Lessons & Proposals. Understanding Partnership Worldwide


Lessons and Proposals

I. The De-Centralization of Power, Governance and Instruments for Policy Implementation

According to the 1996 Global Report on Human Settlements1, three factors have contributed to the development of local governance: the de-centralization of policy; the return to democratic principles of government in many countries; and the growing importance of citizen and community pressure, including social movements. While our study of numerous experiences revealed the constant presence of this combination of factors for change, it also demonstrated the need to take into account the particular situation of each region and continent.

Policies of de-centralization have been or are being applied in most of the countries of Europe. North America. Africa. Asia and Latin America. whether their structures be centralized or decentralized. However, the case studies revealed a great degree of regional diversity in relation to the de-centralization of power. Notable differences were found even within the same region: for example, in Western Africa, in some areas the government named representatives, while in others they were elected by inhabitants. This situation explains the variety of forms of interaction and interdependence between non-governmental and governmental actors to be found in the experiences studied.

Thus, the question of de-centralization should be discussed within a specific context, and not as part of a generality. In some contexts, de- centralization serves only as a mechanism for State reforms, which include the privatization of services, economic adjustment, and the liberalization of the economy. In this case, non-governmental actors are not allowed to act in partnership with local governments. This form of de-centralization, which is the weakest, is called “de-concentration”, or the transfer of functions. In other contexts, local or national governments have accepted de-centralization and actually hand over resources to the other actors, or they delegate certain powers to parastatal agencies while maintaining control over decision-making. In these cases, we are dealing more with a re-structuring than with de- centralization, in which power must be shared among all actors. In some of the experiences studied, re-structuring opened new spaces for NGOs (Port Bouet. Ivory Coast) although this did not mean that the local or federal government shared power with non-governmental actors. In the case just mentioned, the government blocked action instead of facilitating it.

De-centralization is thus a mechanism, which makes it possible to progress from the administration of a territory towards the actual government of a territory: de-centralization does not simply mean administration, it also implies having the necessary degree of autonomy to govern. The case of Chosica in Lima, an experience of participatory planning, teaches us what it means to govern a territory, not just a neighborhood or a city. De-centralization does not mean leaving housing and urban management in the hands of the private sector. To the contrary, it means articulating the participation of different actors, including the private sector.

In Latin America, social movements have evolved into social organization and then into structured forms of partnership, which accompany processes of municipal de-centralization. Experiences in Lima, Peru; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Mexico City and Quito, Ecuador demonstrate this evolution: social movements evolved into urban actors which sought to have an impact on the urban policies of local governments through strategies of cooperation, pressure or conflict. A government, which recognizes an organized community, has taken a giant step towards de-centralization. The recognition of an organized group as a valid actor is one of the primary lessons to be drawn from the successful experiences. Any partnership must be based on recognition of the new community actors3 by municipal or administrative authorities. The Bolivian experience of the Law for Popular Participation4 is based on such recognition.

Governance also at times involves a conflictive process. The example of Pantojas in the Dominican Republic shows us the different stages (conflict-dialogue-negotiation-planning) of the relationship between the NGO and the local government for the relocation of some 100 families evicted from an abandoned factory. In Italy, the experience of the Coralli Cooperative in Padua also began with a struggle on the part of immigrant workers in defense of their right to housing.

The concept of governance, which seems to have emerged out of a United Nations think tank, is understood in different ways in different languages, depending upon who is considered to be the subject of governance. For example, for the World Bank, governance means greater transparency and democracy in the processes of liberalizing the economy. For popular organizations, governance implies the transformation of unequal power relations. Because of its political and social implications, the discussion of the concept of “governance” goes beyond the issue of how to translate the term. In this context, the experiences analyzed have contributed something new to the definition of “governance”, especially when we speak of partnership between non-governmental organizations and local or national governments.

