Urbanisation

By 2030, 60 per cent of the global population will live in towns and cities. In Africa and Asia the urban population is set to double in the next two decades, while the urban share of global poverty is increasing. These demographic shifts mean new challenges for development in terms of providing access to basic services and the design and implementation of effective poverty reduction strategies, health systems and climate change adaptation programmes.

Urban development and slum

IDS Cities Cluster researchers (many of whom work with the IDS-convened STEPS Centre) are exploring the implications of increasing urbanisation and the expansion of peri-urban areas for both rural and urban sustainability. This research seeks to understand what the expansion of these urban centres and peri-urban areas means for the health and wellbeing of local communities and in particular the impact on their access to basic services, resources such as land and water and decent livelihoods.

We are also researching the implications of rapid urbanisation on wellbeing and resilience, assisting safe and inclusive urbanisation and how climate change adaptation programmes and poverty reduction initiatives need to respond to these demographic shifts.

Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda

The United Nations Habitat III Conference was convened to reinvigorate global commitment to sustainable urbanisation. Held in Quito, Ecuador, from 17–20 October 2016, the Conference's mission is the adoption of a New Urban Agenda - a document which will set global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development.

See how IDS and our partners are engaging with Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda.

A Mobile Training Platform for Urban Policing in India and Nepal

The aim of this project is to develop training videos for urban police that can be accessed via mobiles. This kind of platform allows the videos to be centrally updated, accessed (or ‘pushed’) on demand, and also allow for an innovative addition to police performance monitoring. More details

Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities (SDIC)

The “Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities” (SDIC) project aims strengthen technical and institutional capacities by working directly with municipal authorities participating in the Smart Cities Mission in four secondary cities in India: Bhopal and Jabalpur (in Madhya Pradesh) and Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi (in Kerala). More details

Cities, Violence and Order

Cities have long been recognised as not only the firm centres of government in the global north and south, but also as central to the processes of state consolidation, transformation and erosion (as seen in the work of Charles Tilly in the 1980s and 1990s). More details

Ebola: Lessons for development

IDS researchers argue that there is an urgent need to look beyond the immediate, on-the-ground concerns of disease control and containment to consider the bigger and broader questions about international development. More details

Futures Workshop on Cities, Violence and Order: The Challenges and Complex Taxonomy of Security Provision in Cities of Tomorrow

Cities have for long been recognised as not only the firm centres of government in the global north and south, but also central to the processes of state consolidation, transformation and erosion (as seen in the work of Charles Tilly in the 1980s and 1990s). More details

Improving access to livelihoods, jobs and basic services in violent contexts

Expanding access to work and services, such as public utilities and safe and reliable transportation, are important elements of any approach to strengthen security in poor urban neighbourhoods. More details

Informal Work and Wellbeing in Urban South Asia: Who Succeeds, Who Fails and Under What Conditions?

This study proposes an exploration of the determinants of wellbeing for informal workers living in informal settlements across a diverse set of urbanising localities in Bangladesh and India. We will present empirical evidence on what patterns and gradations of wellbeing success and failure are emerging for women and men engaged in informal work and living in informal settlements. More details

Interactions Eldis Website

Interactions is an IDS-hosted interactive online resource on Empowering Women and Girls, featuring real-time research and analysis. The website features up-to-the minute research findings and policy analysis on gender-based violence, urban health and unpaid care work from IDS and partners More details

Political economy of peri-urban expansion

This project examines the role of peri-urban spaces in urban expansion and how resilience can be fostered in these contexts. More details

The Urban Land Nexus and Inclusive Urbanization in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Khartoum

This action-oriented research project will use the urban land nexus and its politics to provide the entry point for analysing the cities of Khartoum, Dar es Salaam and Mwanza and as integrated city systems. The overarching objective is to identify, research, and stimulate policy debate on actionable changes that are politically feasible and scalable within existing urban systems, and will foster more inclusive and welfare-enhancing urban transitions. More details

UN Habitat III: Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind

Addressing security and inclusion in cities as universal issues, at this side-event we will focus on how well-managed urbanisation can revitalise urban spaces that had either been lost to violence or suffered from a lack of access to basic services and neglect. More details

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IDS publications on international development research

Urbanisation, Rural–Urban Migration and Urban Poverty

Human Settlements Working Paper (2015)

Rural-urban migration continues to attract much interest, but also growing concern. Migrants are often blamed for increasing urban poverty, but not all migrants are poor. In many cities, however, migrants form a large proportion of the urban poor with whom they share income and non-income disadvantages, including difficulties in finding adequate housing and in accessing services. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Failing the Urban Poor: Applying a Wellbeing Approach to Understand Urban Poverty

Looking across ten key areas of wellbeing, the study explores informal worker perspectives on what it means to live well in the city. It investigates issues that are not commonly addressed in urban poverty policy debates, such as social relations, empowerment and dignity. More details

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Urbanisation, the Peri-urban Growth and Zoonotic Disease

IDS Practice Paper in Brief 22 (2015)

Ebola has had significant, negative effects in the rapidly expanding, unregulated areas of peri-urban and urban West Africa. The residents of these areas maintain vital connections with rural populations while intermingling with and living in close proximity to urban and elite populations. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Urbanization

