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A B S T R A C T Most The goal of this article is to analyse the participatory process of development projects. Drawing upon my professional experience in a project called Pre-Poor Slum Intergration Project (PPSIP) which was based in Comilla, Bangladesh - I argue that development projects dominated by rigid power structures inside and in-between institutions inhibits community participation that reflects the actual need of the beneficiary group; and as happened in this case, produce results that do not serve the people in real need but rather only serve the purpose of the institutions that manage the project, more so the institutions having higher degrees of power. In this article I try to combine insights gained from our field experience and literature study on post-politics and power in planning in order to sketch out the stakeholder institutions' interest, capacity and enrolment in order to understand how socio-relational dynamics as opposed to technical procedures shaped the project. In this project participation from the community was ritualistic- serving only a face-value, the operational team on the field were devoid of power to take important decisions or challenge the institutional framework that they were part of, and at the same time institutions with higher degrees of decision making power were not sufficiently involved with the realities of the field. I conclude that in order to make participatory process really work, involved institutions should not limit their efforts in repetitive consensus building exercises based on pre-conceived ideas and traditional methods of community development.

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Understanding the Negative Impacts of Rigid Instituional Framework on Community Development Projects: A Case From Bangladesh * MrsEMERALD UPOMA BAIDYA CollegePlatform of Community Action and Architecture, Dhaka, Bangladesh Email: emerald.upoma@gmail.com A B S T R A C T Most The goal of this article is to analyse the participatory process of development projects. Drawing upon my professional experience in a project called Pre-Poor Slum Intergration Project (PPSIP) which was based in Comilla, Bangladesh - I argue that development projects dominated by rigid power structures inside and in-between institutions inhibits community participation that reflects the actual need of the beneficiary group; and as happened in this case, produce results that do not serve the people in real need but rather only serve the purpose of the institutions that manage the project, more so the institutions having higher degrees of power. In this article I try to combine insights gained from our field experience and literature study on post-politics and power in planning in order to sketch out the stakeholder institutions' interest, capacity and enrolment in order to understand how socio-relational dynamics as opposed to technical procedures shaped the project. In this project participation from the community was ritualistic- serving only a face-value, the operational team on the field were devoid of power to take important decisions or challenge the institutional framework that they were part of, and at the same time institutions with higher degrees of decision making power were not sufficiently involved with the realities of the field. I conclude that in order to make participatory process really work, involved institutions should not limit their efforts in repetitive consensus building exercises based on pre-conceived ideas and traditional methods of community development. CONTEMPORARY URBAN AFFAIRS (2019), 3(2), 156-165. Doi:10.25034/ijcua.2018.4712 www.ijcua.com Copyright © 2018 Contemporary Urban Affairs. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction Bangladesh is a densely populated country. Rapid urbanization has put significant strain on cities and towns of Bangladesh. According to a 2009 study, around five million housing units are needed in Bangladesh to address housing shortage, and majority of population without adequate housing are from the low income group (NHA, 2014). Housing is predominantly developed by private market in Bangladeshi cities and the market is driven by profit. A large portion of the population cannot avail good quality housing available in the market; that is when the illegal settlements or slums come in the picture. There are around 50,000 illegal and low income settlements in Bangladesh’s 29 largest municipalities (NHA, 2014). Poor housing materials, high rent, limited access to public services, densely crowded and unsanitary living conditions, lack of tenure security etc. are some characteristic problems of these settlements. The settlements lack healthy living environment that is necessary for well-being of adults and children. By now it is well established that slum eviction is a violation of basic human rights and it involves high social and economic costs. The government is becoming increasingly aware that slum-development/ integration efforts can be the appropriate approach. The government has attempted to perform integrated approaches to slum development with the help of international development organizations such as UNDP, UK Aid etc. Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction, in short, UPPR is such a project which runs in 21 cities of Bangladesh. In seven years until 2015, UPPR has successfully mobilized and empowered slum communities (especially the women) to develop their own savings, infrastructure etc. With UPPR, some communities have now started to also develop housing (UPPR, 2011). PPSIP (Pro-Poor Slum Integration Project) started with an intention to expand UPPR’s efforts with housing development. Participatory design/planning is a central element in many contemporary slum integration initiatives as in the case of PPSIP. The main objective of such participatory projects is to assist disadvantaged individuals and groups in changing their own living condition; and to do this by valorizing local knowledge and resources. Participatory design/planning projects bring people from different social-educational-financial backgrounds around the table in negotiating terms. Often the interests and enrolment are too difficult to be determined in preliminary phases. Eventually even the most community-centered/ democratic project might derail from its goals due to obdurate power hierarchy among stakeholders. Through this research I try to understand and decode related stakeholders’ and project participants’ interest, capacity and enrolment in different projects and explain whether or how structures and dynamics of power relations in these projects serves the beneficiary group. 1.1. Research methods This is a qualitative research. The main insights of the study is drawn from my professional experiences in the project PPSIP and my involvement in other activities with the architects who were involved in this project. A vital part of empirical understanding comes from active participation in facilitating and participating in workshops, community visits, interviewing locals, architects and NGO representatives etc. Through extensive report writing and journal keeping, I have made observations on how participatory processes are carried out, how the communities and community leaders respond to programs, or how professionals respond to communities’ concerns and so on. Active involvement in other slum development projects as community architect have also allowed me to sketch out the problems in a broader scale and also understand ethical positions and interests of different actors in similar projects. A number of research questions which have guided this research: 1.How accurately do the project understand the beneficiary community's social reality, needs and resources? How far do the processes and mechanisms of the project resonate with community's needs and aspiration? 2.How is power exercised by different actors in the process 2. Literature review 2.1. Strategic Spatial Planning The interpretation of planning systems with an actor-structure perspective by Van den Broeck and Servillo in their article, The Social Construction of Planning Systems: A Strategic-Relational Institutionalist Approach provides with an understanding of dialectic interplay of agency and institutions shaping the specificities of planning systems, and thus influencing external changes (Van Den Broeck & Servillo, 2012). According to the authors, along with its technical role of economic and social development, changed courses of spatial planning also focus on democratic decision-making process, empower weaker groups; changes in actors and social groups and their positions and practices also bring complex changes in relevant institutions and agency. These dynamics can be interpreted as the effect of non-dominant groups challenging the dominant group in planning system.

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Understanding the Negative Impacts of Rigid Instituional Framework on Community Development Projects: A Case From Bangladesh * MrsEMERALD UPOMA BAIDYA CollegePlatform of Community Action and Architecture, Dhaka, Bangladesh Email: emerald.upoma@gmail.com A B S T R A C T Most The goal of this article is to analyse the participatory process of development projects. Drawing upon my professional experience in a project called Pre-Poor Slum Intergration Project (PPSIP) which was based in Comilla, Bangladesh - I argue that development projects dominated by rigid power structures inside and in-between institutions inhibits community participation that reflects the actual need of the beneficiary group; and as happened in this case, produce results that do not serve the people in real need but rather only serve the purpose of the institutions that manage the project, more so the institutions having higher degrees of power. In this article I try to combine insights gained from our field experience and literature study on post-politics and power in planning in order to sketch out the stakeholder institutions' interest, capacity and enrolment in order to understand how socio-relational dynamics as opposed to technical procedures shaped the project. In this project participation from the community was ritualistic- serving only a face-value, the operational team on the field were devoid of power to take important decisions or challenge the institutional framework that they were part of, and at the same time institutions with higher degrees of decision making power were not sufficiently involved with the realities of the field. I conclude that in order to make participatory process really work, involved institutions should not limit their efforts in repetitive consensus building exercises based on pre-conceived ideas and traditional methods of community development. CONTEMPORARY URBAN AFFAIRS (2019), 3(2), 156-165. Doi:10.25034/ijcua.2018.4712 www.ijcua.com Copyright © 2018 Contemporary Urban Affairs. