Poor men and women living in urban informal settlements do need
knowledge and information to cope with risks and improve their
livelihoods, but they sometimes find it hard to access. This project
addressed the following questions: How do the urban poor obtain
information and develop knowledge? Do they get what they require and is
it appropriate? And how could development agencies fill the gaps and
help to strengthen their knowledge and information systems (KIS)?
This research focused on the information needs of the urban poor, and
the sources they use in accessing that information. Fieldwork was
carried out in low-income settlements in the capital city and at least
one secondary town in three countries in the developing world: Peru, Sri
Lanka and Zimbabwe. This was complemented by case studies elsewhere, a
review of the literature and an electronic conference.
It is suggested that development agencies should:
- rethink their information strategies, to ensure that the poor get
equal access to information, treat them as equals who are a source of
knowledge too, create two-way communication, and address a range of
needs comprehensively. Following on from this, they may also want to
rethink their knowledge and research strategies.
- reduce exclusion, by targeting groups of poor people that have
problems in accessing information, and by reducing external factors
that increase exclusion such as violence, oppressive politics and
- support urban communities to build their knowledge and information
capital, amongst others by taking stock of existing resources and
addressing gaps, building the capacity of key informants, empowering
communities, stimulating meeting places and exchange visits.
- improve the attitudes and impact of infomediaries, by sensitizing and
supporting public authorities, producing appropriate information
resources and building capacity, by documenting and sharing good
communication practice, and using a range of media including
traditional and modern ones.
- invest in developing sustainable ICTs for the urban poor, which will
require research into a number of issues, the inclusion of ICT
equipment and training into urban projects, and the production of
appropriate information materials for ICTs.
- look at the impact of their information dissemination on the urban
poor, develop additional methods and indicators, as well as more
knowledge of the cost-effectiveness of alternative communication
methods, and document and share the results of urban development work
Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), Bourton-on-Dunsmore, UK, 53 pp.
Strengthening the knowledge and information systems of the urban poor.