Tackling peri-urban problems
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|West African Peri-urban Poverty Policy Platform (WAPPP)|
In Ghana and India, better understanding of the problems faced by people living on the margins of towns and cities offers new help to policy makers, planners and development workers. Many people living in these peri-urban areas struggle to adapt their traditional rural activities in the face of urbanisation. This particularly affects the most vulnerable groups, such as women and children. Working closely with local partners, various projects identified a range of issues that policy makers need to bear in mind. For example, it’s important to remember that farming and trading still play crucial roles in these areas. Also important is the fact that people living there need fast cash returns on new activities, because their rural, largely non-cash livelihood activities are fast disappearing.
Project Ref: NRSP28:
Natural Research Systems Programme
Relevant Research Projects:
R8090, R8084, R8365, R8491
Table 1: Outputs of the Peri-urban Cluster and Contact Persons
The peri-urban interface cluster of the NRSP have outputs of participatory planning facilitated by NGOs and researchers in Hubli Dharwad and Kolkata, India, and Kumasi, Ghana between 2001 and 2005, built on a foundation of baseline studies that begun in 1995. The cluster of outputs enhanced the participation of the poor in identifying problems and implementing interventions to address these problems.
Expanding cities and migration of people towards urban areas are common phenomena in developing countries and for that matter Africa, South of the Sahara. Associated with such expansion is a dynamic meeting place of rural and urban activities called the peri-urban interface (PUI). At this interface, many people struggle to adapt traditionally rural activities of their livelihoods to the threats and new opportunities offered by proximity to the city. The poorest groups, particularly women and children are left behind in this struggle for three reasons:
Whilst implementing interventions to address the above gaps in Ghana and India, the following characteristics among others were discovered:
The above presents an opportunity for policy makers and development workers to help such poor groups to manage the rural-urban transition and successfully explore new and diverse opportunities. However, there is lack of understanding of the characteristics of the peri-urban interface by policy makers and hence spatial policies in the peri-urban are conceived more in terms of distance rather than in trends of space and time. Development interventions in the PUI would therefore require innovative strategies that address more crucially the issue of participation from the people’s own, development partners and government standpoints. There is an apparent policy gap in the area of participation of the poor in natural resource management, access to productive resources including credit from community and rural banks. The latter is quite crucial within the context of the Ghana Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II). The participatory planning process identified with R8090 therefore becomes even more relevant for productivity, livelihoods, poverty reduction and economic growth.
These outputs can be applied to facilitate the production of different commodities in peri-urban areas depending on what a participatory assessment using the sustainable livelihood framework would yield. For DFID R8090, a comprehensive participatory action planning process (PAP) involving twelve communities in and around the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) and three other adjourning districts assemblies (DAs)  identified joblessness as a core problem (also linked to lack of credit), which led to the attrition of natural resources. Any livelihood activity, natural resource based or not which could minimise the exploitation of natural resources was considered as relevant to natural resource management. The communities prioritised five non-traditional livelihood activities made up of grasscutter rearing, rabbit rearing, mushroom cultivation, snail rearing and ‘alata’ soap  production as activities requiring small acreages of land to undertake. Because of the poverty and related low literacy level of the target groups, the project focused on poor-friendly participatory methods of skills training and technical backstopping in support of the implementation of the above activities through:
The above commodities are flexible for adoption/ adapting and application in any peri-urban setting regardless of the livelihood activities that would be prioritised. This makes R8090 generally applicable to other peri-urban settings in West Africa. Similar methodologies can be identified with the other projects of the peri-urban cluster.
Any of the above farming systems may be applicable depending on where the per-urban interface is located. The high demand for goods existing in the peri-urban as a result of proximity to urban centres has made horticultural and dairy products very important in West African Peri-urban Areas.
The broad-based PAP process of R8090 addressed the core problem of unemployment by facilitating access to credit. The PBPP mentioned above was facilitated by CLFs, whose capacity was developed by R8090 to take advantage of their presence in the communities and familiarity with the target groups. The PBPP required beneficiaries to adopt a business approach to work and would be suitable for local initiatives like the mass youth employment programme, Rural Enterprise Project (REP), Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), and the Social Investment Fund (SIF). Policy research and advocacy is, however, necessary for the poor people who operate in the informal sector to be considered among target groups of such private sector development initiatives and for tools like the PBPP to be nationally accepted.
