A simpler framework would enable communication between sponsors to be carried out in a coordinated manner. It would provide them with a common sounding board for their evaluations.
Instead of each sponsor holding up unique multi-directional programmes and policies as an end, it could be possible to place these varied policies within a simple develpment framework that would enable co-operation between sponsors.
REMOVING UNFREEDOMS FRAMEWORK
EXISTING EVALUATIONS OF DEVELOPMENT
CHOICE OF INDICATORS
THE NEED FOR SHARED POLICY FRAMEWORKS
FORMULATING POLICY FRAMEWORKS: THE CHALLENGE
THE ROLE OF THE EVALUATOR
FREEDOM APPROACH DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK (pdf)
EXISTING EVALUATIONS OF DEVELOPMENT
The analysis of the status of development in any society requires evaluation that is grounded on some sort of informational base. Clearly there is a need to identify the characteristics, which are seen to be relevant for evaluating the development potential of a society and to measure them as indicators. A wide range of indicators can be used to compose the information base. As has been pointed out earlier, there is no unique and exclusive way to compose this information base. Currently perhaps the most complex exercise for evaluating development on a common index is the one carried out by the United Nations Development Programme for their Human Development Report.
CHOICE OF INDICATORS
The choice of the information base as well as the particular indicators that are metrically measured influences the resultant policy. But, as Sen has pointed out in his book. "There is no royal road to evaluation of economic and social policies". In order to maximise the usefulness of evaluative techniques, one needs to reflect on the variety of considerations that influence each individual of the community.
Existing development policies are inevitably multi-layered. This is partially due to the multiple institutions that are involved in sponsoring development. There are national governments, international agencies and a host of multi-lateral arrangements that influence development policies. National governments sponsor development initiatives through a wide range of accelerators such as neighborhood organisations; community-based institutions, NGOs, municipalities as well as national bodies. International institutions direct their initiatives through NGOs, United Nation agencies (UNCHS, Habitat, UNDP, etc) as well as national governments (IDCAs). A multi-layered approach thus provides flexibility that can be inclusive of the special interests of these sponsors. To a certain extent, this approach provides a flexibility that could be considered as being more responsive.
NEED FOR SHARED POLICY FRAMEWORKS
However there is a need to provide a simpler framework within which these multi-layered approaches can operate. Such a simple framework would enable evaluation and feedback to be a shared process. A simpler framework would enable communication between sponsors to be carried out in a coordinated manner. It would provide them with a common sounding board for their evaluations. Instead of each sponsor holding up unique multi- directional programmes and policies as an end, it could be possible to place these varied policies within a simple development framework that would enable co-operation between the sponsors to a much higher order than has hitherto been possible.
This framework would in no way constrain the different sponsors from selecting their own individual or co-opted programmes and policies; it would simply enable all of them to understand each other's approach in relation to a common development framework. As is suggested in this paper, this simple common development framework is founded on the higher goals of improving the human condition of the suffering in this world by defining an ultimate goal of development strategies as one that provides ever-expanding freedoms to the citizens of each country.
FORMULATING POLICY FRAMEWORKS: THE CHALLENGE
The challenge of adopting shared policy frameworks and trying to implement them across a variety of communities will need coordinated efforts and flexibility at the international, national, private and local levels. Even if the wider goals of freedom were to be adopted by all agencies, the kinds of difficulties faced on the ground by agencies would surely continue. For instance, the commitment by the United Nations, through UN-Habitat, is clearly apparent in its support for participation in localising the Habitat Agenda. However, at the ground level there exist areas of concern. The Agenda is poorly followed up in many countries due to the limitations of local governments who do not understand the scope of work, or due to the nature of political representation and their priorities. Thus it is not easy to follow the Agenda commitments down to the lowest local level.
Even though the aspects of participation are recognised by various International Development agencies and despite the promotion of a 'bottom-up' approach, there are severe implementation problems on the ground. It is possible that this complex process requires a longer period of time, a period that may not be considered realistic by all international agencies, due to administration and political reasons.
While national governments need to be at the forefront of this implementation, in most cases, especially for the developing countries, there is lack of technical, financial and human capacity to manage this process, as well as lack of political commitment and will. Other actors such as NGOs, the private sectors and education institutions have a very limited role. Even though some of them have successfully supported the participation process, the community needs to be assisted directly through a fuller participation process. Using the participatory process in collecting evaluation data could enable this to happen as has been suggested elsewhere in this paper. Such participatory evaluation will need to determine whether local communities have enough freedom of opportunity to participate and whether the community will share this freedom with the actors who are promoting development. Such issues will need to be evaluated at all levels of work:
International level: Development agendas are often initiated at the International level and then get implemented at the national level through national level institutions. Such a national level institution does not necessarily represent community interests. There is clearly a need to make local communities become more aware of this complex situation and use their voice to participate in the development process. One example of good practice in this area is illustrated by the participation of the national slum dwellers federations who attended the recent world Urban Forum held by UN-Habitat.
National government levels: National governments are often viewed as sole mediators by the international agencies. There is clearly a need for the national agency to allow the local communities to organise themselves and for them to relax any strict regulations and limitations in the affairs of local initiatives in urban development. There may be a need for taking steps to allow local urban governance to emerge as more representative form of urban community freedom. However, the local community empowered Government may not have sufficient power and capacity to deliver the development goals. In this case, their capacities to govern at each level would need to be strengthened in an appropriate way so that the freedoms sought by the development process can be adequately supported.
Private Mediator levels (Such as NGOs): Most NGOs that are funded by international agencies try to bring the International agency development goals to the local community. However this will need to allow the full participation of communities in the consolidation of the goals that they value.
Local Community level: Poor communities and their representative organisations in urban areas often lack technical capacity. However they have potentials and capabilities that are often not recognised by any agencies working in the area. In the new approach of using freedom as the goal of development, it is these potentials and capabilities that will be of prime importance as the focus of any development programme situated in the community.
Some of the wider concerns for a policy framework need to address the deeper obstructions to development. These obstructions could have cultural or historical facets, which impinge on rights and capabilities of people due to ethnic, social or other causes. Amartya Sen explains, "One view sees development as a 'fierce' process, with much 'blood, sweat and tears'- a word in which wisdom demands toughness." There is no place for 'luxurious' ideas of democracy, or for political and civil rights.
In this view, policy makers are convinced that they know best what is needed at the macro level and the immediate sacrifice of the population in terms of hardship and lack of freedom is seen as a small price to pay for later benefits. This has parallels to the World Bank and IMF justification for the possible short-term hardship endured by the poor following the imposition of Structural Adjustment Programmes. The other alternative view "sees development as essentially a 'friendly' process" . One in which people participate and are included and have a voice to determine the direction of development, its priorities as well as the identification of the constraints. Policy frameworks will inevitably need to be informed of which of these views is being adopted both for long term as well as short term strategies.THE ROLE OF THE EVALUATOR
The measurement of poverty is influenced, not only by the outlook but also the goals of the evaluator. The top down approach that excludes the poor from the process of drafting and implementation of policies reflects the supremacy of income-based indicators if that is the criteria for the policy. In an urban setting, these indicators have been shown to systematically underestimate the scale of poverty. Satterthwaite and Johnson concluded that the: "(income-based poverty indicator) has no validity unless it accurately reflects the income level that an individual or household needs to avoid poverty in their particular neighborhood (whether it is a village, small town, city or large metropolis) "
Undoubtedly policies have been slowly moving away from a top down model of development. As local and national governments can no longer cope with the inflationary rates of urban growth, they look towards the 'orthodox' development package that is based on heavy infrastructure investments as a way out of the urban anarchy that is engulfing them as migration into the urban area continues. But this reliance on infrastructure investments needs to be balanced with initiatives in removing constraints of local governance, citizenry and individual agency restrictions and other negations of capability opportunities.People have to get together and count on themselves to make up for the defaulting of their policy makers and implementers, and the lack of funding. Much literature on community organisation or on the growth of the informal sector has been published, but development agencies and policy makers do need to keep themselves informed of the complexity and dynamic of the new megalopolis. There is a need to craft adequate tools to measure the constraints to urban development seen in the light of the overarching need to remove unfreedoms. The 'inclusive city' needs to be measured in a new light, with the individual as the main agent of development at the centre.
While the wider approach to urban development problems that has been outlined in this paper could be seen as yet another universal prescription, it is, I believe the emphasis on the particular over the universal that lies at the core of this approach. At the universal level, this approach is grounded in ethical principles that assume the need for human obligations and duties that are generally accepted as a part of the normative ethical system, but its substance deals with the need to determine new norms and standards, at a particular level, in order to improve the human condition.
Events, inhabitants and their particular circumstances and cultures are given preference over universal structures. Such an emphasis on evaluating particularities (such as capabilities) ensures that citizens are regarded, not as spectators or patients but as participants and agents of change. This change in emphasis is the substance of the new freedom centred approach being advocated here. It questions the evaluation assumptions of earlier approaches. In the earlier approaches, these perspectives seem to dominate ethical goals and evaluations, implying that there are universal goals for all human beings. These universal goals are identified as economic centred and metrically quantifiable targets (such as 'poverty eradication'). By contrast, in the freedom centred approach the goals become freedom centred and are based on a number of variables that emerge out of the citizen's desire to remove the constraints that prevent him from leading the life that he wishes to live.
The evaluations of these universal goals are impartial and are based on some assumed demands that the entire community is supposed to share as desirable. By contrast the freedom centred approach emphasises the need to take into account the varying subjective wishes of the different individuals whose capabilities may be unfree for a number of reasons that are not universal to the entire community. While there are many freedom constraints that are shared by the community as common obstructions, the freeing of these common obstructions does not relieve the individuals of the community from their unfreedoms. This new approach considers each citizen as an independent agent as far as his capabilities and potentials are concerned.
There is an underlying assumption, in the economic centred approach, that the rationale of economic centred goals is valid for all rational human beings. Indeed there is an assumption that all rational human beings should share such common moral and ethical principles. By contrast, the freedom centred approach considers the issue of shared ethical principles in a different way. It argues that the approach to development that centres on people should begin with the practical issues of understanding the variances in the moral and ethical issues that govern the lives of different human beings.
If there were any common moral issues to be concerned about, then they would have to emerge out of the practical considerations of capability evaluations and are not predetermined. Thus, it is emphasised in the freedom approach, knowledge about constraints to the inhabitants of a community has to be gained at an intimate level rather than on disengaged knowledge or some universal prescription of normative constraints that are universally common to all members of society.
The following tabular format of the policy implications of the freedom centred approach gives a bird's eye view of the issues that have been outlined in this paper. While admittedly it presents a simplified synopsis of this paper it also offers a guide to the elements of a possible enlarged policy framework that can be shared by many donors.
This table can be downloaded here in Adobe pdf format. (Right click and select "Save Target As" to download this file for offline viewing)
While there are many freedom constraints that are shared by the community as common obstructions, the freeing of these common obstructions does not relieve the individuals of the community from their unfreedoms.
This new approach considers each citizen as an independent agent as far as his capabilities and potentials are concerned.