Meeting The Challenge Of Poverty In Urban Areas.
FOCUS ON THE HABITAT AGENDA The Commonwealth Development Framework for Human Settlements
UNITED NATIONS HABITAT AGENDA
AND COMPARISONS TO AMARTYA SEN'S FREEDOM APPROACH
COMPARISON OF STRATEGIES (TABLE 1)
The U.N. Habitat Agenda. Istanbul Declaration Goals and Principles
Sustainable Human Settlements.
Making towns, cities and villages more sustainable through integrated planning and management, as well as the appropriate regulation of services and the environment.
Good Urban Governance.
Enablement and Participation: Urban development through involvement of people in decision-making, action and partnership.
Taking account of the needs of women and men in decision-making at every level.
Developing the systems and indicators to monitor progress.
Improving co-ordination, exchange of information and best practice between nations.
Financing Shelter and Human Settlements.
Mobilising more money for local economic development through new and innovative approaches such as public private partnership.
Adequate Shelter for All.
Access to land, with security of tenure equal property rights for women
and access to essential services.
The United Nations Habitat Agenda has all the ingredients for orchestrating a concerted and coordinated effort to foster development in urban areas. It highlights the potential role of networking among all levels of stakeholders in Urban Development. It focuses on action by the 'Habitat Agenda Partners' - the full range of participants from all levels, which covers international agencies to local communities, including NGOs, the private sector, and all levels of government. They all play essential roles in strengthening the commitment to achieve the Urban Development Goals set out in Habitat Agenda. It also suggests forming global, national and local action networking to achieve the commitments.
One of its partners, DFID, as an International donor agency, recognises the goals and targets set by the United Nations and especially Habitat Agenda, and has supported the implementation of the Habitat Agenda localisation approaches and the application of a best practice policy framework. This is part of a global strategy set out in the DFID plan 'Meeting the challenge of poverty in urban areas: Strategies for Achieving the International Development Targets'. This continues the recognition of the need to deal with urban poverty that was laid out in the 1997 UK Government White Paper on International Development. The plan outlines 5 key actions:
UK Government White Paper on International Development.
5 KEY ACTIONS
1. Enable the poor to participate in the decision-making process, and to benefit from urban development.
2. Develop the capacity of local actors to manage pro-poor urban development and regional growth.
3. Support national governments to strengthen the legislative and regulatory framework within which city based development takes place.
4. Strengthen efforts by the international community to support the urbanisation process, which involves the participation of poor people.
5. Improve DFID's and others capacities to address the urban challenge through information support, and knowledge and research development.
Some countries that have signed Habitat Agenda have formed Habitat Committees to follow up on their commitment. Limited success has been achieved in localising the Habitat Agenda, for example through the use of a best practice approach (for example Spain). But a stronger networking at all government levels of each country is needed to make sure that the Habitat Agenda development goals are understood and implemented. Finding out and strengthening appropriate means of mediation within the various governance and institutional arrangements in the whole networking process appears to be an essential element. At present, there is little evidence of any conscious use of Habitat Agenda by local communities.
The UN-Habitat Best Practice Database has few examples of good practices by local communities in support of urban poverty reduction. This may reflect the fact that there is not enough capacity for local communities to use a best practice approach, especially among the urban poor. Unfortunately only some NGO's and organisations in the education sectors and very few in the private sectors are committed to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. However, with increasing understanding of these issues, there are undoubtedly growing numbers of actors who have started focusing on achieving the development goals of Habitat Agenda. These actors do not stand independently but interrelate to each other in their development approach. These links are important and need to be reinforced.
However existing international urban development approaches need a simpler framework to relate their coordinated efforts. While earlier efforts had focused entirely on physical and infrastructure development strategies the need to address the wider social economic and political aspects of development is being recognised. Such a strategy would need higher levels of participatory activities from the community. While community participation has now been recognised and implemented in many urban development policies of international agencies as well as other actors, the need for a common framework through which all these coordinated efforts are interlinked is required. While it focuses on human settlements and housing, the Habitat Agenda is not wide enough in its scope to cover the instruments that are defined by Sen. However, some of the issues are partially embedded into the different sets of headings of the context of human settlements.
The Habitat Agenda is more specific in its emphasis on community urban poverty especially in respect of housing and achieving sustainable urban development. The Agenda goals do however emphasise the need to uphold human rights and enabling the poor to participate in decision-making and to benefit from development process. The right to development offers a means to greater stability and peace in the world; Democracy enables such development through human rights, transparent representation, an accountable government and administration and effective participation. The right to development of various religious and ethical values, cultural backgrounds and philosophical convictions is also recognised.A comparison of goals is set out in tabular form below:
And Policy Goals compared to Development as Five Freedoms approach
|The Habitat Agenda||DFID Strategy Paper|
|Decentralisation and strengthening of local
authorities, association and networks
Popular participation and civic engagement
Participatory and consultative mechanisms
Capacity building and institutional development
|Develop the capacity of local actors to manage
pro-poor urban development and regional growth
Strengthen efforts by the international community to support the urbanisation process which involves the participation of poor people
Need for governments to provide the right enabling, legislative and regulatory framework, pro-poor and market sensitive
Empowering poor people themselves to demand and realise their rights and entitlements
Optimise the opportunities offered by decentralisation (ibid.)
Support to civil society groups to advocate poor people's needs and to participate in political systems (ibid.)
|Financing shelter and human settlements
Improving urban economies
Enabling markets to work
Mobilising sources of finance
Ensuring access to land
|Support to the private sector for PPP,
business and socially responsible business
DFID will work to increase the capacity of cities to attract investment and to develop improved links with rural economies
Need to ensure that the distribution of the opportunities of economic growth reach the poor
Develop the capacity of local actors to manage pro-poor urban development and regional growth
|Need for economic development, social
development and environmental protection
Ensuring access to basic infrastructure
Conservation of historic and cultural heritage
|DFID will contribute to programmes that help to
improve the living and working conditions of the
poor: water and sanitation; energy sources; tenure
arrangements; supply of land for housing and
health and safety
Poor people should benefit from improved health care, better education opportunities
|Strengthen shelter related information system||Improve DFID's and others capacities to address
the urban challenge through information support,
and knowledge and research development
Improve local accountability systems
Need to access and to share information so to negotiate on a more equal footing with others
|Disaster prevention mitigation and post-disaster