The informal city is alive in nearly all cities in the Global South, separated from the formal city by exclusionary policies, lack of services and investments, and large areas of inadequate infrastructure. Yet the formal city cannot exist without the informal city. Many residents living in informal settlements work in the formal economy and many living in the formal districts find their livelihoods in the informal economy. The OECD estimates that half the workers of the world—close to 1.8 billion people—hail from the informal sector, contributing to an informal economy estimated to account for as much as 40% of of metropolitan or city GDP.
As part of our centennial activities, we are launching The Rockefeller Foundation’s Informal City Dialogues in the cities of Accra, Bangkok, Chennai, Lima, Metro Manila and Nairobi –cities we chose because of their rich and ongoing discussion about informality and urbanization.
The Dialogues will launch separately in each city, beginning with Metro Manila in February 2013. The process will conclude in September with a convening at the Foundation’s Bellagio Conference Center to discuss the findings from the six cities and develop a shared agenda for on informality and cities. The Foundation’s partners for this work are Forum for the Future, Next City and respected local institutions in each city.
Often constrained from reaching the scale needed, this exploration intends to evaluate impact enterprise sectors and business models that have the potential to provide scalable and broad-base solutions for disadvantaged populations. Poor and vulnerable communities often lack access to critical goods and services and access to quality jobs or income-generating activities. Impact enterprises have the potential to provide access to much-needed products and services, efficiently create quality jobs directly and indirectly, offer premium prices for locally produced products, and make meaningful improvements to the overall physical environment.
This work will explore various approaches to improving economic and social equity within the food system. The food and agriculture system in the United States employs tens of millions of workers and is among the most productive in the world. However, the jobs are poor quality, healthy food does not reach low-income communities and leads to high levels of diet-related illnesses, and the negative environmental impacts that are unsustainable.
Limited enrollment in, and poor quality of, secondary education in developing countries is a barrier to economic growth and development because youth are not acquiring the skills necessary for employment. Job creation depends on the availability of an appropriately-educated and properly skilled workforce with knowledge, skills and competencies necessary for work in the globalized economy. Developing countries are moving to knowledge-based industries that require higher skill levels necessitating completion of at least quality, relevant secondary school. Further, the expansion of primary education, as a result of the Millennium Development Goal to ensure that countries across the globe can achieve universal primary education, is increasing demand for secondary education in developing countries.
This Search will explore innovative models of secondary education including traditional models, private provision and ICT enabled education that can reach large numbers of youth and that offer a quality, relevant education. Specifically, this Search will identify the skills required for work in the 21st century economies of sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia; innovative models of teaching these skills to youth of secondary school age; and the infrastructure and resource requirements needed to scale these models.
This work will explore business models and opportunities to improve the mobility and accessibility of the urban poor by increasing the efficiency and quality of urban public transportation systems. Low income communities in developing cities are largely reliant on public transportation for jobs and services, making them more vulnerable to inefficiencies and shortcomings in transportation systems. After substantial underinvestment in public transit in the developing world, municipal leaders have a renewed interest in making investments and new business models are emerging to make it practical and sustainable.
Care Works will explore the opportunities created by implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve care the quality and access in low-income US communities, reduce health care costs, and promote equitable economic growth by expanding and better deploying the community health workforce. Health care costs continue to rise at an unsustainable rate, a situation that will only be exacerbated by the aging of the population. A key to managing costs is quality care that ensures that chronic conditions are managed and preventive services utilized in order to avoid costly and unnecessary hospitalizations. At the front-lines of this kind of care are community health workers, who are often economically vulnerable.
Transitions to Growth will support evaluative research to further explore how transitional employment programs promote worker and small business resilience, serving not as welfare programs but as powerful levers for state economic growth with equity. The US recently concluded a promising experiment, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF), which provided short-term subsidies to small business owners and others to cover the cost of hiring new employees from among the poorest and most vulnerable unemployed workers. A national assessment of the demonstration by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides preliminary evidence suggests that it is possible to use transitional employment to bolster the resilience of both the unemployed and small business owners while fostering economic growth with equity.