Gates Foundation Announces Effort to Tackle Urban Poverty in Five African Cities



Managing solid waste has been a major ongoing challenge for the city of Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: Andrea Merrick/Cities Alliance
[28 September 2010]  -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a $27.2 million commitment to fund a range of urban development projects that bring together city governments and community organisations from five fast-growing African cities.

These projects will improve the lives of more than half a million urban poor through better access to jobs, governance, municipal services, and shelter.

The five-year effort aims to address the challenges created by the explosive growth of the developing world’s urban areas, where the population is expected to double over the next two decades. More than 1 billion people live in urban slums in the developing world and struggle to access municipal services or meet basic livelihood needs. City governments facing rapid urbanisation often lack the capacity or means to help address the problems at hand or plan for the future.

“As the world undergoes the largest wave of urban growth in history, we believe there is an opportunity for city governments and the urban poor to work together to find solutions that will address their common problems,” said Melanie Walker, senior programme officer of the foundation’s Urban Poverty Special Initiative.

Most efforts to help the urban poor have worked directly with either governments or civil society organisations as the primary partner. Few have taken the approach of bringing together city officials and civic organisations to work collaboratively.

The goal of these projects is to foster a productive relationship between city governments and the urban poor that can serve as a model for other developing world cities to follow as they seek to address the challenges of urban poverty.

The foundation is launching this effort in five rapidly urbanising cities that have demonstrated interest and commitment to working with the urban poor. In each city, the foundation is working with a variety of civic partners to pursue uniquely tailored urban development efforts.

  • Luanda, Angola
    Development Workshop Angola (DW): $5 million
    To promote more inclusive public planning processes that will help improve basic services for 4.5 million of Luanda’s residents.
  • Lilongwe, Malawi
    Lilongwe City Assembly: $2.6 million
    To improve the general livelihood of Lilongwe’s informal settlements through a detailed survey of the needs of their residents and a range of interventions aimed at upgraded service delivery.
  • Monrovia, Liberia
    Monrovia City Corporation: $5 million
    To work with community groups and city officials to create a sustainable municipal solid waste management and recycling system.
  • Harare, Zimbabwe
    City of Harare and Dialogue on Shelter/Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation: $5 million
    To conduct a survey of informal settlements in Harare that will inform selection of pilot locations and the development and implementation of a shelter and infrastructure upgrading strategy. The foundation has signed two, one-year contracts with these organisations, and is planning a total commitment of $5 million over five years.

Development Innovations Group (DIG), an internationally recognised firm that fosters innovative solutions in the fields of financial services for the poor, urban and community services, and fund management, will provide technical support and project monitoring. The foundation has signed a three-year contract with DIG, and is planning a total commitment of $4.6 million over five years.

This effort is part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Urban Poverty Special Initiative, which focuses on building the capacity of organisations working on the ground with the urban poor, integrating the voice of the poor into the urban planning process, and building city-level partnerships. Since its launch in 2007, the initiative has committed nearly $150 million to organisations working with more than 15 million people in urban centres in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to promote new tools and approaches for long-term urban poverty alleviation.


Link to the press release on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website


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