IHC Newsletter
In This Issue
UPDATE ON HAITI
WORLD URBAN FORUM V, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
ACTION ON URBAN FOREIGN ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
COLLABORATION WITH THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE
RAJIV SHAH IS THE NEW USAID ADMINISTRATOR
WORLD HABITAT DAY
WORLD URBAN POPULATION
URBAN DEVELOPMENT RESOURCES
BECOME AN IHC MEMBER
Quick Links
Visit our website
Contact us
Become a member
Volume 4, Issue 1
March 2010
UPDATE ON HAITI
THE IHC AND ITS MEMBERS CONTRIBUTE TO HOUSING RECONSTRUCTION

The damage and loss of life from the Haiti earthquake in January was extensive, made far worse than it needed to be due to decades of neglect of the housing sector by governments and donors alike. Recovery will be long and difficult.  We will continue to monitor the situation closely and contribute whatever expertise we are called upon to provide.  To date our involvement has consisted of:

  • Encouraging contributions to IHC founding sponsor Habitat for Humanity's special recovery program for Haiti.  Habitat has maintained a robust shelter program in Haiti for 26 years and brings its considerable experience in shelter provision and disaster assistance to the recovery process.
  • The IHC (and Habitat for Humanity) submitted statements to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee suggesting ways that the U.S. might play an important and proactive role in addressing Haiti's shelter needs. The IHC has offered to provide advice and information about housing in Haiti to USAID's Shelter Task Force and to the USAID mission in Port-au-Prince.
  • Bob Dubinsky and Peter Kimm of the IHC recently met with Louie Armstrong, the CEO of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), an IHC member, to talk about possible opportunities to cooperate in housing redevelopment in Haiti.  (RICS was in Haiti in July 2009 to work with the Haitian Government and other parties on shelter safety and building codes, and is currently discussing with the UN and others how to expand on that work and apply it to the recovery phase).  

 
We would like to know about all of our coalition members' work in Haiti. Please keep us informed of any assistance your organization is currently providing in Haiti by writing to Bob Dubinsky at dubinsky@intlhc.org.

WORLD URBAN FORUM V, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL


IHC TO SPONSOR TWO NETWORKING SEMINARS 

In the space of a few short years, the World Urban Forum has turned into the world's premier conference on cities. The Forum was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing problems facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, the environment, and climate change.  The IHC has played an important role in the last two forums, which are typically held every other year. 

It is perhaps a signal of increased U.S. government interest in urban poverty that Shaun Donovan, the current Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will head this year's U.S. delegation. The delegation will also include Maria Otero, Undersecretary of State.  Two of the IHC's founding sponsors will be represented: Ron Phipps, the 2010 president-elect of the National Association of Realtors, and Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, will both be part of the official U.S. delegation, as will Bob Dubinsky, CEO of the IHC.
   
This year's Forum (WUF V) will be held in Rio de Janeiro, March 22 - 26, 2010.  The theme for this year's Forum, The Right to the City - Bridging the Urban Divide, is meant to build on the findings and concerns raised in the UN-HABITAT flagship report, State of the World's Cities 2010-2011.  Concepts that will drive the discussions in Rio include: bridging urban income gaps, reducing inequality and poverty, participatory democracy, cultural diversity in cities, female-friendly cities, sustainable urban development, and equal access to shelter, health, water, sanitation, and infrastructure services.  Through the Millennium Development Goals for 2015, governments agreed that addressing these underling issues, combined with good urban planning and governance, is the best way forward for a better urban future.

The WUF V format is highly participatory and is meant to stimulate dialogue and debate at the main sessions and networking events.  Hundreds of institutions, including many non-government organizations, attend and actively participate.

