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close this bookVolunteer Participation in Working with the Urban Poor (UNDP - UNV, 64 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentNote on terminology and abbreviations
View the documentSummary
close this folderI. Urbanisation: recognition and response
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentUrbanisation and poverty
View the documentResponse to urbanisation
View the documentRecognition of ''Self-help'' initiatives
close this folderII. Insights derived from community-based programmes
View the document(introduction...)
close this folderUrban informal sector
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentMicro-enterprise promotion
View the documentWorking conditions in the informal sector
View the documentThe ILO experience
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
close this folderIII. Towards a community-based strategy for VSAs
View the documentParticipation: how and for whose benefit?
View the documentA sense of ''community''
View the documentGeneral characteristics of low-income urban communities
View the documentFactors determining support possibilities
View the documentGeneral characteristics of CBOs
View the documentSupport channels and intermediaries
close this folderIV. Programming concerns for VSAs and UNV
View the documentGuidelines for involvement
View the documentSuccess criteria for volunteer involvement
View the documentTaking the initiative
View the documentFlexibility
View the documentMeeting personnel and associated needs
View the documentChannels of operation
View the documentUnited Nations Agencies and their partners
View the documentFunding and other programme concerns
close this folderV. Principles and characteristics of volunteer use
View the documentFunctions and volunteers
View the documentQualities of VDWs
View the documentTeams
View the documentSkill requirements and experiences
View the documentSelection and placement process
View the documentAcculturation and language training process
View the documentEpilogue: follow-up, 1995
View the documentAnnotated reference list
close this folderAnnex: Excerpts from background papers
View the documentUrban development policy issues and the role of united nations volunteers
View the documentWorking with the urban poor: lessons from the experience of metropolitan Lagos, Nigeria
View the documentBrief account of my experience as a DDS field worker and a UNV in Sri Lanka and Jamaica
View the documentSpecial consultation on volunteer participation in working with the urban poor

Recognition of ''Self-help'' initiatives

From city to city, particularly in Africa, the movement towards private sector involvement in meeting basic needs is growing. Informal sector activity has also increased, sometimes replacing traditional activities of the public sector in health services, transport, waste removal, drinking water supply, and even the supply of land. Structural adjustment measures supported by major donors have accelerated this process, especially since government-provided services have been subsidised. At the same time, government expenditures on housing, seen as a "welfare" rather than economic concern, suffered cuts.

It has been the governments, coming to terms with their own limitations, who have recognised that most of the efforts required to provide housing and services to low-income urban groups will have to come from these groups themselves and from the private sector. The "self-help" initiatives of communities, marked by the increase in private sector activity, show signs of providing effective and appropriate responses to their needs and concerns.

What happens to the balance between efficiency and equity when these services become privatised? The general experience is that the low-income communities "pay more for less." Generally, low-income urban communities with the least amount of resources are more likely to be left out of privately arranged and marketed services because they simply cannot afford them. Nevertheless, public service delivery rarely is more equitable than private service delivery. For example, when a huge demand surplus effectively introduces rationing, the mechanism of elite "connections" is likely to rule. In the end, many communities in developing countries find that within their given situations, it is preferable to place their faith in service arrangements that are accountable directly to the users.

Despite the shortcomings of the private and public sectors in providing services and other needs, the importance of community-based initiatives in addressing concerns and voicing needs to policy-making levels and other relevant parties cannot be overstated. When working from this community-based perspective, the livelihood and particular vulnerabilities, as well as existing "self-help" efforts, should be understood before designing any programme intervention so that responses may be complementary to existing community efforts.