First installment of the WRR launched at Habitat III

This working paper on urban housing is the latest installment of WRI’s flagship World Resources Report (WRR), “Towards a More Equitable City.” The report examines if more equitable access to core urban services improves the economy and the environment.

Lourdes moved from Charco Petatal to the hilly, outer neighborhood of Mexico City, Compositores Mexicanos, when she was 20 years old because her husband, Dionicio, inherited the property from his family.

On a Friday night four months ago, Caesar smelled gas in his building—a low-income housing unit called Alianza Popular Revolucionaria, in Coyoacán, Mexico City. When neighbors complained to the power company, they were told there was no problem.

When he was 21, Pablo left his mother’s home in the gentrified, central neighborhood of Roma, Mexico City because he wanted to experience living on his own. He didn’t move far—just to the neighboring area of Doctores.

It’s a common practice in Ghana’s cities for home owners to let low-income families take care of their homes while they are away in order to watch over the property and protect against re-sale.

Every day at 5 a.m., Emmanuel wakes his daughters and prepares them for school. Together, they walk five minutes to the nearest bus stop to catch the local bus or Tro tro—a privately owned shared taxi common in Ghana’s capital city.

Between 1984 and 2013, Ghana’s urban population more than tripled, increasing from about 4 million to 14 million. Like many rapidly urbanizing African cities, Accra, the country’s capital, has experienced tremendous economic growth.

Mrs. Arowojobe has lived in Pedro, a popular neighborhood in Lagos, for 29 years.

Thulsimma lives with her children, their spouses, and grandchildren in a low-income settlement on the outskirts of Mahalakshmi Layout, a suburb of northwest Bangalore.

16 years ago, Akiniyi left her fishing village in Western Kenya in search of a steady income in Nairobi.

In July 2014, São Paulo suffered its greatest water crisis in 80 years. Extreme drought completely dried up the Cantareira water supply system, leaving 8.8 million city residents without access to drinking water.

Luis lives with his wife and four daughters in the Santo Domingo area of Mexico City. Originally from the lake town of Villa Victoria, 115 kilometers outside of Mexico City, Luis moved to Santo Domingo to find a better job in 1990, and has lived in his home there ever since.

The Lanceiros Negros (“Black Lancers,” in English), a social movement and coalition of mostly black women in Porto Alegre, Brazil, has been a vocal advocate for adequate public housing and services.

GuoZhoawan, an 82 year old resident of Shanghai, China, lives with his adult grandson in a small, one-room rental in public housing. He moved to Shanghai from the bordering Jiangsu Province 56 years ago, after the Cultural Revolution, to become an apprentice in a factory for animal husbandry.

“I cannot sit still,” Magali says from behind her bar— the business she runs from the front of her house in the Vila Santo Andre neighborhood in Porto Alegre, Brazil. “I clean my bar, I take care of my children, and I sell the products, and wash the vegetables to sell in the bar.

Cities are growing differently today than before. As much as 70 percent of people in emerging cities in Asia, Africa and Latin America is under-served. Furthermore, cities face challenges in four areas:

Job Mauti is 36 years old. He moved from a rural agricultural area in the Lake Victoria basin to Nairobi in search of work 17 years ago. Job is married and has five children between one and 14 years old. His sister-in-law lives with his family. Their house is one room measuring 300 square feet.

Josephine is 37 years old and lives with her 20-year-old son, her 23-year-old niece, and her 34-year-old cousin. Josephine has worked as a security guard for 13 years and is the sole income earner for her family. The household’s monthly income is approximately $150 (US).

Didi is 34 years old. Until he was seven years old, his parents could not afford to live on their own, so they lived with relatives.

Anita is 24 years old and has lived all her life in Delhi. When she attended university she would take three buses and walk about 3 kilometers. For the past three years, Anita has worked as a copyeditor for a leading newspaper, the Times of India. She earns approximately $326 (US) per month.