The case concerns an interesting example of an institutionalized form of cooperation between the residents, the municipality, a local community-support organization and other organizations such as housing associations, elderly and education centres with the aim of achieving the improvement and maintenance of the physical and socio-economic living environment in the neighborhoods in Deventer. Deventer is a middle-sized municipality located in the Eastern part of The Netherlands. The municipality has some 70,000 inhabitants.
The Deventer neighbourhood approach is basically an approach for community-based neighborhood management1. It was developed by Raster Foundation, a local community-support organization. In 1992, the approach was adopted by the municipality for neighborhood management in the whole city.
The development of the approach was initiated to respond on a continuous basis and in an adequate manner to changing needs, priorities and problems of residents of a neighbourhood. The approach builds strongly on grassroots involvement in the identification of the needs, priorities and problems as well as in tackling these. The evolved approach is cyclical and well structured.
The Deventer neighborhood approach has similarities with approaches to neighborhood management elsewhere in The Netherlands In Deventer, however, the approach is better developed and is strongly anchored institutionally.
Conclusions and recommendations
The case of the Deventer neighbourhood approach illustrates a way in which the government, NGOs and people can cooperate in neighbourhood management. A cooperation, which is rooted in residents’ potentials (creativity, resources and skills) to develop creative solutions for (often long-standing) problems in the various neighbourhoods. Many governments all over the world are faced with a similar type of situation. In dealing more adequately with problems, not only in the field of neighbourhood management, partnerships are required between the government, residents and NGOs and these should be rooted in the potentials of residents themselves in tackling problems.
The case clearly highlights that such partnerships can take shape when there is a willingness to work in a participatory manner towards a mutually shared objective, when an institutional basis is developed which really supports the intended partnership and when the capacity and capability of the actors involved are developed to support actors to work together in the intended manner. It is these conditions which are considered crucial in establishing any successful cooperation between the government, residents and NGOs.
The case of the Deventer neighbourhood approach may therefore serve as an illustrative and useful example for those in search of models of cooperation between governmental and non-governmental organizations.
1- Neighborhood management in this context refers to the maintenance and redevelopment of housing and infrastructure in a neighborhood, but also comprises activities directed at improving the social, cultural and economic situation of residents such as fostering social cohesion and integration and employment generation. It is important to note that during the high-days of urban renewal in The Netherlands the emphasis was on an improving the housing conditions. Little attention was paid to the wider issues of neighborhood management.