The world's population growth in coming decades will be predominantly in urban Asia and Africa. With about half of the world's population now urban, the salience of the rural–urban dichotomy is declining: urban densities are decreasing; polycentric regions are on the rise; and the cultural, social and economic distinctions between rural and urban are increasingly blurred. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Urban Informality and Building a More Inclusive, Resilient and Green Economy

Human Settlements Group (2014)

This paper aims to provoke discussions around two main questions: What is the role of the urban informal economy in this transition? And, how can urban informal enterprises and their workers contribute to achieving economies that are not only greener and more resilient, but also more inclusive? More details

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Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs November 2012 – March 2014

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2014)

Knowledge and evidence are important elements of all policy processes. While the availability of more or higher quality evidence does not guarantee better policy processes, it is difficult to imagine how development policy and outcomes can be improved without it. More details

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

IDS Evidence Report 81 (2014)

Much of Africa is urbanising fast and its young population is projected to constitute the largest labour force in the world. While urbanisation can be linked closely with economic development, we also know that it is the least developed countries that have younger populations than the rest of the world. More details

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

IDS Evidence Report 81 (2014)

Much of Africa is urbanising fast and its young population is projected to constitute the largest labour force in the world. While urbanisation can be linked closely with economic development, we also know that it is the least developed countries that have younger populations than the rest of the world. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Urbanization Concepts and Trends

There is an emerging consensus that urbanisation is critically important to international development, but considerable confusion over what urbanisation actually is, whether it is accelerating or slowing, whether it should be encouraged or discouraged, and more generally what the responses should be. More details

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The Potential and Limits of the ‘Resilience Agenda’ in Peri-urban Contexts

IDS Policy Briefing 63 (2014)

Today, it is acknowledged that peri-urban space plays a critical and increasing role role is still poorly understood and peri-urban areas are rarely recognised in the in relation to urban expansion. Yet this different relevant decision-making spheres, leading to the political and economic marginalisation of peri-urban residents, who are often among the poor. More details

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Key Challenges of Security Provision in Rapidly Urbanising Contexts: Evidence from Kathmandu Valley and Terai Regions of Nepal

IDS Evidence Report 69 (2014)

We know that urban violence not only affects people’s health and wellbeing, it has a devastating impact on the social fabric and economic prospects of entire cities. It can also set recursive cycles of vulnerability in motion – violence-affected individuals find it increasingly harder to be gainfully employed, while poverty is sustained through inter generational transfers. More details

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Policing Urban Violence: Lessons from South Asia

IDS Policy Briefing 57 (2014)

As densely populated urban centres emerge as economic powerhouses where global GDP is concentrated, they are also increasingly vulnerable to shocks of violence and insecurity. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Urban Growth in Emerging Economies: Lessons from the BRICS

Along with globalization, urban transitions have been central in the southward shift in economic power towards the newly emerging economies. As this book shows, however, these transitions have not been painless, and it is important for the rest of the urbanising world to learn from the mistakes. More details

IDS publications on international development research

CALL FOR PAPERS: Rethinking Urbanisation and Equity in Asia: Harnessing the Potential of Urban Living for All Children

This multi-disciplinary conference seeks to investigate and explore the question of how issues of urban inclusion can be addressed to support equitable access to services and livelihood options, particularly for the most marginalised and excluded children in Asia. More details

Making the Urban Poor Safe: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra

Making the Urban Poor Safer: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra

IDS Policy Briefing 47 (2013)

The most impoverished neighbourhoods of Nairobi and Mumbai are characterised by severe lack of service provision, poor access to employment opportunities and urban violence. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Legacy of Inequality and Negligence in Brazil’s Unfinished Urban Transition: Lessons for Other Developing Regions

International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development 5.1 (2013)

Compared to other developing countries in Asia and Africa, Brazil experienced an early urban transition. Cities, especially large ones, already concentrate most of the country's population and economic activity. However, an underlying structure of inequality persists in urban areas, reflecting a historical reluctance to accept urban growth or to steer markets and planned developments towards meeting the housing needs of the poor. More details

Non-IDS publication

Urban Settings as an Opportunity for Realizing All Child Rights

South-South Cooperation for Child Rights Working Papers 3 (2013)

This brief focuses on the challenges posed by urban poverty and exclusion, and the need to ensure that urban settings live up to their potential for realizing the rights of all children as the region continues to develop rapidly. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Housing Density and Housing Preference in Bangkok's Low-income Settlements

Urbanization and Emerging Population Issues 12 (2013)

The traditional view of a low-income informal settlement is of overcrowded space that has both high population density within its land area and within each dwelling. This paper investigates whether this high density is observed in practice, and whether it is perpetuated in other forms of low-income housing, both community-developed (in settlements upgraded through participatory processes) and public housing. More details

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Unemployment, Service Provision and Violence Reduction Policies in Urban Maharashtra

IDS Evidence Report 17 (2013)

This report analyses the relationship between violence and economic vulnerability among urban populations in the Indian state of Maharashtra. More details

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The Climate Change – Migration – Urbanisation Nexus: Workshop Report

IDS Evidence Report 15 (2013)

The concept of the ‘Climate Change – Migration – Urbanisation’ nexus emerged from the recognition that climate change, migration, and urbanisation are closely and intimately linked together, and can potentially become sources of vulnerability. More details