The form of governance prevalent within some of the case studies, such as in the Philippines and Indonesia, was bureaucratic, and involved excessive, authoritarian control. However, the NGO sector has grown significantly over the last few years in spite of conflictive relations with the government. Some have even managed to influence public policy implementation. During the same period in India, non-governmental organizations have assumed a growing degree of protagonist within the more open context of democratic dialogue5. Without a doubt, non-governmental organizations are going to play an important role in the future construction of democratic governance.

The global synthesis developed by Meera Mehta6 makes note of the new tasks being performed by non-governmental organizations in the area of de-centralization. One of the principle lessons there is the recognition that non-governmental organizations are no longer serving simply as intermediaries between community-based organizations and the government. The space currently occupied by non-governmental organizations is much more important than it was twenty years ago when Habitat I was held in 1976. The major new roles identified by non-government organizations are more directly linked to de-centralization and democratic governance, which have increased the role of civil society and community organizations in urban management. Non-governmental organizations have become, for example, the a very relevant voice of civil society, an organized voice which makes it possible to channel demands. Their role as the voice of civil society legitimates them before local governmental representatives, who, in most cases, have been democratically elected. Their capacity for communication and negotiation are increasing and have allowed certain NGOs to implement massive programs on a national level as in the case of Sulabh International in India and the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.

The regional syntheses noted another new role for non-governmental organizations-the social sector management. The traditional image of this sector has been a negative one, in great part because of negative publicity on the part of the private sector. Their primary argument is that the social sector is not sustainable, since it depends upon public subsidies and other forms of support. The case studies where non-governmental organizations are operating programs on a massive scale in the financial sector (Grameen Bank, Community Mortgage Programme) and services (Sulabh) demonstrate that social sector management can be sustainable. These experiences give meaning once again to the social sector: services for everyone, even for those of limited resources.

De-centralization has also required greater degrees of professionalism on the part of non-governmental organizations. The transfer of powers from national entities to local governments has signified new roles and functions for non-governmental organizations who have been involved in activating people’s capacities in everything from planning to housing design.

Regarding instruments created for policy implementation we find a number of experiences in which different instruments have been created to promote governance and collaboration among various actors. These include:

  • Financial instruments (UCDO in Thailand, the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh);

  • Enabling Instruments, such as the Advisory Board in Massachusetts (United States), which is composed of representatives of NGOs governmental organizations and academic institutions, to dialogue with the U.S. government to influence policies related to the local government;

  • Legal instruments, such as the Law for Popular Participation in Bolivia created in 1994 to articulate the involvement of rural and urban communities in the judicial, political and economic life of the country, and to strengthen representative democracy. Another such example is the housing law proposed by community-based organizations in Sao Paulo Brazil and approved by the local government;

  • Operational Instruments, such as the civil society advisory committees created in various areas of Western Africa, composed of representatives of the municipality and of the de-centralized structures of the state. Another example is the steering group in Deventer Holland which involves a representative of the municipal government together with community workers in charge of implementing the project Another is the Council for Integration in Fortaleza, Brazil, which brings together representatives of state and local governments, social organizations and NGOs;

  • New instruments for social participation are also being developed such as the Councils for Urban Development and Housing in Mexico City. These new instruments for participation are developing on various levels. For example, in Mexico, last year the Federal District government developed Housing Assessment Council.

All of these instruments have been designed to implement participatory policies and strengthen collaboration among all actors. Thus, from Latin America to Asia, including Africa, new instruments are influencing policy-making. However, their implementation is not always as effective as expected. The majority of non-governmental organizations continue to occupy merely an advisory position or as observers.

In summary, a characteristic shared by all the experiences studied was that better living conditions were being sought through participatory democracy. In no case did an NGO try to impose authoritarian systems of decision-making, and all operated within a legal framework. Not all sought short- or long-term development; some tried to influence policy- making (to be discussed further in the following paragraph). Not all of the experiences studies can be reproduced since many of them have occurred on a very small scale and have required a great amount of institutional subsidies.
II. The Impact of Participatory Experiences on Public Policy

If we review the changes, which have taken place in urban services and housing conditions since Habitat I in 1976 until now, we can make three observations7:

  • There is no evidence that habitat conditions for low-income groups in cities in Southern countries have improved since 1976;

  • Habitat conditions are not deteriorating in the same way in all countries;

  • In a number of cities in countries of the North and the South, income and habitat inequalities have increased.

