Measuring progress in the quality of life of the urban poor: are indicators and data fit for purpose?

Rapid urbanisation could lead to the expansion of informal settlements if not well managed. The number of ‘slum dwellers’ continues to increase in many developing countries: almost 1 billion people currently live in slums, and this number is expected to grow by nearly 500 million between now and 2020. While urbanisation can bring opportunities for the poor, urban dwellers also face risks, not least poor housing and insecure tenure, as well as unequal access to basic services.

Discussions over the future of development beyond the Millenium Development Goals have highlighted the need to ensure that improvements in human development and sustainability reach the most marginalised groups in society, ‘leaving no one behind’ – that includes the millions of people living in slums. But to determine whether progress is really reaching these marginal groups, we need appropriate indicators and data.

Are current measures of poverty and quality of life suitable for urban contexts? Is the data currently available fit for purpose? In this blog series, experts put forward their key recommendations to improve the way we define and measure progress in the quality of life of the urban poor.


Improving housing policy to help the urban poor: an expanded goal for the post-2015 agenda – Eduardo Rojas

Urban quality of life – concepts and measurements – Gora Mboup

Measuring urban quality of life – can we do better? – Judy Baker

Better measures for urban quality of life: the view from below – Sheela Patel

Shelter and the Millennium Development Goals – Alan Gilbert

How should we measure quality of life in urban centres? – David Satterthwaite

Cities: where ‘form’ meets transformations – Amina Khan

Leaving no one behind: improving data to monitor progress in slum areas – Paula Lucci