Cities

Cities have a distinctive role in development processes: they are focal points for economic growth, jobs and innovation but also for poverty, inequality, vulnerability and conflict. Although we can learn from historical processes of urbanisation, there are many new development elements to understand on how cities play a role in these processes, and what it means to be living in a city in the 21st century.

INDONESIA Jakarta. Man in a wooden boat navigating a polluted waterway backed by wooden slum housing, in contrast to the high rise apartment buildings visible behind.
Credit: Mark Henley / Panos.

Our research focuses on the circumstances of poor and vulnerable people and explores ways in which different forms of inequalities interact to produce both good and bad outcomes for people in cities. It maintains a focus on rights and social justice through explorations of the boundaries between the formal-informal, legal-illegal, and of urban social movements and forms of association. There is a strong commitment to working and understanding from the ‘bottom-up’ and for finding ways to engage with people and organisations that work directly with and for city people.

Related Research

Current IDS research explores a wide range of issues in cities and on the role of cities in contemporary development processes, which includes:

  • The emergence of new patterns and forms of poverty and vulnerability
  • Urban governance and livelihoods
  • New forms of association and political action
  • The role of ICTs
  • Concerns for sustainable development
  • The peri-urban space
  • The transmissions of diseases
  • Habitat III and The New Urban Agenda

Memberships

The Cities Cluster are members of the following:

Publications

Cluster members regularly publish research findings oriented towards academic, policy and practitioner audiences in the shape of international peer reviewed journal articles; books and book chapters; working papers; policy and research briefs; and reports.

Here are some of our recent publications:

Journal Articles

te Lintelo, D.J.H., Gupte, J., McGregor, J.A., Lakshman, R. and Jahan, F. (2017) Wellbeing and urban governance: Who fails, survives or thrives in informal settlements in Bangladeshi cities? Cities, Vol 72, Part B, February 2018, pp. 391-402, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2017.10.002

te Lintelo, D.J.H. (2017) Enrolling a goddess for Delhi’s street vendors: the micro-politics of policy implementation shaping urban (in)formality, Geoforum, Vol 84, pp. 77-87, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2017.06.005

Herath, D., Lakshman, R.W.D. and Ekanayake, A. (2017) Urban Resettlement in Colombo from a Wellbeing Perspective: Does Development-Forced Resettlement Lead to Improved Wellbeing?, Journal of Refugee Studies, few043, https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/few043

Bene, C., Mehta, L., McGranahan, G., Cannon, T., Gupte, J. and Tanner, T. (2017) Resilience as a Policy Narrative: Potentials and Limits in the Context of Urban Planning, Climate and Development, pp.1-18, https://doi.org/10.1080/17565529.2017.1301868

Gupte, J. (2017) 'These Streets Are Ours': Mumbai's Urban Form and Security in the Vernacular, Peacebuilding, Vol 5, Issue 2, pp. 203-217, https://doi.org/10.1080/21647259.2016.1277022

Tranchant, J.P. (2016) Is Regional Autonomy a Solution to Ethnic Conflict? Some Lessons from a Dynamic Analysis, Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, Vol 22, Issue 4, https://doi.org/10.1515/peps-2016-0028

McGranahan, G. and Mitlin, D. (2016) Learning from Sustained Success: How Community-Driven Initiatives to Improve Urban Sanitation Can Meet the Challenges,World Development, Vol 86, pp. 307-317, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.06.019

Gupte, J. and Elshafie, H. (2016) The Dialectics of Urban Form and Violence, IDS Bulletin, Vol 47, Issue 2, http://dx.doi.org/10.19088/1968-2016.133

McGranahan, G. (2016) Inclusive Urbanization: Can the 2030 Agenda be Delivered Without It?, Environment & Urbanisation, Vol 28, Issue 1, pp. 13-34, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956247815627522 

Books and Book Chapters

McGranahan, G. (2015) Urbanisation in (ed.) J.D. Wright International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, pp. 958-964. Elsevier: USA. 

Policy and Research Briefs

Gupte, J. (2016) Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind, IDS Policy Briefing 128http://opendocs.ids.ac.uk/opendocs/handle/123456789/12690

Reports

Kasper, E., McGranahan, G., te Lintelo, D.J.H., Gupte, J., Tranchant, J-P., Lakshman, R.W.D. and Nesbitt-Ahmed, Z. (2017) Inclusive Urbanisation and Cities in the Twenty-First Century, IDS Evidence Report 220, IDS, Brighton. 

McGranahan, G. (2016) The Role of Cities and Urbanisation in Achieving Development Goals, IDS Evidence Report 192, IDS, Brighton. 