This situation is signifying serious social and political conflicts in all parts of the world.

To what and to whom can this failure be attributed? The response varies according to who is responding. According to the private sector and the World Bank, blame should be placed on local and national governments who have over-subsidized the housing sector and services. According to local governments, the market is to blame. According to non-governmental organizations, responsibility lies with urban and social policies-and thus non-governmental organizations are interested in influencing public policy.

Over the last twenty years, the concept of what governments should do to improve urban habitat conditions has changed. Today we find three contradictory concepts. The first is the oldest: that the government should finance and do everything. The second, which is the spearhead of neo-liberal policies, is to leave everything to the free play of market forces. And the third, which has been emerging over the last 20 years is the policy of enablement, a policy supported by certain agencies of the United Nations (UNCHS, UNDP) and some progressive local governments. Many of the experiences studied have taken place within the framework of a facilitating state. Let us look more closely at the lessons to be learned from this context.

The first lesson to be drawn from the experiences studied is that conflicts in some cases, have reflected a greater impact on public policy. In experiences such as the Corales project in Italy, the lack of housing for immigrant workers was the origin of a conflict between the Italian renters’ organization and the government. This conflict was resolved through the creation of the Corales housing cooperative.

In Canada, the Rupert project developed after a fire caused many people to lose their homes. This led to a dynamic of conflict, which was resolved in a way that made it possible to rehabilitate housing. In Mexico City, the ‘Casa Propia’8 housing loan program was the result of a long struggle between the city government and social organizations. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, community self-managed housing production, achieved through a long process of social struggle, managed to have an impact on urban policy: a law proposed by social organizations was approved by the Sao Paulo state government. In two experiences in Western Africa involving conflict (Port Bouet, Ivory Coast and Menontin in Benin), the impact was sectoral, in the areas of urban planning and the legalization of land tenancy.

However, the resolution of conflict is not always sufficient for influencing policy. In Santo Domingo, the relocation of the former inhabitants of an abandoned factory onto their own lots was achieved because of a conflict, but this positive experience remained an exception to the policy of systematic evictions on the part of the Balaguer administration.

Between 40 and 45% of the experiences studied have attempted to influence public policy, meaning that the role of current participatory experiences is still quite marginal. Governmental public policy is subject to influence from five sources, of which participatory experiences represent only one:

  • policy-making within the dominant private sector: this influence is of a political nature.

  • interest groups have an impact on policies: the major private companies operating in construction and service sectors.

  • external influences received through international agencies: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, etc.

  • top-down lobbying on the part of the mass media.

  • successful participatory experiences implemented by non-governmental organizations and social organizations.

This last point explains the marginal role that participatory experiences play in public policy in spite of the efforts of non-governmental organizations.

The case studies made it possible to identify the means and instruments utilized by non-governmental organizations to influence public policy. One strategy, which was broadly employed, was the involvement of governmental officials in the participatory processes through direct, personal relationships. Another means of exerting influence was through governmental officials who had come from a NGOs background or from the social sector. Examples of this are to be found in the experiences studied from the Dominican Republic,9 Chile and Bolivia.10

Non-governmental organizations’ and social organizations’ proposals for local or regional planning were quite successful. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the law proposed by community-based social organizations was approved by the state government and efforts are currently being made to have Congress extend this law to a national level. In Chosica, Lima (Peru), the social organization, with the support of a non-governmental organization, developed a Plan for Urban Ordering which became the central axis of local urban policy.

