The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 81

Access To Environmental Justice For The Urban Poor


22 July 1997

Authors: Onstad, J. W.

Publication Date: 1997

Cities in the Third World countries have grown rapidly during the last three decades. "Along with the process of urbanisation, poverty is also increasingly being urbanised. In 1950, there were only 10 cities with populations of five million or more; in 1993, there were 33 six of which had 15 million or more" (Sweetman, 1996, p.2). Coupled with rapid growth of population and urbanisation, developing countries in the last decade or so have experienced a deepening economic crisis related to the international debt problem, increasing inflation and unemployment.

Austerity programmes, advocated by the neoliberal policies of the IMF and the World Bank, have resulted in the state cutting back social expenditure. This has not only led to an increase in poverty and marginalisation of those that have a long-term, nearabsolute lack of resources, the "structural poor", but has also widened poverty to take in the "new poor", those women and men for whom poverty is a relatively recent state caused by economic reforms.

Research carried out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1995 showed that: "The deepening and widening of poverty is increasing social stratification; evidence is growing that women are disproportionately overrepresented among those whose long-term poverty is deepening, and those for whom poverty is a relatively recent state" (ibid.)

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