SEATTLE — Urban and rural poverty should be considered both together and separately, as there may be common solutions to alleviating them. Conversely, there will be factors and responses that are unique to each.
Urban poverty refers to poverty experienced by those who live in cities. According to the World Bank, characteristics of urban poverty may include the following: limited access to employment opportunities, inadequate housing, unhealthy environments, little or no social protection, and limited access to medical aid and education.
While most of the world’s poor live in rural areas, urban poverty persists. Currently, about half of the world lives in urban regions. Furthermore, in recent decades there has been an increase in the number of people living in urban areas around the world, 90 percent of which is occurring in developing countries. This situation leads many individuals vulnerable to the realities of urban poverty.
Conversely, rural poverty occurs in households that live in rural regions, or in areas outside cities. According to the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, 85 percent of poor people across 105 countries live in rural regions. Moreover, the intensity of rural poverty is consistently higher than that of urban poverty.
The distinctions between urban and rural poverty speak to the need for solutions tailored according to each’s specific needs. However, while much research attests to the need to differentiate the two types of poverty, there is a lack of literature detailing the different approaches needed to handle both problem.
Even so, some methods that have been discussed, such as the territorial approach. This concept focuses on increasing the competitiveness of various regions. In doing so, it hopes to allow each region to take care of itself. In other words, poverty is fought locally. The territorial approach can be used to target both urban and rural poverty. It is versatile by nature, which increases its desirability. Fighting poverty this way seems like a more holistic decision-making than targeted intercession. However, it does not replace or limit the possibility of other approaches to fighting poverty.
Despite the relative lack of information and research on tactics used to target urban versus rural poverty, some organizations have endeavored to study the topic. The International Development Research Center (IDRC) has been studying ways to fight urban poverty through its Focus Cities Research Initiative. The initiative has studied solutions ranging from urban gardening in Kampala, Uganda to healthy recycling tactics used by waste pickers.
Solutions to rural poverty tend to focus on basic needs such as providing access to clean drinking water, food, shelter, medical aid, and education.
There is much research left to be done on tactics targeting the various facets of poverty. However, the progress that has been made in distinguishing solutions between urban and rural poverty is promising.
– Rebeca Ilisoi