Some non-governmental organizations have used the power of the mass media to influence policy. Such is the case of the Asamblea de Barrios in Mexico City, which grabbed the attention of the visual and print media through the creation of a mythic character, Superbarrio, dressed like the popular wrestler, in honor of the character so well-known in comic strips and movies. Superbarrio, a social activist, personified the struggle of poor people for a decent habitat.

Another instrument was the institutionalization of -alternative participatory systems on a local or national level. In the Council for Integration in Fortaleza, Brazil, the state government, social organizations and NGOs participate in a process of multilateral dialogue and negotiation. In Western Africa, the primary instrument for NGO participation in policy-making has been the creation of circles for multilateral dialogue; these functions like civil society advisory boards, and include representatives from the municipal government and the de-centralized structures of the State. This was precisely one of the innovative elements found in the experience from Sokoura in the Ivory Coast, where a new local level institution was created in order to carry out a project.

Another example is the UCDO (the Urban Community Development Office) in Thailand where NGOs and grassroots organizations form part of the Board and play a role in the allocation of loans. Others include the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh which loans money to the most impoverished, mainly women and Sulabh in India, which built a system of public latrines in many cities in India to eliminate the infrahuman work of the untouchable scavengers.

In these experiences, institutionalized systems were incorporated into urban policy and their impact was massive. The conclusion is that massive scale experiences have a greater possibility of influencing urban policy than others of a lesser scale. The up-scaling of the projects was an element which facilitated collaboration between the various governmental and non-governmental actors While micro projects facilitated the mobilization of the community on the local level up-scaling implied the involvement of a greater variety of actors and therefore, a greater impact on urban policy.

While the scale of projects played a role in their impact, the size of non-governmental organizations also played a relevant role in the development of a project. In the case of Sokoura in the Ivory Coast the non-governmental organization AFVP (French Volunteer Association for Progress) was able to play an important role in the process of urban development in the Ivory Coast. Their negotiating capacity allowed them to participate in the orientation of urban policies. Also, in India, Sulabh International, created in the early 1970s, is now an important organization involved in sanitation policy in various cities in India.

Political change on the party level is a factor, which can also limit or facilitate the impact of participatory experiences of collaboration with local governments. For example, in the experience of the Corales Housing Cooperative in Padua, Italy, when a new party came to power on the local level, doors were opened. In Colombia, the conquest of political power in the city of Ibagué made it possible to initiate a participatory process of social housing production. Also in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the influence of party policy on the social movement is a determining factor: through alliances, groups manage to strengthen the social movement, and thus, their negotiating power with the State Thus, political parties can play a role both in local governments as well as in community-based organizations. For example, in Latin America social organizations receive support from opposition parties. This directly influences their relationships with the State, as in the case of Mexico City.

At times, processes are blocked by central or regional levels of government, thus limiting their impact. Such was the case in Port Bouet in the Ivory Coast, where the process of de-centralization is just barely underway.

As Diego Carrion put it:11 “The thousands and thousands of experiences throughout the world, such as those we have studied show us that social progress is possible, unleashing authentic processes and influencing public policy”. However, much remains to be done. Many of the experiences studied had no impact whatsoever on public policy, as in the case of the experiences from Zambia Tanzania, Kenya and India (the Reconstruction Programme MEERP) and Honduras.

In spite of all of this, we must recognize that the experiences studied seek to activate processes, which are not limited to the time line of the particular project. If we speak of projects or experiences occurring within a limited time frame, it is difficult to measure their political impact. But if we choose to look at processes, then it is possible to observe forms of political interaction, as in the case of the longer-term experiences such as the Grameen Bank (15 years), the Kampungs Improvement Programme (KIP) in Indonesia (17 years) or the experience Of Sulabh in India (25 years).

