[9 November 2017] -- In October, Cities Alliance formally welcomed USAID back to the partnership. We spoke with the Office of Land and Urban in USAID's Bureau of Economic Growth, Education, and Environment about the agency's approach to urban development and what it hopes to achieve together with Cities Alliance.
Why has USAID reengaged with Cities Alliance?
The world is rapidly urbanizing. USAID understands that meeting our 21st century development and national security goals means ensuring that cities are well-governed, secure, and prosperous. We cannot do this alone. Building partnerships and alliances with organizations that have a proven track record of supporting cities and their residents is one of the best ways we can invest our resources.
USAID is proud to rejoin Cities Alliance for these reasons. This partnership is an important opportunity to coordinate approaches to sustainable urbanization with high impact partners while amplifying the impact of our investments.
What is USAID's approach to cities?
USAID believes that cities can and should be places that catalyze inclusive economic growth, reduce poverty and hunger, provide responsive and transparent governance, and build resilience to shocks and stressors while protecting ecosystems. We accomplish this by assessing the unique needs of urbanized areas, focused primarily on secondary cities and taking into consideration the rural and regional connections, and integrating multiple sectors, such as health, water and sanitation, environment, food security, infrastructure, and economic development, into the respective space for improved governance.
What does USAID hope to achieve with Cities Alliance?
From our position as the central urban focal point for USAID, it is clear there is increasing attention on urban and rural development issues. USAID’s financial and technical assistance contributions to Cities Alliance aim to enhance our collective knowledge and expertise on urban issues and solutions through dialogues and exchanges with Cities Alliance members. Furthermore, our membership will help us leverage existing partnerships throughout the U.S. Government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations to develop innovative solutions to urban planning and development challenges.
We also expect to learn. We want to better understand the experiences, expertise, needs, and priorities of other Cities Alliance members so that we can identify areas for greater cooperation and knowledge sharing. This knowledge will better inform how USAID prioritizes its investments, in light of our own and partner comparative advantages, to address urban issues.
Our partnership with Cities Alliance will also ensure we can stay focused on the long term. USAID projects aim to bring about long-term stable and self-sustaining societies, thereby decreasing – and ultimately ending – the need for future development assistance. USAID is particularly interested in integrated governance and helping partner countries understand how their cities and urbanized regions can work better when multiple urban service delivery sectors are coordinated and aligned.
Are there particular Cities Alliance initiatives USAID is interested in?
Projects in Africa and Asia demonstrate that diverse sectors – health, education, water, food security and nutrition, and economic growth, for example – come together in targeted urban solutions. Through City Development Strategies, we can leverage Cities Alliance-led initiatives to create policy, strategic planning, and programming implementation that focus multiple development efforts in cities. Initial focal countries will include Ethiopia, Uganda, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. USAID is also interested in partnering with Cities Alliance in Pakistan, Syria, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Check out UrbanLinks, USAID's knowledge platform, at urban-links.org.
“This partnership is an important opportunity to coordinate approaches to sustainable urbanization with high impact partners while amplifying the impact of our investments.”