Image: Mark Henley / Panos

Key contacts

Photo of Jaideep Gupte, IDS Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915656

E: j.gupte@ids.ac.uk

More details
Photo of Dolf te Lintelo

T: +44 (0)1273 915767

E: d.telintelo@ids.ac.uk

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Team Members

Photo of Anuradha Joshi, IDS researcher

T: +44 (0)1273 915710

E: a.joshi@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Deborah Shenton, Team Administrative Coordinator, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction

T: +44 (0)1273 915760

E: d.shenton@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Dolf te Lintelo

T: +44 (0)1273 915767

E: d.telintelo@ids.ac.uk

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Eric Kasper photo

E: e.c.kasper@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Gordon McGranahan, Cities research fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915657

E: g.mcgranahan@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Inka Barnett

T: +44 (0)1273 915754

E: i.barnett@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Jaideep Gupte, IDS Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915656

E: j.gupte@ids.ac.uk

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Jean Pierre Tranchant is a Research Fellow with the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

E: jp.tranchant@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Linda Waldman, KNOTS Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915685

E: l.waldman@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Lyla Mehta

T: +44 (0)1273 915677

E: l.mehta@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

E: m.tauson@ids.ac.uk

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E: m.widmer@ids.ac.uk

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Poppy Bardwell photo

T: +44 (0)1273 915821

E: p.bardwell@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Rachel Sabates Wheeler

T: +44 (0)1273 915759

E: r.sabates-wheeler@ids.ac.uk

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Rajith Lakshman photo

T: +44 (0)1273 915611

E: r.lakshman@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Roger Williamson

E: r.williamson@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

T: +44 (0)1273 915635

E: s.khan3@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Terry Cannon, IDS research fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915812

E: t.cannon@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

T: +44 (0)1273 915726

E: t.nelis@ids.ac.uk

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E: y.chin@ids.ac.uk

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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

Pilot Study to Estimate the Extent of Child Soldiering, Child Labour, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery in South Sudan, DRC and Nigeria

This pilot study, funded by ILO, IOM, UNICEF and Walk Free Foundation, aims to estimate the extent of child soldiering and forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery in contexts of armed conflict in South Sudan, DRC and Nigeria. More details

Wellbeing of Urban Refugees: Syrians and Hosts in Jordan and Lebanon (WURSHIJL)

In what ways do regulations, policies and implementation practices affect the wellbeing of Syrian refugees and host communities in urban areas of Lebanon and Jordan? This project reviews and synthesises knowledge on this topic to inform policymakers, donors and humanitarian practitioners. More details

Developing the Inclusive Economies Measurement Framework: Applying to Different Contexts and Exploring Theories of Change

The Rockefeller Foundation defines inclusive economies as ones that are equitable, participatory, growing, stable, and sustainable. This project is developing and applying indicators of inclusive economies at sub-national scales, such as cities and intra-national market systems. More details

Assessing the Impact of Conflict and the Effects of WFP Humanitarian Interventions on Moderate Acute Malnutrition and Other Developmental Outcomes in Mali

This project is a multidisciplinary research partnership involving IFPRI, PCD, IDS and WFP which builds on a unique pre-crises baseline conducted in early 2012 to provide rigorous evidence for policymakers on the effects of humanitarian interventions by WFP on child malnutrition in in Mali. 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

Malnutrition and Poverty Traps in OIC Countries: Evidence and Policy Responses

This projects aims to study the links between malnutrition and poverty and between maternal and child malnutrition in OIC countries. More details

Universalising Water and Sanitation Coverage in Urban Areas: From Global Targets To Local Realities in Dar Es Salaam

The Sustainable Development Goals have targeted universal access to water and sanitation, and associated monitoring is intended to help achieve this target. Reflecting on Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this consultancy explores how global monitoring could better support local efforts to improve water and sanitation in low-income urban settlements. More details

Tackling Gender-Based Violence in Gaza

This project, funded through IIED's Urban Humanitarian Crises accountable grant, seeks to explore the relationships between occupation violence and sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) in the Gaza strip within the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). 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

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

Social Cash Transfer Programme Zambia

To develop an innovative methodology that rigorously engages with the views, experiences and perceptions of cash transfer programme beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, and also explores the wider social and political impacts of social cash transfer programmes. 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

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

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

UK-Brazil Learning Exchange on Food and Nutrition Policy

IDS and Food Foundation partner with Brazilian researchers to explore mutual learning on food and nutrition security policy, bringing together parliamentarians, civil society and policy actors to discuss best practice. More details

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