Managing Urbanization

Most of our metros and cities are under severe stress with inadequate social and physical infrastructure coupled with worsening pollution. Migration pressures are likely to increase. How do we make our cities more liveable? What can we do today to ensure that smaller cities and towns are not similarly overwhelmed tomorrow?

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How can we prevent the emergence of new slums in our cities in the future?

How to integrate the views of community (citizen, SHGs, civil societies/stake holders) in planning and implementation?

Postby » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:11 am

How to integrate the views of community (citizen, SHGs, civil societies/stake holders) in planning and implementation?
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Re: How to integrate the views of community (citizen, SHGs, civil societies/stake holders) in planning and implementation?

Postby » Thu May 26, 2011 5:43 am

I want to draw your attention towards the involvement of Urban Poor Communities in managing their own affairs. In thsi regard the Scheme of SJSRY of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India is very useful. I am reproducing here the recommendations of a Concept Paper to involve Communities in Urban Poverty Alleviation. Kindly go through it and implement it if forund logical.

8. Community development and promotion of community structures

8.1. The concept of good governance transcends much beyond the Government or the State. Governance encompasses three actors: the Government, the private sector and the civil society. The role of the Government is to create an enabling environment for economic growth, human development and poverty alleviation. The private sector’s task is to create jobs and economic opportunities for the people. The role of the civil society is to mobilize popular support and participation of the people for the effective implementation of development programs. Each of the three actors must be enabled to discharge its legitimate role. As regards goal clarity, it is increasingly becoming clear that people want “results” or “outcomes”. The concept of good governance has come to occupy the centre stage in all development discussions. Good governance is regarded as the single most important factor for alleviating urban poverty.

8.2. In the context of urban governance, the Government comprises three tiers of government - Local, State and Central. The paradigm of good urban governance envisages that the three actors in governance work in harmony for the optimal use of public resources for optimum social good. Good urban governance also calls for good and socially acceptable processes. Governance must be with a vision or perspective, consensus-based, participatory, accountable, transparent, economical, efficient, equitable, effective, and built on the foundations of the Rule of Law. In the context of local government, good governance calls for effective local self-government with a people-centric approach based on people’s needs, priorities and perspectives. The Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992 precisely envisages such an approach. The Amendment Act mandates that elected urban local bodies function as effective democratic institutions of self-government, preparing and implementing plans for economic development and social justice.

8.3. The involvement of urban poor community in managing their affairs is a must for the success of any urban poverty alleviation intervention. Urban Poverty Alleviation interventions cannot be identical across the country, as the urban conditions may not be the same everywhere. As there are many differences in climatic conditions, culture, resources, goods and services, prices and nature of transactions, it is futile to have uniform programmes implemented throughout the country. It is for this reason that the involvement of local community in formulation of schemes/programmes is vital. In this context, the concept of Community Structures, as envisaged in the scheme of Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) is very much relevant for active participation of the urban poor community. This concept ensures that rather than relying on the traditional method of top-down implementation, the schemes/programmes shall rely on establishing and nurturing community organizations and structures that facilitate sustained urban poverty alleviation. The scheme of SJSRY stipulates for setting up of community organizations of urban poor like Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs), Neighbourhood Committees (NHCs), and Community Development Societies (CDSs) in the urban areas. The basic characteristics of these community structures are the involvement of urban poor women in these structures as women represent more effectively the urban poor families at these forums. This also effects women empowerment in addition to the community empowerment. The details of these community structures are given below:

8.4. Neighbourhood Group (NHG): This is an informal association of urban poor women living in mohalla or basti or neighbourhood group of manageable size (about 10 to 20 urban poor or slum families). The geographic contiguity and homogeneity should be the basis to carve out the boundaries of the NHGs. At least one woman resident among them who is willing to serve as a volunteer should be selected as a Resident Community Volunteer (RCV) through community consensus or election or any other democratic process. There should be a change or rotation (if need be) of such volunteers at periodical intervals. The RCV will be the representative of this group and will be the voice of the community. The responsibilities of the RCV include:
(i) to serve as a channel of information and communication among the families in the cluster;
(ii) to represent the views of the groups in the neighbourhood committees and community development societies and other forums;
(iii) to support planning, implementation and monitoring of activities at the neighbourhood level;
(iv) to foster and encourage participation in community improvement;

