What does it mean to make a city inclusive?
For Bui Thi Mai in Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam, it means a clean, safe street so her business can grow and prosper.
“The alley was so narrow that only one motorbike could get in,” she said. “There was no drainage so it was often flooded, making garbage float and mosquitos breed. It was unsafe for our health. There were few streetlights, allowing criminals to hide in dark corners. Running my business is much easier because the street is cleaner and safer. Trucks can carry goods to my door. More shops and restaurants are opening along this big street.”
For Esperanza Choquehuanca, it means participating in community-driven development that brought running water, paved roads, street lighting, sports areas and a community house to her neighborhood on the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia.
“We used to have to wash clothes in the stream or the wells,” she said. “Women and girls had to go to the river to use the bathroom. Now we all have our own bathrooms with a shower with hot water as well as our own laundry areas.”
Urban trends are making the push for inclusion more important than ever. Cities are growing at historic rates, with 90 percent of urban growth taking place in Asia and Africa. While urbanization has the potential to lift people out of poverty and increase prosperity, rising inequality and exclusion threaten to derail progress.
“When people move to cities they are looking for better jobs and more opportunity, but too often end up trapped in a stigmatized space of poverty and marginalization,” said Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director for the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice at the World Bank Group.
“This is particularly true for the nearly 1 billion urban poor who live in informal settlements around the world. The current levels of urban poverty and inequality, coupled with the projected rates of urbanization, send a clear and unequivocal signal: we need to do more to foster inclusion and we need to do it differently,” he added.