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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 folderIII. Social impact of shelter projects
View the document3.1 Social impact at the local level
View the document3.2 Contribution to residential stability
View the document3.3 Proximity of projects to employment locations
View the document3.4 Job creation at the local level
View the document3.5 Impact of projects on the development of community based and non-governmental organizations
View the document3.6 Acceptability of project components to project beneficiaries

3.1 Social impact at the local level

The social impact of a shelter project depends largely upon its objectives. For projects focusing on the technical problems of developing land and increasing housing supply for a given cost, any social impact is likely to be coincidental. In other words, the degree to which a local “multiplier effect” of social and economic development is achieved will depend upon the effort put into achieving it. Some projects undertaken by public-sector agencies have been exceptionally successful in this respect. The Kalingalinga project in Zambia, for example, generated many small enterprises to assist in strengthening the social and economic base of the community. The residents also decided on the detailed road layout, location of schools, the clinic, market and other facilities. The objective of this work was not so much to reduce costs, but rather to stimulate the notion of everybody working together for the community’s benefit, and in this it was extremely successful.

Similarly, projects in Colombia have been extremely successful in stimulating economic development at the community level for low-income groups. This is partly due to the stimulus the project activities gave to the local building-materials and construction industries. Establishment of small businesses and manual-labour workshops, in addition to rental incomes, have further increased the income generating capabilities of many households (Utria, 1990: 99).

The Ismailia Demonstration Projects in Egypt, also made a considerable impact on local social and economic development options, especially for the existing population. The upgrading works concentrated on elements which residents were unable to resolve for themselves. These included the provision of security of tenure, basic services and access to small amounts of credit at affordable terms. The commitment by the project agency to address local needs was also important. All these elements served to provide a more secure environment for people to invest in house improvements. A major impact of the project was that the provision of full services along existing main roads quickly led to rapid redevelopment of properties to higher standards (and presumably higher prices). Yet, the services along the smaller roads did not change so rapidly, enabling the very-low-income tenants to remain.

The Indonesian shelter projects, which concentrated initially on the physical upgrading of public services, have also generated a considerable impact on the lives of residents. Many residents are actively involved in the maintenance and improvement of their neighbourhoods.

Interestingly, this not only improved people’s confidence in themselves, it also led to other people holding them in higher esteem. The economic situation of households is also enhanced, even if they sell their plot and house, because the profits that they make can help them to obtain other assets or capital (Herlianto, 1990: 78-80).

Despite these and other examples, however, the nature and extent of community participation in public-sector shelter projects is generally determined by the agency, rather than by the project beneficiaries. In the Kuwadzana project in Zimbabwe, this is limited to the construction (using aided self-help practices) of individual houses, rather than to the wider issues of plan formulation, or standards and phasing of project components. The social aspects of shelter projects are often considered the responsibility of staff with lower professional status than the planners, architects and engineers responsible for the more visible project hardware. Accordingly, by the time they have made their decisions, opportunities to achieve a positive relationship with the local communities have been lost.

Shelter projects in Turkey are, in general, concerned exclusively with the provision of housing. Employment opportunities created are generally taken up by other groups and not by project beneficiaries (Tokman, 1990: 35). In the Tarsus project, community participation was not included as a project objective, and was thus not achieved. In the Aktepe project in Ankara participation was limited to households organizing their own houses, and then only for those who received plots only. Social services were, however, provided by both projects, and this contributed to the social development of project areas and adjacent informal settlements. It also appears that once a sense of community had developed in an area, most residents were willing to take an active part in its consolidation and improvement. This attitude is not, however, restricted to official projects and is also common in gecekondu (squatter) settlements. Curiously, in general, cooperatives do not appear in Turkey to sustain such community action once housing has been obtained.

Projects planned and implemented by NGOs seem to have less difficulty in stimulating community participation. In an Indonesian project at Semarang, for example, the NGO encouraged the active participation of the community in the development of their settlements (Herlianto, 1990: 54). This included preparing the site, building the houses and even maintaining the area. Similarly, the Orangi Pilot Project in Karachi, was developed around local demands for local drainage and sewerage services that the local authority had not provided. The NGO responsible for this Project worked with the community to help them create local community organizations which then installed sewers in each lane, using funds and labour provided by the community (Hasan, 1986: 6).