09 / 1995
In March 1992, the Thai Government approved a budget of US$ 50 million to initiate The Urban Poor Development Program under the 7th National Economic and Social Development Plan. The approval led to the setting up of a new organization, The Urban Community Development Office (UCDO), to implement the program nationwide. The important and innovative of the program and the UCDO are outlined below:
1. It is an institutionalized organization of « Partnership ».
The organization is governed by a Board which has complete power to make decisions on all the UCDO policies. Although UCDO is a special organization under NHA (National Housing Authority), the UCFO Board has the power to make decisions independently. The board it composed of the following: 3 members from government organizations (the Bank of Thailand, Finance Ministry and NESDB); 3 from community leaders; 2 from NGOs; and 1 from the private sector. The NHA Governor is the Chairman while the UCDO Managing Director is the Secretary of the Board.
2. It uses credit as a mechanism to strengthen community capabilities in dealing with their own development issues together.
This mechanism of credit enhances the role of the community as initiator, organizer, planner, manager, and as the main actor in development and implementation. This credit system and the management activities intend to improve gradually the quality of the community organization in order to:
1. Deal more effectively with the formal system external to the community; and,
2. Become the nucleus for an internal integrated development process,
3. The scheme provides an integrated credit system. The types of loans issued range from those for income generation to general revolving funds for housing. UCDO therefore can provide credit to an integrated community development plan or a community Development Master Plan implemented over a certain period of time.
4. The community is the major operating mechanism. UCDO encourages and enables the setting up of several types of community organizations and federations who may become involved in the program. The major strategy is to strengthen the existing communities’ managerial capacity and to find processes by which the community organizations replicate their activities.
5. It works with other existing organizations: Government, Local Authorities, NGOs, Federations, professionals, etc. It regards all existing organizations as development mechanisms to be supported and strengthened and as development partners to work together in implementing the program. Moroever, UCDO also tries to encourage and initiate, wherever possible, operational partnership between GO/NGO/CBO in community and housing development processes, especially those in the care of local authorities and various other local actors.
Performance in the first year
Since the setting up of UCDO in July 1992 until November 1993, 16 projects have been granted loans amounting to about 125 million baht (US$ 5 million), benefitting 62 communities and 2,977 families.
6 out of 16 projects are housing projects. More housings projects are anticipated due to the serious crisis produced by the eviction of urban poor communities. This program provides alternatives to eviction to the communities enabling them to house themselves. Credit for housing development, in which the community organizations themselves are involved, provides a significatn opportunity for a community to initiate its own housing development project in response to the urban poor’s own informal ways of living, earning conditions and needs.
It is expected that the projects implemented by community organizations through credit will:
1. shorten the time of implementation and respond better to the diverse and immediate needs; and,
2. Lower the operational cost, operate efficiently, be better maintained as well as have better repayment results.
The 6 housing projects which have received loans are: Bangna Project, 56 families; Manangkasila Project, 258 families; Community Coordination Group, 540 families; United Slim Development Association, 30 communities; and Wat Chanpradittaram.
In 1990, before the approval of the program a special study project for the program was set up under the National Housing Authority. The research was organized by an independant team of NGOs wth the full participation of government, NGOs, professionals and community leaders. The outcome of the study brought out several innovative ideas and the possibility for setting up and implement an Urban Poor Development Program which incorporated the positive experiences of the community organizations over the past 10 years. This influenced the creation of this program and of UCDO itself.
Data card carried out for the governmentT/NGO cooperation project in the field of human settlement.
ANZORENA, Eduardo Jorge, SELAVIP, SELAVIP in. SELAVIP NEWSLETTER, 1994/04