Concluding remarks on transformation, scale and people-centred development.
/ Andrea Cubides /
“ IS NOT IMPORTANT WHAT THE SCALE IS, BUT WHAT THE SCALE DOES”
C. Boano during the Discussion panel after fieldwork of BUDD and UDP.
Regarding transformation we can tell two things in relation to the Baan Mankong Program, the first is that meaningful transformation is happening at the local community level, with the capacities and empowerment that single communities have developed in situations of scarcity creating quality of space and quality of life by themselves and for themselves through the program.
The second is that the future stability of the communities achievements can be threaten by future city growing processes which are transforming the city in disconnection with the communities processes and needs.
The communities have shown what they are capable of, when given the adequate and accessible tools. Coming one more time to the frase from Chawanand Luansang, from the Community Architects Network (CAN) “people don´t have limits in their capacities”, through the process of the BMK they are ready to collaborate in the production of a city that should have real account of the needs and dreams of the urban poor, and not only the economic growth at the cost of the low income population as the mantra, which is happening today in Bangkok and other major cities in Thailand.
Here is where the notion of scaling up is intertwined with the notion of city wide transformation. Scale up is not about covering more people, the BMK has the necessary pace that is managed mainly by the communities processes, it´s not only about participant satisfaction, it is also about participants accountability in the making of their city.
To scale up is necessary to connect the transformation that is happening at the local level with the institutional processes at the city wide level.
As city wide interventions require changes in policies and institutional structures, in land regulations and planning standards, there is a need of political will to work in collaboration with urban poor communities, to give them a space in the city planning table. As Somsook mentioned in one of our previous lectures, the urban poor communities have organised themselves and produce with less money and resources, they are part of the solution.
However, for this needed symbiosis to happen, the grassroots network has to act as neighbourhoods within their areas, connecting physically the individual clusters that exist now and the ones to be created, producing common space for economic and social opportunities (social services, common public space, sports facilities) to gain the experience of planning their districts or regions. This examples can open the possibility for future participation in the city planning process in collaboration with the official institutions and wider actors. This local planning activity must be accompanied by constant network advocacy with the different institutions and organisations that already work with them like CODI, NULICO, ACHR, Districts, among others to look for forms of co-production of the city.
The notion of people-centred development after the BMK is for me, what the entire program is about, is giving the possibility, tools and access to the people to create their own spaces and opportunities maintaining their needs and aspirations at the core of the process. After the Baan Mankong I´m not sure if such development can be done by any government or organization without the management of the urban poor people itself. It is through co-production that the interests of all actors involved can be taken into account in every aspect of the process. Thus, grassroots communities need to be involved in the planning of the city to be accountable.