The PBPP however, had limitations of being too formal, taking too much time to complete, and being quite an ‘alien’ requirement. It could be improved by making it more user-friendly for both the facilitator and the applicant whilst not compromising on banking requirements to improve access to capital for more effective utilisation of resources in the peri-urban.
R8084, 8365 and 8491 outputs had robust strategies for observing and recording the process of plan formulation that yielded several publications. They also had good strategies for stakeholder consultations in different cultural settings, which could be borrowed to influence peri-urban policies in a multi-cultural environment like West Africa. In addition, more information on the Kumasi, Kolkata and Hubli-Dharwad could be obtained from the R8491, which synthesised findings of the peri-urban cluster.
Outside of NRSP, outputs like the post harvest fisheries overview/ assessment tools (PHOT/PHLAT) of R8111 implemented jointly by IMM and NRI could also add value to R8090 for its strength in balancing participation of people from different levels of policy and not overemphasising community level participation.
How the outputs were validated:
The entire PAP and associated PBPP in particular have been described in good language by MDAs, private organisations and other civil society organisations in Ghana (refer to comments on district level hearing workshops and stakeholder workshops). The transcendental capacity of the planning process, which involved researchers from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL); students (called junior researchers) assisting the researchers whilst learning on-the-job; District Officers-Mayor and District Chief Executives (DCEs), Planning and Budgeting Officers of participating Assemblies was remarkable. The collaborative process of design and use of the action plan by these agencies had a positive knock on effect on teaching and learning. It also provided an opportunity for district officers, MDAs and NGOs to improve their skills in facilitating the preparation of District Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP) and empowered ordinary people from the communities to take active part in the planning process.
Some voices validating R7995 and R8090 outputs in Ghana:
The capacity of the planning process to bring many people who would otherwise not be so bothered in PU mobilisation process was also remarkable. The process
The process of the PBPP was obtained from the adaptations of the conventional business plan and PRA tools. It helps to break the business into components that could be easily understood by any average literate person. This was further simplified by the use of symbols and materials to denote various elements of the business, thereby watering down the overly academic elements of the business plan and making it illiterate-friendly.
The planning processes including the PBPP were validated both within the project life and after the project. Stakeholders within the region participated in the final workshop and there was also a final R8090 dissemination workshop at the national level where profound contributions were made to the planning process and the business plan as strategies for instigating more participation of the poor to ensure the sustainability of the process. Specific stakeholders who took part in this workshop were from the ministries of agriculture, trade and industry, National Board for Small Scale Industries, NGOs, Universities, research institutions, the media, traditional authorities and ordinary community members.
The end users of the planning process and the PBPP have been the community members and rural banks. A significant number of the project CLFs continue to use the PBPP to support community members who would want to access micro credit from the banks. The rural banks also have preference for the project beneficiaries as clients. Some of those the project dealt with are now using the R8090 credit delivery system to design new products for poor PUI clients. Many of them have dealt with the project clients at another credit. It is more particular with crop farmers and women groups involved in petty trading.
To date the network for grasscutter rearers has grown in membership. The French Embassy in Ghana supported the network from the French Social Development (FSD) facility to surmount technical difficulties of housing and stocking. (499 Words)
Where the Outputs were Validated:
Table 5: Validation of R8090
Who are the Users?
Households in peri-urban villages of Kumasi, Kolkata and Hubli-Dharwad have expanded the number of choices available to them. Through this, they have improved their livelihood portfolios by adding non-traditional activities investigated by the project.
Private sector institutions like the Rural Banks in KPUI have found project groups to be reliable clients and are using them as such. Tools such as the PBPP have become examples for the banks on the need for poor-friendly processes.
Agricultural directorates of some district assemblies (DAs) in Ghana have maintained contacts with the facilitators for planning support on PU development.
Some mining companies, government projects, and NGOs are using lessons shared with stakeholders to improve their community activities. Publications have been posted on several websites for use by civil society organisations (CSOs) and NGOs for understanding poverty reduction in peri-urban environments. Some of these publications are being used as library materials by institutions of higher learning in Ghana and beyond.
The management of R8090 by an NGO has left new knowledge on strengths and weaknesses associated with the use of overseas institutions like CEDEP leading research projects of RNRRS calibre. For CEDEP these experiences have helped in strengthening organisation policy for more efficient service delivery that meets the requirements of organisations like DFID.
KPUI researchers still find the CLFs a reliable channel for community mobilisation and continue to use them. Lecturers who were associated with the peri-urban cluster projects continue to use the lessons of experience to enrich teaching and learning. (246 Words)
Where the Outputs have been Used:
Since they have been published on the Internet  the outputs of the peri-urban cluster have the potential of being used all over the world by students, researchers, development workers and NGOs (bilateral and multinational development partners).
