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Volume 3, Issue 1 February 2009
IHC is Preparing a Paper on the Challenges and Opportunities Resulting From Urbanization

In December 2008, the IHC received a grant from the New York City-based Rockefeller Foundation.  The Foundation has long been interested in urban poverty and the dynamics of urban growth and development.  Following several months of discussions, the Foundation awarded the IHC funds to develop a comprehensive, succinct "White Paper" outlining the challenges and opportunities of addressing urban poverty and foster economic growth through strategic urban investments and slum upgrading.  The White Paper will delineate the basic rationale for the U.S. and other donor agencies to increase funding of urban investments and set forth some of the parameters that should guide program design. 
The IHC has contracted with the National Opinion Research Corporation for the services of Ray Struyk, a well-known housing and urban development expert, to be the principal author of the White Paper.  He brings extensive experience both in the United States and overseas to the task, and is familiar with donor agency approaches and strategies in the urban sector.  He will be assisted by Steve Giddings, an IHC consultant and a former USAID Foreign Service officer.  It is expected that a second phase of the project, to disseminate the White Paper and hold a series of discussions about its recommendations, will be funded later in 2009. 

House Foreign Affairs Committee Requests IHC Input in Drafting a New Foreign Assistance Act

The IHC and a group of other international NGOs have been meeting with staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss what should be included in a new Foreign Assistance Act. The Committee Chairman, Howard Berman, wants to rewrite the 48-year-old authorizing legislation for foreign assistance. Below is a short paper the IHC prepared recommending what it thinks should be included in a new Act.
IHC Recommendations for a New Foreign Assistance Act
1. Proposed finding to be included in the New Act
More than a billion people, one-sixth of the world's population, live in slums in abysmal housing without adequate access to clean water and sanitation. Half the world's population now lives in cities. Furthermore, almost all future urbanization will be in developing countries where the growth of slums is a result.  The UN estimates that the number of slum dwellers could double in 30 years. The poverty and human degradation caused by slums prevents many in the developing world from achieving   their potential, and constitutes an economic, environmental, public health, and security threat to the United States.  On the other hand, well-planned and managed urban investments in housing and infrastructure can generate jobs and economic growth and increase living standards.
2. Proposed statement of policy to be included in the New Act
It should be the policy of the United States to develop a strategic foreign assistance framework that gives adequate recognition to the importance of rapid urbanization in the developing world. U.S. foreign assistance and development strategy should include a broad-based effort to help developing countries improve urban living conditions, alleviate poverty, and promote economic growth through slum improvement and urban development investments. 
3. Proposed substantive provisions to be included in the New Act

  • Coordinate funding from multiple USAID functional budget accounts for comprehensive urban slum improvement programs and related efforts to accommodate continued growth of urban low-income areas.
  • Increase USAID funding for rapidly urbanizing countries with an aim to address the basic needs of the urban poor and reduce the countries' contribution to global warming.
  • Create a unit within USAID to guide the agency and other foreign assistance agencies in analyzing urban issues, ensure consideration of urban issues as part of a broader development assistance agenda and support USAID in the design and management of urban programs.  
4. Background and justification for recommendations
More than a billion people live in slums in abysmal housing without adequate access to clean water and sanitation.  In the developing world, more than a million people are born in or move to cities every week. Target 11 of the Millennium Development Goals sets a goal of significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.  Yet, resources for affordable housing and housing-related infrastructure are significantly inadequate and slum prevention and slum upgrading need to be priorities.
The U.S. foreign assistance program should increase its focus on urban poverty and slum conditions.  With a strategic framework, the U.S. could better partner with developing countries and other development partners to guide and manage the ongoing urbanization process to support broad economic growth and poverty alleviation.  An effective foreign assistance program for the 21st century should build on these facts, and more:
  • The global economy is an increasingly urban economy.  Extreme urban deprivation in the shadows of export-oriented industries is not sustainable politically, socially, or environmentally:
  • Cities are at the nexus of climate change.  Cities are at once uniquely vulnerable to sea-level rise and extreme weather conditions, and pivotal in reducing greenhouse gases through urban efficiencies.   
  • Urban slums threaten the social fabric.  Massive urban slums can be part of the cause and not just the symptom of failed states.  They are ultimately a threat to U.S. national security. 
5. The Case for Action
While urban growth may be inevitable, the dire living conditions of the urban poor are not.  It is time for the U.S. development assistance program to recognize that slum conditions are not naturally self-correcting, but can be alleviated through community-based efforts supported by committed international partners.  A dedicated effort by the U.S. foreign assistance program can pay widespread dividends.  Specifically:
  • Alleviation of slum conditions can accelerate broad economic growth due to increased productivity and a healthier work force.
  • Slum shelter upgrading, strategic public investment, and improved security of tenure can stimulate private investment and spur economic advancement of the poor.
  • Decent housing addresses a multitude of basic human needs, particularly improved health.
  • Redeveloping the world's slums can stimulate civic engagement and increase social stability.
The United States can be a leader in supporting renewed efforts to begin to address world urban deprivation and build the foundation for sustainable urban economic growth in the developing world.  The U.S. has a reservoir of talent, technology, innovation, and experience that can be brought to bear on the seemingly intractable challenge of accommodating continued urban growth among the world's poorest countries.


