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Authors: Françoise Barten1, Marco Akerman2, Daniel Becker3, Sharon Friel4, Trevor Hancock5, ... - page 15 / 47





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Participation impact

According to Banks (2008), who examined the extent of the political participation of the urban poor in Dhaka in order to ensure access to services and to solve their problems, the experiences of the Coalition for the Urban Poor’s (CUP) Basti Basheer Odhikar Surakha Committee (BOSC) demonstrated that collective mobilization of the urban poor in the city of Dhaka has been effective in ensuring the participation of the poor in municipal governance. However, the impact of these initiatives may be limited in terms of securing the national political commitment to urban poverty reduction.

Also a USAID-sponsored study in Bolivia, Honduras, India, Mali, the Philippines, and the Ukraine, concluded that although democratic local governance has the potential to strengthen participation and accountability, “there seem to be important limitations on how much participation can actually deliver” (Blair, 2000:21). The paper by Chilvers (2007) discusses the need for better understanding of how participatory forms of risk assessment are developing across policy-for-real decision contexts in the UK. Important constraints include a failure to integrate engagement throughout decision-making processes and the exclusion of the public from assessing/evaluating environmental risks. The paper stresses the need for further methodological development and the evaluation of the linkages between processes and outcomes. Zakocs (2007) found that organizational capacity of communities in the US was enhanced by coalitions if sufficient resources were allocated for coalition building, stable participatory decision-making bodies were maintained and active involvement of local government was ensured.

Regarding PB, Souza (2001b:184) reports that with PB, low-income groups in the cities of Porto Alegre and of Belo Horizonte have gained decision-making power in the allocation of a percentage of public resources (“the right to decide and not only to be heard”). Although this percentage is small compared to the total budget, PB has provided an incentive for self-organization in marginalized communities and has improved in particular infrastructure in previously neglected areas of the cities. The limits on existing financial resources available for these programmes is a key issue and Souza (2001b) describes that, even if municipal governments are committed to redirect resources to low-income areas and “to transform spending on the cities poorer areas into rights and not favours”, in reality there is only the possibility of meeting a fraction of the actual needs of these communities. It is clear that,

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