DFID Minister Lynne Featherstone visits Practical Action

February 24th, 2014

Today Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) visited Practical Action to say ‘thank you’ for our campaign for safer cities.  The public’s response has been brilliant raising twice as much money as anticipated. What’s more every £ given to the campaign is matched £ for £ by DFID!

UK International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone MP and Practical Action CEO Simon Trace

UK International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone MP and Practical Action CEO Simon Trace

Why is it important to create safer cities?

For the first time in history, more people live in towns and cities in the developing world than in rural areas.  People migrate to cities hoping for more opportunity or driven from the countryside by hunger, lack of water, no way to make a living, war or violence.

One billion people now live in slums.

Cities can be places of opportunity for people with power, money, and education.  But for poor people, especially women and girls, cities are often places of fear and inescapable poverty. There is huge inequality.  For example a study by the African Population and Health Research Centre in 2002 found in Nairobi, Kenya, that for every child who died in the best area of the city 20 children died in the worst.

Alongside this massive inequality are issues of dignity and voice – Slum dwellers are viewed as a problem, something to be sorted or made invisible. I remember talking with Kanchi in Nepal. As a young girl she had worked as a waste picker, and when I asked her what was the worst thing, she didn’t say the filth or the long hours– she talked about people calling her names and abusing her. Slum dwellers are not recognised for the enormous contribution they make to the life of a city – as waste pickers, water vendors, small entrepreneurs, etc.

Access to services in slums and attitudes to slum dwellers both need to change.

The matched funding from the DFID in response to the public’s fantastic generosity to our Safer Cities appeal will support our work with people living in slums in Bangladesh and Nepal who typically lack access to basic services, decent employment and secure homes – things we take for granted in the developed world.  They also face economic, political and social exclusion, making them difficult to reach.

It was great to have DFID say thank you for our work. It was also great to hear Lynne Featherstone talk about her commitment to working with women and girls and how together we can begin to explore how to help even more people escape poverty.

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