In a global and increasingly urbanized world, cities play a key role in building a better future. Cities and local governments must have the human capital and tools to manage their resources effectively, to deliver services, to partner with the private sector, and foster economic growth for the betterment of their citizens. Better managed cities with improved services will contribute to the U.S. Government’s objectives to promote peace and security; encourage greater investment in people; support democratic governance; and increase economic growth.

The United States’ foreign assistance programs work with the public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, and civil society to foster urban productivity. This means building the capacity of poorly managed cities so that they are better equipped to handle the impacts of urban growth. A large part of this is, of course, expanding and improving the delivery of urban services such as water, and sanitation, and waste management. For those cities that may be more advanced, the focus is on harnessing the growth potential of urban markets.

Rapid urbanization is one of the most important development challenges of this century.

The level of investment required to improve urban environmental infrastructure and to respond to the enormous demand for adequate housing is beyond the scope of donors and governments. Engaging the private sector is necessary in order to bring pilot efforts and programs to scale. By strengthening the capacity of local authorities to manage and govern better, the United States helps build the necessary foundation for increased access to market-oriented finance and to improved urban service delivery. Capacity building and development programs aimed at increasing the creditworthiness of local governments through improved planning and financial management require long-term efforts, but they are critical to achieving sustainable results.

How we work

USAID’s Urban Team in the E3 Bureau supports missions in improved planning, programming, and decision-making through generating and disseminating evidence-based research; piloting and evaluating innovative technologies and approaches; leveraging geospatial data and technology; and providing missions with technical assistance, training, and advisory services. The Urban Team also collaborates with global partners, other U.S. government agencies, the private sector, and civil society to help shape and implement global policies, develop and test tools and practical guidance documents, and leverage partner funding and expertise to address critical development challenges. For more information, contact us at

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