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What are the Underlying Interests of Stakeholders?

Stakeholder Perspectives

Not everyone’s objectives will be the same. An understanding of the objectives of the various participants will facilitate support for the process.

Excerpts from:
“Upgrading Slum Infrastructure, Divergent Objectives in Search of a Consensus.” by Shlomo Angel. Third World Planning Review, vol. 6, no 1, February 1983. pp 5-22.

“In any given historical situation, believing that key participants in the slum upgrading process share a common set of objectives is, unfortunately, only wishful thinking. Their divergent positions dispose them to the pursuit of different interests and divergent objectives” (p 20). Knowing the objectives of the various parties involved in infrastructure improvement has both a “predictive and strategic value”. (p 5).

The Players and Their Objectives

“The ‘Housers’, who are mainly interested in self-help housing improvement and see slum infrastructure programs as a means for increasing land tenure security, thus directing more of the people’s savings toward building their own houses.

The ‘Municipal Engineers’, who are primarily interested in public health, and see such programs as means of removing serious health hazards through the provision of clean water, through the collection of refuse and sewage, and through increased public safety.

The ‘Community Builders’, who are mainly concerned with community organization and development, and see infrastructure improvements as issues of common interest around which slum dwellers can organize effectively.

The ‘Politicians’, who are mainly concerned with extending and consolidating their ability to rule and perceive slum infrastructure programs as an effective way to assist the poor visibly without incurring vast public expenditures, and without unnecessarily alienating the support of the middle class or the land-owning groups.

The ‘International Funders’, who are primarily concerned with disbursing capital for development projects, and see such programs as a means of providing a form of international assistance which can reach the poor. For them such programs are appealing because of their low levels of per capita expenditures, because they do not distract attention from rural development efforts, and because they can be justified economically as generating increased property values in improved areas, over and beyond the initial capital investment in infrastructure, which should, in their view, be recovered from the slum dwellers themselves.

The ‘Slum Dwellers’, who are primarily interested in not getting hurt by heavy-handed government intervention and see infrastructure programs as an effective means of getting ‘something’ from the government, which is clearly better than ‘nothing’, but falls short of what they can see as possible to have” (p 6).

The six groups share many objectives. However, it is noted that the fewer objectives shared, the more difficult the upgrading process becomes.

The Housers

This group is trying to create self-help housing improvement programs that work.

They believe that “infrastructure improvement programs in slums and squatter settlements are an essential component of integrated housing programs which should, in principle as well as in practice, support and complement the efforts of the people themselves in the gradual development of habitable human settlements over time” (p 8).

This group thinks that “if public construction is abandoned, it is their responsibility to develop expertise, procedures, techniques and financial mechanisms for effective upgrading of slums and squatter settlements” (p 8).

Municipal engineers

They don’t see work on a project by project basis. For them, the job is providing good infrastructure to the entire city, regardless of the income level of the neighborhood they are servicing. “Extension of services to the slums is a natural extension of the existing networks” is their point of view (p 9).

Upgrading’s temporary improvements, lower standards, and “project approach” bother most municipal engineers.

The municipal engineers, unlike the housers, are not interested in community participation. Their way of working involves a city-wide plan and an ongoing process that has ideally been streamlined.

They admit that coordination among agencies is important but prefer to agree on tasks and proceed independently.

The Community Builders

The Community Builders “are mainly interested in getting poor people to act together for their common benefit.” They don’t ask, “what is to be built?” but rather, “how is it to be built?”

Their goal is “people power.”

They are focused on organizing/uniting the community to secure needed resources. To the community builders, physical, economical, and social goals form one goal, not separate components.

In their minds, the lack of public services in slum and squatter areas reflects neglect on the part of the authorities.

The Politicians:

Lower standard infrastructure jeopardizes their reputation.

Concerned with “the display of governmental responsibility for the urban poor, and with their ability to handle any potential crises that may arise from the neglect of large segments of the urban population” (p15).

There is “a relationship of mutual dependence between people and government and the reliance of the people on the continuation of important programs” (p15).

They are interested in the land tenure issue.

They are interested in the development of roads and access into squatter settlements in order to control politically volatile areas.

They are willing to accept lower standards (unlike municipal engineers).

They want to spend enough to achieve sufficient visible impact.

The International Funders

They believe that highly subsidized low-income housing programs will not work.

They see slum improvement as “potentially bringing slum property into the normal housing market, encouraging property ownership and strengthening the market mechanism” (Angel 17).

They are now spreading the urban upgrading paradigm through their influence on politicians. But in turn, they must yield to the preferences of the politicians for programs that are “temporary in nature, do not challenge the traditional housing and land market, and are carried out with modest financial outlays.” (p 17)

International funders see urban upgrading as a way of benefiting the poor without compromising their own rural development goals.

They rely on cost recovery from the beneficiaries as a justification for the projects. They believe that if the beneficiaries are unable to pay much, then they should expect lower standard infrastructure.

The Slum Dwellers

These residents disagree with the international funders on the topic of cost recovery. They believe they should pay for monthly service but not for the infrastructure itself, and that infrastructure should be financed through payment of taxes as it is in the rest of the city. Wealthy suburbs receive infrastructure free of charge so why shouldn’t they too? - Improvements mean that many people in the way of new roads will be displaced. If there is no adjacent relocation area, many residents stand to lose.

Improvements usually raise land and property values, driving out the poorest sector of the population and weakening the social cohesion of the community.

Residents may be forced to provide free labor for the infrastructure installation and pay for utilities they might not even want or can’t afford.

They are exploited in many ways - water vendors that charge higher prices for water when it is not regularly supplied - just as they pay more for electricity when it is illegally supplied.

They do stand to benefit from upgrading programs

Improved health and comfort;

Economic gain, (payment for labor during the construction of infrastructure, profits from the sale of houses after neighborhood improvements, and reduction in cost of services); and

Improved land tenure security and community organization (p 18).


For additional information:
See in Tools: Participation Analysis.

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