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction Bangladesh is a densely populated country. Rapid urbanization has put significant strain on cities and towns of Bangladesh. According to a 2009 study, around five million housing units are needed in Bangladesh to address housing shortage, and majority of population without adequate housing are from the low income group (NHA, 2014). Housing is predominantly developed by private market in Bangladeshi cities and the market is driven by profit. A large portion of the population cannot avail good quality housing available in the market; that is when the illegal settlements or slums come in the picture. There are around 50,000 illegal and low income settlements in Bangladesh’s 29 largest municipalities (NHA, 2014). Poor housing materials, high rent, limited access to public services, densely crowded and unsanitary living conditions, lack of tenure security etc. are some characteristic problems of these settlements. The settlements lack healthy living environment that is necessary for well-being of adults and children. By now it is well established that slum eviction is a violation of basic human rights and it involves high social and economic costs. The government is becoming increasingly aware that slum-development/ integration efforts can be the appropriate approach. The government has attempted to perform integrated approaches to slum development with the help of international development organizations such as UNDP, UK Aid etc. Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction, in short, UPPR is such a project which runs in 21 cities of Bangladesh. In seven years until 2015, UPPR has successfully mobilized and empowered slum communities (especially the women) to develop their own savings, infrastructure etc. With UPPR, some communities have now started to also develop housing (UPPR, 2011). PPSIP (Pro-Poor Slum Integration Project) started with an intention to expand UPPR’s efforts with housing development. Participatory design/planning is a central element in many contemporary slum integration initiatives as in the case of PPSIP. The main objective of such participatory projects is to assist disadvantaged individuals and groups in changing their own living condition; and to do this by valorizing local knowledge and resources. Participatory design/planning projects bring people from different social-educational-financial backgrounds around the table in negotiating terms. Often the interests and enrolment are too difficult to be determined in preliminary phases. Eventually even the most community-centered/ democratic project might derail from its goals due to obdurate power hierarchy among stakeholders. Through this research I try to understand and decode related stakeholders’ and project participants’ interest, capacity and enrolment in different projects and explain whether or how structures and dynamics of power relations in these projects serves the beneficiary group. 1.1. Research methods This is a qualitative research. The main insights of the study is drawn from my professional experiences in the project PPSIP and my involvement in other activities with the architects who were involved in this project. A vital part of empirical understanding comes from active participation in facilitating and participating in workshops, community visits, interviewing locals, architects and NGO representatives etc. Through extensive report writing and journal keeping, I have made observations on how participatory processes are carried out, how the communities and community leaders respond to programs, or how professionals respond to communities’ concerns and so on. Active involvement in other slum development projects as community architect have also allowed me to sketch out the problems in a broader scale and also understand ethical positions and interests of different actors in similar projects. A number of research questions which have guided this research: 1.How accurately do the project understand the beneficiary community's social reality, needs and resources? How far do the processes and mechanisms of the project resonate with community's needs and aspiration? 2.How is power exercised by different actors in the process 2. Literature review 2.1. Strategic Spatial Planning The interpretation of planning systems with an actor-structure perspective by Van den Broeck and Servillo in their article, The Social Construction of Planning Systems: A Strategic-Relational Institutionalist Approach provides with an understanding of dialectic interplay of agency and institutions shaping the specificities of planning systems, and thus influencing external changes (Van Den Broeck & Servillo, 2012). According to the authors, along with its technical role of economic and social development, changed courses of spatial planning also focus on democratic decision-making process, empower weaker groups; changes in actors and social groups and their positions and practices also bring complex changes in relevant institutions and agency. These dynamics can be interpreted as the effect of non-dominant groups challenging the dominant group in planning system.

Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs
Girne American University

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This page is a summary of: Understanding the Negative Impacts of Rigid Instituional Framework on Community Development Projects: A Case From Bangladesh, Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs, June 2018, Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs (JCUA), DOI: 10.25034/ijcua.2018.4712.
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