The world is rapidly urbanizing. Every day, 80,000 people move into cities, and urban areas are expected to gain 1.4 billion people between 2011 and 2030. By 2030, it is projected that over 60 percent of the world’s populations will live in cities.

This unprecedented urban growth is mainly taking place in less developed countries, where urban populations are most vulnerable to natural disasters, suffer disproportionately from infectious diseases, and are most likely to live in slums without basic services like clean water and sanitation.

USAID’s program, “Sembrando Escuelas”, built over 100 schools in Panama City. School children dash to their classrooms in their newly inaugurated school. June 2012. Photo Credit: USAID/Panama

USAID’s forthcoming Sustainable Urban Services Policy (PDF) reflects the Agency’s commitment to address the complex development challenges of urban environments. The policy will present new approaches and principles to help missions support country-led, sustainable urban services maximizes development impacts, leverages financial sustainability, and enhances geographic focus and selectivity.

The policy will set out a core set of development principles to support sustainable urban services. These include:

  • Ensuring political and financial stability;
  • Advancing accountable, pro-poor service delivery models;
  • Fostering market orientation and public-private collaboration; and
  • Supporting municipal resilience.

On Friday, March 8, USAID released a draft of the policy for review for public comment, especially by external stakeholders and the broader public. This is the first time that we have solicited input on a draft policy from the external community. We hope that by being more transparent and reaching out to the vast wealth of knowledge and experience outside of USAID, we can craft a richer and more effective policy.

The draft policy is available for download, which also has a link to the online survey that asks for comments on the draft. You can also access the online survey. The survey will be up through March 26, 2012. The feedback received will be incorporated, as appropriate, into the final version of the policy.

Improved urban service delivery is the key to responding to the challenges posed by an increasingly urbanized world. We look forward to your feedback on this draft policy and to working together to ensure that USAID can help countries respond to those challenges.