Saleh Ahmed – Inclusive governance strategy for urban services delivery: A case analysis from a medium sized city in a low income developing country
The urban politics in low income developing countries is very much precarious in nature. Improper institutional capacity and insufficient resources usually result in bad management outputs and influence the quality of life. Poor people are the main victims of this situation. This paper highlights the effective role of peoples’ initiatives and their involvements for framing an innovative and locally adaptable service design in context of a medium sized city in a low income developing country.
Cities are now the home of almost half of the world population. Within the next thirty years, most of the 2-billion-person increase in global population is expected to occur in cities and towns in developing countries. By thinking about an urban millennium, it is perhaps normal to imagine a world where everyone is living like mega cities or capital cities like Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Dhaka, Mumbai or Lagos. Surely large cities will play a significant role in absorbing the future anticipated growth. But despite popular images to the contrary, a large portion of urban population growth will take place in far smaller cities and towns. (Cohen, 2008) This phenomenal change is particularly significant for the urban people in low income developing countries, because they are extremely underprivileged in many senses. However, effective governance is a prerequisite to manage this phenomenal urban transformation.
In low income developing countries, there is a common similarity. Their development finances and investments are focused primarily on the megacities and capital cities; because the megacities or the capital cities are the centers of their economics and politics. Scenarios in Bangladesh are also similar in nature and in patterns. Since its independence in 1971, Dhaka became the center for all development initiatives during all political and military regimes. Therefore, the urban management in other smaller cities got always less priority, it was even frequently over-looked.
On the other hand, the dramatic pace of demographic, economic and social changes severely overburdened the capacities of local authorities in every medium sized city. It was mainly a question of management, which calls for active cooperations between government agencies and infrastructure users as well as private sector actors. Beneficiary contributions to development projects, informal processes of service improvements, and peoples’ co-operation in service delivery management are all forms of user participation.
Public Private Participation (PPP) is popularly considered as an alternative to full privatization, in which government and private companies assume co-responsibility and co-ownership for the delivery of city services. (Ahmed & Ali, 2004) In reality, partnership between the two sectors is not easy to achieve. Certain enabling environment is necessary to promote trust and collateral working relationships.
Therefore in the context of many low income countries, PPP can be defined as a mutual trust and collateral working relationship between public and private sectors for the construction of public infrastructure or the delivery of a public service in which resources, risks and responsibilities are shared among all stakeholders. (Perez-Ludena, 2009) It is a sustained collaborative effort between the public sector and the private sector to achieve a common objective while both players pursue their own individual interests. (Pessoa, 2008) In ideal situations, each partner shares the responsibility and has access to the different phases of planning, management and implementation. So there should be some forms of legitimate interactions. This could be an agreement on specific objectives as well as division of labour for achieving the overall goals.
In many parts of the world, PPP is also a troublesome venture. (Perez-Ludena, 2009) It is also not very different in the case of Bangladesh. But through a legitimate interaction, it is possible to promote an inclusive strategy for promoting municipal services delivery capacity. This paper highlights a locally adaptable PPP model as an evidence of innovative service design for Khulna City, which is a medium sized city Bangladesh.