The IHC will host two networking sessions at WUF V.  One session will consider institutional and policy impediments to slum upgrading.  It will draw on the research conducted in South Africa and Tanzania by Richard Martin, a well-known expert on African urban development. Other panelists include Judith Hermanson, Senior Fellow at InterAction, and Danielle Resnick, winner of the IHC-USAID research paper competition. She will present her recent research on the political aspects of slum improvement programs in Africa. A second session will discuss the importance of real estate markets to urban development. Dr. Janice Perlman, an IHC consultant, will present her research on how real estate markets function in the slums of Rio. Ron Phipps, president-elect of NAR, will also participate in this session, discussing the benefits of well-functioning property markets.     

URBANIZATION AND USAID PROGRAMMING
IHC DEVELOPS A PROPOSED CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR USAID URBAN PROGRAMS
 
In December 2009, the IHC prepared a proposal to USAID for developing a new conceptual framework for assistance programming for the urban poor.  The framework is contained in a paper commissioned by IHC and prepared by Steve Giddings, entitled "Proposal for a New USAID Approach to Programming for the Urban Poor."  The IHC plans to engage USAID in a discussion about the proposal in the months ahead.  For a copy please send an email request to Bob Dubinsky at Dubinsky@intlhc.org. We appreciate any comments you may have about this proposal.
 
The framework starts from the premise that urban growth in the developing world is an inevitable force and a defining reality of the 21st century, and follows the well-worn path of the developed world. However, urban growth is often viewed exclusively in terms of its shorter-term, negative consequences.  A more constructive perspective focuses instead on the positive consequences of urbanization, including climate change mitigation through transportation efficiencies, increased food security through improved urban-rural linkages, and poverty alleviation through economic growth based on the efficiency of urban areas.  It is argued that USAID, as a global leader in addressing poverty, economic growth, and social and democratic development, can and should demonstrate that it can adapt to the rapidly changing demographics in developing countries and establish itself as a leader in urban programming and slum upgrading. 

The framework suggests four initiatives:
  • Assistance to individual country USAID missions to increase their understanding of the issues facing the urban poor.
  • Pilot programs, funded through existing USAID authorities and resources, designed and implemented to test key concepts and approaches to improving urban planning and development.
  • A modest $10-12 million incentive fund to complement funds put up by country missions to develop innovative approaches to address urban poverty.
  • Addition of 10-15 urban/housing specialist positions at USAID.
The Paper notes that there are substantial benefits from this approach.  First, it would enhance the effectiveness of existing efforts by creating synergies among many sector-specific activities already taking place in urban areas, lending cohesion and cost-effectiveness to USAID's overall program in a country.  Of particular interest are on-going initiatives for youth, local economic development, education, and micro-enterprise development.

Second, this type of approach can align with the some of the Agency's overarching global development priorities, notably climate change and health.  Pilot programs would help test various approaches to comprehensive urban programming.

Third, such an approach would increase the efficiency of USAID assistance and, given the high population density in urban areas, would benefit large numbers of people for relatively few resources per capita.
 
Finally, the approach would demonstrate USAID's commitment to leadership in addressing the challenges of urbanization.  The World Bank estimates that about one billion people, one-sixth of humanity, now live in squalid urban slums where daily existence is a struggle.  This approach would draw much needed attention to the issues affecting this large segment of society and would provide opportunities for new partnerships with other donor agencies and foundations.

COLLABORATION WITH THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE

IHC CO-SPONSORS WORKSHOP ON HOUSING NON-PROFITS
 
The Affordable Housing Institute (AHI) and the IHC held a working session on February 18 for a select group of practitioners and policy makers with experience in housing production, policy, finance, and programs in the developing world context.  The AHI was formed in recent years to help build innovative housing delivery systems ("housing ecosystems") in developing countries.
 