The outputs are being used in Ghana and India by villages, which were part of the peri-urban research projects. In numerous villages in and around these cities, groups and individuals are still running activities as outcomes of the peri-urban cluster of outputs.
Grasscutter farmers in KPUI for instance have maintained their network, which has expanded to include people from villages outside the R8090’s geographical area. Through post-project activities, they have been able to polish grasscutter rearing and are promoting grasscutter and rabbit production in the KPUI.
The activities of grasscutter farmers have been supported by the French Embassy in Ghana. These farmers have collaborated with the Metropolitan Directorate of Ministry of Agriculture and another network in Sunyani, which is being supported by German Development Cooperation (GTZ).
Abrepo, Atafoa and Asaago have been able to maintain the micro credit facility for petty traders over a year after the project has ended. This group keeps using the PBPP concept with the help of CLFs. (198 Words)
Scale of current use:
Table 6: Adoption
Action planning as a key to enhancing participation was taken as a critical element for ensuring social accountability. It made community members to feel part of the processes of developing an agenda for the people. R8090 introduced this quite systematically, which led to significant number of otherwise difficult to mobilise PUI inhabitants to be part of the planning process. As mentioned earlier the process rose from community level to the district level and produced in its trail, strong social groups that followed up and ensured that the project achieved its aims while promoting a district wide development agenda.
The CLFs and livelihood activity network groups were a few of the social groups that emerged from the project. The scale of use of the planning process in general and the business plan in particular was very high and has remained pretty so even to date. Currently, the recognition of the mobilisation efforts and the style of promoting participation in the districts have resulted in considerable consultation made on CEDEP by most districts in the region. District assemblies usually look for assistance in the identification of gaps that projects like R8090 can help to fill. The rural banks are using the credit delivery system, and national programmes like the Community Based Rural Development Project (CBRDP) and the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) are using aspects of the project livelihood selection and credit delivery systems.
Policy and Institutional Structures, and Key Components for Success:
There are sub regional programmes and institutions such as the West African Monetary Zone and ECOWAS Parliament, which together with the democratic culture most countries have acceded to have become potential platforms for promoting cross country networking and citizen participation.
In Ghana, the GPRS II recognises that good governance within a democratic environment thrives on transparency, accountability, equity, participation and rule of law. Within the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment (MLGRDE), there is a special programme to promote popular participation as a means to achieving social accountability. Additionally, the very structure of Ghana’s decentralisation concept, requires representation of citizens in decision making just as other initiatives such as the Ghana Food Security Action Plan (GFSAP) , President Special Initiatives (PSI), CBRDP and NBSSI, Social Investment Fund (SIF) and the HIPC Fund do. These initiatives require broad based consultations with people at the district and sub district institutions in the design and implementation of activities; however, resource, time and capacity limitations have always impeded the participation of the poor and made true participation quite elusive.
Beside the national agenda to promote participation, there are other civil society groups that seek to actualise participation as a key milestone in the GPRS. Among these groupings include the Ghana Network for Participatory Development (GNETPAD), the FoodSpan, and Alliance for Poverty Eradication (ALPE) that also promote participatory culture for good political and economic governance and food security. All these were the drivers of R8090, which taking into consideration the peculiar circumstances of PUI inhabitants, coalesced many initiatives, knowledge, networks and associations towards better understanding of issues and actions for addressing peri-urban poverty
CEDEP as an organisation has a niche in grassroots advocacy with very strong capacity in programme design, planning and implementation but with a weakness in reporting her achievements. For a very effective promotion of participation in planning, the mediating factors, which are strongly embedded in politics, power, and personal discretion, must be addressed. (323)
Lessons Learned and Uptake Pathways
Promotion of Outputs:
Households, CLFs and livelihood activity groups are currently operating in R8090’s villages and others surrounding them. The CLFs in particular have been involved as resource persons in other programmes and thus maintained their status as contact persons for their villages.
KMA and the other three DAs have maintained contacts with the R8090 secretariat and utilised the products of action plans developed in their development programming. Other national programmes such as the CBRDP, NBSSI, and REP, have utilised livelihood activities and the entire planning processes to effect project implementation.
