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Getting Started: Project Context
How Does the Program Consider Scaling Up?

The growth of urban slums and squatter settlements is increasing: more and more are living in severely deteriorated areas with alarming impact on the inhabitants. A recent study at the World Bank suggests at least 300 million fit into this category, while others suggest even more frightening numbers. And moreover these deteriorated areas are expected to double in 25 years.

Programs to address these issues are increasing and becoming more effective, but are essentially falling behind in face of the overwhelming demand.

How to approach this dilemma?

Two general directions seem likely, and probably there are others:

1) Improve and expand on what we are doing now. This approach springs from the belief that we can do it, we know how, and we only need to do what we now do better. Some argue that the key is political will and this should be emphasized. The essential question is, where should we put our efforts in improvements? How do we build effective capacity to deal with the scaling problems?

2) The other direction springs from the belief that conceptually we need to look at the problem and the solutions differently. This approach starts with the premise that no matter how well we improve our current delivery of programs, we will not be able to have an appreciable impact. Political realities, management capacity, financial capacity (although some argue it is not a money issue.), and social realities all limit going to scale under the current paradigm. (This may be akin to the conceptual breakthrough of John Turner, et al, where the squatter became the solution and not the problem?) In this approach, where would a conceptual breakthrough be needed? And how would it be done?

A supply-side strategy improving the delivery of how we prepare and execute programs is proposed as the key issue in scaling-up in an excerpt looking at the policy level. Conclusions from a 2000 conference as well as twelve lessons from experience and two ideas for the future provide additional references for scaling-up.

How Does the Program Consider Scaling Up?
The Policy Level

Excerpt from:
Ivo Imperato, Diagonal Urbana, and Jeff Ruster, World Bank. Participation in Upgrading and Services for the Urban Poor: Lessons From Latin America. The World Bank, 1999.

The following are key factors to consider when scaling-up current initiatives to set the stage for sustained and successful long-term upgrading efforts. The factors were developed after review of case examples from across Latin America and reflect a supply-side strategy in going to scale.

Political Will: This is required not just on the part of government, but on the part of society as a whole. In Recife, Brazil, the PREZEIS program had established a conducive legal, regulatory and methodological framework for participatory upgrading in the mid-1980s but the program languished for more than a decade because of lack of political will on part of the government, and lack of collective pressure on the government.

Policy Environment: There must be an appropriate information base on the city's informal settlements. Legal, regulatory and procedural bottlenecks that impose unreasonable requirements for physical planning, building codes and land use must be changed. Participatory development plans and physical plans for settlements should be promoted. Funding arrangements should be established with a built-in long-term perspective.

Area-based Needs Assessment, Planning and Implementation: An integrated approach is required. A broad long-term vision of the development needs to be the axis and connecting thread in planning.

Subsidy Structures and Cost Recovery Strategies: A clear, transparent structure is crucial to make programs financially sustainable. A community's willingness to pay should be considered in any program.

National Legal and Regulatory Framework: Some have heavy impact on upgrading and provision of services for the poor. These include: land rights and land registration systems, technical standards for infrastructure, exclusivity provisions that exclude small-scale operators, participatory planning that is not recognized by formal master plans, responsibilities and incentives for ex-post monitoring, supervision and evaluation that are not put in place, and regulations for financial institutions that make it very difficult to cater to the poor.

Land Release Mechanisms and Shelter Alternatives for Resettlement: The lack of appropriate mechanisms to release sufficient affordable land is one of the key reasons why the urban poor squat. As the example of Peru shows, when land is made available in a reasonably orderly way, even though services may be a long way in coming to an area, the worst long-term problems of informal settlements are avoided. Resettlement is arguably the most difficult issue to be solved by upgrading interventions, because of its social impact and cost implications. A range of instruments need to be deployed to cope with it, including the development of housing for various income brackets and new settlements using sites and services approaches or variants of Peru's ‘lotes con tiza’ strategy.

