We found the work and ideas of this asociation really intresting

Urban Poverty and Environment (UPE) Program

The Urban Poverty & Environment Program (UPE) funds research and activities in developing countries that apply integrated and participatory approaches to reducing environmental burdens on the urban poor and enhancing the use of natural resources for food, water and income security.

UPE aims at easing environmental burdens that exacerbate poverty in selected cities by strengthening the capacity of the poor to equitably access environmental services, reduce environmental degradation and vulnerability to natural disasters, and enhance use of natural resources for food, water, and income security.

Water and Sanitation

“Less than half the population in most urban centres in Africa, Asia and Latin America have water piped to their homes, and less than one-third have good quality sanitation.”[1]The inextricable link between water, sanitation and poverty continues to become increasingly visible in cities of the developing world. With growing populations and inadequate physical and institutional infrastructure, underserved communities of third world cities are often reliant on informal suppliers for the water and sanitation services they require. This frequently results in the urban poor spending a high proportion of their income on these services, and creates a costly trade-off between economic stability and health. Lack of access to safe water and adequate sanitation services can be directly linked to rising incidence of waterborne diseases and poor health from the use of contaminated water in everyday activities.

To address the issues corresponding to safe urban water and sanitation services, the Urban Poverty and Environment (UPE) Program supports projects which target the sources and symptoms of inadequate service delivery through integrated multi-stakeholder approaches. In Lebanon and Jordan, for example, UPE has supported the development of a greywater treatment system which allows it users to capture and re-use otherwise wasted household water. The economic, social and health benefits emerging from the project underpin the possibility of employing cost-effective solutions to benefit the poor and improve their access to water and sanitation services in an urban environment.

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Recycling as motor of development in towns

    For lot of cities in expansion in the world, rubbish is a real problem. Each day the 50% of the world population who live in town make tones and tones of scraps that aren’t often treated. And lot of people live in this filth, particularly in shantytowns in developing countries. The rubbish is found everywhere and threaten the health of the city. Indeed the insalubrity of some cities and shantytowns are so important that they are really dangerous for the local population who suffering from tuberculosis, diarrhea, bronchitis, etc. Also these hard conditions of life pull in the same time violence and drugs too. This situation is not favorable to a good development and the local population is unfortunately condemned to the poverty and haven’t lot of chance to go out of that.                         

A micro-economy was then created. At the world level hundreds of thousand persons live of salvage of wastes. And it’s a gainful activity who permit to live with an income higher than the average in the majority in towns of the developing countries. But this is in majority an informal work who touch children and women who risk their life to survive. Moreover child work is often considered as normal in developing cities where the level of education is low.But if rubbish invade regularly streets of cities, there exists various types of management of waste, informal or not. Public services are the first responsible of this administration: it collect a part of the waste in a organized way and get busy of the final treatment (cremation…). The other part is found in streets, canals and discharges and recovers by waste pickers who recycle or resell it after transformation. This subterranean economy participates actively in the recycling of waste and in the neatness of the cit, but isn’t often recognized by the authorities.Some structures look for solutions of this situation, like the International Organization of Work who try to generate incomes and employment by creation of micro-companies and cooperatives, development of the possibilities of micro-credit and diversification of the employments (sweeping of streets, gardening). In a same time it would like to develop links with the public sector to integrate the salvage dealers into the management of waste, and build up a partnerships with the private sector to avoid the intermediaries.

An other organization, Wastes considers all the actors involved in waste management activities in a city. The informal sector and especially waste pickers or “scavengers” are a group that is very active in waste management but is rarely officially recognized as contributing to that system. Their activities vary from providing informal street sweeping and/or household waste collection services, to recovering recyclable materials from different points in the waste trajectory from households to the final disposal site. Acknowledging the work of this group when planning and implementing waste management improvements is desirable. This group’s experience can assist in solving waste problems and by incorporating the group in the waste management system it is possible to help them increase their income generating possibilities and improve their working conditions.


Collectors of waste in a shanty town from Jakarta in Indonesia.

shanty towns


Favellas – Brazil (photo CRDI P. St Jacques )

For a few decades, a huge urbanisation is concerning more and more cities in full development.In megalopolies, problems are the most alarming. Enormous shanty towns are build, causing dramatic problemes both in  social level and economical ones. The evolution of shanty town is very fast and overwelming the town organisation : in 1952, 14 % of urban population was living in shanty town, in 1966 it was 46 %, that represents  1.5 million people. In Buenaventura in Colombia, the proportion was 80% in 1964. 

What is the origine of this phenomenon ?

Natural increase is one reason for its growth (this is when the birth rate is higher than the death rate). The population has also grown as the result of urbanisation , caused by rural desertfication. Million of people has migrated from rural areas to cities.   New migrants cannot afford housing.They are obliged to build temporary accomodation in spontaneous settlements. This situation has created a demografic explosion in cities and have for consequences to feed unplanned suburbs.Houses are built from scrap materials such as wood and metal sheeting.Often people don’t have sanitation, water or electricity, usually settlements are overcrowded.


