IIED Environment & Urbanization Brief 17: Citizen driven action on urban poverty reduction


Publication of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

SUMMARY: Poverty reduction is generally seen as something designed and implemented by governments and professional organizations, supported by international agencies. Little attention has been given to actions taken by “the poor”, whether this is working autonomously (outside of government), organising to make demands on government (claim making) or co-production, where they work with government.

Yet there are a growing number of initiatives undertaken by urban poor organisations themselves – many of which now work at city level and some at national level; in 16 nations, these are undertaken by national federations of slum or shack dwellers.

Many urban poor organisations have also shifted their engagement with government from making demands to offering partnerships in designing and implementing initiatives, both because there is not much point in making demands on government agencies incapable of fulfilling these demands and because these urban poor organisations and federations have demonstrated that they can design and implement cheaper and more effective responses.

Many national governments and international agencies have not recognized the potential of these local government–urban poor organisation partnerships in reducing poverty. And even where they do, many are inhibited by bureaucratic constraints or clientelist political structures.


Knowledge Type
More information
Document type
Policy Framework/Concept Paper