Systematic Land Tenure Regularization: Secure land tenure has been shown to be one of the most important factors for the sustainability of any intervention in informal settlements, and is arguably the number one aspiration of Latin American informal settlements. It unlocks investment in home improvement and motivates residents to help maintain new infrastructure and engage in further improvements.

Strategic Alliances: Urban upgrading cuts across disciplinary and institutional boundaries and involves and impressive array of stakeholders: various public authorities with jurisdiction over the area, public and private utility companies, formal and informal land owners, formal and informal land developers, owners and managers of businesses in the area, managers and staff of public or nongovernmental facilities in the area, politicians and political party activists, development nongovernmental organizations, religious groups, private business whose employees live in the area, and private firm providing services in the context of a program or project.

Careful Selection of Program Format: There are two main formats: the social investment fund (and its variant participatory budgeting) and the comprehensive upgrading program. In the social investment fund communities present requests to a facility that selects and funds projects. This ensures response direct demand, but encourages a piecemeal approach since community requests are based on a coherent plan. In the comprehensive program, investments fit into a coherent plan, and the interactions among infrastructure systems are taken into account. However unless every effort is made to involve communities in discussion of alternatives and their cost, costly solutions that preclude tariff-based cost-recovery may be selected. The supply side also needs attention. Participation requires a stronger supply mechanism than conventional urban development work, because of the wider skill set that is required. It also requires strong coordination capability because of the many disciplines and actors involved.

Development of Appropriate Institutional Arrangements: There is a need for strong coordination mechanism that is accepted by all parties, particularly when traditional line agency-based institutional structures have been could potentially be in conflict. The focus on decentralization further suggests additional efforts in appropriate institutional arrangements.

Development of a Critical Mass of Local Capabilities: The effective operation requires a wide range of specialized services. These include: socio-technical support, urban planning through a participatory approach, architecture and engineering services and technical guidance in appropriate technologies, program coordination services, project and contract management services, construction skills in tune with the specific needs of informal areas, quality control in engineering and construction, affordable building materials, and micro-finance services.

Summary of Conference Conclusions

Following are some of the key concepts that were discussed at an international video-conference in 2000 on large-scale slum improvement.

Things that were confirmed

  • There is no one answer to urban poverty alleviation: efforts need to be tailored to the context. For example, the situation in Mumbai is vastly different from Rio and must be addressed differently.
  • Political will clearly is a vital issue in any upgrading program and necessary for success of any program. Some suggest that this is the most important consideration.
  • Community participation in all or some stage of the process is necessary.
  • In parallel to scaling-up slum upgrading programs, slum prevention proactive strategies are necessary and equally as important as reactive upgrading programs.
  • To achieve a large-scale response a programmatic approach, not a project approach, is necessary, as well as a multi-partner vs. single agency approach.

Things to check further

  • There was much discussion on whether to be more comprehensive or less complex in approach. Some indicated a shift towards more a more comprehensive program such as a package of services is necessary, while others indicated that a less complex (‘No Christmas tree’) approach was more important – and necessary - in order to address scale issues.
  • Security of tenure may be the key 'trigger' for upgrading processes. Others felt that secure tenure, which can take various forms, was necessary but not sufficient to achieve poverty alleviation.
  • Is a conceptual leap required to address scaling-up, or can tried and proven methods provide a sufficient base on which to expand programs?

Thinking Ahead: Thresholds

  • Areas will become increasingly more difficult to upgrade: the 'easy’ sites, the helpful well-organized community, will give away to more problematic areas.
  • Land will become ever more critical, as the urban areas spread. Densification will become a major issue.
  • There will be increased competition for funds among the other programs of a city as large-scale effects get underway.
  • Displacement, gentrification could become serious.
  • Institutional development will need to be accelerated to reach scale demands.
  • Citywide infrastructure networks become critical and limiting for wholesale expansion of services.
  • What is upgrading and what is not? We need to define boundaries in order to have metrics to track and report. Also, when other programs intersect with urban poverty, they frequently overlap with slum upgrading, i.e. cultural heritage preservation or urban sanitation.

