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Urban social movements, poverty reduction and social justice

Diana Mitlin

IIED Briefing

Far too little attention is given to the ways in which organised urban poor communities can advance their needs and interests. Across Africa, Asia and Latin America, urban poor groups are forming federations and social movements that are active in shelter and livelihood struggles, challenging the ineffectiveness of top-down programmes and contributing their own solutions to reduce urban poverty and secure social justice. The work of these movements is relevant to development agencies and governments alike, whose current activities are failing to address the scale and depth of the challenge in urban areas. Policymakers in development assistance agencies can use aid more effectively by working with local grassroots organisations in low- and middle-income countries and their wider networks. In this way, they can help bring about change for the urban poor.

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