|Community Approach to Integrated Basic Services Promoting Health and Livelihood for the Urban Poor - UNCHS Pilot Project: Lucknow, Rajkot, Visakhapatnam (Government of India - HABITAT, 1999, 90 p.)|
|5. Future Perspectives|
The UNCHS project has successfully demonstrated that the community in itself is a substantial resource and harnessing this could have beneficial effects for a project. Involving the community in different phases of a project not only helps in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of resource utilisation, but could also help in filling the missing resource gaps either financially or otherwise. The project has utilised this potential of the community in an effective way.
Institutions are often blamed for ineffective delivery mechanisms. However, the crux of the problem is that appropriate receptive structures are also missing at the grass-root levels to inculcate the objectives of programmes. The single largest achievement in this project has been the institutionalisation of community structures. The main idea has been to involve those who are benefited in planning, implementation and monitoring of various services and community activities.
The clear gains of the project could therefore be quantified into two parts:
1. Institutionalising the community for the following purposes
· Identifying needs and prioritising them
· Participation in planning and decision making processes
· Monitoring of services and programmes
· Financial contributions throughout the project's life cycle.
2. Convergence of different programmes with similar objectives
· Improving physical infrastructure and services in selected areas
· Providing education and health facilities through Balwadis, Anganwadis etc. and primary health centres
· Providing vocational training to women to improve their income and employment opportunities
Having seen the gains in the Pilot Project, scaling up is required for disseminating the benefits to the entire city as well as to ensure replicability for other cities in the country. The main elements of the strategy that could be adopted for doing so are set out below:
1. Development of Institutional Framework
The implementation of such a project would require a very effective and efficient organisational structure. The three tiers of this structure are elaborated below:
a) Coordination at National/State/City level
A Central Project Unit would be needed to coordinate the activities of the project with the project cities as well as the State and National Ministries. The mechanism would entail Constitution of a Steering Committee with representations from the concerned departments like Urban Development, Municipal Administration, Housing, Planning, Finance, Water and Sanitation etc. to decide adoption of various schemes as per local conditions and needs. This committee would be responsible for regular monitoring of work as well as for providing finance and other logistic support. The committee should also oversee the development of Management Information Systems and evaluate the technical and financial aspects of city development projects.
b) City Level Project Committees
These committee should comprise of representatives of all agencies and other stakeholders at individual city level. They shall supervise and ensure adherence to the overall project parameters by all involved parties and monitor progress of work.
c) Community Institutionalisation
Community structures need to be developed to interface between the local agencies and beneficiaries. Such structures would purely be non-formal. However, in the interest of the projects, the same approach as followed in CDS may be applied for such structures. These community institutions in the form of NHGs and CDS will formally liaison with the community organisers and project officers representing the implementing agencies.
2. Capacity Building and Training
The process of Capacity Building will be required on two fronts (1) strengthening of institutions dealing with the project and (2) development of human resources at different levels. Capacity building of existing institutions in the selected project cities will help them perform their assigned roles effectively and in close coordination with the community.
Technological, managerial and institutional skill development through training is an essential prerequisite for such projects. This training shall also include child care and other non-formal vocational programmes for unemployed youth and women. Sharing the experiences of other cities and learning from their way of planning and management by making use of the best practice case studies shall be done through national/regional level workshops organised at various stages of the project.
3. Management Information System
Data-base constitutes the corner-stone of a project. A good management information system plays a vital role in augmenting the capabilities of the concerned agencies. It is therefore important to develop a system of data management which is simple and accessible.
As a starting point city maps may be updated to provide information on the key indicators selected on the basis of rapid assessment surveys. These indicators shall be further linked with the area specific situations, describing the extent of particular problems. The information can further be simplified to give an overall picture at ward level/neighbourhood level/slum level.
The availability of information itself is expected to lead to greater involvement of people for participation in the decision making process. It will also give a basis for identifying the local needs and priorities in the preparation of Local Agendas for improvement.
4. Preparation of Need Based Action Plan
To evolve action plans, it is important to have an assessment of the existing services in selected areas. Knowledge of the distribution of services and their deficiencies will help to prepare the need based action plans. These assessments will also help in identifying appropriate technologies and approaches.
Showing the Way
At Exnora International's modest office in T Nagar, Chennai, India the postman is delivering more letters than usual. After the Surat tragedy, concerned residents are writing to ask if they, too, can become members of this five-year-old voluntary organisations' garbage clearance system. Civic Exnora, organises garbage collection in 1,300 streets of Chennai which constitutes 20 per cent of this city.
Civic Exnora is an example of what people can do if they want to help themselves. "When there is a power cut, you light a candle. That's what I did", said MB Nirmal, a retired banker who founded Exnora, because he was appalled by the filth.
