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close this bookVolunteer Participation in Working with the Urban Poor (UNDP - UNV, 64 p.)
close this folderII. Insights derived from community-based programmes
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contentsUrban informal sector
View the documentLow-income housing
View the documentInfrastructure and basic services
View the documentHealth and HIV/AIDS prevention
View the documentNon-formal education and functional literacy
View the documentWomen, gender and development
View the documentChildren of the street
View the documentImplications for VSAs

Infrastructure and basic services

UNICEF has been particularly successful in developing projects to address basic service needs in a participatory manner. Targeting children and women, UNICEF started developing a specific strategy for low-income urban groups over twenty years ago, in 1971. Since then, the programme's priorities have remained: malnutrition; addressing the different needs of women; pre-school, day care and early childhood development; responsible parenthood and family planning services; support for abandoned and disabled children; and water and sanitation. Its basic principles emphasise community participation at all levels.

Community groups and individuals should be involved and supported by government in problem identification, planning, establishing priorities and carrying out and administering community level actions.

Services provided should be simple and low-cost at the community level, with referral services extending into the existing formal service system when required.

Community workers should be selected by the community, should undergo simple training, and have the support of the government personnel and services.

Services should be planned and carried out to respond to special features of both the low-income urban communities as well as overall urban environment.

The Hyderabad Urban Community Development Project in India is often cited as a successful example of community participation in meeting basic needs. It began in 1967 (UNICEF involvement started in 1976) as a process of strengthening local voluntary organisations and establishing slum (Bastee) welfare committees. It worked through local government, which had set up an Urban Community Development Department (UCD) to support the local community development workers. UNICEF provided cash grants for the projects and UCD salary support, and recruited volunteer social workers and other volunteers to organise activities.

One of the most successful examples of community involvement in a basic services project is UNICEF's Baldia Soak Pit latrine construction project in Karachi. With the help of Karachi University staff working as an NGO with the Municipal Corporation, demonstration pits were dug in extremely low-income areas with the support of a UNICEF subsidy and volunteer labour. Much effort was given to community organisation with the assistance of a female social worker and the formation of a sanitation committee. Users eventually bore the cost of construction (labour and materials) and the project was most successful when the community women undertook increasing responsibility for it.

The Orangi Pilot Project, organised by an NGO, is a similar example of another successful sanitation project in Karachi. Twenty to thirty households, located along the same lane, formed the organisational unit for the project. Here as well, costs were borne by the users (apart from a subsidy for the project team) and finances and maintenance of the soak pits handled by the lane organisations. Managers from the lane were nominated by the households, and women played a key role in the project's success.