Municipal solid waste management
Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) includes all phases of waste collection, recycling, treatment and disposal. All activities pertaining to the control, collection, transportation, processing and disposal of those in accordance with the best principles of public health, economics, engineering, conservation, aesthetics and other environmental considerations. It also includes all the procedures from the source and the final disposal, which should not have any harmful impact on the environment or at least environmental impact that could be integrated by any physical, technical, or social activities. This management however includes all attendant administrative, financial, legal and engineering functions. (Rahman, 2005)
Figure 1. Location of Khulna City
The area: Khulna City Corporation (KCC)
Khulna is a medium size city in the context of Bangladesh, even though it has a population of more than 1 million people and the population growth rate is around 5% per year. The area is approximately 70 sq. km and the low-income households are approximately 30%. Khulna was declared as a municipality in 1884. It achieved its status as a City Corporation after another hundred years in 1984. However, initial industrialization took place during the 1960s. (Ahmed, 2002)
Characteristics of KCC’s solid waste
Private households are the primary sources of municipal solid waste in KCC area. Almost 80% of waste comes from domestic sources and includes organic, inorganic non-hazardous and inorganic hazardous waste. (Salequzzaman et.al., 2005)
Figure 2. Sources of generated solid waste in KCC
Source: Salequzzaman et.al. (2005)
The key characteristics of solid waste vary according to spatial locations, level of incomes and standard of living of the households, energy sources and consumption as well as depending on seasons and occasions. The quantity of waste generation increases during the rainy season when many people eat vegetables and fruits such as mangoes and jackfruits. (Murtaza, 2001) Like many other medium sized cities in low income countries, KCC is also not capable enough to provide adequate services to its residents due to financial and administrative constraints. It appears in many forms. In local context, sometimes it happens for not providing the sufficient number of roadside dustbins and sometimes the spatial locations of those dustbins are unfavourable for the dwellers. Improper structural design of any specific dustbin could be another cause of problem.
Figure 3. Conventional waste collection system in KCC
Source: WSP-South Asia (2000)
Sometimes activities related to solid waste disposal from other organizations/bodies are not properly linked or mainstreamed with KCC’s activities. Simultaneously the people (waste pickers) who are involved in collection and disposal of solid waste don’t follow the standard hygienic practices. (Murtaza, 2001)
So a more collaborative and inclusive governance strategy was badly necessary. However, where multiple actors operate, a clear framework is needed, providing clear and stable rules of powers, functions and resources. In practice, these are often unclear, contested and unpredictable. Problems arise very frequently, where multi purpose non-elected development agencies cross-cut the functions of local government, seize local resources or assets, and impose maintenance costs for installed infrastructure without local accountability. In most of these cases, public agencies lack the capacity to coordinate the variety of private, NGOs and CBOs (Community Based Organizations) actors to achieve policy objectives.
Therefore, further discourse comes to the front. Who could be involved in partnership process for a community based participatory solid waste management in the KCC area? However, there is always a probability in developing countries to marginalize the important groups or stakeholders, bias results and jeopardize long-term viability and support for the process within the framework of PPP.
Every citizen in a Municipality is an urban basic service user. With regard to residential users, it is common to refer to “community participation” in service delivery activities. It is important to note that the basic unit of decision-making and action regarding basic services provision is always an individual or in practical terms a household. In addition to residences, service users include private enterprises and institutions.
Development of participation matrix
To analyze exactly who could be involved in inclusive governance framework in promoting urban service delivery in a medium sized city like Khulna, a participatory matrix was envisioned considering the level of concerns, involvements and legislative issues.
Some logical sequences were followed. The initial task was to identify the possible major interest groups or stakeholders who were concerned about KCC governance. Nirala Neighbourhood Area is part of KCC jurisdiction. For promoting inclusive governance, the potential partners were NJKS (Nirala Janakallayan Shamity; local civil society group), KCC, Nobarun (local NGO), school, madrasha (religious school) and mashjid (religious center). Then ten relevant indicators were selected to identify the possible status quo of service delivery and management in NNA context. After the initial assessment, attempts were made to identify and evaluate other indicators based on people’s choice. Here someone could add or replace the indicators recommended based on their judgments.
Grading ranges from point 1 to 5. 1 indicates the situation as Very Poor (Something is drastically wrong), 2 indicates the situation as Poor (More commitment and effort needed), 3 is Fair (Can do much better), 4 is Good (But still room to improve) and 5 points goes for very good or very relevant. In the following matrix, the numbers were assigned during the empirical study by the group discussion (e.g., through a workshop process) with the local residents.
