Both verbal and written comments were made on the paper. The nature of
comments vary from direct responses to issues raised in the paper to reflections
on country situations based on the issues raised by the paper. Verbal
comments are summarized, while written comments are presented with only
editorial and grammatical corrections.
- Some participants felt that the historical analysis was too anti-Western
and negative. While colonialism did have adverse impacts on the colonized
countries, the colonial powers had also improved living conditions in
the colonies, particularly by increasing levels of education, the provision
of infrastructure and the introduction of modern technologies. Many
countries benefited from the rule of law and the establishment of modern
government institutions and centres of higher learning. Similarly, the
nation-building experience in Asia and the Pacific had not been all
bad. National development policies had led to impressive economic gains
and reduction in poverty.
Some participants felt that the paper ignored major past and present
trends which have influenced cities, particularly the high population
growth rate and the deterioration of both the rural and the urban
environments. Others felt that the document as a whole, and this paper
in particular, ignored the rural-urban continuum in the historical
analysis. A sizeable portion of urban population growth stemmed from
Other participants felt that the paper's contention that an enablement
paradigm had emerged was not true in many countries. The enablement
paradigm, in fact, ran counter to the cultural heritage of East Asian
countries which were heavily influenced by Confucianism and Buddhism,
which emphasize respect and obedience for those holding positions
At the same time, many participants agreed with the historical analysis,
particularly the detrimental impacts of colonialism, the experience
in nation-building and the cold war. Participants also agreed that
enablement and empowerment were essential for addressing the future
development of cities, particularly with regard to poverty alleviation.
Professor Yue-man Yeung, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific
Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong:
- "The view of past development is too negative, too ideological. It
is almost like an indictment of everybody concerned except the urban
poor. This is not an accurate or fair statement ... Reference to Western
and colonial influence is too negative. There have been positive aspects
as well: new institutions, rule of law, infrastructure, education, health
Hon. Ms Margaret Shields, Wellington Regional Councillor,
and former Cabinet Minister of New Zealand:
- "Western (influence) and modern nation state are crude labels ...
Talk of an Asian model is impractical because Asia is too diverse ...
Concepts should be accepted or rejected for their usefulness."
Ms Huey Romduol, Urban Community Development Adviser, SKIP,
- "Our experience in Phnom Penh shows that a local institution, with
sufficient powers on fiscal and physical resources and a political mandate,
can become a vital tool to carry out enabling measures for the market,
local government and the community. (The process can) sometimes be mediated
by a NGO or community-based organization. However, such institutional
changes have immense social, political and administrative consequences
and involve fundamental shifts in the concept and tasks of NGOs/CBOs.
In addition, where the institutions are weak and political conditions
remain sensitive, enablement policies cannot be effective (Phnom Penh).
In view of this, it is suggested that this (paper) review the specific
applications of enablement in practice i.e., market enablement, political
enablement and community enablement and explain with brief examples
the prerequisites for enablement policies to be effective and sustainable."
Major General (Retired) A. Khan Chowdhury, Vice President,
Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka:
- "The solution to urban housing problems and associated environmental
stresses has to be sought by looking into the root causes of such problems.
In Bangladesh the rate of urbanization has been very high, about 7 per
cent a year. The urban population is now about a fourth of the country's
total population. The major factor behind this rapid growth has been
rural-urban migration as a result of both push (e.g. poverty) and pull
(e.g. expectation about jobs in urban areas) factors.
"However, while rural-urban migration initially propelled urbanization
and is still important, migration in general has ceased to be the
driving force behind urban growth. The urban poor are increasingly
born in the urban areas, and urbanization has thus been accompanied
by an increase in the number of the urban poor.
"Manufacturing industries, services and commercial centres are located
at the core of big cities. Large numbers of the urban poor cluster
in slums and squatter settlements around such centres or on the urban
periphery putting tremendous pressure on municipal services and causing
deterioration of the physical environment. Most of the urban poor
live and work in hazardous exposure situations, shunned by the more
affluent. They have to contend with bad sanitation, contaminated water
or chemical pollution. In other words, the urban poor are affected
by water pollution, inadequate sanitation facilities, insufficient
collection and disposal of solid and toxic wastes, and indoor and
outdoor air pollution.
