1st Edition

Urban Poverty in the Global South Scale and Nature

By Diana Mitlin, David Satterthwaite Copyright 2013
    368 Pages 49 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    366 Pages 49 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    One in seven of the world’s population live in poverty in urban areas, and the vast majority of these live in the Global South – mostly in overcrowded informal settlements with inadequate water, sanitation, health care and schools provision. This book explains how and why the scale and depth of urban poverty is so frequently under-estimated by governments and international agencies worldwide. The authors also consider whether economic growth does in fact reduce poverty, exploring the paradox of successful economies that show little evidence of decreasing poverty.

    Many official figures on urban poverty, including those based on the US $1 per day poverty line, present a very misleading picture of urban poverty’s scale. These common errors in definition and measurement by governments and international agencies lead to poor understanding of urban poverty and inadequate policy provision. This is compounded by the lack of voice and influence that low income groups have in these official spheres. This book explores many different aspects of urban poverty including the associated health burden, inadequate food intake, inadequate incomes, assets and livelihood security, poor living and working conditions and the absence of any rule of law.

    Urban Poverty in the Global South: Scale and Nature fills the gap for a much needed systematic overview of the historical and contemporary state of urban poverty in the Global South. This comprehensive and detailed book is a unique resource for students and lecturers in development studies, urban development, development geography, social policy, urban planning and design, and poverty reduction.

    1. Why this book?  2. Measuring Poverty  3. Why is Health so Poor among Low-Income Urban Dwellers?  4. Incomes and Livelihoods  5. Critical Issues in Urban Inequality  6. Broadening the Understanding and Measurement of Urban Poverty


    Diana Mitlin is an economist and social development specialist working at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and a Professor at the University of Manchester, UK, working at the Global Urban Research Centre, the Institute for Development Policy and Management and the Brooks World Poverty Institute.

    David Satterthwaite is a Senior Fellow at IIED and a Visiting Professor at the Development Planning Unit, University College London, UK. He is also editor of the international journal Environment and Urbanization.

    ‘This is a very important book. Urban poverty is seriously underestimated by dollar a day measures and national poverty estimates; it is neglected in terms of policy and action; and it is often sidelined in academic research and debates about development. This is really foolish – as the future of poverty is urban.
    This book lays out in detail the ways in which present measures of poverty underestimate urban poverty and presents the data on urban poverty and inequality, and especially urban health deprivations. It demonstrates that research policy and action to improve the lives of low-income urban dwellers are a global priority. Read this book and your understanding of poverty will be transformed. I cannot recommend it highly enough.’ 

    – Professor David Hulme, Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester, UK

    ‘With urban poverty growing at least as fast as booming urban populations, this is a challenging and constructive book. It challenges claims of global progress on poverty based on ‘dollar a day’ poverty lines - these ignore the real costs and consequences of urban poverty. It challenges urban governments to meet their responsibilities - urban poverty has a local dimension which can and must be measured and tackled if urban poverty is to be reduced. And it shows how the challenges can be met.’
    – Professor David Piachaud, London School of Economics, UK

    Urban Poverty in the Global South: Scale and Nature moves the discussion of the multiple dimensions of poverty out of the realm of theory and academic discourse, where the bulk of the literature has been concentrated, and shows how the recognition of multiple disadvantages can reframe and energize pro-poor policies and programs. Mitlin and Satterthwaite do more than outline the general principles that should guide the next generation of policy: they offer detailed, specific insights grounded in long experience with the urban poor of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This book moves the field forward.’
    – Professor Mark Montgomery, Stony Brook University, USA

    'The work is ambitious — few authors could so compellingly carry off such a sweeping title — but Mitlin and Satterthwaite manage to comprehensively and sensitively cover many different topics and situate the work using case studies from across the global South. The authors provide a focused assessment of progress (as well as the limitations) of scholarly knowledge.'
    International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR)