How Does A City Become More Equitable?

IHC Global believes that it is possible for cities and citizens to achieve more equitable urban development. This means greater fairness and opportunity for everyone living in the city, even the poorest. Breaking the urban poverty cycle is good for individuals and for the city as a whole. Cities will be better places for everyone when the barriers that trap people and communities are removed.

A city is equitable and inclusive of the most vulnerable when there is:

  • A shared vision of the city
  • A comprehensive plan embracing a city’s spatial, physical, social and economic dimensions to realize that vision
  • A financial resource strategy, including incentives for private investment, and other resources
  • Space for “bottom up” initiatives from communities, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to break down the barriers to shared prosperity and greater equity,
  • Mechanisms for partnerships

A city is not equitable of the most vulnerable if these conditions are lacking:

  • Clean water and good sanitation which impacts health and productivity of individuals and the environment of cities.
  • Affordable, decent housing (often manifested as slums or informal settlements) which impacts the economic and social well-being of poor families, and the environment, safety and health of the cities.
  • Adaptation strategies for the effects of climate change and the increasing frequency of natural disasters, which disproportionately affect poor families. Such events also affect cities in their entirety through their economic and physical costs and degradation of the environment.
  • Land rights and secure housing, the lack of which is evidenced in proliferation of informal settlements and slums, eviction and displacement. These issues are related to access to housing but are disproportionately problems facing poor families, particularly those headed by women, who not only are relegated to substandard conditions but as a result of insecure and unpredictable tenure also lack stability, safety and opportunity to climb the economic ladder.
  • Social and economic inclusion is often impeded by a city’s spatial, service and policy characteristics as well as its economy. Exclusion is a multi-dimensional concept and impacts the poor, the physically challenged, minority groups, newly-arrived citizens (migrants, whether from the countryside or from other countries fleeing strife or economic deprivation).  It often has a disproportionate negative impact on women.
  • Food and Nutrition deficits impact poor families living in cities worldwide, whether through “food deserts,” inadequate agricultural production to feed fast-growing cities, mal-adapted distribution systems, high costs or some combination.