"Apart from large cities, some new areas in Bangladesh have, of late,
been included in the urban category. These are mufassil towns
and thana headquarters where amenities are grossly inadequate.
Municipal authorities and local governments are too inadequately prepared
and unable to solve these problems.
"The mechanism of enabling and empowering the poor as suggested in
this paper has its rationale. The solution to urban problems may be
found in accelerating the process of economic growth, strengthening
of local governments, rural development for poverty alleviation and
administrative decentralization; all of which will lessen the attractiveness
of large urban centres by reducing the pull factor. These are not
intractable issues, but the political will among governments is badly
lacking in most countries.
"Once poverty issues are effectively addressed, the low-income communities
will hopefully be able to develop their own housing and urban amenities
in their own way and using their own mechanisms and resources. A replication
of conventional methodologies tried in developed communities of the
West, without support from effective local governments, non-governmental
and community-based organizations and, above all, a responsive central
government dedicated to the improvement of infrastructure in slums
and squatter settlements, is unlikely to improve the living condition
in urban areas."
Ms Young Sook Park, Director, Korea Institute for Environmental
and Social Policies (KESP):
- "Seoul is the last capital city established as a result of ideological
confrontation in the East-West cold war. Even though the Berlin Wall
is gone, citizens in Seoul still have not been liberated from the threat
of war, and this situation has often been used by undemocratic governments
as a means to control citizens and this consequently withered urban
societies. Seoul, the capital city of the country that had suffered
most by conflict and contradictions in world history, also became an
object of envy among Asian cities because Seoul showed a rapid achievement
of economic growth over the remnants of war.
"Seoul has 12 million people, a quarter of the Korean population,
a quarter of Korean universities, and it generates 40 per cent of
the national tax. Seoul is the heart and brain of Korea for its financial
and market functions. It has a 600-year history as a capital city;
however, this gigantic city has the characteristics of the ultra-rapid
growth of the national economy achieved in just 30 years, the vitality
of a booming city and a confused situation. In one generation, the
population in Seoul has tripled, the urban area doubled, the number
of cars increased 160-fold, and the financial volume of the city expanded
1,000-fold. Because most economic and cultural resources were concentrated
in Seoul, the governmental policy for decentralization of Seoul's
population was helpless. During this rapid growth, uncontrollable
urban problems also appeared. In this situation, city management in
Seoul was bent on taking care of the city's expansion. Large amounts
of resources and administration were spent on construction of infrastructure,
including houses, schools, roads, waterworks and sewage. Owing to
a poor financial situation, urban development had relied on real estate
speculation which consequently produced a crowded and condensed city
environment, and poor urban classes were marginalized as in other
Asian cities, especially in the families headed by women and the elderly.
"Facing the twenty first-century, two huge waves from different directions
are crossing the cities in the world. One is the wave of globalization
and informationization, and the other of localization.
"Now Seoul is confronted with a transition era of real local autonomy
and self-government. Seoul has to heal the scars from the rapid growth
and, on the other hand, should deal with the challenges of highly
industrialized societies and information in the twenty-first century.
It requires a transition in the governmental paradigm. It should be
the transition from an administration of external expansion of construction
to a city administration having serious consideration for human values.
Efforts of the city administration for poor urban middle classes needs
to be expanded, and it is good to see the initiation of such a trend.
"From the experience of a bridge collapse in the Han river, the collapse
of the Sampoong department store which took away 500 lives, gas explosions,
etc., the changes in city administration should protect the lives
and safety of urban citizens, resolve the severe traffic problems,
repair contaminated environments, solve the neglected problems in
urban poor classes, and promote citizen's welfare. In order to achieve
these, administration officers, citizens and all constituents of society
should abandon old ways of thinking and behaviour."
Dr. Kulwant Singh, Executive Director, Human Settlements Management
Institute (HSMI), New Delhi:
- "It is too strong to say that the political, economic, social and
cultural heritage of Europe has been the predominant force in shaping
the present world, and the Asia-Pacific region in particular. Indigenous
forces of feudal social structures, autocratic political systems and
Oriental philosophy have equally shaped and distorted the Asian urban
"The development of cities coincides with the development of civilization.
