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The City Poverty Assessment

A Primer


Cities and towns are increasingly becoming the primary locus of poverty in many countries. Rural-urban migration and low urban mortality rates have contributed to the rapid population growth of cities in many parts of the world. With such rapid growth comes an increasing concentration of poverty in urban areas. In parallel, more countries assign local governments increased responsibility in fighting poverty. With decentralization, the responsibility of local social policy goes beyond the execution of centrally designed and funded education and health programs. In many countries, local policymakers today decide on tax rates, expenditure policies, development of new assistance programs, incentives for local economic development, land and zoning laws, and more. The formulation of pro-poor local policies requires good information analyses. Local governments and their partners have both an opportunity and a need to understand the determinants of poverty and impediments for its reduction. This paper is an introduction to how such local information on poverty can be gathered and analyzed. It provides local policy makers with a broad overview of the type of questions typically asked and answered in 'City Poverty Assessments'. As the nature of poverty differs widely between cities and countries, so will the content of such poverty assessments as they have to be adapted to local needs. This publication will be of interest to city policy makers, international organizations, nogovernmental organizations, and urban practitioners.