Urban governance

Seoul sunrise panorama

What is urban governance and why does it matter? How can key urban policy issues be addressed? This topic guide introduces the literature on urban governance and its relationship to growth and poverty reduction. It considers the key debates and issues, and sets out some implications for practice on specific urban governance challenges. ...» more

The implications of land issues for climate resilient informal settlements in Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

Future climate change is considered to be one of the most pressing challenges for Pacific Island Countries (PICs) given their already high levels of exposure to natural hazards, limited response capacity and significant geographical challenges. While resettlement of hazard-prone people is a potential option, land disputes are frequent in the PICs and the findings in this report ...» more

Urban governance in fragile cities

The planet is urbanising at a rapid pace. There is no agreed definition of what constitutes a city, however the world’s new geography includes dozens of super cities (population of 40 million+), hyper-cities (population of at least 20 million), conurbations and more.  While a number of the world’s largest cities still reside in North America…» more

Webinar: Urban governance

On July 13 2016, Dr Robert Muggah (Igarapé Institute), and Dr Jaideep Gupte (IDS) joined GSDRC Research Fellow Dr William Avis to discuss key issues on urban governance, including urban governance in fragile cities. An audio-only version is available here.

The challenge of creating inclusive cities

Renu Kholsa

Cities across the globe are becoming increasingly unequal; poor design coupled with overcrowding has resulted in an increasing number of people pushed out to living in slums and environmentally-degraded neighbourhoods.  The paper argues that as economic growth does not always translate to the common good, cities need to be inclusive in order to build social cohesion. ...» more

Strengthening urban resilience in African cities: Understanding and addressing urban risk

Robyn Pharoah

As part of its programme on strengthening urban resilience in African cities, ActionAid commissioned research to better understand the risks faced by urban poor people on the African continent. This exploratory research comprised a desktop review of the literature on urban risk in Africa, and fieldwork in three cities in Senegal, The Gambia and Zimbabwe. It examined hazards, ...» more

World Cities Report 2016


In an increasingly urbanised world where urban populations and the challenges of urban areas continue to grow, longstanding models of urbanisation need to adapt to new social, economic and environmental realities.  The World Cities Report 2016 explores persistent issues and emerging trends in urbanisation, highlighting the much-needed role of good urban governance to harness ...» more

Gender roles and opportunities for women in urban environments

Key findings include: Urban women, on the whole, have greater access to services and infrastructure, more opportunities to engage in paid employment, and are subject to fewer sociocultural restrictions than women living in rural areas. However, they do not benefit equally with men in urban environments. They are disadvantaged in income poverty, asset poverty, time and ...» more

A manifesto for the fragile city

Robert Muggah

The city is at the centre of global geopolitical, economic and demographic transformation. However, fragility is no longer confined to nation states, with insecure, disorganised and violent urban areas potentially giving rise to national unrest, civil conflict and urban insurgency. This article considers the form and character of the fragile city, and four key risks influencing ...» more

Urban poverty in Nepal

In presenting urban poverty trends and data in Nepal, key findings include: Urban poverty is becoming more pervasive in Nepal: The poverty rate is increasing in urban areas, whilst it is declining in rural areas (ADB, 2013; UNDP, 2014). Urban poverty rates vary substantially across Nepal: Urban areas in the hill ecological zone are the least poor with a poverty incidence ...» more

Urbanisation and urban growth in Nepal

Nepal is one of the ten least urbanised countries in the world. However, it is also one of the top ten fastest urbanising countries. In 2014, the level of urbanisation was 18.2 per cent, with an urban population of 5,130,000, and a rate of urbanisation of 3 per cent (UN DESA, 2014). For the period 2014-2050, Nepal will remain amongst the top ten fastest urbanising countries in ...» more

Urban governance in Tanzania

Urbanisation has been increasing quickly in Tanzania with population growth in cities twice that of the national rate. Despite this, there is a small body of knowledge about urban governance comparative to the large number of references on urbanization in the country. This literature predominantly focuses on Dar es Salaam, and fails to disaggregate findings through the lens of ...» more

Services in the city: governance and political economy in urban service delivery

Harry Jones, Clare Cummings, Hamish Nixon

How good is service delivery in urban areas? This discussion paper reviews literature on the political economy of four key urban services: solid waste management, water supply, transport, and urban health services. The four sector reviews demonstrate the importance of governance factors – partly rooted in physical, economic, social and political differences between rural and ...» more

Urban Poverty in Asia

Om Prakash Mathur

This paper looks at the income and non-income dimensions of poverty in the two main regions of Asia, including a brief account of who and what class of people are affected most by poverty and deprivation. It analyses the effect of recent urbanisation and gross domestic product (GDP) growth trends—which distinguish Asia from other regions—on poverty. It does this using two sets ...» more

Effects of urbanization on economic growth and human capital formation in Africa

Mohamed Arouri, Adel Ben Youssef, Cuong Nguyen-Viet, Agnès Soucat

Africa’s population is expected to grow to 2.3 billion by 2050, of whom 60% will be urban. This urbanisation is an important challenge for the next few decades. According to several research papers and reports, Africa’s urbanisation was, in contrast with most other regions in the world, not associated with economic growth in past decades. The objective of this study is to ...» more

Understanding ‘Urban Youth’ and the Challenges they face in Sub-Saharan Africa: Unemployment, Food Insecurity and Violent Crime

Jaideep Gupte, Dolf te Lintelo, Inka Barnett

This paper reviews how the various definitions of ‘youth’ relate to three dominant discourses about poverty and vulnerability in urbanising Africa: food insecurity; unemployment/joblessness; and violence/insecurity. Some, but not all of these discourses highlight young people. The paper’s discussion of common youth definitions seeks to identify if and when these are responsive ...» more

Urbanisation and conflict in Pakistan

There is a broad body of literature on violence in Pakistan, however less specific material drawing links between urbanisation and incidences of violence. Some of the main links between urbanisation and violence identified in the available literature include: Competition for resources, particularly land, water and housing. Weak infrastructure. Demographic change, ethnic ...» more

Politics, informality and clientelism – exploring a pro-poor urban politics

Diana Mitlin

This paper explores what has been learnt about how to instigate, negotiate or otherwise secure pro-poor government in towns and cities of the global South. With competition for scarce resources, the processes of urban development, and specifically the acquisition of land and basic services, are intensely political. While the nature of urban poverty differs, there is a ...» more

Benefits of urbanisation in Asia

This report reviews selected literature on urbanisation in East, South and South-East Asia, and draws out its developmental benefits and lessons for donors. There is a strong evidence base on urbanisation and urban poverty, but mostly looking at the development challenges of increasing urbanisation. Since the literature largely takes a negative or problem-solving approach to ...» more

Making the Urban Poor Safer: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra

Jean-Pierre Tranchant

Mumbai and Nairobi have acutely unequal urban development, with respectively 40 per cent and 60 per cent of their urban population living in slums. The most impoverished neighbourhoods are characterised by severe lack of service provision and poor access to employment opportunities. Urban violence is deeply rooted in the multiple vulnerabilities experienced by slum-dwellers, ...» more