During the ancient period, cities emerged as a focal point of transport,
trade, business, education, religion and governance. On these accounts
rivers served as basic infrastructure in the form of inland transport,
drinking water, irrigation and drainage potential. The holy cities
in India which are considered most ancient, such as Ayodhya, Mathura,
Maya (Hardwar), Kashi, Kanchi, Avantika (Ujjain) were located on the
bank of rivers. Subsequent development witnessed a gradual emergence
of a gap in the demand and supply of municipal infrastructure.
"(With regard to weakening of local governments) ... mention may
be made of Kautilaya's Arthshastra (200-300 BC) which provided normative
structures with respect to economic development and local administration
in ancient India. Many of such doctrines have lost their specific
application in a modern state; nevertheless these doctrines still
eulogize the ethical and moral norms of political administration.
Some rudiments of local government in India trace their origin to
this ancient document.
"The governance in the pre-colonial Asia began with the concepts
of tribal traditions, divinity and complete supremacy of monarch.
However, during ancient India, particularly at the time of Kutilya,
Buddha and Ashoka, the emergence of local representatives (Gana) and
their elected leaders (Ganapati) is noticed. They used to manage the
Ganarajya (republics) mostly in the form of city republics. Subsequently,
the "king" became more powerful and eroded the powers of Gana and
started ruling through his nominees. This approach experienced a significant
shift during the colonial period whereby the city system was used
to cater to the business and administrative needs of colonizers and
"(With regard to the impact of economic development policies on the
poor) ... the role of massive rural investments vis-à-vis urban
investments in the early post-colonial period needs to be stressed
for the neglect of urban areas. Rural areas attracted disproportionately
more outlays in development plans for the reasons of self-sufficiency
in food, their long neglect during the colonial regimes, abysmal poverty
and being massive vote banks. Failure of the growth models and their
trickle-down effects to alleviate poverty prompted the national governments
to invest in the urban sector to produce high growth economies.
"The post-independence period has also witnessed the emergence of
a powerful central government which devised and implemented the policies
aiming at massive development through heavy industries and expansion
of infrastructure in a larger context of equity, job opportunities
and affordability. Five-Year Plans were initiated to achieve national
policy goals. This also encouraged the urbanization process and the
countries in the Asian region have experienced rapid urban growth.
"The role of city governments in the phase of economic development
during the post independence period, however, was not properly recognized
and strengthened. The development of infrastructure and services was
not assigned to city governments and was carried out by state line
agencies (housing boards/water supply boards) or local-level specific
agencies (development authorities/improvement trusts). At the same
time the revenue authority of city governments also suffered from
encroachment of powers by higher levels of governments and the technical
capability of city governments was not upgraded to face the daunting
task of the provision of infrastructure needed to accommodate a rapid
growth of the urban population.
"That public sector interventions in low-income housing provided
by parastatal agencies were gradually withdrawn is not correct for
all the countries in the region. Rather some of these such as HUDCO
(Housing and Urban Development Corporation) in India have widened
and strengthened their activities. These agencies still provide techno-financial
services in housing and infrastructure to fill the existing gaps.
"The role of HUDCO in the provision of housing is particularly significant.
During the last two and half decades HUDCO has approved over 11,500
schemes aiming at the provision of nearly six million dwelling units
out of which at least half have been constructed in cities and towns
and 90 per cent cater to the needs of poor and low-income households.
In order to facilitate low-income households, HUDCO operates on a
differential rate policy with the provision of concessional loans
for low-income households. It is also important to mention that the
lower the cost of shelter, the higher is the loan component e.g. low-income
households receive HUDCO loans in a ratio of 85-90 per cent whereas
the middle and high-income households have a loan to cost ratio of
60-75 per cent. HUDCO also provides loans for infrastructure, urban
employment generation schemes and night shelters. In order to promote
structurally and functionally acceptable and cost-effective building
materials and technologies, HUDCO has supported nearly 400 building
centres across the country.