8.5. Neighbourhood Committee (NHC): This is a more formal association of urban poor women from the above neighbourhood groups located in close proximity and as far as feasible within the same electoral ward. Generally, one NHC may comprise of 10 to 20 NHGs. The NHC should consist of all the RCVs from the neighbourhood groups as executives (with voting right). There can also be provision for honorary membership without a voting right for Community Organizers (COs), representatives from other sectoral programmes in the community like ICDS supervisor, school teacher, ANM etc. The Convener/President of the NHC will be selected/elected by the executive members of the NHC. The convener will ensure that the meetings are convened on regular basis. The NHC may be registered under the Societies Registration Act, or other appropriate Acts if so desired. If registered, these NHC can also avail grants-in-aid under various schemes. The NHC would be responsible:
(i) to identify local problems and priorities;
(ii) to provide suggestions for groups involvement in meeting community needs and goals (mini-plans);
(iii) to support local action with partnership of responsible agencies including community contracts;
(iv) to provide feedback to Government agencies of programme effectiveness and out-reach especially for children and women;
(v) to develop community capacity through training in association with COs, NGOs and other sectoral departments;
(vi) to assist/carry out community surveys in accordance with the guidelines.

8.6. Community Development Society (CDS): The CDS is a formal association of all the neighbourhood committees at the town level based on common goals and objectives. The CDS may consist of elected/selected representatives of NHCs as executive members (with voting right); and other members with honorary membership (with no voting right) which may include community organizers, representatives of NGOs, sectoral departments, leading citizens, elected representatives of the area and other resource persons. The Community Development Society (CDS) should be registered under the Societies Registration Act or other appropriate Acts to provide access to grant-in-aid under various schemes and for a wider financial and credit base. The CDS would be responsible:
(i) to represent needs of all the communities, especially women and children;
(ii) liaise and link-up with agencies and departments to promote action in the community towards fulfillment of their needs;
(iii) to facilitate community surveys to be carried out to identify the genuine beneficiaries for economic and shelter benefits;
(iv) to prepare community plans and proposals, mobilizing resources from the community, town or other sectoral departments;
(v) to create small community assets in low income areas in consultation with town UPA Cell and Urban Local Body (ULB).

8.7. Ultimately, the CDSs are presumed to be the focal points for purposes of access to the urban poor community for all programmes targeting urban poor. The community structures may also set themselves up as Self-Help Groups (SHGs) / Thrift and Credit Societies to encourage community savings and other group activities. The CDS, being a federation of different community-based organizations, may be the nodal agency for promotion of self-help groups and thrift and credit. It is expected that the CDSs will lay emphasis on providing the entire gamut of social sector inputs in their areas including, but not limited to, livelihoods, skill development, shelter, water, sanitation, health, education, social security, welfare, etc. through the establishment of convergence between various schemes being implemented by different line departments.

9. Way forward - Analysis & Recommendations.

9.1. The successful models of Community Structures of urban poor in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, provide for a road ahead for the replication of this model at all India level. In Kerala, the Kudumbashree (State Poverty Eradication Mission of Kerala) model has organized the urban poor communities in Neighbourhood Groups and Area Sabha. The empowerment of urban poor women in Kerala is for everyone to see. The Self-help Groups (SHGs) of urban poor women in Andhra Pradesh is being promoted by the Mission for Elimination of Poverty in Municipal Areas (MEPMA). These structures are nothing but various versions of Community structures as elaborated above.

9.2. The estimated urban poor population in India is about 80 million. If we consider 5 members in a family, the number of urban poor families may be presumed about 16 million. A NHG may associate about 20 families and a NHC may consist of about 20 NHGs. If we take about 5 NHCs in one CDS, generally one Community Development Society (CDS) will cover about 2000 urban poor families. Thus, whole urban poor in the country can be covered in about 8000 CDSs. If we take the factor of uneven distribution of urban poor population, total number of CDSs may go around 10000 for the whole country.

9.3. It may be mentioned here that setting up of community structures is not an easy job and it needs a lot of efforts from the official machinery to galvanize the community in organizing themselves. To promote the community development, there should be a Community Organizer (CO)/Community Mobilizer (CM) at the CDS level (for about 2,000 urban poor families or about 50000 population). Such Community Organizer will be the main link between the urban poor community (represented through the CDS) and the implementation machinery i.e. Urban Poverty Alleviation (UPA) Cell at the ULB level. The major responsibilities of a CO will include facilitating and promoting the organization of community structures/groups and guiding and assisting the community in assessing its needs, developing a community vision and formulating community development action plans.