Various of the massive level experiences analyzed laid bare the myth that poor people cannot be subjects of credit for housing. In South Africa, the uTshani Buyakhuluma (The Grass Speaks) Revolving Fund, implemented by the South African Homeless People’s Federation, involved more than 13,500 members of the Federation. In Asia, the experience of the Grameen Bank proved that poor people could offer social guarantees by assuming their responsibilities collectively. With the Grameen Bank, the amount of the loan is not determined by the Bank but by the community. The decision-making process occurs on the grassroots level, while in a conventional bank, such decisions are made by loan administrators. The UCDO (Urban Community Development Office) in Bangkok was created .by the Thai government to provide credit to community groups. Since its beginnings in 1992, the UCDO has attended 111 community groups representing more than 7900 families. In the Philippines the Community Mortgage Programme, created in 1988 to enable low- income people to have access to land, has benefited more than 90,000 families.

III. New Models of Action and Cooperation

During the last 15-20 years, four major phenomena in the field of human settlements have influenced the development of new models of governmental/non-governmental cooperation:

  • The first is the establishment of National Housing Strategies by the 145 governments, 55 established new shelter policies or strategies, especially after the “Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000” proposed by the United Nations in 1988. A number of the participatory experiences included in our study are from 55 countries: i.e: Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

  • The second is the priority given by governments to participatory programs for urban improvement (upgrading). Among them, we find primarily the Kampungs Improvement Programme in Indonesia, the IHA/UDP program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Bauleni project in Zambia and the Sokoura experience in the Ivory Coast.

  • The third is the growing attention being directed towards reducing discrimination against women in urban development programs. This has made it possible for projects such as the Dalifort project in Dakar, Senegal, the Dodoma project in Tanzania and the Water and Development project in Quito, Ecuador to be implemented with a strong presence of women.

  • The fourth is the increase in movements and campaigns in defense of the right to housing, including the pressure being exerted on governments by the members of the Habitat International Coalition and by the United Nations bodies dealing with Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. We have studied some cases directly related to this theme, such as that of Pantojas, Dominican Republic, the Corales project in Italy, and the experiences of organizations working with the homeless in Massachusetts, in the United States. The following lessons can be drawn from a review of the experiences studied:

    The concept of cooperation does not necessarily imply alliances among two or more actors. A non-governmental organization can cooperate with a local government on a common project without this implying an alliance between the two. An alliance implies a position of a strategic nature. There are various types of alliances: for example, a non-governmental organization can develop an alliance with the central government in order to obtain more resources. It cans also ally itself with the private sector behind the government’s back in order to reduce taxes. The alliance is a strategic one among two actors for an immediate common benefit.

On the other hand, cooperation is a way of working which implies partnership among various actors. In the experiences studied, we found processes of cooperation and partnership, but rarely did we find alliances, except for those made between non-governmental organizations and social organizations in which the alliance, a strategic one, is generally developed in order to increase negotiating power with the government. Such is the case with the Dominican Republic (between COPADEBA and Ciudad Alternativa), in South Africa (between the South African Homeless People’s Federation and People’s Dialogue) and in Mexico (between Casa y Ciudad and Asamblea de Barrios). Sometimes non-governmental organizations emerge out of social organizations, as in the cases of Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and this explains the alliance between the two.

Partnerships between different actors may have different goals: service provision, intervention in processes, policy formulation. In these models, non-governmental organizations intervene in negotiations or in the interface between the government and social organizations. In Latin America, 90% of non-governmental organizations are of this nature. Also, some social movements participate in governmental negotiations which have a high degree of political content, as was the case in a number of the Latin American experiences. The partnership implies cooperation among partners, but many times the relationships, or even the partnership itself are the result of negotiations.

When we speak of local governments, many times other higher levels of government are at work within the same experience. Partnerships may be complex and involve other actors such as the private sector. Thus, negotiations can involve various interests.

The type of partnership also depends upon the political context and the negotiating abilities of the non-governmental organization. In contexts where the authoritarianism of the government is a prevalent factor, alliances between organizations and the government are unlikely. In this case, relations with the government are generally conflictive. We find this to be the case in the Philippines, Indonesia11 and Mexico City.12 Depending upon the country, the region or the municipality, the political context influences the kind of relationship, which may develop between non-governmental organizations and governments. Thus, for example, the work of social and non-governmental organizations within the political realm is more visible in Latin America than in Asia or Africa. However, lobbying for political change is not the same as seeking changes in policy; the first does not necessarily imply the second. Non-governmental organizations and social organizations are working for the second, especially in Latin America and Asia.

