|Assessment of Experience with the Project Approach to Shelter Delivery for the Poor (HABITAT, 1991, 52 p.)|
|III. Social impact of shelter projects|
One of the difficulties of assessing the acceptability of project components in the shelter sector is that the perceptions of beneficiaries will be influenced by the nature and cost of non-project alternatives. The tendency for projects to include direct and/or indirect subsidies means that beneficiaries receive more than they pay for, and probably more than they would obtain in non-project options. Comparisons are therefore difficult to make, as respondents will not be comparing options on equal terms. Project evaluations that are restricted to levels of satisfaction with individual project components should, therefore, be treated with extreme caution, since they are unlikely to provide a reliable basis for relating project performance to other options available within land and housing markets.
Another consideration is that many project agencies do not regularly assess projects once they have been completed and even indicators of acceptability, such as excessive numbers of applications, may not be reliable if projects are offering a commodity that is generally in short supply. In the Bolivar City project in Bogota, for example, no survey has been conducted to assess resident satisfaction. The major impression, however, is that the settlement has become a popular area in which to live (Utria, 1990: 55). Also, applications for plots and houses in the project were over-subscribed by several times, though the substantial subsidies being offered obviously made the project attractive to higher income groups.
A more reliable indicator of acceptability may be obtained by assessing social aspects. The Kennedy City project in Bogota apparently enjoys the highest level of resident satisfaction, not so much because of the housing provided, but because of the community facilities and employment-generation schemes it included (Utria, 1990: 9). It is also popular in that it stimulated a socially heterogeneous neighbourhood, since public housing for low-income groups was complemented by private sector housing for higher-middle- and middle-income groups, removing any association of the project as socially undesirable. It also pioneered the concept of aided self-help in Colombia, an approach that has since been replicated throughout the country.
An even better indicator of success can be obtained by assessing the extent to which a project is considered to have satisfied the previously stated priorities of low-income groups near a new development project or, in the case of an upgrading project, the particular community concerned. In Ankara, Turkey, this demand-driven approach operated through the administration of the mahalles, or urban wards. Under this arrangement, each community made demands through their mahalle muhtar, or head-man, to the municipality for the specific project components they required. For inner-city communities, this would invariably be for more open public space, or facilities, such as schools or clinics, needed for their increasing population. In newly established settlements on the urban periphery, however, the demand would commonly be for access roads and basic services. By distributing the municipal budget according to these locally expressed priorities, the prospects of ensuring that each community regularly received the most acceptable combination of project components was considerably increased, without the necessity of undertaking expensive research (Payne, 1982a).
Yet, the perceptions of residents are not always infallible. In the Klender project in Jakarta, unequal access to water supplies was identified as a major problem by residents. The most pressing problem, however, was transport. This was resolved by providing a bus service operating in a reserved bus lane (Herlianto, 1990: 29).
Other assessments list a variety of responses to projects. In the Margahayu Raya private sector development in Bandung, the site was too far from employment centres for the original residents. Subsequently, there were severe maintenance problems, since the local authority did not accept responsibility for the area (Herlianto, 1990:44). In the Kalingalinga project in Zambia, most residents were happy with the project components, though the inability to provide all tenants with their own plots for new houses because of inadequate space, prevented them from benefitting to the same extent.
Residents in the Kuwadzana project in Harare were particularly pleased with the option to choose house designs that enabled them to take in lodgers to supplement household incomes. At the Aktepe project in Ankara, residents complained of poor maintenance and inappropriate house designs. Yet, in general, residents of projects in Turkey regard shelter components as acceptable in terms of layout, size, location and cost. Beneficiaries in the Bolivar City project in Colombia, however, were dissatisfied with the bureaucratic rigidity and inefficiency of the local administration.