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close this bookAssessment of Experience with the Project Approach to Shelter Delivery for the Poor (HABITAT, 1991, 52 p.)
close this folderVII. Conclusions and recommendations
View the document7.1 General criticism of the project approach
View the document7.2 Projects in the context of national shelter strategies
Open this folder and view contents7.3 Future emphasis and priorities in housing projects
Open this folder and view contents7.4 A framework for assessing the efficiency of project components
View the document7.5 The role of projects in the development and implementation of national shelter policies and the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000

7.2 Projects in the context of national shelter strategies

The shortage of independent evaluations of projects, in terms of internal objectives as well as their impact on wider policy issues, makes it difficult to identify future roles for the project approach with confidence. More effort is needed to learn from the experience gained so far, and greater willingness is equally necessary to accept and act upon such evaluations. In general, there are at present too few incentives for public-sector personnel in developing countries to learn from previous experience and to rectify the limitations of previous projects when preparing new ones. Despite these difficulties, it is clear that projects can fulfil several roles in promoting the formation and implementation of national shelter policies and in their ability to help the poor. Some of these roles are outlined below.

One of the most important roles is the possibility to provide the basis for new relationships between the public and private sectors, NGOs and community groups. As this report has shown, this will require a transformation from traditional administrative practices, towards innovative, flexible and demand-driven managerial approaches. Although such a change will take several years to complete, projects can provide the necessary practical experience and feedback.

Secondly, and to assist the development of the above process, it will be necessary to establish an effective monitoring and evaluation component in all projects, so that lessons learned are incorporated into mainstream practices and sectoral policies as appropriate.

A third role can consist of experiments in the acceptability of revised standards, norms, regulations and procedures for the shelter-sector activities by private-sector developers and NGOs. Current standards and procedures, based upon ideals rather than realities, have in general been demonstrated to be counter-productive, since they force households that are unable to conform to pursue the very unauthorized options they are intended to prevent. One way of achieving this objective would be to distinguish between initial and long-term standards, so that the traditional process of incremental development can flourish openly. Another would be to relax selected regulations that do not have a direct bearing on the public aspects of development, such as floor-area ratios. Yet another could be to formulate separate standards for low-income areas, though this would create socially segregated neighbourhoods. In terms of building regulations, changes based upon performance specifications, rather than prescribed solutions, would enable a range of innovative technologies and materials to gain wider acceptance.

A fourth role would be to link shelter projects more effectively with economic development programmes, so that they could contribute to, and benefit from, the evolution of multi-nucleated urban centres, offering a range of employment prospects in areas of intended growth.

Fifthly, it will be necessary to use projects as a means of providing feedback for the development of policies, rather than merely the means of implementing them. To this end, the terms of reference for shelter projects should be based upon assessments of total needs and resources in the sector. Such an approach will entail an understanding of informal settlement processes (Tokman, 1990).

Finally, projects should concentrate on providing those elements of shelter that residents cannot provide or organize for themselves, such as affordable land, infrastructure and public services.