Based on Meera Mehta’s global analysis (see chapter 3) we recognize five different models of partnership:

The most common (11 of 34 cases) are partnerships, which develop out of projects promoted by non-governmental organizations. Here we are dealing with small projects, on the scale of a neighborhood or a group of inhabitants. These projects (at times called “pilot projects”) have little impact on public policy. Collaboration involves a limited number of actors-NGOs, social organizations and the respective local government. These projects are generally highly subsidized. (Examples: Pantojas, Sukkur, Hamdallaye, Namibia, Rupert, etc.)

The second model identified by Mehta is a massive project initiated by a governmental agency. In this case, the government takes the initiative and seeks the services of NGOs. Here we are dealing with large scale we find models of this type in all continents: the re-insertion program in Colombia, the project involving the re-construction of social infrastructure in Mozambique, the Kampungs Improvement Programme (KIP) in Indonesia.

The third model is marked by the institutionalization of alternative systems involving the collaboration of representatives of NGOs, community-based organizations and the government. This model has been developed more in Asia than in other continents. As in the case of the former model, the impact here is massive. Some alternative systems were created by the initiative of non-governmental organizations (Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and Sulabh in India, the Communities Program in Brazil), others were created by governmental actors (UCDO in Thailand).

The fourth model is to be found on the municipal level, and involves a very close relationship of cooperation between the non-governmental organization and the municipality. The experience is sustainable although it is not massive: the model continues to be viable even when there are changes in the municipal government. This model can be found on all continents (Naga City, Philippines; Dalifort, Senegal; Dodoma, Tanzania; Chosica-Lima, Peru; Deventer, Holland). The fifth model identified is a partnership, which seeks to formulate macro level policy. Few experiences conformed to this model, although we are dealing with experiences in which NGOs have assumed an important role. This is the case with the People’s Dialogue in South Africa, where an NGO together with a social organization managed to influence housing credit policy. Another example involves the organizations working with the homeless in Massachusetts in the United States.

Independently of the particular model, it seems that successful partnerships almost always took place on a significant scale and were sustainable. The scale of an experience could serve as an indicator for measuring its impact. The criterion of sustainability13 also appears to be fundamental for success. Another key criterion was the presence of activities complementary to the housing program (resource generation, health, etc.); training programs and exchange have been very positive and have contributed to the success of a number of experiences, especially in English-speaking Africa and Asia.

In most cases, the experiences studied occurred within a context tending towards neo-liberalism, the privatization of services and limited participation on the part of inhabitants. Nevertheless, non-governmental organizations have developed connections with local and national governments through participatory experiences, and this has contributed towards the construction of democracy.

Non-governmental organizations have had to play new roles in accord with changes in their political and economic contexts. Their roles have ranged from the traditional role of technical support for a community to technical assistance for local governments. They have played the role of “facilitator” between governments and community-based organizations. They have had to increase their professionalism to the degree that they are now often competitive with municipal technical services or private companies providing similar services. Certain NGOs have begun to function as companies (Sulabh, India, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh), while others have participated actively in the heart of institutionalized systems such as the UCDO in Thailand and the Community Mortgage Programme in the Philippines.

As in the rest of the world, we see in the countries of the North a strong tendency towards neo-liberalism since the 1980s, which has signified serious changes in social policy, most particularly in housing policy.14

The experiences studied in the countries of the North (Italy, Holland. United States and Canada) show that social processes there are similar to those in the rest of the world. Although the social housing construction sector is still important both in Europe as well as in Canada, participatory experiences still occur only on a small scale. In Canada as in Italy, a cooperative movement is present, although it has not yet developed on a massive level. In Europe, organizations, which bring together promoters of social housing15, have a greater impact (on the housing sector) than the great number of participatory experiences, which have emerged in a sporadic fashion. These umbrella organizations are able to lobby before the European housing ministers in their periodic meetings. In Europe, it seems that NGOs have established relations of cooperation primarily with local governments, while very few such relations exist on a national or supranational level; in the United States some non-governmental organizations have managed to form a coalition and work on a national level to have an impact on public policy.

