“Suppose there was considerably more donor funding available, say a further 10-20 billion dollars a year on the way - how can it be used to improve access to services and empower the urban poor?”
This was the challenge posed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the Millennium Development Goals in opening remarks. He called for the group to find practical, innovative solutions to stemming the growth of slums that worked at scale, and not simply at the pilot project level.
His message was backed by Mark Hildebrand, Programme Manager of the Cities Alliance. He said, “solutions need to based on political commitment, local targets, and citywide and nationwide interventions”. Several countries have almost achieved the Cities without Slums goal via scaled up approaches, while other countries are on their way after launching major efforts to meet the target – including Thailand and Morocco.
Mexico and the City of Aleppo, Syria, showed how they were scaling up in practice. Jesus Tamayo, Secretary-General for Urban Development and Ordinance, Ministry for Social Development, presented a major national urban poverty reduction programme – “Programa Habitat” – that is targeting deprived areas in 364 cities and towns throughout Mexico. In 2004, the programme supported 7,000 projects. Aleppo, Syria’s second city, is developing a city-wide informal settlement upgrading programme targeting 1 million residents.
Indicators play an important role in the design and monitoring of these scaled up poverty reduction strategies. In both Mexico and Aleppo, Local Urban Observatories have been set up, helping cities effectively target resources and monitor progress of their local policies. In Thailand, data were used to identify the urban poor who faced tenure problems – this information was collected by the slum dwellers themselves.
Robert Johnston, United Nations Statistical Division, highlighted the need to go beyond the Cities without Slums goal and apply all the MDG targets in cities. Indicators for monitoring HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality rates, school enrolment, are needed locally in order to provide a snapshot of how cities are performing against these key targets.