Case Examples

Spotlight: Africa


Practitioners Speak:
Regional Roundtable on Upgrading Low-Income Settlements
Johannesburg, South Africa. October 3-5, 2000 (edited)


A Discussion: Current Approaches in Upgrading
With Chris Banes (Consultant), David Kithakye (UNCHS), and Julie Viloria (World Bank)

Chris Banes:

“What we’ve tried to do in the last 2 days of the Roundtable is based on those programs that are ongoing. We’ve tried to summarize the benefits and limitations of the program, the main features of the programs, which will hopefully lead us into the group sessions where we’re talking about very specific things, such as secure tenure, land titling, costs, cost-recovery. I have tried to synthesize 3 of the examples that we’ve heard about the last 2 days – the Ghana example, the Swaziland example, which I’m fairly familiar with, but less familiar with the Mauritania example, but will endeavor to pull together one of the main features, being the benefits and limitations, of these programs.

“On the Ghana program, I have described it as a citywide infrastructure program. It is done community by community, but when we’re saying citywide, the vast majority of Ghana’s towns and cities are in need of infrastructure upgrading. We’re really talking about programs to upgrade the cities all over. The benefit of the program is that it had been done very quickly based on the past experience of upgrading and has had many benefits. It has shown commitment by government to these depressed areas. It has stimulated economic activity – there is a lot of investment in improving houses as a result of the infrastructure programs carried out by government through the local authorities, but nevertheless there are limitations. It is a program that is more ‘top gun’ although the communities have been involved, and recently even more widely, it isn’t a program that offers land title. Land issues in Ghana are very complex and certainly that needs to be addressed and is being addressed on other fronts, and there is no direct cost-recovery.

“In Swaziland, we’ve described this as being a more site-specific program which is started in one informal settlements, Msinuduza. But that’s a more comprehensive scheme in that although the land is gone, that’s been captured for many years by the settlers, the program is about giving land-titles on 99-year leases and it’s about cost-recovery in that the infrastructure costs are spread across the developable area and that’s how a persons plot costs is arrived at. We have much more community involvement in this program. There are good initiatives to deal with the destitute so that’s a more site-specific program that addresses cost-recovery and land-titling issues.

“Mauritania I would describe as a really comprehensive upgrading initiative in that its part of the whole city strategy. It’s not just dealing with infrastructure: there is upgrading of existing areas, there are parallel housing initiatives, there are sites and service type approaches, there is economic development, there is micro-credit – that I think is an ideal model. It’s going to be very interesting to see how that develops, because one would think that it might, due to its complexity, take more time. We could describe this project as an integrated comprehensive upgrading approach.”

David Kithakye:

“I’m going to discuss 3 examples from Kenya, Zambia, and Tanzania.

“In the Kenyan Second Urban project, and there are people who are involved in this, and as Chris said I’m sure they’ll want to correct or add to the information. From these programs that covered Nairobi, Mombassa and Kisunda – the 3 biggest cities in Kenya, was a follow up to the First Urban project and it combined the upgrading effort with the second success scheme. The second scheme was used to take on the overspill from the urban upgrading areas. One thing to note here is that there was an implementation unit set up and that’s an important feature.

“The achievements included improved services. The areas are very complex, there was a marked improvement of provisional services, and there was keen focus on housing. There were also opportunities for income-generating activities in all these areas. However, there were limitations. Because of the way the program was set up, there wasn’t much people involvement – this was inadequate. One thing that was noted was that because of the nature of development in Kenya at that time, the improved services tended to be taken over by the richer people. This is important; sometimes it was encouraged, because of the whole idea and the issue of cost-recovery because the poor could not pay. They found it easier to let them go to other people, and the richer people for that matter. Here, there is a tip – we must make an effort to involve the poor and the people whom we are really focusing g on.

“The Zambia program, which was happening around the same time in the early 1970’s, has some interesting points. One, Kalingalinga was not covered in the citywide World Bank program for Lusaka. It’s a very interesting program in that it did not create a separate implementation unit. It was done though what we call a ‘line-agency’ function. It was incorporated in the routine operations of the city programs. It had a very clear and different focus on making sure that decision-making is with the people, and I think the results of that program are very clear and show how that was achieved. Those of you from Lusaka know that this program was really led by a Catholic priest with funding and the role of local funding. This model has been replicated in Nairobi.

“We wanted to improve services, and some of the things noted in the CD-ROM, are that a lot of the social services, including schools, are still being used, and are the main focus of a lot of activities in the Kalingalinga area. There was a building materials loan provided, and there were improvements on sanitation. However, one point noted was that like all of us, we went out there with preconceived standards. In the case of Kalingalinga there were defined building materials to be used and people rejected these materials. It took a long time to accept that. There was also the issue of the interpretation of tenure. An interesting point that perhaps we can discuss later, what do we mean by secure tenure. In Kalingalinga, the issue of a piece of a paper declaring ownership only came about when one wanted to part with the property. Beyond that, it was simply home and no one was concerned. We must really look out for innovative approaches, which takes time. When it comes to going to scale, we must find ways of integrating this into the routine operations. I think it helps for sustainability and continuity.

“The Tanzania case, which is not recorded in literature, is about a community known as Anna Nasif. This is a flooding area; the community suffered a lot during the floods. It was very densely populated and the government decided to do something, the Minister of Housing wanted to prepare a plan to improve this area through upgrading in the early 1970’s, and they sought means to do this. Not much really happened until the mid 1980’s and towards the mid-1990’s the community worked on improving themselves with assistance from ILO, which provided support. The ILO paid the community for their work. This was a good case of indigenous collaboration. The UNCHS went there because we were working on sustaining the Dar es Salaam program, and it was very good example of a community-led program.

