The key question addressed in this paper is in what ways strategies at the community level make a difference to urban governance and for whom? The research on which it draws was concerned with two issues of relevance. The first was what poor people and communities do for themselves when city governments are unable or unwilling to extend resources to them. The second was to understand the institutional relationships, both formal and informal, between people in poverty and the organizations of city governance. In addition to local government, business and NGOs, these are understood to include associations of mutuality and community level organizations, particularly households, social networks, and political and developmental CBOs. Drawing on research conducted in the nine case study cities, evidence of local level networks and associational life is examined to assess where benefits accrue when they are harnessed in the interests of city governance. These are very different cities and livelihood strategies and patterns of public action and urban governance are undoubtedly context-specific. However, patterns emerge that are comparable and worthy of comment.
Journal of International Development (2001) 13 (7) 1015-1021 [DOI: 10.1002/jid.825]