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On the evening of 11 December, Canning House hosted the fourth event in our Opportunities series – Opportunities and Urban Poverty. The Opportunities Series has examined, through various lenses, the opportunities and obstacles faced by disadvantaged groups in Latin America. The objective of this event was to open up a discussion of the problem of urban poverty, and ways in which it may be addressed.
The event opened with warm words of welcome from Cristina Cortes, CEO of Canning House. Dr Andrea Rigon, an Associate Professor at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London, then began the discussion by highlighting the difficulties of defining and measuring urban poverty. He went on to explain how urban planning can address the issues at hand, arguing that a defined vision for a city can help to overcome the divides of “dual cities” – those with a stark division between rich and poor areas – which are especially common in Latin America. In particular, he emphasised how factors such as infrastructure and the labour market can revolutionise deprived areas of cities.
Our second speaker, Clare Dixon, Regional Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at CAFOD, spoke of her many years of experience working with local people and organisations to build a sustainable solution to urban poverty from the ground up. She explained how her organisation’s work in São Paulo, including campaigns of literacy and legal education, have helped to challenge homelessness in the Brazilian city even in the face of an often challenging political context. Clare described how, with CAFOD’s support, groups in São Paulo have successfully fought court battles over several years in order to gain access to positive, permanent housing, and begin their rise out of poverty.
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