Tuesday, June 20, 2006

World Urban Forum

Vancouver, Jan. 20th: I arrived this afternoon in the temporary capital of the empire of ineffectual good guys known as the World Urban Forum. I'm cynical about these UN-sponsored gatherings (can't ya tell), but being a fly on the wall does give an opportunity to learn some things and make some contacts.

My own bad planning ensured that I was in flight and thus missed the session on squatter communities this morning. But I checked out a session on creative muncipal approaches to financing stuff for the poor in French-speaking Africa in the afternoon. Niamey, in Niger, has started a plan to map the central city, giving every house and address, thus making it easier to collect taxes (indeed, the statistics bandied about show that the city quadrupled the amount it collected after the survey.) Dakar, Senegal has started a municipal microfinance credit program. And Douala, Cameroon has floated an issue of municipal bonds to provide seed money for housing for poor people.

The theme of the forum is "Turning Ideas Into Action" but so far, my experience is that there's more hot air than concerted, connected, committed political action. Still, I can hope.


Anonymous said...

i have a few suggestions for you
The webapges http://www.niger1.com/english1.html
and as you are Canadian a a page about NIger culture
I hopeyou enjoy your trip in Niamey and if the reason why you went to NIger is worth Mentionning on Niger1.com
send more informations to contact@niger1.com
Best regards

Anonymous said...

Mr. Neuwirth,

I'm an American student who will be spending July and August in Rio de Janeiro, the latter half of which will be spent working on a research project concerning the current state of funk carioca (or baile funk, or just plain funk, depending on your preferred nomenclature).

I read your book with much interest and have followed your blog as well.

Consequently, I have some questions about contemporary Rio that hopefully you would have the time to answer. I've drafted a longer message to you but cannot find an e-mail address. If you do not wish to post it publicly, please feel free to send it to me at gscruggs@fas.harvard.edu.

Thank you,
Greg Scruggs