“One aspect that was important to note, was that it aimed at income-generating activities, because we noted that for the community to improve, their needs may not only be services, but also to improve their incomes. Many people gained skills in this program, and went on to work in the building industry and again, this improved their incomes. One interesting point is that in the designs that were done by the ministry, 101 units were going to be demolished to create alignments for services, and the community objected to this. The community took up to design the layout and to determine standards for themselves, as they didn’t understand why a road should be 12meteres wide, and finally, only one building was demolished.

“The community of Anna Nasif is thus a happy one; they’re still working on improving it. The whole idea here is to create a situation that continues serving itself, rather than waiting for someone to come from outside with resources and ideas. The poor have resources and they need support rather than pre-set solutions.”

Julie Viloria:

“From the presentations, there seems to be 3 or 4 main approaches that have emerged so far in Africa. One is that urban upgrading which provides basic infrastructure and services that deal with land tenure. One is a comprehensive upgrading which includes resolution of tenure, plus basic infrastructure and services and provision of new units with accompanying sites and services. The third, which is an integrated one, and which David also made some examples, and integrated and comprehensive upgrading which includes all three approaches but also linkages to other income-generating activities, micro-loans, and services.”

Comments on Ghana:

“I have a problem with what goes into the urban upgrading sector. Someone mentioned that in most countries there isn’t even a defined urban sector. There is a roads sector, a water sector, a health sector, social welfare – it’s hard to find a defined urban sector, and this is very true for us in Ghana.

“When it comes to dealing with urban issues we tend to have conflicts with other agencies. As you know, the bulk of the urban upgrading has to deal with roads, as in our case, and usually we get conflicts with the roads agencies. When we get into water, we have conflict with the water agencies, as they see it as us trampling on their responsibilities. Security license, then we get into logistical problems and the power authorities as well. When we broaden further into income-generation, health and other issues, you get more complicated and this leads into other agencies that also have programs for dealing with these issues, probably not in the particular area that you’re working in, but they have their national programs.

“In Ghana, we would then rather focus on specific aspects of the urban sector that is grossly neglected without veering too much into too many issues which several other agencies, including NGO’s and the social welfare department and a host of other agencies. There is already difficulty in defining the urban sector, and even in the limited role that we are playing, we are running into conflict with some major agencies. We probably should thus not expand the view further.”

Comments on Kenya:

“I was just wondering where the debate on landlords, tenants, and absentee landlords in these slum areas goes because this has been a problem when it comes to upgrading these areas. Upgrading for whom – there are many people with vested interests that it is in their interest to maintain the status quo, and this needs to be resolved somehow. The second part, particularly in terms of the absence of a clearly defined urban strategy, makes it very difficult to move forward with the upgrading process.”

General Comments:

“I have a few general comments to make. I want to talk about the efficiency of the actions that we are undertaking. The international community only mobilizes on themes that are at the head of the news and to solve urgent problems, such as the poverty issue and the upgrading of living conditions, and sometimes we go onto other themes as we realize we have not reached our objectives, which need to be solved.

“Poverty and the living conditions in the informal settlements are very great problems, and it’s very unlikely we will find solutions despite all the efforts and initiatives that are being deployed. Our means are too weak vis a vis the spread and importance of the problem, and I fear that we may exhaust our energies before we have found solutions to all these problems. We should try to join all our energies and efforts to tackle the question of human development and the poverty question. If we do not have a holistic approach we will not have any results.

“Sometimes we have very poor families who live in very poor conditions and once they have the means they will be moved eventually. All the development factors should be looked at at the same time so that our actions bear fruit. We should also take advantage when a project is implemented – we should take advantage of the logistics that are implemented, we should take advantage of the communication that has been organized, in order to achieve a maximum impact on the development by linking other programs from other sectors. We have to have a multi-sectorial approach to these projects. By this I mean that if we invest today a certain sum of money and we use certain energies and efforts to treat a problem, it would be useful that all the issues that touch the same population should work according to the same logistics and with the same funding.

“Especially in Mauritania and Brazil, which are very different examples, as far as Brazil is concerned we had a housing problem that was acute that all means and all efforts were concentrated on that issue and I think this was good for the situation as it adapted to the circumstances. In Mauritania, the project tackled different aspects at the same time and this suited the Mauritanian circumstances very well. We have a local situation, a scale factor, which corresponded to the circumstances but the example of Mauritania, where in one project we tried to solve a few different issues within different fields.

“In another example, in Gabon, we have only implemented two small upgrading projects. The first was an infrastructure development project, which was to build roads and services, and we have a second one now. This project has employed the youth from the poor settlements. We started the implementation of a new-generation project. We have used a melting pot of all the problems that we identified in this settlement, be they infrastructure problems, education, the creation of small go medium enterprises, and the capacity building at the municipal level. All these aspects were covered in this project, so I think this is the way we should go forward.

“It’s not always simple because if you have a few agencies who work in one country and who look at different aspects of the problem, it’s not always easy to collaborate. On the other hand, when we’re trying to work towards this goal, we may have coordinating problems, funding problems; all the donors have their own methods and procedures, and don’t always want to work with other agencies. To conclude, I think future projects should use a multi-functional approach, a global approach. On the other hand, they should be able to involve all the agencies working on the development issues. Solutions should be concrete.”

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