Small towns clearly fall “between the cracks” of a traditionally urban/rural landscape, largely neglected by policy makers, donors, and practitioners alike. Whilst we generally recognise a small town when we see one, commonly accepted definitions are not readily available and usually refer to what small towns are not rather than what they are.

The purpose of this Small Towns work was to attempt to synthesize existing knowledge and indentify promising approaches. In a rapidly urbanising world where small town growth, in size and number, is outstripping the growth of larger urban centres, there is an urgent need to find new approaches to ensuring the provision of these basic services.

For every large town in the developing world (with a population of 50,000 to 200,000), there are an estimated ten small towns (with a population of 2,000 to 50,000) (Pilgrim, 2007). Both the population and number of these small towns are projected to double within 15 years, and then double again within 30 years (Pilgrim, 2007).