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Pro-poor and inclusive urban policies are always under political attack and at risk of dilution by different interest groups. Some critics of the insufficient implementation of pro-poor policies argue the levels of investment are hugely inadequate and that the programmes should be executed with more vigour and financial backing. They point to expensive infrastructure investment and showpieces such as the new suspension bridge (Ponte Octavio Frias de Oliveira) as examples of unnecessary municipal extravagance, carried out at the expense of social intervention. Many also harbour suspicions that some of the more celebrated interventions become little more than political gesturing and publicity ventures that serve politicians’ aspirations more than their intended beneficiaries. One example of such a project is the Projeto Cingapura (The Singapore Project). In 1992, newly elected Mayor Paulo Maluf started an ambitious urban renewal plan, based on the experience of Singapore. Promoted as offering 100,000 new housing units the Cingapura housing initiative ran from its inception in 1995 to early in 2001. It was abandoned after it had provided only a modest increase in the available housing stock: 14,000 units, or just 14 per cent of its intended goal. Significant upgrading work has been, and continues to be achieved in Paraisópolis – the positive contributions of which are described in Special Feature 7 in this publication. Nevertheless, some allege that due to its central presence in the city it receives a disproportionate amount of attention and investment

(and may be used as a show-piece project), while other less visible favelas languish in the periphery. As a favela that is located inside a high- income area of the city, Paraisópolis is unique in São Paulo, unlike many in Rio, where the proximity of formal and informal areas of the city is much closer. Regardless of city leaders’ aspirations to improve the environment of the city centre, however, the current investments in upgrading can be attributed to the fact that Paraisópolis has a very organized community that for decades has been fighting for its citizens’ rights. (See Special Feature 7 for a description of slum upgrading in Paraisópolis.)

Pro-poor and inclusive urban policies are always under political attack and at risk of dilution by different interest groups. Critics also question the low quality of some services and facilities provided in poorer areas. The impact of low-quality provision of linear parks or small recreational areas in the upgraded favelas may not be insignificant, but if schools, health care or transport facilities remain weak, the implications for residents’ attainments and outcomes are more dramatic. Low-quality resources expose the urban social divide and replicate and reinforce social divisions into the future. Some commentators have reflected upon the impact of the democratic aspirations of the

Despite advances, studies show that inequality starts young in São Paulo and still significantly affects the social, cultural, political and economic life of those affected. Image: Andersson Barbosa

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Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

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