Forgotten but reminded

Slums provide necessary housing. How to keep the advantages, while upgrading basic services? Would we have to re-invent slums if they were all upgraded? (E.g. John F.C. Turner's analysis of the vital functions of inner city slums.)

Twelve Lessons from the Past

The following were drawn from World Bank project experience over the last 30 years.

Political commitment is fundamental

  • A large-scale program will need even more clearly expressed support, commitment and leadership from politicians and opinion makers.

Build on existing experience to go from projects to program

  • The scaling up challenge is to work with existing institutions, under arrangements at all levels (local and central government, private sector, etc.) with clearly assigned responsibilities that in concert will accomplish this task.

Upgrading is affordable if done right

  • The poorest of the poor will be unable to pay for full level of services, so lower; more affordable standards need to be considered. One alternative is to start with low standards but build up incrementally as their affordability increases.

The poor can and are willing to pay for services

  • Scaled-up programs must rethink and plan appropriate policies for cost recovery and subsidies commensurate with the scope of the program.

Security of tenure is essential

  • One of the first steps in designing a large scale upgrading program may well be the up-front work needed to move quickly and to scale on the land regularization front, thereby ensuring the tenure status of communities being upgraded.

There is no ‘one-size fits all’

  • What is needed is an operating structure that supports and encourages local solutions and local implementation.

Keep it simple

  • Local definition of the list (bundle) of improvements and how to sub-divide the task for their simplified delivery at the local level yields quicker and more appropriate large-scale results.

Include and strengthen municipalities

  • Programs that move upgrading to scale need to evaluate and plan for helping local governments respond to the additional demands to be placed on them.

Communities must participate

  • Ideally large scale upgrading programs will find ways to help the poor move from powerlessness to inclusion; from vulnerability to assets; from violence to security.

Citywide networks must be able to support the upgrading program

  • A large-scale upgrading program must start with a well-conceived plan of network expansion and expanded service delivery.

Improving basic services and infrastructure is the necessary base

  • Scaling-up implies planning for a sequence of actions, many of which can come on stream by sequencing.

A coalition of actors is needed

Large-scale (citywide and/or national) upgrading programs call for: a) a broad coalition of participants, each with its area of contribution and agreed to role; and b) a convergence of action among the participants based on a shared vision and goal, and agreement on a process.

Two Ideas for the Future

A Regulatory Model

It is possible that some large scale transformations in a countries’ slums can come about by eliminating impediments to change, such as land markets, land policy and legislation, decisions on the extension of infrastructure networks, the design and administration of subsidies, etc. For example, the Peru Urban Property Rights Project, through regulatory reforms, reduced the costs and times for registering property drastically, making it easier, more affordable and indeed possible for low-income tenants to register their property, and thereby become “legitimate” citizens. Another example is the national Community Mortgage Program of the Philippine government which helps squatters to buy government or private land which they have occupied for an extended period of time, and provides financing for infrastructure improvements. This program relies on intermediaries such as NGOs that help with the process of buying and registering land on behalf of the communities. Regularizing or facilitating the granting of tenure can set in motion “community self improvement projects” at the household or community level, because people will have a greater incentive to improve their own houses, demand services from the government, or arrange for improved services through other means.

Supporting Simultaneous Local Communities of Action

In many cases, combining a city/national policy and regulatory reforms (above) in tandem with investments in basic services will be needed. The problem is how to do so at a large scale. A program that encourages, provides guidelines and helps to finance localized sub-projects in small geographically identified areas, can support (somewhat like a franchise) multiple, simultaneous activities which might help implement improvements at a major scale. Some basic principles, models, options and guidelines would need to be established, under which local implementation communities would participate. This would require different types of action at different levels:

  • At the facilitating level (central and local governments);
  • At the local implementation community or “unit” level;
  • At the program implementation level;
  • At the international level.
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