|Assessment of Experience with the Project Approach to Shelter Delivery for the Poor (HABITAT, 1991, 52 p.)|
|VII. Conclusions and recommendations|
|7.4 A framework for assessing the efficiency of project components|
Before it is possible to consider specific elements to be provided by projects, it is important to recognize that local governments will need to be strengthened to a level sufficient to enable them effectively to fulfil their responsibilities on a long-term basis, before the impact of projects can be expanded to meet internal or wider policy objectives. Besides this, it will be important to accept the contribution made by private-sector groups, NGOs and local communities, and develop working relationships with them based upon their complementary roles.
Within this framework, experience shows that the private sector is generally the most efficient at acquiring, developing and allocating land for housing. In Bangkok and Mexico City, both rapidly expanding conurbations, it has enabled land prices to remain quite stable. It has also increased supply, and thereby enabled lower-income households to improve their houses to affordable standards (see Payne, 1989a). Even in cases where public agencies have controlled large reserves of land in appropriate locations for shelter development, as in Delhi during the 1950s to 1970s, or Nigeria, since 1979, it has proved impossible to stimulate supply to the level, and in a form, required to meet local needs (see Payne, 1989b).
The most effective role for the public sector is to regulate land markets and ensure a level playing field, so that all supply systems are competing on equal terms. This is essentially a regulatory role and not one best undertaken through projects, though this should not deny that there will be many exceptions to this recommendation, or that existing project approaches should be immediately replaced.
Another element that is not amenable to provision or improvement through projects is that of the individual house or dwelling. Since the needs and resources of each household will be unique and dynamic, no standard approach can be adopted that will satisfy them. This is also the element that can most easily be organized by households, irrespective of incomes, providing they are free to adopt their own standards and design preferences. Until the relatively recent introduction of the public sector into housing delivery, this was the normal way for most houses in the world to be provided, and it is one to which a return would generally be beneficial.
This leaves one element for consideration; the provision of public services and infrastructure. This is, par excellence, the element most appropriately delivered by projects; in fact, it is difficult to contemplate another means by which it could be delivered, whether in new shelter areas or the improvement of existing settlements. The challenge is to make such provision more responsive to incremental development and local priorities, so that it can mirror the processes of gradual consolidation and densification adopted at the level of the individual house. As stated above, this will require greater coordination between local authorities, NGOs and local communities.