IHC Newsletter
In This Issue
Congressman Miller Proposes Shelter, Land, and Urban
IHC Hosts Discussion on its White Paper for the Rockefeller Foundation
The IHC Advises Capitol Hill on Authorization of a New Foreign Assistance Act
British Parliament Invites Suggestions from IHC on Review of DFID
World Financial Crisis Hits Home for the Urban Poor
Peter Kimm, IHC Board Chairman, Honored by Cooper Union
The IHC Moves Offices - But Not Far
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Volume 3, Issue 2 April 2009
Congressman Miller Proposes Shelter, Land, and Urban Management (SLUM) Assistance Act (HR 1702)
Slum Assistance Act Introduced

On March 25, Congressman Brad Miller (R. NC) introduced the Shelter, Land, and Urban Management (SLUM)  Assistance Act.  The Bill aims to establish, as a major objective of the U.S. overseas development strategy, programs that help developing countries respond to urbanization and the growth of slums.    
 
Congressman Miller and several other members of Congress were inspired to advocate for the urban poor following a visit to slums such as Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.  Representative Miller noted that "the United States was once the international leader in promoting policies and investment that improved the lives of millions of slum dwellers.  If we are to promote our national security interests and drastically reduce global poverty, we must renew abandoned efforts to help with shelter and affordable housing."
 
The Bill would support developing county efforts in urban development by assisting the urban poor access basic shelter, tenure security, urban services, and infrastructure by way of improved urban management and sustainable urban development. The President, in consultation with the USAID Administrator, would be required to develop a specific strategy to integrate sustainable urban development into foreign assistance programs. 
 
The IHC is working in partnership with Habitat for Humanity International to advocate for the Bill on Capitol Hill.  A number of meetings are being held each week with key congressional offices to inform them about the Bill.  Click here to download highlights of the Slum Assistance Act.

The IHC Sponsors Seminar With USAID
Slums and Urban Poverty Discussed
 
The IHC co-sponsored a seminar, "Slums, Urban Poverty, and the Developing World," jointly with USAID's Urban Programs Team on April 20.  The event hosted by USAID drew a group of 50 participants from across USAID and a diverse selection of other governmental, NGO, and private sector organizations.
 
The session opened with a short piece from PBS' NewsHour that highlights the complex issues of slum upgrading and urban development as they relate to Dharavi, Mumbai's largest slum.  The video can be found here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/jan-june09/mumbai_04-07.html
 
The session was moderated by Peter Kimm, IHC Chairman of the Board. Three panelists, all experts on urban development, presented key issues and their policy and implementation suggestions.  The panelists included:
  • Judy Baker, Lead Economist, Urban Development Unit, World Bank
  • Jose Brakarz, Senior Urban Development Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Franck Daphnis, President/CEO, Development Innovations Group

IHC Hosts Discussion at the Aspen Institute


Twenty Experts Comments on IHC's White Paper for the Rockerfeller Foundation 

Ray Struyk and Steve Giddings presented a first draft of the IHC sponsored white paper,  "Urbanization: Challenges and Opportunities - The Case for U.S. Foreign Assistance Investment in Urban Development." The White Paper on urban development in developing countries is funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.  The purpose of the Paper is to review the evidence of current and past efforts to effectively accommodate rapid urbanization in developing countries, and to articulate the basis for making urban development and slum improvement a priority on the world development agenda.
 
As part of the effort to build a consensus document, the Aspen Institute hosted the meeting on March 19 for the IHC to present its findings to a consultative group for feedback.  The group of  20 consisted of senior experts from the World Bank, Cities Alliance, UN HABITAT, USAID, Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, and other organizations.       

The IHC Advises on Authorization of a New Foreign Assistance Act
IHC Meets with House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 23

The IHC was invited to a consultative meeting on Capitol Hill concerning the planned drafting of a new Foreign Assistance Act.  The current Act dates to 1961, is heavily amended, provides confusing and sometimes contradictory guidance, and fails to capture the most recent thinking on effective foreign aid.  This particular session was for urban and water issues.  The IHC presented five specific recommendations:

  • Rewrite the Foreign Assistance Act for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.  Recognize urban assistance as a means to effectively and efficiently address current and future aid priorities.
  • Develop a new U.S. foreign assistance strategy to address development comprehensively with urbanization and slum improvement as key components.
  • Authorize an office within USAID to coordinate and provide leadership for urban development.
  • Recognize water and sanitation for the poor as essential elements in foreign assistance.
  • Mandate collaboration and coordination with other donors, especially in working toward the widely-accepted Millennium Development Goals.

