The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a $27.2 million commitment to fund a range of urban development projects that bring together city governments and community organizations from five fast-growing African cities. These projects will improve the lives of more than half a million urban poor through better access to jobs, governance, municipal services, and shelter.
The five-year effort aims to address the challenges created by the explosive growth of the developing world’s urban areas, where the population is expected to double over the next two decades. More than 1 billion people live in urban slums in the developing world and struggle to access municipal services or meet basic livelihood needs. City governments facing rapid urbanization often lack the capacity or means to help address the problems at hand or plan for the future.
“As the world undergoes the largest wave of urban growth in history, we believe there is an opportunity for city governments and the urban poor to work together to find solutions that will address their common problems,” said Melanie Walker, senior program officer of the foundation’s Urban Poverty Special Initiative.
Most efforts to help the urban poor have worked directly with either governments or civil society organizations as the primary partner. Few have taken the approach of bringing together city officials and civic organizations to work collaboratively.
The goal of these projects is to foster a productive relationship between city governments and the urban poor that can serve as a model for other developing world cities to follow as they seek to address the challenges of urban poverty.
The foundation is launching this effort in five rapidly urbanizing cities that have demonstrated interest and commitment to working with the urban poor. In each city, the foundation is working with a variety of civic partners to pursue uniquely tailored urban development efforts.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ): $5 million
To support the development of a solid waste management system that promotes waste as a resource and integrates the urban poor in the management of municipal waste services.
Development Workshop Angola (DW): $5 million
To promote more inclusive public planning processes that will help improve basic services for 4.5 million of Luanda’s residents.
Lilongwe City Assembly: $2.6 million
To improve the general livelihood of Lilongwe’s informal settlements through a detailed survey of the needs of their residents and a range of interventions aimed at upgraded service delivery.
Monrovia City Corporation: $5 million
To work with community groups and city officials to create a sustainable municipal solid waste management and recycling system.
City of Harare and Dialogue on Shelter/Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation: $5 million
To conduct a survey of informal settlements in Harare that will inform selection of pilot locations and the development and implementation of a shelter and infrastructure upgrading strategy. The foundation has signed two, one-year contracts with these organizations, and is planning a total commitment of $5 million over five years.
Development Innovations Group (DIG), an internationally recognized firm that fosters innovative solutions in the fields of financial services for the poor, urban and community services, and fund management, will provide technical support and project monitoring. The foundation has signed a three-year contract with DIG, and is planning a total commitment of $4.6 million over five years.
This effort is part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Urban Poverty Special Initiative, which focuses on building the capacity of organizations working on the ground with the urban poor, integrating the voice of the poor into the urban planning process, and building city-level partnerships. Since its launch in 2007, the initiative has committed nearly $150 million to organizations working with more than 15 million people in urban centers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to promote new tools and approaches for long-term urban poverty alleviation.