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Informal Cities Dialogue Launches Culminating eBook

By Jane Tingley (Intern, IHC)
December 4, 2013

Recently, Next City, a media non-profit which is focused on covering public policy and current affairs matters from an urban prescriptive, released an eBook, which is a compilation of the best stories from the informal sector as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Informal Cities Dialogues. The year-long project integrated blog posts, film, and photographs to chronicle the lives of informal workers and settlers from six cities: Accra, Bangkok, Chennai, Lima, Manila and Nairobi.  The project worked in each of these cities to highlight projects designed to alleviate issues in the informal sector, and the contributions these informal establishments have on larger formal communities.  The overall goal of the project was to provide a glimpse into the lives of those involved in the informal sector, and to emphasize its sheer size, as many developing cities continue to grow exponentially.

The eBook is a single online digest, which provides snapshots of each city’s informal sector, and provides commentary on some initiatives and programs designed to address the city’s problems.  While each city highlights different types of programs – whether it is the creation of a volunteer ambulance squad in Bangkok, the creation of a nocturnal economy in Chennai, or the creation of a Nairobi slum-based radio station – all featured programs are innovative approaches by informal sector members to solve their communities’ problems, in the absence of government support.   Below are some narratives which highlight programming and initiatives related to housing and water supply and sustainability issues:

Accra: A Daily Quest for Water in a City Running Dry?
Accra: Crowded House: Accra Tries to Make Room for a Population Boom
Chennai: Waving or Drowning? The Battle for Chennai’s Vanishing Waterways
Manila: Slum Lab: Manila’s Quest to Build a Better Informal Settlement

The final section of the eBook looks to the future of both the cities and the world.  In a series of Scenario Summaries, emphasis is placed on preparing for multiple possibilities or “futures” these cities might undergo in the coming decade.  While they are not predictions, they are based on global trends, and are plausible descriptions of a future world.  To develop these “futures”, the Informal Cities Dialogue, Forum for the World, and the Rockefeller Foundation brought together stakeholders from each of the cities, and collaboratively they created multiple scenarios of what could happen to their informal sectors in the coming years.  Special attention was paid to developing inventive solutions to make these communities increasingly inclusive and resilient.

Click here to read the eBook, or here to learn more about the Informal Cities Project.

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