9.4. As per 2001 Census, total number of cities/towns in the country is 5161. As per the 74th Amendment Act, the “Urban Poverty Alleviation” is included in the 12th Schedule of the Constitution. Thus Urban Local Bodies (ULB) are responsible for the execution of urban poverty alleviation programmes. There should be a separate Urban Poverty Alleviation (UPA) Cell in each ULB to exclusively look after the urban poverty alleviation programmes. This Cell may be headed by a Project Officer (PO) / Assistant Project Officer (APO). The PO/APO shall be responsible for coordinating the activities of all the CDSs and COs under the ULB. This Cell will be responsible for ensuring the convergence between activities of the CDSs, the ULB and all other Departments running the programmes targeting urban poor. The UPA Cell will first identify the urban poor clusters and areas for setting up of community structures and thereafter the community structures may be facilitated to be set up by the Community Organizers in these clusters.

9.5. The CDSs must have prominent say in deciding the schemes/programmes targeting urban poor in that locality. The UPA Cell of the Urban Local Body should be the single window access to the urban poor community in that area and all the programmes must be routed through the UPA Cell which will effectively involve CDS/NHC/NHG for these programmes. The capacity building of Resident Community Volunteers (RCVs) must be ensured so that they can effectively address the issues concerning urban poor of that area. These RCVs may be appointed as Community Organizers in future, based on their qualification and experience.

9.6. A dedicated cadre/service of officers specializing in urban poverty alleviation / community mobilization and development, may be set up for supporting the implementation of urban poverty alleviation and related programmes in the States/UTs. These officers may be appointed at ULB/District/State levels, with suitable promotion avenues, for implementation of various urban development / urban poverty alleviation schemes with a professional approach.

9.7. The democratic governance should be more pro-poor and citizen participation must be articulated in inclusive city planning system. ULBs should implement slum development and urban poverty alleviation programmes, emphasizing the principle of community participation in all aspects of plan implementation. There is also a need to build the capacity of the functionaries at various levels in the Centre, States and Local Bodies as also of other stakeholders including representatives of Non-Government/Community-based organizations, financial institutions, banks, research and training institutes. Both institutional capacity and human resource capacity at the ULB and State level need to be strengthened.

9.8. It is also evident from above that CDS will also act as a pressure group in the Urban Local Bodies and having their say in the developmental schemes in the urban poor localities, no official machinery as well as political establishment can ignore them. This will also lead to transparency leading to minimization of the corruption and resentment at the local level against the various development projects, as is seen nowadays. As the planning of programmes as well selection of beneficiaries is to be done by the urban poor communities themselves through the CDS/NHCs, the scope for manipulation in the identification of beneficiaries will also be minimized.

9.9. In order to minimize the possibility of development of vested interest in CDS itself, it is essential that CDS should run in democratic way with provision for election of its office bearers at regular intervals. Local political representatives and NGOs/Civil society members will also be part of CDS, though without voting rights (so that they should not hijack the agenda of CDS).

9.10 Financial assistance should also be provided to CDS to run their daily activities. This can be decided by the Urban Local Bodies as per their financial resources and requirement of CDS.

9.11. Meetings of these community organizations should be organized at regular intervals where all the issues concerning urban poor may be discussed in open. Every member of the community should have their say and decisions may be taken in democratic manner to the satisfaction of all.

9.12. New additions to the urban poor population may be done through these community organizations as they will be able to judge in better way about the suitability of the new entrant. However, it may be the responsibility of the Community Organizer and UPA Cell of the ULB to ensure that no genuine case is left out.

9.13. Special care should be taken to include the homeless destitutes, beggars, orphans and other shelterless population residing under the jurisdiction of that particular Neighbourhood Group of Community Development Society. These most deprived class of the urban poor should be given due care to address their immediate needs such as shelter and employment.

9.14. It is expected that any programme or intervention targeting urban poor will be implemented in better way if they involve the urban poor community from the conception stage itself as this will create an ownership and sense of belongingness in the community.

9.15. The implementation of the concept of the Community Structures will not require any large budget from Government. The basic requirement for popularizing the concept is the appointment of Community Organizers at CDS/ULB level. To cater to about 10000 CDS (as estimated earlier), we may need about 10000 Community Organizers. If we provide monthly stipend of Rs. 10000/- to these COs, the total requirement of funds annually for these COs may be about Rs. 120 Crore only, which is not much keeping in view the huge stakes involved and expenditure on the programmes like BSUP etc. which go in thousands crores rupees. The expenditure made on strengthening community structures will be more vital in view of their importance in representing the voice of the community which is the ultimate stakeholders of the urban poverty alleviation programmes.
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