Bangkok, Thailand
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Boonyabancha S.,ACHR | Mitlin D.,University of Manchester
Environment and Urbanization | Year: 2012

This paper describes the Asian Coalition for Community Action (ACCA) programme that was initiated by the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) in 2009. ACCA seeks to catalyze and support community initiatives, citywide upgrading and partnerships between community organizations and local governments. By January 2012, it had helped fund initiatives in 708 settlements in 153 cities in 19 different Asian nations. In each city, small grants support community-led initiatives that encourage citywide networks to form, where members share skills with each other and learn to negotiate with their local governments. Further support was available as local governments engaged and then came to support this process, including the formation of jointly managed community development funds. The paper also describes how the design of ACCA drew on earlier work, and ends with a reflection on what has been learnt with regard to more effective ways of reducing urban poverty. This explores the two underlying dimensions: first, the creation of institutions based on relations of reciprocity; and second, the strengthening of relations between low-income community organizations such that they can create a synergy with the state. One key lesson is the need for financial systems that allow the urban poor to be the key agents in addressing their problems and in bringing in city governments to work with them. This collaboration can lead to the urban poor being recognized as legitimate and highly productive residents and citizens of the city. © 2012 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).


Luansang C.,ACHR | Boonmahathanakorn S.,ACHR | Domingo-Price M.L.,Philippine Action for Communityled Shelter Initiatives Inc. PACSII
Environment and Urbanization | Year: 2012

This paper describes the role of community architects in the upgrading programmes supported by the Asian Coalition for Community Action (ACCA), illustrated with examples that include a bamboo bridge project in Davao and a toilet project in Digos (the Philippines), a community-driven land allocation system in Gopalganj (Bangladesh), and upgrading developed by a savings group in a landless community in Hlaing Tar Yar township (Myanmar). Drawing on the authors' experiences working as community architects, it also reflects on how to integrate social and physical change in communities in order to effect broader changes in society. The paper discusses the merits of community architecture and identifies what makes a good community architect, and describes the Community Architects Network (CAN) that has been formed and how it encourages architectural schools to incorporate knowledge and experience from community architects into their curriculum. © 2012 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).


Carcellar F.N.,PACSII | Kerr T.,ACHR
Environment and Urbanization | Year: 2012

One of the cornerstones of academic legitimacy is the concept of peer review, in which any book, journal article or scholarly exploration that gets published is first assessed by academics from the same sphere of expertise, who are best placed to understand that work. This has not transferred into mainstream development practice, where most development projects (even those being implemented by the urban poor themselves) are not assessed by community groups and NGO supporters who are their peers, but by outside professionals who visit the project briefly. Although these professionals have no expertise in living in informal settlements on very low incomes or avoiding eviction or negotiating with local governments, they pronounce judgement on the project. These supply-driven kinds of assessments and the principle of "judgement by neutral outsiders" does not fit with the concept of demand-driven development processes that are implemented in different ways by different groups in different places, in response to very different local contexts, needs and capacities. The implementation of the Asian Coalition for Community Action (ACCA) programme has sought to build a new, more horizontal system for assessing, learning from and refining the hundreds of projects it supported in different countries. Teams of community leaders, and their partner NGOs who are actively implementing their own ACCA projects, assess the work of their peers in other nations through visits to ACCA projects and discussions with the people who are implementing them. This paper describes the six assessment trips organized so far and how this more demand-driven assessment process is helping adjust and correct problems in the implementation processes in various cities. This has also opened up a large new space for two-way learning, sharing and building mutual assistance links across Asia, and helping expand the range of what community people see as possible. © 2012 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).


Boonyabancha S.,ACHR | Carcellar F.N.,PACSII | Kerr T.,ACHR
Environment and Urbanization | Year: 2012

This paper suggests that what may appear to be insoluble problems of urban poverty and exclusion in Asian cities can be solved; and that the greatest force to do this already exists, in rough form, in the people who experience that poverty and exclusion themselves and have the greatest motivation to change it. It notes how most government programmes and formal development interventions ignore this force or seek to suppress it, so it remains a potential, not an actual, force for change. The paper describes how the Asian Coalition for Community Action (ACCA) programme, using a few simple tools and conditions and a modest, flexible budget, is trying to unlock that force at scale, opening up new space, new collaborations and new possibilities that are beginning to resolve these problems. The paper describes several of the tools and conditions that are part of the ACCA intervention - the support for collective processes, partnerships, finance and land tenure; for many initiatives on the ground; for moving to work at city scale; for communities prioritizing what gets support; and for building a platform for negotiation and partnership in each city. These are helping people to solve their problems and pave their own literal and metaphorical pathways to freedom, and to legitimate and valued citizenship in their cities. © 2012 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).


This paper describes people's process, community networks and platforms of work between communities and professionals in Asia; also how these networks, which have reduced the isolation of low-income and disadvantaged communities, have built their confidence, produced finance to support their priorities, legitimized and capacitated their organizations and catalyzed effective action. Networked and informed community groups are increasingly able to lead development processes and work together with government agencies, politicians and other stakeholders, from academics to NGOs. By being unified through a common group or association, community members gain strength in numbers and shared financial capital, opening up many more opportunities than if they worked individually. By giving examples of national networks of the urban poor in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Mongolia and elsewhere, this paper seeks to demonstrate the value of networks in supporting a people's process of development. © 2012 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).


Kerr T.,ACHR
Environment and Urbanization | Year: 2015

This paper describes how urban poor community leaders in six nations (Cambodia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam) worked together to define poverty, assess its causes, and suggest how best to measure it and address it. Their work drew on over a thousand detailed household expenditure surveys from different settlements in a range of cities in the six nations. Five distinct groups could be distinguished among these urban poor households, and the work suggested that two poverty lines were needed. The community leaders also reviewed national and international poverty lines and found these to be incompatible with reality, especially the US$ 1.25/person/day poverty line. The paper draws some conclusions and describes plans for the country teams to further this work, including engaging with their national governments over the definition and measurement of urban poverty. © 2015, © 2015 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).


Boonyabancha S.,ACHR
Environment and Urbanization | Year: 2012

This paper is from a transcript of a conversation between Ruby Papeleras and Ofelia Bagotlo, two community leaders in the Homeless People's Federation Philippines Inc. and Somsook Boonyabancha from the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights. The community leaders reflect on the difficulties that community organizations face in finding solutions - for instance, getting land and getting local governments, donors and activists to respect their priorities. They describe the steps towards building an urban poor movement - learning to trust ourselves, building this trust by establishing community savings groups and instigating initiatives (which show other groups their capabilities and other urban poor groups what is possible), drawing everyone in and using their different skills in surveying and undertaking community initiatives. They also discuss how the flexible funding for small projects available through the ACCA programme helps catalyze local activities while they wait for government. Small grants or revolving fund loans can be managed by communities, so the financial management makes people more powerful in terms of planning, prioritizing, decision-making and implementing projects. Small projects also help prepare communities for larger, more difficult housing projects and bolster their negotiations for land (showing their capacity to pay and invest). With no solutions on offer from government or the private sector, community people begin to take over, creating a movement in which people are finding alternative solutions that are cheap, efficient, easy, quick, equitable and full of the social elements that are missing from government-provided housing. From this they show local governments what they can do. Small projects are a bridge to link different individuals and agencies, and provide a language for dialogue between them. © 2012 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

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