Private organisations in Ashanti, Eastern and Brong Ahafo Regions of Ghana that benefited from capacity building programmes of R8090 continue to serve as learning centres for new entrants and as refreshers for old beneficiaries of the promoted livelihood activities. Current promotion of the PBPP is also strong with the rural banks that use it as criteria for offering credit to petty traders and crop farmers in the PUI, and a few of them adapting the R8090 credit delivery system to design products for the people.
Other points of promotion of R8090 are research institutions in Ghana, UK and counterpart projects in India. (190 Words)
Potential Barriers Preventing Adoption of Outputs:
Emerging understanding of the PU issues is quite limited, often to a few NGOs and research institutions. There is limited appreciation of the peculiar needs of the PUI by political power brokers, which has resulted in limited action taken in favour of the PU development. The dynamics of inward-migration compounding social cohesion of the people in the communities are ill-conceived to the extent that support for group and individual actions is low.
This is also compounded by lack of policy thrust for PU land and NRM, which are the main ingredients for the livelihoods of the people. What could be potentially a successful process for the poor are wrought with political misconceptions, traditional attitudes, and poor results from past projects, which often limit successful outcomes to a few people. There are also the obvious limitations of illiteracy, low skills and technology base.
The R7995 and R8090 also showed that it was quite difficult for the community members to penetrate the maze of bureaucratic processes that could get them to speak with people in authority. There were no special sessions for community people and those who initiate such process are often frustrated, creating bad image for these institutions.
How to Overcome Barriers to Adoption of Outputs:
Against the background that the PUI is in constant flux, policy-formulation that addresses poverty is made even more challenging. A forum for learning, sharing and highlighting peri-urban poverty issues among CSOs and policy makers would be a good start for addressing the above barriers. Technical support for understanding the PUI could be mobilised from the UK, India and Ghana by virtue of previous association with PUI research, to harness north-south cooperation whilst balancing natural and social science expertise. Policy research based on lessons from R7330, R8090, R8491, R7959, R8258 and other outputs of RNRRS could provide useful guidelines.
Such fora could commence with a review of the West African Policy environment backed by evidence-based research and advocacy, and appropriate communication strategies to enable effective packaging information. Such information would help to monitor the inclusion of peri-urban poverty in national development planning among West African States and to engage duty bearers on emerging issues.
Significant changes can also be achieved by combining the R8090 outputs with cognate outputs such as co-management of environment/NR in R7330. While R8090 could rally the people, modules from R7330 could be used to facilitate policy debate and awakening their environmental consciousness. (195 Words)
The best way to get outputs used by largest number of poor people is to promote regional fora for discussing initiatives across projects to facilitate understanding of PU characteristics at both policy making and implementing levels. Two recent PU initiatives supported by Cattle Research Network (CARNET), International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC) and the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (SIAR) focused on dairy production, horticulture and livestock. Despite individual successes, sharing experiences across projects could have yielded better results for poverty reduction. However, a platform does not exist for sharing such PU experiences. The crosscutting outputs of the PU cluster of RNRRS could increase the number of people reached by the two recent PU projects in the following ways:
Impacts On Poverty
Poverty Impact Studies:
Ghana and India
How the Poor have Benefited (including gender and other poverty groups):
Between the period of 2001-2005, beneficiary communities and other communities in the KPUI have benefited from an expanded livelihood portfolio. Increasingly, the poor (mostly women, retirees, returnees) had personal experiences with ‘non traditional’ livelihoods such as grasscutter rearing, alata soap making, mushroom production, snail rearing and know the implications of pursuing these livelihood activities for improving their household well being.
Groups have been formed around some of these livelihood activities at the PU level, providing important lever for members to deal, to some extent, with some of the official bottlenecks in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies and rural banks. The groups at the level of the community also serve as important social capital; giving its members some identify and recognition, which add to the self-fulfilment of the members. Membership of these networks at the PU level continues to increase. Presently, the grasscutter group is a registered cooperative and has established a working relationship with the Metropolitan Directorate of Ministry of Food and Agriculture
Communities have also benefited from north-south partnerships fostered by the design of the project that allowed room for foreign students and researchers to come down and interact with them
Additionally, the project generated new knowledge and transferred technology to beneficiaries in the areas of grasscutters rearing, mushroom production, alata soap making, which all increased the human and physical capital of the beneficiaries. Materials purchased by the project continue to be used in diverse ways by households, adding on to their operational effectiveness in most of the things they do for a living.
The livelihood activities pursued could thrive on small pieces of land and most of them could rely on recyclable natural resources such as sawdust, plantain, cassava, cocoa, and palm peals/waste. This increased usability of these natural resources by the poor and for that matter minimised the hitherto overdependence on natural resources.
