Call for Papers: Reducing Urban Poverty

Reducing Poverty in the Developing World

Paper Competition/Policy Workshop/Publication


Abstracts due: February 20, 2011


[26 January 2011] -- Building on the success of last year’s paper competition, USAID’s Urban Programs Team, in cooperation with the International Housing Coalition (IHC), The World Bank, the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Comparative Urban Studies Project (CUSP), and Cities Alliance, is once again seeking paper submissions for an upcoming policy workshop and paper competition on urban poverty in the developing world. Winning papers will be published and selected authors will present their papers in a policy workshop to be held in Washington, D.C. in October 2011.

Papers should be linked to one of the following topical areas:

Land Markets & Security of Tenure

The absence of efficient land and housing markets and lack of secure tenure for both renters and home owners are important impediments to urban and economic development in developing countries. Papers on these topics should explore strategies and approaches that would enable property markets to function better and would provide increased security of tenure and strengthened real property ownership rights.

Papers might examine such topics as: legal and regulatory policies and frameworks that facilitate the functioning and efficiency of real estate markets; tenure security for tenants and homeowners; property ownership in slums and informal settlements; the availability of land to house lower income households; titling and registration systems; the availability of public information about property values and market data; gender aspects of tenure security and property rights.


The World Health Organization recognizes the rapid increase of people living in cities as one of the most important global health issues of the 21st century. This issue is particularly important in Sub-Sahara African, Asian, and Latin American cities struggling with persistently high disease rates and rapidly urbanizing populations. Solutions lie in both improving health services and improving the living environment of poor urban residents, especially their access to safe water and sanitation services. We welcome papers analyzing approaches to identifying and addressing urban health challenges in developing countries.



The urban poor exhibit extraordinary innovation and resiliency in the face of extreme challenges and marginalization. Papers on this sub-topic should explore the ways that the urban poor work themselves out of poverty by adapting to the economic, political, social, and various other constraints that they face.

Papers might discuss: informal economy; enabling environment and regulatory policies; access to credit, microenterprise development, and income generation.

Papers should be policy-based and solutions-oriented and should critically examine existing projects and/or propose new strategies for tackling issues related to urban poverty. Papers from a variety of disciplinary and/or interdisciplinary perspectives are appropriate, including (but not limited to) urban planning, economics, political science, geography, public policy, sociology, public health, and anthropology.
For more information, please contact Nancy Leahy (

For more information on last year’s competition, please click here.


Process and Timeline



This call for papers is directed at PhD students and advanced Masters students. To be eligible, applicants should be currently enrolled in a degree or post-doctoral program.


Abstract Submissions:

  • Abstracts (max 500 words) and a brief CV should be submitted to the selection committee by February 20, 2011. Submissions can be sent to
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  • Abstracts should contain a title, paper description, author name and affiliation, and specify which of the topical areas listed above the paper will most directly address.

Request for Full Papers:

  •  A panel composed of members of the sponsor organizations will review submitted abstracts and request full papers from approximately 15 authors.
  •  Applicants will be notified the first week of March whether they will be asked to write a full paper, which will be due by June 15, 2011.
  • Completed papers should be a maximum of 20 pages in length including appendixes (double-spaced, Times New Roman 12pt font) and utilize the style, spelling, usage, citation and illustration guidelines used by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (


  • Approximately 10 of the full papers will be selected for inclusion in a final compilation to be published by the Woodrow Wilson Center.
  • Publication of each selected paper is subject to review and will be contingent upon completion of suggested revisions by the authors, should they be requested by the selection committee.

Policy Workshop:

  • 3-5 of the authors selected for publication will also be invited to Washington, DC, in mid-October to take part in a unique “policy workshop” that will bring together a small group of academics, policy makers and students for an interactive discussion of international urban development topics. The session will focus on bridging gaps between policy and academia, theory and practice.
  • At the conference, students will be paired with a senior development expert who will serve as a discussant for their paper.
  • Workshop invitees will be provided with a $1,000 honorarium to help cover transportation and accommodation costs.
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