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Global Urbanism Research Group

Poverty and inequality

Towns and cities are closely associated with social exclusion, vulnerability and inequalities in access to basic goods and services.

Photograph of boy walking through a Kenyan slum.
An estimated one in seven of the world's population are living in towns and cities of the global south without adequate access to basic services or housing.

An estimated one in seven of the world's population are living in towns and cities of the global south without adequate access to basic services or housing. In addition to multiple inequalities, there is considerable income poverty.  The difficulties associated with low-pay and poor returns from enterprise activities are exacerbated by high levels of commodification and disadvantageous political relationships. 

There have been multiple and diverse efforts to reduce urban poverty from a wide range of different agencies. At the same time, the failure of these programmes to achieve scale has led to widespread citizen protests and considerable self-help. While some progress has been made in the last decades, an estimated one in seven of the world’s population are living in towns and cities of the global South without adequate access to basic services and/or without adequate housing. 

Our research includes: 

  • Exploring the impact of rapidly expanding youth populations in the context of the urbanisation of poverty and its implications on the social and economic lives of Tanzania’s youth. This project explores new perspectives and new interpretations of what it means to be young and searching for livelihoods in the city amidst endemic poverty, inequality and limited institutional support (2013-2017).
  • Analysing the specific nature and impacts of state interventions to reduce urban poverty in India and the influence of civil society on such interventions, through a study of government programmes including the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission in five cities (2012-2015). This and the following study are part of the Effective States and Inclusive Development research centre.
  • Considering state interventions to reduce urban poverty in Uganda and the influence of civil society on such interventions, through a study of Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda (2015-2017). This study is working with ACTogether, the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda and researchers from Makarare University to analyse TSUPU outcomes in Kibale, Mbale and Kampala.

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