As momentum grows for a sustainable urbanisation goal in the post-2015 development agenda, this paper reports on an action research study that sought to tackle the urban health divide by enabling intersectoral action on social determinants at the local level. The study was located in the cities of Mombasa in Kenya and Valparaíso in Chile, and the impact of the intervention on child nutrition was evaluated using a controlled design. The findings showed that an action research process using the social educational process known as PLA could effectively build the capacity of multisectoral teams to take coordinated action which in turn built the capacity of communities to sustain them. The impact on child nutrition was inconclusive and needed to be interpreted within the context of economic collapse in the intervention area. Four factors were found to have been crucial for creating the enabling environment for effective intersectoral action (i) supportive government policy (ii) broad participation and capacity building (iii) involving policy makers as advisors and establishing the credibility of the research and (iii) strengthening community action. If lessons learned from this study can be adapted and applied in other contexts then they could have a significant economic and societal impact on health and nutrition equity in informal urban settlements.