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Are local governments able to give more power to poorer groups? And support their capacities for action and partnership? Are the urban poor able to make a creative contribution to the considerable challenges of urban management? The April 2004 issue of E&U describes how local governments, citizen groups and social movements are developing more participatory ways of working together. Much has been made possible by more democratic and decentralized government structures, and by bottom-up pressures and coherent alternative development approaches from citizens and civil society organizations. This issue explores new approaches and assesses their effectiveness.