Urban poverty, as in Kigali, is not necessarily explained through poor access to clean water, unclean neighbourhoods, lack of safety, or land titles. The services are the result of inclusive policies.

For the attention of: City authorities, donors and researchers in low- and middle- income countries.

The problem: This study discussed the profile of poverty and efforts to access basic household needs in Kigali, Rwanda, a case study of an emerging city in developing countries.

The benefits of the city are not shared equitably partly because of the absence of sufficient evidence on the status of poverty and the survival strategies for the poor.

Taking advantage of the opportunities of the city remains a challenge for the urban poor in most developing countries.

What we did and why: We collected data from 1,152 households living informal settlements in Kigali city, selected randomly from 15,628 households that lived in similar settings. We asked the household-heads the information on their demographic characteristics, their survival strategies, and the main needs on which they spent money. The purpose was to describe the household poverty profile, and determine who within the informal settlements is specifically vulnerable, the factors driving to poverty, and the household strategies for survival.

What our study adds: This study raises the need to revisit long-established preconceptions of urban poverty in developing countries.

  • Poverty is not necessarily explained through inadequate access to clean water, dirty neighbourhoods, lack of security, or absence of land ownership.

These services are results of inclusive policies as in Kigali, Rwanda. However, difficulties in accessing payable services is an essential characteristic of the urban poor. The most vulnerable are the newly-settled households, never-married, divorced, widows, elderly headed-households, and street hawkers.

Implications for city policy and practice: The study indicated that most of the poor households survive in doing petit businesses, in partnering among themselves and with the local leaders. Similar initiatives can be utilized in designing pro-poor policies and programs involving development actors and government officials to potentially support the urban poor thrive from poverty. It starts with changing the antagonist view, which is mostly attributable to urban informality and sees it as a phenomenon to manage, and people to support.

Links to other resources and support:

IDRC – International Development Research Centre

 U.S. Agency For International Development – USAID

Full research article: Poverty profile and efforts to access basic household needs in an emerging city: a mixed-method study in Kigali’s informal urban settlements, Rwanda

Authors: Dieudonne Uwizeye (@Duwiz), Albert Irambeshya, Simeon Wiehler & François Niragire

Editor: Marcus Grant