With the growing intensity of urban problems, most notably poverty, it is imperative to identify the range of related aspects that help or hinder urban poverty reduction efforts. One emerging aspect is the role of city spatial planning in urban poverty reduction efforts. With the support from Ford Foundation, The SMERU Research Institute conducted a study to understand the connection between city spatial planning and urban poverty: how city spatial planning addresses urban poverty issues and the extent to which this planning is inclusive of the issues being experienced in the study areas. It is hoped that in the future, with an improved understanding of this connection, city spatial planning can be more pro-poor and supportive of urban poverty reduction efforts.
This study covered two selected cities, Kota Surakarta and Kota Makassar. Both cities are well known for their innovation in inventing and implementing local programs that aim to reduce poverty and other social problems. The study implemented the Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA) as its analytical framework and conducted the Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA) as its data collection method. The study revealed two important findings: first, that the characteristics of poverty and poverty dynamics have spatial relevance. Results of the PPA show that during the last ten years, poor people in the inner city have been enjoying welfare improvement due to urban economic agglomeration. In relation to the spatial aspect of poverty, the urban poor are facing illegal settlement problems, clean water and sanitation, and unsustainable urban economy. The second finding is that the current city spatial planning in both of the studied cities pays only limited attention to spatial poverty problems, which is reflected in several of their major planning documents. Moreover, poverty reduction efforts in these two cities are still dominated by programmatic approaches and have not taken into account aspects of urban spatial poverty.