International Development Committee Announcement


Half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and this is projected to rise to nearly 60% within two decades. 95% of the world’s urban growth is in the developing world, where cities gain an average of 5 million new dwellers every month.

Many of the people moving to towns and cities become slum dwellers, living in neglected neighbourhoods in deprived and crowded living conditions. They often lack access to basic services (especially sanitation and water) and infrastructure, and possess few rights, particularly to land and property. In 1990 there were around 715 million slum dwellers. This had increased to 998 million by 2007 and is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2020. More than one-third of the urban population in developing countries live in slums, with the highest proportion of slum dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa (62% of the urban population) followed by Southern Asia (43%). Other parts of Asia, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean, also have high proportions of slum dwellers.

Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 includes a target to “achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.” This target is currently off-track in many developing countries. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is working to reach the target by supporting a number of organisations that seek to reduce urban poverty, including UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency responsible for human settlements and providing adequate shelter for all. DFID is also providing support to improve basic services in slums including sanitation, water, health and education. However, overall donor funding for achieving the MDG 7 slum upgrading target is very low, meeting only 5-10% of the financing required.

The International Development Committee is to begin an inquiry into Urbanisation and Poverty. Key issues for the inquiry will include:

  • how effectively developing country governments and donors, particularly DFID, are addressing the challenges presented by urban poverty;
  • DFID’s contribution to meeting the MDG 7 target which seeks to improve the lives of slum dwellers;
  • the provision of basic services and infrastructure in slums, including energy, housing, transport, sanitation, water, health and education;
  • supporting opportunities for employment and livelihoods for the urban poor;
  • the role of property rights in improving the lives of slum dwellers; and
  • the implications of the current global financial downturn for urbanisation in developing countries.

Submission of written evidence

The Committee invites individuals and organisations with relevant expertise and experience to submit written evidence on any of these issues.

The deadline for submitting written evidence is Friday 24 April 2009

The Committee particularly welcomes submissions from developing countries.

Evidence submitted should:

  • if possible, be provided electronically in MS Word or Rich Text format by e-mail to  If submitted by e-mail or e-mail attachment, a letter should also be sent validating the e-mail. The letterhead should contain your full postal address and contact details
  • begin with a one page summary if it is longer than six pages
  • have numbered paragraphs
  • avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material.

Submissions can also be sent by post to International Development Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:

Please also note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within written evidence, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included. If a number of published documents are sent to accompany written evidence, these should be listed in the covering email.
  • Written evidence submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organization submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence. 
  • It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.


Committee Membership is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Stephen Crabb MP (Con), Mr Mark Hendrick MP (Lab/Co-op), Daniel Kawczynski MP (Con), Mr Virendra Sharma (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh MP (Lab), Andrew Stunell MP (Lib Dem).

Committee Contact: Chloe Challender, 020 7219 1522, or

Media Enquiries: Alex Paterson, 020 7219 1589, or

Committee website:

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Publications/Reports/Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge Street, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474)