Participatory Urban Governance: The Experience of Santo Andre

By Daniel, Celso | UN Chronicle, March-May 2001 | Go to article overview

Participatory Urban Governance: The Experience of Santo Andre


Daniel, Celso, UN Chronicle


Social exclusion can be understood as the absence of basic rights compatible with a social minimum that allows the exercise of citizenship. Defined in these terms, the concept of exclusion is much broader than poverty; considering that the latter concept is usually associated with variables, such as famine and lack of income. Exclusion and inclusion are multidimensional; they are reflected through economic, social, cultural and urban facets. Therefore, policies aimed at social inclusion need to go beyond mere sectoral approaches: the right to the city; based on the access to minimum social standards, requires the implementation of a set of integrated policies aimed at social inclusion.

Based on these assumptions, the municipal administration of Santo Andre for the 1997-2000 term initiated the so-called Integrated Programme aimed at social inclusion. It implemented a pilot project in four slum areas, comprising some 20 per cent of the slum population of the city. The main characteristics of the Programme over the period were:

Set of integrated policies. The economic dimension-without doubt the central one-was incorporated through projects focussed on incubators for cooperatives, micro-finance, vocational training and a minimum income programme. The social dimension was tackled through programmes aimed at literacy campaigns for

adults, community health, and culture and leisure for street children, among others. Finally, slum upgrading, enabling the integration of slums into the overall urban fabric, and community cleaning programmes facilitated the urban inclusion of target populations.

Integration of local government. In order to go beyond a merely sectoral approach, characteristic of public administration, the municipality created a general coordination unit composed of several secretariats. In addition, a more technical unit among the planners of these secretariats was installed, with a field team that included people from the community coordinating the day-to-day work.

Measurement of social inclusion. A map with indicators of social inclusion and exclusion at the city level was developed. For each region, a relative indicator was elaborated, which was based on a set of more specific variables. This methodology tried to allow for the multidimensional character of social inclusion-going more in depth, therefore, than the usual approaches focussed on urban poverty.

Community participation. The target areas of the pilot project were chosen through the well-known mechanism of the participatory budget. In addition, there were periodical meetings with community associations. Finally, programmes in community health, literacy for adults and cleaning in slum areas were all implemented by community agents living in the slums.

Partnerships. To date, the programme has established partnerships with 14 national and international organizations: the UNCHS Urban Management Programme, the European Commission, the Interamerican Bank, the central government and universities, as well as local nongovernmental organizations.

An evaluation of the initial stage of the Programme shows that several significant results were obtained in terms of the integration of previously fragmented approaches, the upgrading of slums, social and cultural investments, and the economic re-insertion of families. However, several challenges remain. The Programme needs to be replicated beyond the four slum areas; at the same time, the local government is facing financial budgetary constraints. Coordination among the institutions of the municipality also needs to be further streamlined. Finally, the existing overall channels of community participation and the indicators that measure the results of the programme also need to be further integrated into the Programme. In view of this, the following changes have been incorporated for the present administration, 2001-2004:

Servicing all excluded families.

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