Future Cities should be urban prosperity hubs not an agglomeration of the poor
Urban poverty has become a central issue with increasing focus on cities by both public, non-profit and private sector institutions. In recent years, there have been efforts to highlight the extent of urban poverty and housing deprivations in the global poverty agenda. This is because inasmuch as cities can be centers of prosperity there is also the potential for cities to promote citizen/residents segregation through urban policies that define infrastructure, social and economic development pathways. ill-advised designs or inefficient implementation of well-thought policies can effectually lead to the proliferation of slums, unemployment, economic disadvantage that lean towards increasing poverty among residents of urban centers.
But unfortunately, as pointed out by most urban planning experts, poverty in urban areas is not measured by living standards, it is instead measured using income levels which are set at levels typically referred to as ‘minimum wage’. The minimum wage is set at the level that allows an individual or household to afford basic needs, but it isn’t. It is only based usually on food needs, with a very small adjustment for non-food needs.
However, using Nigeria as a case study the minimum wage is currently set at ₦18,000.00 per month (approximately US$50 with current bank exchange rates). This minimum wage was set in 2010 when it was barely equivalent to US$100. With this level of wage, it is mathematically impossible for most low-income earning urban residents to survive and compete favorably. The scenario is filled with more despair when considering a basic family unit.
On the 6th of February, 2017 there were protests in Abuja and Lagos tagged EnoughisEnough as the frustrations of the citizens had peaked. It is yet to be seen if this protests will bring the much needed alleviation to the sufferings of the citizens.
The reality for the future city can be one of despair or economic prosperity for rural to urban migrants, only the policies put in place by the governing bodies and implemented efficient through Public-Private sector Partnerships will ensure the latter. As well as, ensuring optimum data management and accurate data collection and monitoring of the progress made in addressing urban poverty.