HealthBridge works with partners world-wide to improve health and health equity through research, policy and action.

Livable Cities

For the first time in history more than half the world’s population is living in towns and cities. As more people move to urban areas the quality of life there will have major impacts on health and the environment. Low and middle-income countries, in particular, are facing important challenges as a result of the growth of cities.  

Studies show that the way cities are built impacts people’s:

  • risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) 
  • risk of injury 
  • exposure to air pollution
  • vulnerability to the effects of climate change  
  • ability to be gainfully employed 
  • ability to interact and build relationships with neighbours.    

As low and middle- income countries  tackle these major problems, it is important to ensure that cities are livable.  

A livable city is well designed and compact. It allows people to walk to school and work, to stores, parks and restaurants. It permits them to take transit to places outside of their neighbourhoods, and provides them with access to sanitation, water, clean air, safe affordable housing and healthy foods. 

A livable city also ensures that everyone has access to parks and public spaces. It is a place where the most vulnerable, including women, children, the poor and people with disabilities are able to meet their day-to-day needs and enjoy community life.

Goal

The goal of the program is to improve the livability of cities by ensuring access for the most vulnerable to healthy transportation, healthy foods, parks and public spaces.  

Current Work

We work with local groups in low and middle-income countries to increase understanding of the policies and programs needed to make cities livable. Our partners advocate for those policies to be put into action, including in the following projects:

  • Creating children-focused parks in India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam;
  • Advocating for safe pedestrian spaces in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Niger;
  • Preserving local fresh markets in Vietnam, which supports access to healthy foods.

Impact

This work has resulted in some key impacts on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations:

  • In Bangladesh, the High Court ruled that people must be given safe places to walk and to cross the street;
  • In India, children were given safe places to play.  Now more children – including girls – are playing, and less anti-social behaviour is occurring in parks;
  • In Nepal, key support from the business sector was given to make the Thamel area walking-only;
  • In Hoi An, Vietnam, officials have agreed to prepare a Parks Master Plan, which will ensure that local people have easy access to fun, safe parks.

Watch LC Director Kristie Daniel's video blog about the program: