Clarifications and Proposed Definitions

 

Urban Environment

Participation

Shared Management - Integrated Management

 

1. Urban Environment

In the wide sense of the word, it is clear that urban environment covers all aspects related to environment in cities : health, sanitation, waste, housing, transport, energy, town development, etc. However, in order to avoid scattering the researched themes, PRECEUP (and subsequently this CD-ROM) shall deal mainly with the following : drinking water and wastewater treatment, household waste management and urban agriculture.

 

2. Participation

What do the general notions of " mobilisation ", " awareness " and " participation " cover ?

Do mere information of individuals, effective participation in the decision-making process or financial contribution have anything in common ?

Community-based participation is neither automatic nor spontaneous. It should be understood as a system of collective heterogeneous behaviours which refer to different perceptions, representations and practices.

Participation and the notion of interest

The notion of participation is very close to that of interest. Thus, for people living in cities, participating in a cleaning campaign means taking part in a collective action directed at the general interest of the district, but also gathering together financial resources (micro-credits, help from NGOs or financial backers) or even employment.

The participation dynamism is therefore dependent on the notion of interest. The assessment of community-based waste management in Ouagadougou, carried out by an NGO in collaboration with associations, thus emphasises the irregularity of participation of individuals between the launch of a cleaning campaign, for which they thought they would be recruited as carters or street sweepers, and the continuation of the action, which mobilised them less because it did not offer any employment prospect for the districts concerned.

In the case of unemployed young people structuring themselves into an Economic Interest Group (EIG or GIE), it is clear that environmental social objectives are put aside when confronted with the immediate objective of winning public markets, as in Senegal and Mali.

In other words, community-based action in a project requires a structure (ie. the creation of a micro-activity or an association) but does not necessarily imply that the objectives of the structure are shared by the population of the area.

Community-based action is often seen by municipalities as a way or even a mere tool to lay an action. On the contrary, it can be perceived as a real political and sociological objective in order to create a democratic debate in town development projects, and truly decentralised urban management.

Management or participation ?

Any attempt to analyse the contents of community-based participation requires to draw a line between community awareness, education and management, and to be able to appraise accurately the social consequences of the actions carried out.

In most studied cases, participation includes daily and natural activities of individuals at domestic scale (household cleaning, attention paid to hygiene and food) but these activities remain difficult to quantify or qualify when it comes down to making a global assessment of collective sanitary action and trying to give a formal definition of participation.

Thus, daily sweeping carried out by women around their homes can be seen as a responsible practice and a part of a sanitary improvement cycle.

It is often difficult to define the interfaces between participation, acceptance of responsibility and community-based management.

On the one hand, the precise tasks of individuals from one stage of a project to the other are not always identified or defined.

On the other hand, the notions of community or district include heterogeneous categories of sociological actors. A resident, a micro-enterprise (eg. an EIG) or a street sweeper do not have the same needs or interests in joining a collective action.

Participation can be independent from management tools (EIGs, district committees, etc.). Spontaneous initiatives regarding cleaning, health and sanitary awareness have for instance been taken outside any formal structure, in particular by women (as in Bamako or Cebu City). On the opposite, some micro-enterprises (EIGs) carry out waste pre-collection outside popular management control since no consultation structure is created (cf. Linguères EIG in Dakar).

Case studies show that the population is not always present nor involved in the elaboration of collection projects, that is in deciding on collection methods, technical options or price lists for the services provided. However, as a responsible user, the population is led to express pragmatic opinions as the service goes along.

Participation and social objectives

The general or community’s interest is not always easy to spot although different management tools with a more or less economic or social vocation do exist in the districts (eg. development committees, residents associations, micro-enterprises). An enterprise (eg. a recycling centre or a workshop) created by young people within the context of an environment-related programme contributes to local dynamism but does it amount to social action ?

Is an Economic Interest Group aiming at waste collection or at cleaning open spaces a service provider just like any proximity enterprise, or should it come under popular economy ?

Contents and degrees of participation

In order to be able to assess experiences in regard to individual participation, it is preferable to define different degrees of participation, from mobilisation and representation of individuals to the creation of management structures.

Furthermore, community-based participation at district scale should be considered as a civic and voluntary act, as a commitment of the individual at one or several stages of a collective project (control, awareness, information, promotion, decision) even though his effective activity cannot always be accurately identified.

The most efficient actions regarding waste collection and cleaning are when the population appropriates the contents and significance of the project through involvement at different stages : information, supervision of the service, improvement of environmental awareness in the neighbourhood, etc.

Insofar as participation is a collective and individual commitment from the citizens, it cannot be regarded as a regulatory process. There are numerous cases where residents comply with waste collection regulations only to avoid reprimand (rebuke in Karachi, fines, or even discrimination) and therefore social pressure from their neighbourhood or the public authorities.

This form of participation imposed by the norm and the law does not exclude the possibility for an individual to be regarded as responsible since he contributes more or less spontaneously to the improvement of his environment. However, participation cannot be limited to a regulatory and authoritarian process since it refers to notions of appropriation, auto-control and accepted responsibility.

Several degrees of participation can be considered :

· Individual responsibility of the user/citizen at neighbourhood scale. This covers domestic and daily activities that improve the close environment, such as cleaning around oneself’s home, respecting dumping sites, sorting waste, using drinking water, spontaneously informing the neighbourhood on the necessity to keep open spaces clean and on health-related risks.

· Collective responsibility and participation in more or less organised actions at district scale :

- cleaning campaign, sweeping of open spaces, debates, meetings with associations, public authorities ;

- formal participation in awareness-oriented actions as relay, street sweeping volunteer, organiser, district supervisor ;

- participation in door-to-door actions or information campaigns in public places.

· Material or financial contribution :

- making of material (eg. dustbins, containers), physical participation in services (as carter, street sweeper, etc.) ;

- regular payment of subscriptions for environment-related services (eg. waste collection, drinking water equipment or health equipment).

· Active participation in the elaboration of a project :

- participation in meetings, expressing opinions on the options and propositions formulated by the NGO, the municipality or the district committee ;

- follow up of the project and of its financial assessment.

· Assuming responsibility in community-based management. This is the highest degree of individual participation. The resident :

- becomes a member of committees and is elected district representative ;

- assumes moral and even financial responsibility within a health committee of residents ;

- commits himself in the control of the project and reports decisions to the residents.

 

3. Shared Management - Integrated Management

Integrated management of the urban environment is not a widespread notion yet, neither in associations nor in universities. However, the concerns it refers to originate in the will to take into account the real needs of urban populations as well as their ability to solve environment-related problems by themselves. The " integration " of actors has become a priority in new development projects in the third world. The conception of a development dictated " from above " is not always in touch with the aspirations of the poorest population and is now challenged by a " from below " and more " sustainable " vision of experiences aiming at improving living conditions and securing in the long term a real management of the problems related to the urban environment and, at the same time, to employment and a regular income.

This evolution has been made necessary as the State tends to withdraw, leaving poor populations to their fate, while urban services are being privatised. The PRECEUP projects as well as the research conducted during the second phase of the programme are part of this emerging context.

Within the framework of sustainable development, the management of a district by local representatives of the community is called (sound) " governance ", a word that has been widely used since the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in June 1992. The word describes " a multi-sectorial policy which has been freely decided and carried out by an as exhaustive as possible diversity of actors (public actors, private actors, associations, communities, young people, elderly people, women, men, etc.) who express specific points of view so as to enrich the global vision of the city in which everyone should be able to recognise himself " (Malick Gaye, Enterprising towns).

In order to reach governance, the ultimate stage of participation, it is clear that a number of ingredients should be present as soon as the experience is conceived, and that their existence should last or evolve so as to secure environmental as well as economic (the latter is essential) sustainability of the experience and its potential extension to a larger scale.

One of PRECEUP’s main directions for research was to pinpoint these components within the specific framework of waste management and wastewater treatment, while remaining aware that they vary substantially depending on the political, institutional, legal, economic and socio-cultural context of the studied cases.

The word " integrated "

This attribute is as polysemous as the word " management " and can apply either to global or sectorial management. In the first case, the study of integrated management of the environment shall try to include all environmental issues (sanitation, waste, health, housing, transport, energy) and favour a necessarily " macro " approach of the connections between different social groups. In the second case, the study of management of the environment shall focus on a specific sector of the environment (eg. waste) and describe with more detail the relationships between the different actors concerned by the issue, and sometimes the dynamics of the whole sector.

These two conceptions are not exclusive insofar as the first can include the second. Thus, because he refused a " technical " and restrictive approach, Jean-Jacques Guibbert (ENDA Third World) proposed to work on the double dimension of " integrated management " within PRECEUP :

· The " politico-social " dimension relates to the presence of all actors in the management of the environment : community organisations (district committee, women or youth organisations, etc.), popular economy (micro-enterprises, co-operative societies, EIGs, etc.), the private sector (urban services, industrial services, services providers, etc.), public authorities (municipalities, regions, governmental services), NGOs (local or international), financial backers, etc.

· The " environmental dimension (should be) understood as a cross-sectorial approach integrating issues such as waste, health, food, energy, town development, etc. "

Several projects result from such a process, in Guatemala (Alameda Norte, El Mezquital), Peru (Villa El Salvador), Argentina (barrio San Jorge in Buenos Aires), India (Calcutta) or Brazil (Curitiba and Diadema). These experiences are perfect illustrations for the advantage that lies in developing a global approach of community-related problems because of the obvious connections between, for instance, the lack of drinking water, sanitation and health problems.

Integrated management also requires a whole set of constraints to be taken into account and therefore a multi-disciplinary approach. " Compared to studies carried out in the 80s, which would put the emphasis on techniques and transfers, today’s research methods try to be more comprehensive and to tackle in depth the economic, cultural, political and technical constraints encountered during experiences of individual participation in the construction and management of environment-related urban services, in order to function and last effectively " (Marie-Dominique de Suremain, ENDA Medellin).

This integrated management of the urban environment should first of all be conceived at district scale, where most development projects are carried out and where it is easier to study the network of different actors involved. However, it is possible to extend a research to a whole municipality. This is what PRECEUP’s " comprehensive studies " aim at. It is also the ambition of the " sustainable integrated waste management " model elaborated by the Dutch NGO Waste Consultants.

The Sustainable integrated waste management model (Waste Consultants)

This model can be applied when five conditions are fulfilled :

- participation of all concerned actors ;

- multi-disciplinary approach (taking into account the financial, technical, environmental, social, sanitary and institutional issues related to waste) ;

- global financial management (costs and profits resulting from the collection and disposal of waste, savings resulting from prevention, income resulting from recycling) ;

- " interactions " with the other urban services (sanitation, health, etc.) ;

- adjustment of services to the different types of housing existing in the same city.