Half of humanity now lives in urban areas. Urban transformations and the economies of agglomeration are credited with lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. However, cities have also become sites of entrenched inequality.
India is an important case in point. Indian cities likely account for nearly 70% of India’s GDP. But 65 million people live informally in urban India, while 700 to 900 million sqm of commercial and residential space needs to be built to accommodate India’s growing urban population. To meet this requirement would entail the equivalent of building a city the size of Chicago every year. This infrastructural ask is also deeply connected to the wider contextual challenge of climate change, and as population density increases, problems associated with insecure land rights and tenancy are exacerbated.
Anna French (Deputy Head, DFID India) and Harpreet Singh Arora (DFID India Urban Advisor) speak to us about the work Department for International Development (DFID) has undertaken in urban India since the early 1980s, and how this important trajectory of work is being shaped as India takes its place as a middle-income country in the 21st century.
About the speakers
Anna French is the Deputy Head of DFID India and leads its portfolio on Urban, Energy and Green Growth. Before heading to India, Anna was Head of DFID’s Education Policy Team for 4 years. Anna has been with DFID for over 15 years and has extensive experience in policy development and leading and managing programmes in fragile states including in Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. During this time she also worked for 2 years as Senior Policy Adviser on Africa in the Cabinet Office, advising the Prime Minister on UK policy to Africa.
Harpreet Singh Arora is the urban advisor with DFID India and has more than 13 years of work experience as an urban development specialist. His experience covers assignments in urban development policy planning, economic and industrial zone planning, land amortisation and development studies, and transit oriented development plans for large private and public sector stakeholders in India, Hong Kong, China, and Sri Lanka.