Urban Assessments

Using Assessments to Understand Urbanization in the Journey to Self-Reliance


Massive, rapid urbanization is visibly reshaping the developing world, enabling transformation and creating challenges for every sector in which USAID works. By 2050, two out of every three people will live in urban areas. USAID is well-positioned to partner with countries to harness the power of urbanization for development, prosperity and self-reliance.


An urban assessment is a strategic planning tool that can be used to better understand and address a country’s unique challenges and opportunities related to urbanization. USAID’s Urban Team in the E3 Bureau can provide on demand urban assessments as one of several customized services available to missions through the USAID Communications, Evidence and Learning (CEL) project.  

Distinct from evaluations, urban assessments are forward looking processes that untangle complex issues to inform the design of a specific program or a Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS). An urban assessment helps articulate pathways in a country’s Journey to Self-Reliance, such as:

  •  Enabling environment for local economic development and job creation, particularly for youth
  • Quality public services that protect the environment and are locally funded
  • Resilient, integrated and citizen-responsive urban systems
  • Domestic resource mobilization in urban areas

Assessments analyze the elements and interactions of urban systems in the context of urbanization, decentralization, and local governance. Urban assessments can take a broad view of the dynamic factors driving urbanization, the implications and impacts, and the opportunities for strategic activities and programing to harness benefits while mitigating challenges.