"One major problem faced by the site-and-services scheme was the
filtering up process. Many allotted households sold their dwellings
at much higher prices to relatively better-off families (and moved)
to squat at another site for a possible benefit in getting subsidized
land in the future. As a result, government policies have undergone
a shift towards in-situ development of slums and low-income areas
and relocation is planned only for the slums situated at strategically
"The proposed enabling paradigm identifies several actors as vehicles
of support. Under the public sectors subdivision, emphasis on promotion
of intra-governmental and intergovernmental coordination and cooperation
needs further exploration. The mechanism for making several actors
responsible and disciplined agents of the enabling mechanism is found
"The implications of marginalization of city government in the development
process are serious. It is particularly visible in the South Asian
region where almost half of the urban population does not have access
to in-house water connections and safe sanitation. The collection
of garbage is only in a range of 50-70 per cent and the regular maintenance
of roads is not carried out in most of the cities.
"In the current phase of productivity as the main agenda of national
governments in this last decade of the twentieth century, the importance
of city government is increasingly realized and initiatives are being
taken to enable cities to make the urbanization smooth, productive
and beneficial to the country, city and urban populace itself. The
adequacy in the municipal services is important as they provide enabling
environments for the productivity of households and firms. In this
sense, the agenda on productivity is also linked with the provision
of safe environment, human health and equity concerns. The adequacy
of municipal services, therefore, assumes further importance.
"...housing has been stressed too much (in the paper) as government
intervention in urban development, whereas aspects such as public
health, education and physical infrastructure, which are equally important
for improving quality of living in the Asian city, have been either
ignored or mentioned very casually. Likewise, the issue of land and
the role of local and state governments in its development and delivery
need greater attention in the discussion.
"CBOs find no mention in the rise of socialist approaches to development.
They are the recent addition to the list of non-formal organizations
and they distinguish themselves from NGOs for being socially active
at the most micro level unit. There are too many examples from Thailand
in this and subsequent papers. Case studies from less mentioned countries
such as the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Viet Nam, Nepal
and Cambodia could reduce the bias.
"Urban land management needs to be included in a big way, as this
will be the major conflicting issue in the future development and
growth of the Asian cities. The role of government in the growth of
small and medium towns is lacking (in the paper). Many central and
state governments, including those of India, made serious efforts
for their sustained growth. Future healthy urbanization in the region
will depend on the growth of such towns and hence an evaluation of
the government policies towards their growth would have been desirable."
Ms. Ellen Vera Allen, Rooftops Foundation, Toronto, Ontario:
- "(With regard to the weakness of local government structures, from
a Canadian perspective) ... this may be viewed, in fact, as a strength!
This is because it has allowed the growth of the informal sector (with
all its flaws). This, in turn, has resulted in the belief of the people
that they are capable of providing for themselves, or perhaps are the
only ones who are going to provide for them. This has been affirmed
by the fact that they are doing so daily by creating their own (slum)
communities where they alone are responsible for their own planning
"A weakness of Western culture and politics is that, although it
is theoretically very democratic, the people are disempowered by the
efficiency of their governments. They trust the Government to provide
for them and are mostly incapable of acting for themselves, because
of the excessively structured systems. Even activists are more likely
to spend effort trying to change government policy rather than doing.
"From what I have seen in my few weeks in Thailand, the inefficiencies,
lack of effective policies, etc. on the part of government bodies
have in fact empowered people to believe that given the tools, they
will do the job themselves. Therefore, the challenge is to provide
them with tools, of policy and process (which they can evolve for
their own purposes) as a critical enabling process."
Mrs. Chandra Ranaraja, Municipal Councillor, and former Mayor,
Kandy Municipal Council:
- "The period of weakening seen in local governments could be given
in specific years. For instance, the central government could dissolve
all local authorities and place them under special commissioners who
are centrally controlled so that politically it is advantageous to the
government in power.