As Diego Carrion states in his conclusions: to live well in the city is to be part of a yet-to-be-constructed Utopia. In this Utopia, will we have to substitute equality for equity? These 34 participatory experiences form part of this yet-to-be-constructed Utopia, and all point towards equity. Another question, which emerged, is whether or not the State is tending to evolve from a territorial State to a State based on a population. The tremendous number of migrants, refugees, landless peasants, etc., are causing the State to lose its territorial base, and thus to control populations rather than territory. A similar phenomenon is taking place with the transnational corporations, which recognize the global market as their only territory.

However, in contrast to these evolutionary tendencies, all the experiences studied are rooted in a defined territory-a neighborhood, a city, or a region. How can participatory processes be understood within this context? Might they not represent a force opposed to the de-territorialization of the State and the globalization of the economy?

IV. Proposals

Decentralization of the State and governability

Proposals designed for local and national governments

1. The decentralization of power
In the process of decentralization, it is normal to transfer only a part of the following powers:

  • decisions

  • resources and financing

  • technical capacity.
    In order to carry out their mission to the fullest, local governments need all and every one of these three types of power.

2. Strengthen local autonomy
With decentralization, the crucial point is the strengthening of local power. Thus, it is necessary to strengthen the processes needed in order to increase negotiating capacity and the participatory planning of local governments.

3. Improve the capacity of local governments through the principle of association
Public action is strengthened by means of cooperation with non- governmental players. It is necessary to generalize the principles of association with non-governmental organizations and organized citizen’s groups.

4. Create and apply various types of instruments
For the application of public policy various types of instruments are needed, depending on the different cases and their contexts. Not all of these instruments have the same role: financial instruments permit access to land and a roof over the heads of the poorest members of society by providing the possibility of receiving credit or loans; legal instruments create a judicial space to promote the social production of housing; operative instruments permit the different governmental and non-governmental players to meet in order to establish a dialogue and make decisions within an institutional structure; the instruments of participation open spaces for all of those non-governmental players to be able to act and have influence on urban policies.

5. Widen the perspectives of ONG/Governmental cooperation
The incorporation of a new perspective in the relationship between ONG/Government that focuses on local governmental programs and the processes of democratic negotiation for the cities, would make possible the achievement of what would be considered good.

Proposals designed for grassroots organizations

6. Open up the core groups to dialogue
The core groups are always strengthened by dialogue with their governments. It is necessary to increase their autonomy and their internal democracy by recognizing their role as urban players and by training their representatives.

Proposals designed for non-governmental agencies

7. Strengthen methodological outlines of NGOs
Within the framework of decentralization, the role of the NGOs is heterogeneous. It is necessary to strengthen the methodological outlines of the NGOs and establish strategic alliances between the NGOs and the core groups.

8. The documentation of tools and instruments
Based on the experiences GO-NGO project, it is necessary to document the tools and instruments, which are effective for the application of urban policies.

9. The monitoring of governmental policies
The follow up and monitoring of public policies, which most facilitate the access of the poorest segments of society to land, and housing should be carried out by non-governmental organizations at the regional or national level.

The impact of participatory experiences on public policies

Proposals designed for local and national government

1. Harmonize housing policies (at the European level)
At the European interstate level, there is a need for a harmonization of housing policies in that the differences existing in housing policies have grown considerably during the decades of the 1970s and 1980s The participatory experiences carried out in many European countries could contribute to this harmonization.

2. The inclusion of matters concerning exclusion and social discrimination
The question of exclusion and social discrimination are processes that should receive more attention in the elaboration of housing policies especially in Northern countries.