The knowledge and relationships established continue to benefit members in several ways. Currently, in most of the communities the poor mostly, women are benefiting from financial capital in various forms such as credit from the rural and community banks. Some beneficiaries are actively participating in Susu schemes and guaranteeing them a near future financial support in payment of school fees, cost of health care and other social commitments. (374 Words)
� Poverty groups that experienced positive impact
The poor in general benefited and continue to benefit from the credit system initiated by the project. Women in petty trading in urban villages like Abrepo and Atafoa remain the most significant beneficiaries of the credit system. Many poor crop farmers, mostly vegetable farmers in villages such as Swedru, Behenase and Ampabame II, were assisted to sustain their farming activities and in some case scale up their operations.
� The number of people who have realised a positive impact on their livelihood
R8090 puts the number of direct beneficiaries in KPUI at 573 households with 64% getting the benefits through female beneficiaries. In Ghana, it has been discovered that children benefit more when their mothers have access to credit than their fathers. This means that through mothers, the project benefited more children. With an average household size of 5.3 in Ashanti Region, the project directly benefited about 3037 individuals.
� Indicators of average percentage increase in well being of R8090 beneficiaries
Table 7 below is an assessment of project impact on beneficiaries by livelihood activities obtained from 143 respondents. Trading, which was dominated by women scored 100%, and testimonies from women traders showed that the project moved them completely out of poverty. According to Akosua (Mattingly and Gregory, 2006)  one of the beneficiaries of R8090, she used to be poor but now she is average because she is able to contribute to the household income and her husband now respects her. All those who said yes (64.33%) in the Table 7 below could have experienced a similar change.
Table7 Cross tabulation of Livelihood Activity and Project impact on standard of living
Source: Adapted from R8090 FTR, Annex Bi D, 2004
Direct and Indirect Environmental Benefits:
One significant direct environmental impact is seen from rearing of grasscutters in the PUI. Part of the Grasscutter Cooperative Society’s intervention has been environmental education on grasscutter hunting and the associated bush bushfires in the dry seasons. Not only do they embark on education but also directly, they sell grasscutters as breeders and as meat to people, who would otherwise have obtained them from the bush. There is therefore improved conservation of these animals in the bush and a reduction of bush burning as a result of their activities. Currently, the grasscutters groups in Kumasi, Accra, Sunyani and other parts of the country have attracted more attention from the parliament as the former Minister of Agriculture presented a proposal on the wider adoption of grasscutter rearing in Ghana.
Another potential positive environmental impact is in the area of environmental pollution posed by burning of sawdust in the timber mills. In most industrial areas of Kumasi such as Kaase, Atonsu, Ahinsan and Agogo, smoke pollution from the timber companies is a big challenge to city planners. Mushroom production in this project relied heavily on this sawdust as substrate so with wider application of the new knowledge more sawdust would be used and less might be burnt or dumped into the streams. Again, mushroom gathering, like grasscutter hunting and snail picking involves engagement with the natural resources so rearing them in the backyard reduces the potential for bush burning. There is also evidence that a number of mushroom producers have found use of the by-products of the mushroom substrate by either deliberately making compost with it or deliberately scattering them in the backyard garden. This is significant as it reduces the reliance on organic fertilizers for crop production.
The suite of PUI projects from R6799 to R8090 in Ghana are associated with growing environmental awareness with a culmination in behavioural change and action towards sustainable natural resource use in the PUI. It is also confirmed from rural banks that linking petty trading credit group to sources of credit has led to the reduction in the unsustainable exploitation of NR in the KPUI (350).
Adverse Environmental Impacts:
Coping with the Effects of Climate Change, or Risk from Natural Disasters:
Action planning as indicated earlier has led to increased livelihood portfolio of the poor especially women, retirees and returnees.The extension of community education on water and NRM from the R6799 into the R8090 has improved water conservation consciousness of the people thereby improving their resilience to water shocks particularly in the dry seasons. Improved understanding of the PUI and subsequent expansion of the economic bases of the people is also another important legacy the project left behind and which has increase their livelihood diversity and ability to stand against market and seasonal shocks. A related point is about the increasing recognition of the poor in the local development planning processes. What this implies is that more of their concerns are brought into the targets of the planning thereby increasing the chances for them to receive municipal services that affect positively their living. (143 Words)
LIST OF ACRONYMS
Relevant Research Projects, with links to the