Table 1. Participation Matrix
|Eagerness to participate|
|Adequacy of rules and regulations|
|Transparency of budget formulation, revenue, and expenditure|
|Access to information and process|
|Mechanisms to determine the needs and aspirations of residents|
|Adequacy to budget allocation for basic services|
|Use of mass media for public consensus building|
|Collection of taxes, revenues and service charges|
|Concern regarding municipal service promotion|
|Social acceptance regarding awareness building|
From the above matrix we can see, even though different agencies and interest groups have commendable influence on inclusive governance, nevertheless public authority can still play the key role. In the context of low income developing countries, there is a growing tendency among different international agencies, governments and private sectors for giving less priority to the public sectors regarding local development. Among the people of developing countries, there is also a tendency to think that full privatization could be the panacea of everything. But to make development sustainable and long lasting, the local government should be empowered and more prioritized; because the development will take place locally and public agencies are more effective and of the highest legitimacy in making the changes comprehensively. This above mentioned participation matrix also shows that KCC has a big role in managing solid waste in NNA. So the argument is to improve the situation only with the help of NJKS or Nobarun (NGO) is not valid and realistic. In the context of Bangladesh, KCC has the biggest role to play for designing and structuring inclusive governance strategy for better urban service delivery. Therefore, institutional capacity building of local public agencies could be one of the vital issues of any innovative design of service delivery.
As a medium sized city in low income developing country, Khulna was always underprivileged in gaining government’s investment and proper attention. Quality of Living (QoL) was always unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, through this type of holistic approach of participation, the communal cohesion has been significantly enhanced in the last few years. Along with increasing social interactions, employment opportunities for the poor people through involvement at different phases have also improved. By this adopted governance framework, the urban management and governance is not any more a nightmare for KCC authorities. Consequently, the mutual trust between the citizens and the public authority has tremendously improved. This partnership model is very fundamental basis for managing any future crisis; e.g., cyclones and floods.
Development should be bottom-up. Consensus building in the developing countries is increasingly common as a way to search feasible, effective and inclusive strategies to deal with urban uncertain, controversial planning and policy tasks. It could be seen as a strategy for dealing with conflicts for diversified urban interests, where other practices have failed.
- Ahmed, S.A and Ali, M. (2004). Partnerships for solid waste management in developing countries: linking theories to realities. Habitat International. 28, 467-479.
- Ahmed, S. (2002). Promoting Selected Municipal Services through Peoples’ Participation: A Case Study of Nirala Neighbourhood Area. Unpublished Bachelor of Urban and Rural Planning (B.U.R.P) Dissertation, Khulna University at Khulna.
- Cohen, B. (2004).Small cities, big problems. Issues in Science and Technology. Spring.
- Murtaza, M.G. (2001). Solid Waste Management in Khulna City. Plan Plus. 1 (1), 5-12.
- Perez-Ludena, M. (2009). Towards a New Model of PPPs: can Public Private Partnerships Deliver Basic Services to the Poor? UNESCAP; UNESCAP Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division: Bangkok, Working Paper WP/09/01.
- Pessoa, A. (2008). Public–Private Partnerships In Developing Countries: Are Infrastructures Responding To The New Oda Strategy? Journal of International Development. 20, 311–325
- Rahman, M.M. et.al. (2005). People’s Perception of the Existing Solid Waste Management of Khulna City Corporation (KCC) Area: A Case Study of Participatory Management. National Workshop for REGA and CDM Awareness Building & Motivation sponsored by the ADB PREGA Project; Khulna.
- Salequzzaman, M. et.al. (2005). Integrated and Sustainable Solid Waste Management in Khulna City Corporation (KCC), Bangladesh: A Zero Dumping Strategy by Recycling and Composting; Seminar on World Environment Day 2005; Khulna.
- Water and Sanitation – South Asia. (2000). Community Based Pilot Project on Solid Waste Management in Khulna City, World Bank Bangladesh.
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