Möller (2019). From Exclusion to Inclusion: The Understanding, Capacity, and Will to Change Local Government Practices

In a recently published book by Springer: ”New Urban Agenda in Asia-Pacific” learnings from local democracy work within the work of ICLD is highlighted in a chapter written by Björn Möller, Quality Assurance Manager.

Local governments’ proximity to the citizens, and their understanding of the specific needs of the communities they govern, allow them to play a potentially central role in creating inclusive societies. Local governments are already implementing relevant measures, and several are cooperating with other local governments, globally, in this endeavour. Drawing on cases of municipal partnerships between local governments in Sweden and Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as on development projects led by participants in training programmes supported by the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD), this chapter highlights the importance of mobilizing broad support, raising awareness for reform initiatives, and strengthening local government capacity. The projects studied also highlight the value of partnerships, not only for generating new ideas and knowledge, but also for reform initiatives to gain added momentum from being part of global development agendas such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda.

You can find more information about the book and purchase it HERE.

(open source)

Cheema (2020). Governance for Urban Services in Asia

Governance for Urban Services – Access, Participation, Accountability and Transparency, a book supported by ICLD funding, has recently been published by Springer. Edited by Shabbir Cheema, PhD, the book examines the process through which marginalized groups including migrants and minorities participate in local decision-making and the extent to which they benefit from services and facilities provided by the government, civil society and the private sector. The book builds on studies and surveys in Asia that are parts of the collaborative research project on Urban Governance for Inclusive Development: Political and Social Inclusion in Asian Cities, funded by ICLD. Shabbir Cheema, Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School and a former member of ICLD Advisory Group, edited the publication. Below he shares his thoughts on the project:

The book examines three vital issues in democratization and urbanization: the institutional structures and processes of urban local governance; their outcomes in relation to low-income groups’ access to services, citizen participation, accountability of local leaders and officials and transparency in local governance; and the factors that influence the access to urban services, especially for the poor and marginalized groups. It describes views of the residents of slums on the effectiveness of government programmes and innovations in inclusive local governance and access to services. It also presents policy implications.

This collaborative research project has been a professionally rewarding experience for me because of my passion for a two-pronged approach to promote inclusive cities – people vote (local democracy), and people need access to shelter and services (local development). ICLD recognized the significance of this approach and provided seed money to fund studies in India, Indonesia and Vietnam and organized a regional workshop. The Advisory Committee and the ICLD team provided useful comments for the study design. The scope of the study was expanded by me with support from East-West Center, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, national research institutions in Asia, United Nations, and Harvard Kennedy School. A distinguished group of scholars and practitioners from developing and developed countries prepared case studies of cities, surveys of households in slums, regional and conceptual reviews, and analyses of factors that contribute to improved access and inclusive local governance.

The book would be useful for scholars, students and practitioners of democratic local governance, service delivery and access in cities, urban management and decentralization. Specifically, it would be of interest to the ICLD teams including the municipal partnerships and international training programmes in terms of situation analysis, participation and transparency, innovations and good practices, and access to services for the urban poor, women and minorities. World-known scholars have praised the book as “an incisive guide for policymakers and activists” and, “a vital contribution to bridging gaps between theory and practice”.

Shabbir Cheema, Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

Urbanization provides opportunities but brings also major repercussions, and many mega-cities and medium-sized cities must cope with the negative impact that is related to rapid population growth. It is a local dynamic that can contribute to economic development that can bring people out of poverty, but development must be brought onto sustainable paths and create equal opportunities for people; failure to do so leads to what is described in this book as an increasing incidence of urban poverty and inequity, deteriorating quality of the urban environment and unequal access to basic urban services. Decisions relating to infrastructure, water, schools and other issues where responsibility lies at the local level must be made through people’s own participation and influence. Therefore, it is a challenge to create forms of influence and responsibility in a way that ensures broad confidence in civically anchored local and regional governments.

You can find more information about the book and purchase it HERE.

20 years of partnership – Nelson Mandela bay municipality and Gotheburg city

This booklet is a record of important work done during the twenty-year partnership between City of Gothenburg in Sweden and Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in South Africa from 1999 to 2019. This booklet complements two previous publications: 10 Years of Development Cooperation – The Urban Development Programme 1996-2007 and Swedish-South African Cooperation and Partnership/Friendship – Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa/Gothenburg Sweden – produced in 2008.

The work would not have been possible without contributions and support from past and present Partnership Management Committee members, Partnership Coordinators, Project Leaders and Project Team members in both cities. In addition, there are many other role-players from the projects and partnership that added perspective and richness to the work done by the cities and which have influenced this booklet.

Sida has supported and funded the partnership since its inception through various agencies. Without the historical support and current financial support and encouragement from the International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD) this booklet could not have been produced.