IHC Sponsors Two Studies and Leads Two Important Sessions 

The Fourth Session of the UN HABITAT-sponsored World Urban Forum (WUF IV) was held in Nanjing, China, November 3 - 6, 2008.  The event was attended by nearly 8,000 participants from 155 countries.  Among the attendees were representatives of 1,000 cities and l20 local government associations, representing, by some counts, half the world's population.  The World Urban Forum is a biennial event to focus attention on housing and urban development issues.
The Forum was in essence a renewed call for policies and interventions to ensure that the growing legions of urban poor in a rapidly urbanizing world do not get left behind.  The theme of WUF IV was Harmonious Urbanization.  This concept was meant to encompass the environmental and economic cornerstones of sustainable development, alongside the critical, but often neglected, human element.  It also encompasses the less measurable dimensions of sustainable development, such as culture, identity, respect for diversity, and community.
A series of 75 networking events were organized around the theme of the Forum.  These events provided participants with opportunities to build knowledge, strengthen partnerships, and share ideas and best practices.  These events were generally organized around the sub-themes of the Forum:
�         Affordable Housing Finance
�         Cities and Climate Change
�         Engagement of Citizens and Local Governments
�         Gender and Intergenerational Issues
�         The Global Economic Crisis
The International Housing Coalition was privileged to have been selected to organize and host two networking sessions.  The first concerned the essential role of well-functioning urban land markets to support affordable housing and alleviation of slum conditions.  The second looked at the current role of international donor agencies in the housing and urban development sector. 
The IHC-led networking sessions, described below, were well received and attended:
1.  The Role of Effective Land Markets for Housing Development in Africa
Well functioning land markets and land tenure systems are key to the development of adequate new housing and the upgrading of urban slum areas.  A case study of urban land markets in Kampala, Uganda was prepared by IHC consultant, Steve Giddings.  This case study examined the factors that impede access to land for the development of critically-needed housing, especially for low and middle-income families. The report also considered options for the Government of Uganda to pursue to accelerate land development to relieve urban slum conditions. To carry out the study, Mr. Giddings interviewed government officials, private realtors and developers, and non-profit organizations involved in land issues. He traced the complicated history of land tenure from its African roots through the imposition of a British-style land tenancy system.   He also analyzed critical issues of housing affordability and infrastructure provision, essential for forging a workable strategy for improving housing conditions in the future.   (Mr. Giddings report was funded by the Reaume Foundation and can be found on the IHC website.)
At WUF IV, Bob Dubinsky, IHC CEO, led the panel discussion on land markets.  Mr. Giddings, who presented the results of his work in Uganda, was joined on the panel by Robin Rajack, senior urban development specialist at the World Bank, who talked about land market characteristics in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Savino Katsigaire, Acting Planning Director for Uganda, who commented on Uganda's new land policy.
2.  The Role of Donor Agencies in Housing and Urban Development
The IHC, in partnership with WESTAT, a private research firm and IHC member, sponsored a second session at WUF IV to review  the trends in donor support for housing and urban development.  Bob Dubinsky represented the IHC and discussed the IHC's advocacy program and was joined on the panel by Mike Shea, senior study director for WESTAT, who presented the results of his recent survey of donor urban activity.  Also on the panel were Steve Karam, senior urban economist at the World Bank, who talked about the Bank's new urban strategy, and Jessica Tulodo, team leader for urban programs at USAID, who talked about USAID's views on urban assistance.  