British Parliament Invites Suggestions to Improve UK Development Assistance
IHC submits Comments with RICS

As part of the British House of Commons review of the mission, goals, and programs of the Department for International Development (DFID), the IHC provided comments on the U.S. foreign assistance reform process and effective foreign assistance strategies for the twenty-first century to a select Committee of the House of Commons along with comments from the Royal Society of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), a member of the IHC.  The IHC document detailed its mission and the importance of urbanization and slum upgrading for development and poverty reduction and discussed foreign assistance reform efforts in the U.S. Click here to download the IHC's letter to the House of Commons.

World Financial Crisis Hits Home for the Developing World
The Urban Poor will be Particularly Vulnerable
 
The direct effects of the financial crisis are only beginning to be felt in many developing countries.  Yet, there are already indications that the decrease in economic activity of the developed world, which comes on the back of the crippling food and fuel crises, will have significant impact on developing country growth.
 
Judy Baker, Lead Economist in the Urban Development Unit of the World Bank, recently surveyed the impacts on poverty of the food and fuel crises of 2007 and early 2008: "The impact on the urban poor was particularly acute, increasing the incidence of urban poverty by more than 1.5 percentage points in East Asia, the Middle East, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa." Though these prices have moderated somewhat recently, they continue to be volatile and are anticipated to remain high by recent standards for some time. 
 
In a March 12 article, "The Toxins Trickle Downward" The Economist sketched the impact of the  financial crisis on the poor. The impact of the developed world's recession on developing countries is three-fold: a decrease in foreign assistance and private investment; a sharp drop in demand for their export goods resulting in falling prices and a decrease in trade of 6% generally and 12% in Sub-Saharan Africa; a drop off in the demand for developing country labor abroad and a decline in remittances. All of these factors will limit developing country growth.  The IMF recently cut its 2009 growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa to 3.3% from an original 6.7%.

The global financial crisis affects both urban and rural populations, but the urban poor are particularly vulnerable given their heavy reliance on the cash economy, lack of agricultural production to fall back on, and ongoing wage reductions and employment losses without a social safety net for protection.  The World Bank and the IMF are working with donor countries to increase financial support for developing countries.
Peter Kimm, IHC Board Chairman, Honored by Cooper Union
Kimm Joins Hall of Fame

Peter Kimm, IHC Board Chairman, was recently inducted into the Cooper Union Hall of Fame.   The Cooper Union Alumni Association is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the school by establishing an Alumni Hall of Fame and naming its 150 outstanding alumni over the 150 years. Peter attended Cooper Union, receiving his engineering degree in 1958, after serving in Korea and managing construction projects.  He received his professional engineering license from New York State in 1961.
 
Peter was Director of Housing and Urban Programs for USAID for most of the 36 years he worked for the U.S. foreign aid program.  During his career he managed urban activities and programs in some 75 countries, utilizing a system of regional offices that he established.  Later he pioneered the worldwide programs of the Agency's Environment Center. He then directed the US-Asia Environmental Partnership from 1998 to 2002.
 
Peter's work has been recognized by many organizations.  His awards include the United Nations Habitat Scroll of Honor in 1996, the USAID Distinguished Career Service Award in 2002, the Cooper Union Gano Dunn Award in 1985 for outstanding public service, and the President's Citation in 1998 for contributions to his profession.

The IHC Moves Offices - But Not Far
IHC Remains at 10 G Street NE

The IHC has moved offices.  For 3 years the IHC was happy to sublet space from TCG International (TCGI), a consulting firm specializing in overseas urban issues and an IHC member.  When that firm recently moved to new space in Silver Spring, the IHC chose not to abandon its close proximity to the Hill, and it secured new space  upstairs in our current building.  Our phone numbers remain the same, but the fax and suite numbers have changed. 
 
New Contact Information
 
The International Housing Corporation
10 G Street NE, Suite 710
Washington, D.C.  20002
www.intlhc.org
 
Bob Dubinsky, Director, 202-408-8506, Dubinsky@intlhc.org
Cecily Brewer, Consultant, 202-408-8507, Brewer@intlhc.org
Fax  202-289-6539