The working session was held to review the findings of the AHI's recently released study "Mission Entrepreneurial Entities: Essential Actors in Affordable Housing Delivery."  Of special interest was learning how the experience of housing non-profits in developing countries matched up with those in the U.S. and which approaches might have broader relevance around the world.  The discussion, led by AFI founder David Smith, served to help design AHI's agenda for further inquiry on housing non-profits, or mission entrepreneurial entities (MEEs). 
An MEE is generally defined as an entity that delivers tangible and visible affordable housing solutions according to three key attributes:
 
  • Mission-driven.  They are in the field to make positive changes.
  • Entrepreneurial.  They achieve their results via entrepreneurial initiative and work closely with government institutions.
  • Entity.  They are concerned with their own financial and organizational viability and sustainability.
 
The definition is broad enough to encompass non-government organizations, community development corporations, housing authorities, and other types of institutions.
RAJIV SHAH IS THE NEW USAID ADMINISTRATOR
THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FINALLY HAS ITS APPOINTEE IN PLACE
 

Dr. Rajiv Shah was sworn in as the Administrator for USAID on January 7, 2010.  With a background in health, Dr. Shah was most recently the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, and Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  In that capacity he managed the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistical Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and led the Department's participation in President Obama's global food security initiative.  Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Dr. Shah served as the Director for Agricultural Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  He was a co-founder of Health Systems Analytics and Project IMPACT for South Asian Americans, served as a policy aide in the British Parliament, and worked at the World Health Organization.  Dr. Shah earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his Master of Science in health economics at the Wharton School of Business.

At his swearing in Dr. Shah noted the need to rebuild the capacity of USAID to analyze, plan, and invest strategically for the long term.  He also noted the need to develop new capabilities to pursue innovation, science, and technology, and to better focus development programs on women and girls, who have the power to lift their families and communities out of poverty.
WORLD HABITAT DAY
TRANSCRIPT OF IHC EXPERT PANEL AVAILABLE

On October 7, 2009, the IHC organized a seminar as part of World Habitat Day in Washington, D.C to engage some of the world's leading experts in a discussion about urbanization, slums, and housing.  The panel consisted of Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director  of UN-HABITAT, Peter Kimm, IHC Board Chairman, Neal Peirce, a well-known writer and reporter on urban affairs, Billy Cobbett, Manager of the Cities Alliance, Bob Buckley, Managing Director for Program Initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation, Sam Worthington, CEO of InterAction, and Abba Joshi Ghani, Manager of Urban Development at the World Bank.  A brochure highlighting the comments of the panelists is available by contacting Nicole Weir at Weir@intlhc.org.
WORLD URBAN POPULATION
THE GROWTH IS UNRELENTING AS WORLD PASSES A MILESTONE
 
According to the United Nations Population Fund, the world achieved an urbanization milestone in 2008.  Half the world's people, 3.3 of 6.6 billion, were living in urban areas.  By 2030, 5 billion people will be city dwellers, and more than 81 percent of them will be in developing countries. From 2000 to 2030, in just one generation, the combined urban populations of Asia and Africa will double from 1.7 to 3.4 billion people.

The pace of urbanization is truly astonishing. From 1900 to 2000, the number of city dwellers rose from 220 million to 2.8 billion, more than a 10-fold increase!  Managing this process has and will continue to draw on the top minds of generations to come.
URBAN DEVELOPMENT RESOURCES
NEW PUBLICATIONS FROM THE UNITED NATIONS AVAILABLE ONLINE
 
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific recently came out with a series of "quick guides."  There are seven of these useful primers, which cover urbanization, low-income housing, land, eviction, affordable housing finance, community-based organizations, and rental housing.  Full text is available on line at http://www.housing-the-urban-poor.net/QuickGuides.asp.
BECOME AN IHC MEMBER
SUPPORT THE IHC'S OBJECTIVE OF "HOUSING FOR ALL"
 
We encourage you to join the International Housing Coalition.  The IHC is the only organization dedicated solely to drawing the attention of foreign assistance agencies and private foundations to the plight of the urban poor in a rapidly urbanizing world.  Basic membership is $200 per year.  For more information and to become part of the Coalition, see "Join the IHC" on the IHC website (www.intlhc.org).