The system is simple. In its member streets, residents place the waste in bamboo baskets inside the compounds of their buildings and houses. Every morning, a 'street beautifier' pushing a cycle cart collects the baskets and takes them to the nearest corporation transfer station.
It costs the residents of member streets Rs. 10 a month for the service. The minimum number of households for one unit is 120. The Subscription goes up if the number is lower. Exnora equips the 'beautifier' with the necessary implements and assists him in getting a bank loan for the cart. He is paid out of the monthly subscription. "Earlier, servants would just dump the garbage outside the compound to save on the trip to the corporation bin. Now, my street is a member of Exnora and looks really clean," says Meenakshi Shankar, a resident of T Nagar.
Exnora has also transformed Navalar Nagar, one of me district slums on the banks of the Buckingham Canal, into a showpiece. The low-lying part, on level with the canal, has been raised with rubble and a park designed on it. Sixty volunteers now sweep the roads and maintain plants in the colony. Says SS Kannan, one of the volunteers: "We want to tell people that me broom is not a lowly object, that it helps to keep us free from filth and disease".
But despite the good work, Nirmal believes the only permanent solution is to privatise garbage collection and disposal. "The corporation has too much on its hands. It cannot give top priority to all its duties," he says.
Source: India Today, October 31, 1994
To obtain effective identification of problems, the following actions shall be necessary:
· Social mapping of slums
· Identification of problem areas
· Application of matrix ranking
· Prioritisation of needs
· Identification of genuine beneficiaries
· Identification of resource agencies
· Mobilisation of community resources
· Identification of innovative approaches
A broad based action plan shall then be evaluated in a participatory way with the community in seminars and workshops. Through this process it would be possible to generate political support as well as the communities endorsement for implementation. This will create a conducive environment for policy review and adjustments.
5. Preparation of Investment Plan
Studies need to be commissioned to consider various alternatives along with communities to address identified issues and services. Resource mobilisation should be considered from booth internal and external sources. It is expected that this process would lead to a clearer understanding of the costs and benefits of investments. The bottom-up approach would provide a more realistic basis for reaching consensus on investment.
The City Level Project Committee should link up site specific improvements with the overall city planning. This would lead to a document that spells out the infrastructure deficiencies and investment planning for the short as well as the long term. This integrated process of preparing infrastructure and investment planning based on priority action plans, specifying financial resources both for capital costs and for O&M, and application of appropriate instruments for implementation would go a long way in implementing projects successfully. Care will have to be taken to adhere to planned time frames strictly.
6. Transfer and Use of Best Practices
The expanded level of project should be implemented through a conceptual plan of action - Local Agenda 21. This plan needs to be drawn out of lessons and experiences of the three cities namely, Lucknow, Rajkot and Visakhapatnam and the innovative urban management tools used by other cities. This Agenda should also focus on building the capacities of local institutions as well as communities in dealing with problems effectively. Innovations in policy development, legal and regulatory framework, project implementation, institutional development and financing mechanisms, as evolved by other cities/projects could have potential for replication at the city level.
The following set of activities are proposed to be taken-up for transfer and use of "Best Practices" initiatives:
· Action research programme in selected cities for implementation of the lessons learnt through best practices.
· Dialogue between stakeholders (State Government, Local Bodies, NGOs, CBOs, citizen fora etc.) for their participation in the management process.
· Municipal policy development support for the concerned project cities.
· Capacity building and training support for replication of best practices.
· Update and specification of database on Best Practices and adaptation.
The judicious management of funds with freedom of choice by the poor will happen only when they participate in the planning process thus enabling them to use the money with greater economy and financial leverage. The application of group intelligence helps to find better and practical ways to find use for money dedicated for improvement of their areas.
At the same time it is important to mobilise internal resources rather than looking for external subsidies or grants. Thrift and Credit Societies might help in improving the economic structure of the beneficiaries and their repaying capacities. Once the repaying capacities are increased, loans from development agencies like NABARD, HUDCO etc. could be mobilised. Thrift and Credit Societies are likely to establish and strengthen group dynamics as well as transparency in distribution as well as repayment of the seed capital. Recovery of cost from these societies will also be significantly high.
The key aspect of the present programme was the concept of convergence of programmes addressing the multiple problems of the urban poor, as also the independent efforts of the respective municipalities to improve slum areas. It is obvious that the removal of poverty entails physical, social, economic, health and environmental improvements. The UNCHS programme succeeded in involving the various agencies and other stakeholders in the pilot cities. The continuance of such co-ordinated efforts will go a long way in ensuring sustainability of future projects.