Cover Image
close this bookAssessment of Experience with the Project Approach to Shelter Delivery for the Poor (HABITAT, 1991, 52 p.)
close this folderII. Financial and economic impact of shelter projects
close this folder2.3 Institutional framework and financial management
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.3.1 Institutional culture of public-sector agencies
View the document2.3.2 Role of local government agencies
View the document2.3.3 Relationship with local community groups

2.3.1 Institutional culture of public-sector agencies

One of the primary factors that influence the success or failure of shelter policies, programmes and projects is the institutional culture of the public-sector agencies involved. If these are positively disposed towards innovation and responsive to changing patterns of demand, the chances of success are considerably enhanced. Where agencies are reactive and inflexible, opportunities for progress will be correspondingly reduced. The first approach can be characterized as a management approach, in which resources are continually being redeployed in line with assessments of need, while the latter represents an administrative approach and is characterized by a preoccupation with implementing inherited, or received, norms, standards and procedures, irrespective of their relevance in the wider environment. Unfortunately, public-sector agencies in many countries have not yet shaken off the traditional administrative approach. This has particularly negative consequences for the shelter sector, since it is not the exclusive preserve of any one profession or discipline, and depends for success on the collaboration and sensitivity of many professions and agencies.

The introduction of new approaches to shelter projects under such conditions is greatly facilitated if political support is available at the outset. This has been the catalyst in many successful cases, of which the MHP in Sri Lanka is perhaps the clearest example. This was administered by a high-level committee representing 12 ministries, with the NHDA acting as the lead agency. Despite the enormous scale of the programme, the data show that the rural and urban sub-programmes achieved a high proportion of their targets (95 per cent in rural and 76 per cent in urban areas). The Ministry of Policy Planning and Implementation has indicated that the Programme was completed satisfactorily by the end of 1988. If this is correct, it was no doubt directly due to political commitment at the highest level of government and the very high levels of public investment involved.

Similar political commitment was largely responsible for the successful introduction of sites-and-services projects in Egypt (Davidson, 1984), and the expansion of the settlement-upgrading programmes in Indonesia and Zambia. Where such support is not available, the degree to which projects can be expected to achieve their internal objectives, let alone generate a multiplier effect, will be restricted. Innovative projects, such as those sponsored by international funding agencies, tend to remain as isolated project cells. More often than not, the concepts or methods that they were testing are never being absorbed into the mainstream of the parent agency’s activities.