 Picture of  Manilla

Populations living in shanty town, have to live with important daily problems : crimes, poverty, no drinking water, no sewers, public services inexistant… In Sao Paulo,only 2/3 have drinking water, and infant mortality is three time higher than in rich suburbs.They are located on the edge of most cities for a number of reasons. Firstly, this is the only available land to build on within the city limits. Secondly, industry is located on the edge of the cities. Many people need jobs therefore they locate close to factories. Some of these settlements may be 40 or 50 km from the city centre (on the edge of the city), along main roads and up very steep hillsides.   People living in those suburds have to get rid of problems that we described insurmontable: in Mexico  people have to do 2 hours of bus to be in the city centre, the police are not present and pollution is so considerable that children have to stay inside for days. 


In Manila, official capital of Philippines a fire in a slum area had destroyed 2,500 dwellings and left 22,000 people homeless. Authorities had difficulty in getting access to the flames because the shacks were built so close together with very narrow paths in between. 

Solutions to shanty towns problems exist, the first is maybe concertation between inhabitants and people dealing with this problem of the administration of the town. The international cooperation can help with money and knowledge and people’s teams who come to tackle the problem. The authorities can take a number of steps to reduce problems in shanty towns, they can provide local residents with the materials needed to construct permanent accomodation and sanitories facilities. 


ecolieres.jpgEducation is an essential stake in developing countries to improve the living conditions of people. It allows the development of the physical, intellectual, and moral capacities of human beings. Education allows to pass on knowledge from generation to generation. It is a means of defense and power for people.

But 120 million children do not have access to education, and 2/3 are girls. In fact, in 70 countries, girls do not go to school. They work from their childhood, to bring an additional income to their family. It is an important problem, because the education of women has a real impact on the country. When the women go to school, we notice that there is a fall in the death rate, in malnutrition, in the spread of Aids. Moreover, the economic situation will be better. Women are responsible for the education of their children.
So, they have an important role in the life of their family, and their education has a real impact on the country.

That is why, many governmental and non governmental associations choose to get involved in this cause.

« Toutes à l’ école” is a French association that has been carrying out several actions in Cambodia to improve the education of girls.
Cambodia is a country, where 40% of the population is under 15 years old. The intellectuals and teachers were killed by Khmers Rouges .Today, many children do not go to school, principally girls, through lack of teacher. Moreover, poverty is important in this state, so the parents prefer the girls to work rather go to school. Girls are excluded from schooling.
The association “Toutes à l’ école” has chosen to help this state. The members of the association are voluntary, the founder, Tina Kieffer, is a journalist of the French magazine “Marie Claire”. Their objectives are: to give access to school, to finance the higher education of girls, to provide a qualified teaching, to provide a medical, and nutritional follow up for the children.

In 2006, they built a school in Prek Tmey, they recruited teachers and staff, they employed French teachers,… 96 girls had access to school in 2006.

We wish a good future for this association.   


                              students of the first school « happy chandara school »  



cities_issue_pic2.jpg     In order to attain sustainable development, societies have to change their way of living. Innovations such as organic agriculture have an important impact on the environment : it raises awareness among the population, …Its aim is to develop an agriculture that doesn’t harm the environment but preserves it for the future generation. Island of Cuba is 11000km2 and 61% of its area is used for agriculture. After the war of independence the rural areas were destroyed and its population flee away : only 10% of the area was used for agriculture, the main crop being sugar cane. Gradually, rural population increased and in 1959, 50% of the population considered as rural workers.  Since 1959, different economic politicies and social transformations have been started. The first Law of Land reform was instaured in 1959 and had a great impact on the agricultural structure of the country : the full employment of the natural and human resources, the creation of production cooperatives, the diversification and the increase to agricultural production… Everything for the needs to the local population. Another aim of the land reform mouvment was to develop the cooperative for the collective treatment of natural resources which was favourable to sustainable development. New ideas were proposed as intensive agriculture linked to new technologies… But unfortunately agriculture is not an industrial activity. This change has created big problems like deforestation or a loss of fertility and erosion ! It is essential to create small units with few means by using the supplies at hand to the maximum ! Tranformations for agricultural areas such as use of organic and biological  fertilizers, integrated treatment against plagues and diseases, use animal haulage, the association and crop rotation and conservation and rehabilitation of grounds. Sugar cane represents 30% of the agricultural area and represents more than 50% exports. Sugar cane is the most important for export (with tabacco and citrus fruits). Today 200000 people participate in urban agriculture. The production of vegetables and condiments is the most important crop and occupies 18000 hectares (garden, intensive kitchen garden, courts…). Thanks to this production, people can solve big medical problems and support the consumption to the good food. Urban production allow the creation of jobs, particularly for the old person. Urban agriculture, everybody participates : women, teenagers, etc. This sort of production has become more and more important and now it’s not for subsistence farming but for marketing !!!