Vargas & Valencia (2019). Beyond state regulation of informality: understanding access to public space by street vendors in Bogotá

Selling goods and providing services in public spaces is one of the most accessible occupations for many urban poor. However, use of public space for such occupations is often prohibited by local regulations, excluding street vendors from legally using this space for their survival. While significant research has been devoted to state efforts to control informality, less is known about the everyday governance of street vendors. This article examines how unorganised street vendors regulate access to public space among themselves. We also analyse the contestation and negotiations between state and street vendors. The article is based on a study of street vendors in Bogotá, Colombia. We argue that informal street vendors do not operate in chaos, instead the ‘quiet encroachment’ of public space is governed by nonhierachical informal social control mechanisms. Our findings call for a reconsideration of regulations about urban informal activities and public spaces.

Some Key Points for Local Governments:

  • Local governments should change the focus of their policies from eradication to inclusion of street vendors.
  • Any policy should depart from a deep understanding of the socio-economic conditions that push thousands of urban dwellers to the streets in search of a living.
  • This article suggest that planning processes should support the survival efforts of the poor and vulnerable groups, rather than using state control that hinders and excludes these groups.

This article concludes that in an ever more urbanised world in which informal jobs, like street vending are one of the few forms of survival for vulnerable groups, alternatives forms of self-regulation are needed to generate a more inclusive and realistic mode of urban planning.

Published by: International Development Planning Review. 41 (1): 85–105.

Political and Social Inclusion in Asian Cities – Indonesia Case Study

This study examines the relationships between local democracy and the barriers to political and social inclusion of marginalized communities in two cities, Bandung as an example of metropolitan city, and Surakarta to give the perspective of a middle-sized city.

The research questions are:

  • what are the barriers to political and social inclusion of the marginalized groups in cities
  • to what extent and how are the marginalized groups engaged in mechanisms and processes of local democracy
  • what are the policy options, innovations and good practices to meet the needs and aspirations of marginalized groups and contribute to the achievement of SDG 11?

Since Indonesia has implemented decentralization reforms, basic service delivery is carried out by local governments. The central government primarily facilitates local government with funding and policies such as slum improvements and financial support for the poor. A central theme in both central government policies and local government programs is the empowerment of marginalized communities of both their mindset and skills to earn their own money.

The respondents in both cities actively participate in local democracy. They often – actively and voluntarily – vote in community-level leadership elections. In both cities, female participation in public affairs is high and women have an equal role to men. Newcomers are also generally considered to fully participate in public affairs. The high level of participation seems limited to local government levels. On the city level, only half of the respondents know about development plans and hardly anyone is aware of city budget discussions.

Political and Social Inclusion in Asian Cities – Vietnam Case Study

After its Renovation policy (or Doi Moi) with market-oriented reforms initiated in 1986, Vietnam has been one of the fastest growing Asian economies, with the annual growth rate fluctuating around 6 – 7 per cent for the past 30 years. The country has also been considered as a successful model for fulfilling Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with particular regard to poverty reduction. However, despite such achievements, Vietnam still faces many problems in terms of the quality of growth, sustainable investment and social protection of vulnerable populations, who have been left behind Vietnam’s successful stories. 

One important consequence of the overall economic growth has been the increase in domestic migration. Nationwide, 13.6% of the population are migrants, of which the migration rate of the population aged 15 to 59 is 17.3% (UNFPA, 2016). Increasing migration reflects not only economic growth but also important regional socioeconomic disparities, particularly between the cities and the countryside, and the growing labour market in large cities and the expanding industrial zones. Up to 19.7% of the urban population are migrants, while in rural areas it stays at 13.4%. 79.1% of migrants originate in rural areas, while the rest (20.9%) have urban origins. The urbanization rate continues to accelerate in the coming time, with the closest estimation or urban dwellers at 40% of the population in 2020, it is certain that domestic migration and its impacts will pose different challenges for policy makers.

Political and Social Inclusion in Asian Cities – India Case Study

India recorded an average growth rate of over 5% per annum during the last two decades of the 20th century. GDP grew at 7.7% per annum during 2001-11. However, most of the growth has been concentrated in a few regions and large cities. Also, only certain sections of the population benefited from it, resulting in accentuation of income and regional disparities over time.

Urban India saw a deceleration in the growth of population during the last three decades, dismissing the spectre of over-urbanisation or an urban explosion. This made policymakers at the national and state levels concerned about the slow pace of urban growth, particularly at a stage of rapid economic growth that accentuated rural-urban (RU) disparities in the economic and social spheres.

The annual exponential growth rate (AEGR) of urban population in the country during the 1950s was 3.5%. This was the highest the country had seen until that time, which led to the emergence of theories of ’over-urbanisation’. The growth rate, however, came down to 3.1% in the 1980s. It went down further to 2.73% in the 1990s. Correspondingly, the percentage of population in urban areas has gone up from 17.3% in 1951 to 23.3% in 1981, and then to 27.78% in 2001. The level of urbanisation in the country increased to 31.16% in 2011 and the urban population recorded an annual growth rate of 2.76% during 2001-11, a slight increase in the second decimal point as compared to the previous decade.