Weekly Urban News Update
July 28th, 2017
In This Update
Eight mega-projects that will transform cities by 2030
Op-ed: It's time for a new U.S. agency for global development
Report: why urban refugees need social ties
Six countries give lessons on how to recover from disasters
Urban Feature: Water and Sanitation

As cities race against the clock for the smartest and most sustainable urban areas, eight urban projects stand out as being ambitious and transformative city plans that by 2030 will radically change the way people live in and experience them.  Shanghai, China; Cairo, Egypt; Paris, France; Istanbul, Turkey; New York City, USA; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Tokyo, Japan; and London, England are eight great cities that are all fronting billion dollar plans towards sustainable urban development, plans that bring together experts in architecture, culture, economics, sustainability, housing and many other facets of urban living, to create cities that are nothing like anything we've seen before. IHC Global is enthusiastic about the promise of these projects, and we are encouraged by the mixed use approach being used, incorporating housing, and the human scale emphasis.  We hope that they will use a lens of equity and affordability and in so doing help the cities in which they are located to become more sustainable and inclusive for everyone. 

Read the list here.

In an Devex op-ed, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) Co-chairs George Ingram, Tessie San Martin and Connie Veillette argue that the time has come to build a new U.S. agency for global development, and for the head of that new global development agency to be given a cabinet rank. This op-ed comes on the heels of a recently released proposal from the MFAN, which advocates for streamlining U.S. aid architecture into two new agencies: a consolidated aid agency and a development finance corporation. The MFAN reasons that the current success of programs and agencies for global development is hindered by the daunting coordinating efforts between entities and the inefficiency that comes with it. Seeing the creation of two structured development agencies as a solution to these issues, the MFAN hopes to capitalize on the U.S. Administration's desire to redesign and redefine, and use it as an impetus for a better U.S. development infrastructure that is coherent, and driven by objectives, results and mission.  IHC Global is especially encouraged by the embedding of a principle to align the architecture with the goals and objectives rather than by sectors.  Among other important elements, this approach would break down current "silos" and enable more effective integrated approaches to complex challenges such as those of rapid unplanned urban growth and equitable urban development.

Read the full op-ed  here. Read the MFAN draft proposal here.

Over the last three years, the world has experienced a record numbers of displaced people: 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes, and nearly 22.5 million have become refugees, a number that keeps growing by the day. While refugee camps are situated around the world and still see a steady influx of people, more refugees than ever are heading to cities instead, and with this new route comes new challenges. Urban refugees have an incredibly different experience than refugees in camps do; when they reach their "asylum cities", they often don't have the same access to international aid organizations or other forms of help as refugees in camps do, and are therefore frequently left to fend for themselves. And unlike in camps, urban refugees tend to make their "asylum cities" a more permanent home, one that they, on average, tend to stay in for 10 years. In a new and timely study from IHC Global member Urban Institute, researchers evaluate how these urban refugees make their homes in new cities, focusing on three cities of Gaziantep, Nairobi, and Peshawar, examining how social connections, or lack thereof, are related to how successfully integrated and settled refugees are in their host communities. Among other interesting conclusions, the study casts new light on the role of aid agencies and NGOs that provide support to urban refugees in fostering social integration, illuminating the unintended barriers to social and economic integration that some strategies might create.

Read the full report  here.

Different disasters have different, devastating and lasting impacts on the countries that are affected, but there are similarities to response and recovery around the world that can help other countries prepare for when disaster strikes at home. In a new book published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Laurie A. Johnson and Robert B. Olshansky look at and derive lessons from six different countries' responses to significant disasters, and the challenges each countries' recovery strategies faced. The authors look at disaster responses in China, New Zealand, Japan, India, Indonesia and the United States, and analyze how each of these governments handled the different issues and uncertainties that came their way. Based on these case studies, the authors then provided several recovery recommendations that follow these core principles: primacy of information, stakeholder involvement, and transparency.

Read a Citiscope article about the book  here.
Feature IHC Global Urban Feature: Water and Sanitation
Nairobi's water supply is running dry, and the solutions are radical

The Issue
Nairobi is running out of water, and fast. The capital of Kenya, a busy metropolis of 3.4 million strong, has suffered a string of bad luck regarding water: the last two rainy seasons hardly lived up to their name, and the odds of a successful one in October are unclear; the storage dam that traps water from three rivers during the dry season (and which brings in 85% of Nairobi's water) only pulled in 37% of its usual harvest this year; and the water available to the city is 15,000 cubic meters less than it used to be and 350,000 less than what the city needs. Water rationing has been in effect since January 1st of this year. With only enough water to last through the end of September, a recently-declared cholera outbreak due to irregular supply of water, only 48 out of 78 public boreholes working, and 60% of the population lacking reliable access to water, the situation is becoming desperate. In its insightful article on this troubling issue, the Guardian quotes resilience expert Arturo Getz Escudero, "What we are seeing here is a broken loop between how a city reconciles its thirst for water and its hunger for food."  As urbanization and climate change have contributed to seriously changed conditions in and around Nairobi  city officials are looking for any possible solutions.  The Guardian article foucses largely on the underlying causes and does not directly address urban accessibility issues that compound the situation especially for the most vulnerable living in informal settlements  Nonetheless, it concludes by saying What is required is social capital from watershed to water user, and this situation could be turned around.
What We See
The solutions that Nairobi can put into motion are less radical than they are complicated. Water engineers explain several things that can be done, including within the city, where rainwater harvesting from buildings and recycling wastewater are ways the urban areas can both halt and reverse the problems. These will depend in part on nature -- whether there is rainfall -- and in part on education, outreach and local investment.  For the longer run,  the most important thing to do, in concert with addressing people's immediate needs,  is to care for the land of the city and its surrounding rural areas, land that is responsible for feeding and hydrating millions of people in and around Nairobi. Creating more sustainable farming across these areas will help end the water crisis and be beneficial to the country- and the environment- at large. But complications come into play because of various factors, including division between private and public sector land, hard-to-reach farmers and competing incentives, effects of climate change, and a country that is facing big challenges with urbanization. IHC Global sees these issues that complicate the "water issue" not as competing, but rather as interwoven factors that depend on each other to be resolved, emphasizing the interconnectedness of urban and rural areas and the necessity for an integrated and comprehensive public policy framework and supporting investment. Solving the water crisis and mitigating the effects of climate change can only be done with a combined and coordinated effort from all sectors of society, each of whom have a stake in an improved water supply and a more sustainable environment. 

Read the full Guardian article  here.

To learn more about IHC Global's Key Policy Topics, which are both barriers and gateways to better, more equitable urban development, click here
In the news and around the web
  • The United States Justice Department has made yet another move against sanctuary cities.
  • A new housing model aimed at millennials is asking what "city living" really means.
  • A budget airline is driving urbanization in Asia.
  • Rising sea levels pose a great threat to coastal cities. Here's what can actually help.

National Geographic's travel photographer of the year competition is now open, and features many breathtaking snapshots of cities, including this  picture of street shoppers going about their daily lives during Ramadan in Commercial Street, Bangalore.
     Source: Guardian Cities
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