delhi affected both privileged and deprived areas indiscriminate of where they were located, which shows that while urbanization has allowed more mobility and connection than ever before, its growth has allowed diseases to flow freely from the areas that are the most susceptible. It's not just dengue, or New Delhi either; urban areas around the world are growing in ways that encourage the spread of disease, and with a recent study that found antibiotic resistant bacteria in the feces of New York City mice, even cities with the most sophisticated public health systems are at risk.

What We See
Diseases will mutate into strains that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics and/or other treatments, and finding new ways to address them will continue to be one of the most pressing and challenging tasks at hand for health officials. But right now, cities have the power to stem the spread of these infections with inclusive and sustainable urban development and planning. This may seem like a contradiction at first; however, New Delhi researchers realized the main driver of the spread of disease was social and spatial inequality within cities, particularly with respect to public health management, and inequalities in climate change resilience, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Lack of communication with the entire community- especially the urban poor- during public health crises has also been a challenge for cities, as exampled during the Ebola outbreak in Monrovia, Liberia, where "failed messaging combined with denial, mistrust and skepticism had driven the outbreak underground, with illness and death occurring without being reported." Given these observations, taking action to collect more data on diseases in cities, improve urban sanitation and housing across the board, and create a formal, effective response system will go a good distance towards both preventing disease outbreaks, and successfully responding to the ones that slip through the cracks. What the New Delhi and Monrovia examples (as well as the mice in New York City) show us is the necessity of integrated approaches within an urban context.  Fortunately, improving informal urban settlements, climate resilience, and WASH and reducing urban inequality are challenges that much of the urban world is ready and willing to address in multi-faceted, integrated ways, including in the area of public health. If global conferences like the World Urban Forum have proven anything, it is that there are many innovative ideas and best practices to choose from. What these cities need is the funding, capacity and determination to make it happen, which in turn will be helped by greater awareness on a global scale.

The potential risk of a pandemic is a global concern, and addressing it means that developing urban mechanisms to tackle diseases should be a global priority. Therefore, an integrated urban approach to development should be a central priority to multi-lateral and international aid organizations.  The scale of this issue also shows just how important it is for there to be collaboration between the global and the local level, which has the most direct interaction with urban public health crises. With proper urban planning and more global attention and action, cities can transform their public health practices, and potentially save lives.

Read here. To learn more about IHC Global's policy priorities, click here.
News In the news and around the web
  • A controversial Kigali slum relocation plan has begun in Rwanda.
  • Read the history behind the stops and starts- and stops- of New York City's subway expansion.
  • Johns Hopkins has a plan to transform Baltimore. Will it work?
  • How can cities in the developing world plan for the next 50 years of growth?

A new installation in London let visitors enter pods to experience the pollution of places like Beijing, New Delhi and S ão Paulo.
Source: Guardian Cities
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