John McIlwain and Roger Williams Join the IHC Board

The IHC elected John McIlwain and Roger Williams to the IHC board at its December 9, 2008 Annual Meeting.   John McIlwain  is the ULI/J. Ronald Terwilliger Chair for Housing at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in Washington, D.C.  ULI is an international professional association of large-scale developers and development experts.  John is a lawyer and housing and urban development analyst.  Previously he worked at HUD.  Roger Williams is the Director/Senior Fellow of Neighborhood Development of the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore.  The Casey Foundation is a major U.S. foundation that focuses on children's and health issues.  Roger previously worked for Fannie Mae. He has been involved in the IHC from its early days, providing advice on how it could engage with the foundation community. 

Peter Kimm is the IHC board chairman. Other board members are Elizabeth Blake, General Counsel and Vice President of Habitat for Humanity; Pat V. Combs, past president of the National Association of Realtors (NAR); and Gerry Thiessen, past president of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). 

Neal Peirce Discusses his New Book, Century of the City: No Time to Lose.

In an effort to make people aware of the issues of urbanization and slum proliferation in the developing world, the IHC held a book launch for Neal Peirce's book, Century of the City: No Time to Lose on December 3rd at the Washington, D.C. offices of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  Robert M. Buckley, Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation, gave introductory remarks, followed by Neal Peirce, who summarized the findings in the book.  A question and answer period was moderated by Peter Kimm, IHC Chairman.  Free copies of the publication were distributed at the event. The book was published by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Century of the City emerged from the seminal Rockefeller Foundation Global Urban Summit and its urgent agenda for harnessing the vast opportunities of urbanization for a better world and more sustainable future.  For more information, go to:
Neal Peirce is a foremost writer among American journalists on the contemporary metropolis.  With Curtis Johnson he co-authored the Peirce Reports {now called Citistates Reports ( )} on compelling issues facing 25 metropolitan regions across the nation.  Known widely as a lecturer on regional and urban concerns and the role of governments and community groups, Peirce has been a familiar speaker before civic, business, academic, and professional groups.  He has appeared on Meet the Press, the Today Show, National Public Radio, and local media across the country.
The IHC's event was featured on two blogs: Global Interdependence Initiative's Exchange Blog, and CSIS Global Strategy Institute's Blog,

The IHC Receives Grant to Summarize Real Estate Market Information
The Reaume Foundation of Chicago, Illinois awarded a grant to the IHC in November 2008 to study investment in housing in the countries of origin of immigrants to the United States.  Investments directed for construction of housing for family use, for retirement, and for longer-term investment to meet the needs of local housing markets in developing countries is thought to have been on the rise in recent years.  Yet investors and buyers may lack information about how overseas real estate transactions are completed and about key legal and regulatory issues, all of which ultimately makes the investment process more costly and unpredictable.  This may be particularly true in developing countries where the legal framework for property ownership and transfer is often incomplete or unclear.  During 2009 the IHC will produce case studies in selected low or middle-income countries where there is an active international residential real estate market.  The information will be made available to real estate professionals in the U.S.

IHC Hires Cecily Brewer as a Program Consultant

February 2nd Cecily Brewer joined the staff of the IHC as a program consultant. She recently received her M.A. in International Relations and International Economics from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University.  At SAIS she focused on development and conflict management issues, particularly with regard to Africa, Haiti and Cyprus.  Cecily worked in Southern Sudan for Pact, an international NGO, and interned in the Democratic Republic of Congo with USAID.  She holds a B.A. from Amherst College and has also studied at the Universit� de Paris VII and Humboldt University Berlin on a DAAD scholarship.  Among other tasks, Cecily will be involved in preparing the White Paper for the Rockefeller Foundation.