Weekly Urban News Update
January 11, 2019
In This Update: 
Motherhood and Mobility in Zimbabwe 
Dar es Salaam Invests in Bus Rapid Transit over Metro
Making Smart City Technology Accessible for Disabled Residents
U.S. Government Shutdown Affects Recipients of Housing Subsidies
Stockholm Kiosks Help Homeless Find Shelter
After Grenfell Fire, British Housing Commission Urges New Government-Funded Housing
The Women's Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act
Spotlight Event: Progressing National SDG's Implementation
In the News and Around the Web
Transportation in African Cities

Motherhood and Transportation in Zimbabwe
At CityLab, Maureen Sigauke writes about the difficulties that mothers in Zimbabwe face as they navigate cities.  Ordinary errands, such as grocery shopping with their children, can be a serious challenge due to the deterioration of its once well-connected and functional transportation system.  Whether women take kombis- the privately-run cars- or walk, they are frequently subject to verbal and physical harassment. Yet, Siguake believes there are "some rays of hope" brought by technological advances and its integration into the transportation sector. Hwindi, for instance, a new smartphone app, enables ride-sharing while requiring all drivers to have a background and police check.
Read more  here .

Dar es Salaam Invests in Bus Rapid Transit over Metro System
Like other fast-growing African cities, Dar es Salaam faces the problem of creating and maintaining a mass public transportation system in the face of rapid urbanization. Unlike Lagos, Addis Ababa, and Abidjan, Dar es Salaam has chosen to invest in a world-class Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) rather than a metro rail.  The BRT is a more cost-effective, efficient, and economically beneficial than metros, says Chris Kost, the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy Africa director.  Furthermore, Kost says, in contrast to major metro rail construction which typically requires international firm expertise and finance, BRT construction and management can largely rely on existing stakeholders and local operators in the city.

Read more  here
Accessing Smart Technology

Making Smart Technology Accessible for Disabled Residents
Despite good intentions, cities sometimes adopt smart technologies that are inadvertently exclusive, especially for those with physical and cognitive disabilities, writes Elizabeth Woyke at MIT Technology Review. In 2016, for instance, New York City originally installed its LinkNYC kiosks without instructions in audible form or screen-reading functionality for blind and low-vision users. Similarly, James Thurston, of the Smart Cities for All initiative, notes that blind and low-vision residents, as  people over 65, are less likely to use the social-media-based apps that city governments have begun to use to gather resident input. Activists and start-ups like  Smart Cities for All, are helping to change that, by providing cities with tools and input on how to evaluate the accessibility of their technology. 

Read more here.

IHC Global has  previously   written on these issues of smart city technology for greater inclusion under its  Smart City Just City  awareness and advocacy initiative. We are excited to announce an upcoming article series that will provide a gender perspective on how smart city technologies may be used to advance just city goals -- and how important it is that they do so!
The Women's Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act

The Women's Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act Passes the Senate
IHC Global is very gratified that the Women's Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act passed the Senate on Wednesday. WEEEA directs USAID efforts to reduce gender inequality in the developing world through economic empowerment and financial inclusion. The bipartisan legislation also contains a critical recognition of the role of women's property and land rights in economic empowerment. IHC Global has been a strong supporter of these efforts together with some of its member organizations and other organizations.

Read more here
Housing Challenges

U.S. Government Shutdown Affects Housing Subsidy Recipients
The twenty-one day U.S. federal government partial shutdown has meant the expiration of 1150 housing contracts under the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 program "Project-Based Rental Assistance." The Project-Based Rental Assistance program subsidizes rent for 1.2 million households through contracts with private property owners rather than tenant vouchers, with each contract covering an average of 52 families. The expired contracts have raised concerns that landlords will evict low-income tenants unable to pay rent or that the lack of subsidy will inhibit their ability to pay for and and repair plumbing problems, electrical hazards, and other dangerous living conditions. Five hundred more contracts are scheduled to expire this month and 550 more in February.

Read more  here

Stockholm Kiosks Help Homeless Find Shelter
In December, the Stockholm city government partnered with Clear Channel Corporation to raise awareness about emergency shelters for its homeless populations. Typically, commercial advertisements cover the digital billboards in Stockholm, but for a two month period, 53 digital billboards around the city will project maps of local homeless shelters. The billboards will provide bold and easy-to-read directions as well as information about how people can volunteer and donate. The program's trial period will end in January, at which point Clear Channel will determine if it will help expand the program to other cities.

Read more  here

After London Grenfell Fire, Housing Commission Urges New Government-Funded Housing
The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 that resulted in the deaths of 71 people has spurred serious conversations about social, government-funded housing in Britain. This week, a commission created after the fire recommended that Britain build 3.1 million homes in the next two decades to resolve its housing crisis. The commission urged the government to allocate 1.27 million homes for homeless and disabled populations, 1.7 million for those facing housing insecurity, and 690,000 for older private renters. Bold action in the form of social housing is needed, says commissioner and lawmaker Saveeda Warsi. According to Warsi: "Social mobility has been decimated by decades of political failure to address our worsening housing crisis."

Read more  here
IHC Spotlight Event: 
Progressing National SDGs Implementation 

January 30, 2019 
9:00 am- 10:30 am

This webinar will share the main findings of a study commissioned by civil society organizations, analyzing progress in achieving SDGs through the Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) and a sample of civil society reports produced in  2017 for the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). The VNRs are a key mechanism to track the implementation of the commitments enshrined in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2017, the UN did an in-depth review of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being, gender equality; industry, infrastructure, and innovation; and life below water.  The assessment identifies best practices and provides recommendations for improving implementation of the VNR process and reports, as well as strengthening accountability around the SDGs. Register here .

In the News and Around the Web
  • Smart Cities in Southeast Asia with Help from Japan: Japan will help build smart cities across Southeast Asia in efforts to counter China's Belt and Road Initiative in the region.
  • Five Cities to Watch in 2019: The BBC spotlights five cities that will see significant change this year. 
  • World Bank President Resigns:   World Bank President Jim Kim abruptly resigned on Monday.
  • How Artificial Intelligence is Reshaping Global Oppression : In a newly published article, IHC Global Board member Steve Feldstein argues there has yet to be a mainstream understanding of the potentially repressive implications of AI technology. Policymakers must engage with engineers and technologists to recognize the threats that the misuse of AI technology presents to open political systems. 
Jakarta - the "world's fastest-sinking city" is especially vulnerable 
to the effects of climate change in 2019, says the BBC.
(Photo cred: BBC)

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