"In 1978, in Sri Lanka amendments were brought to the Municipal Corporations
and Urban Councils Ordinances, thereby changing the election law to
allow mayors to be elected directly by the people. The mayor was also
made executive head, giving him more authority. The elections were
based on the proportional representation system. In 1987 the election
law was once again changed. The voters were given three preference
votes instead of the list system that prevailed. Mayors were selected
by the Party that obtained the highest number of votes. In the mid
1980s local authorities although more powerful and effective, had
financial difficulties. The revenue was inadequate to meet the high
demand for development. This was taken up by the Minister of Local
Government, who agreed to have the salaries paid by the ministry for
all categories of employees. Further assistance was also provided
by way of funding high-cost projects either by the ministry or the
Treasury. Training programmes for local-level officers under the UPU
Programme were initiated. Competitions to improve services housing
programmes, especially for the poor, were organized. The Government
also undertook land regularization.
"Owing to the above meaningful steps, local authorities expanded
their services especially for the poorer sectors. Pre-schools, libraries,
sports facilities, health clinics, etc. were provided by local authorities.
It was possible to assist the poorer segments by providing them with
water and electricity on easy-payment terms. The cost was recoverable
in several instalments.
"Urban population growth and poverty caused the development of slum
and shanty settlements along reservations, waterways, hill slopes
and on unused agricultural land. Despite environmental hazards and
degradation, these unauthorized settlements have been regularized
for political advantage causing further problems to the environment.
"(With regard to national government intervention in local government)
... initially for the purpose of equitable development of cities,
various parallel organizations were set up to plan and implement urban
development. They have, in practice, turned out to be organs of negative
influence. The Urban Development Authority Act of the 1980s supersedes
the local authorities ordinances and is detrimental to good governance.
The authority of the mayors and councils has been eroded. Needs and
aspirations of the local people have been ignored in the planning
process. Urban Development Authority laws need to be reviewed.
"In the section discussing public sector intervention in low-income
housing, more examples could be cited of successful programmes especially
those in slum upgrading and self-help housing, as well as examples
of programmes which involve women.
"(In Sri Lanka), upgrading has resulted in land regularization and
infrastructure development under the Urban Basic Services programme
initiated by UNICEF. Other services such as pre-schools libraries,
vocational training centres have been provided as a result of land
"(In Sri Lanka), although NGOs supplemented local authorities services
they tended to be more participatory in their involvement. They encouraged
savings and credit schemes amongst the poor communities which resulted
in income generating projects. At the initial stages, these communities
tended to depend heavily on the assistance of NGOs rather than building
up their own initiative.
"(With regard to free market and the retreat of governments, in Sri
Lanka) ... the government's inability to meet the development challenges
along with the open economy paved the way for the community to undertake
its own tasks. This community participation process was a useful base
for poverty alleviation. The influence of international agencies has
been remarkable. Not only were basic needs met but they helped to
train officials to meet the needs of the day. The poorest of the poor
received the highest priority in the development agenda.
"(With regard to the enablement paradigm) ... it should be noted
that this goes hand in hand with greater government efficiency and
effectiveness through structural adjustments, deregulation, decentralization
and the devolution of responsibility and authority in government administration.
Enablement creates and promotes social and political cohesion. Women's
role in enablement is significant, especially in housing and environment,
as individual households decide on planning. More examples of this
should have been given.
"The public sector, namely government, provincial and local-level
administrations should gear up to meet the needs of people. Awareness,
sensitivity and the will to achieve have to be generated. Hence, training
and capacity-building for decision-makers at all levels are needed.
Infrastructure development needs new technical know-how and allocation
of budgets for priority areas identified by a participatory process.
"(Central and provincial government) organizations and arrangements
made for urban planning should be reviewed. Are they playing their
role or have they weakened the local authorities?
"NGOs and the other informal sector participants should be partners
in the development of urban areas, together with advocacy groups and
professionals. Indigenous practices in the communities could be mechanics.
"(With regard to the new paradigm) ... improving urban areas is the
responsibility of the central governments, provincial governments,
local governments and the civic groups. These groups have different
roles but must, as far as possible, be participatory through different
mechanisms. The central government needs to have urban policies -
the cabinet ministries should have short-term and long-term plans
for all-round development. Similarly, provincial governments should
work closely with local authorities to remove funding and planning
bottlenecks and provide technical advice in the planning processes.
The devolved and strengthened role of local governments should be
recognized by amendments to legislation and by new legislation. There
is a need to encourage networking, sister-city exchange programmes
for all actors especially decision makers and officials."
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