3. Create adequate legislation relative to land and housing
The creation of an adequate legislation relative to land and housing especially in Asian countries, would permit a strengthening of the impact of participatory experiences on urban policies.

4. Create enabling policies
Governments require enabling policies and a favorable institutional context where they can develop good relationships with the players in matters of informal human settlements.

5. Promote a law to enable participation
A law to develop participation would permit the recognition of participation as an economic value; a value that sprang from the people and that should return 16.
Proposals designed for non-governmental organizations

6. Involve the communities in projects
It has always been the case that when non-governmental organizations have involved the communities in their projects a better result has been achieved.

7. First act, then influence policy
Non-governmental organizations do not simply have to wait for governments to apply enabling policies; it is better for them to first act with social organizations, developing instruments and systems, which can later influence public policies. Some public policies applied by governments grow out of the experiences developed by non-governmental agencies.

8. Multiply mass experiences
The multiplication of experiences that tend to widen the scale of projects in sectors, which traditionally were not within the scope of non-governmental agencies, has a great influence on public policies.

Proposals designed for financial institutions

9. Criteria for the designation of funding
The presence of organized community participation could be a basic criteria for the designation of funding for projects or programs carried out by non-governmental organizations that receive subsidies from financial organizations.

New models for action and cooperation

Proposals designed for governments

10 Create Independent organizational structures

The creation of independent organizational structure with the participation of governments and non-governmental organizations on the Board of Directors is a guarantee of a permanent, long range lasting effect for all that has been achieved, in spite of political changes which could arise.

11 Put in practice a bottom-up approach

The bottom-up approach motivates and mobilizes communities and organized social groups more than any other. It should be strongly recommended and used within the framework of NGO/Governmental cooperation experiences.


1 Published by the United Nations Center on Human Settlements (UNCHS) under the title, An Urbaniimg World: Globil Riport on Human Settlements. 1996. Oxford University Press, 1996.
2 Between 1973 and 1990. The number of governments classified as ‘democratic’ hat risen from 30 to 59 while those classified as ‘non-democratic” fell from 12 to 71. (Source: Global Report on Human Settlements. op.cit.).
3 See: Cooperer en restart soi. Synlhese regionale en Afrique de 1’Ouesl, Malick Gaye/Pierre Echard, HIC/ENDAT.M., 1996.
4 Law 1551, adopted April 20, 1994 and modified July 17, 1996.
5 See: New Trends lor Government-NGO Relationships in Asia: A Review of Case Studies,Meera Mehta, HIC. 1996.
6 See: A global review of case studies from five regions. Meera Mehta, HIC, 1997
7 Source: Global Report on Human Settlements, op.cit.
8 Housing Loan Program for buying rental housing
9 the current Secretary of Housing is also a member of the Urban Forum, a network of NGOs.
10 In Bolivia, members of the government come from the NGO sector
11 See Re-Thinking Housing Production: time for responsible co-responsibility, Diego Carrion. HIC, 1997.
11 In Indonesia, the authoritarian regime of General Suharto absolutely denies the possibility of any opening up to democracy.
12 The mayorship o’ Mexico City will not be an elected position until 1997.
projects, usually on a national level. A number of actors can participate and collaborate: non-governmental organizations, social groups, local governments, de-centralized agencies of the government, etc.
13 One of the lessons from English-speaking Africa was that the NGO-government partnership could become sustainable if there could be the possibility of continuous, long-term relationships with governmental officials.
14 In England, the production of social sector rental housing has fallen from 140.000 in 1977 to 31,000 in 1992. (Source- Global Report on Human Settlements, op.cit.)
15 One such example is CECODHAS, the European Committee (or the Coordination of Social Habitat, which brings together the federations of construction agencies and housing promoters involved in social sector housing from 15 countries in the European Union.
16 The law number 1551 of Popular Participation put into effect on April 20, 1994 in Bolivia is an example of a government’s willingness to cooperate.