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Development and Cities

Author(s): David Westendorff
Programme Area: Governance (2000 - 2009)
Project Title: Urban Governance
No. of Pages: 368

Mainstreaming the urban poor in Andhra Pradesh, by Banashree Banerjee

This paper is about the Andhra Pradesh Urban Services for the Poor project (APUSP) currently being implemented in Andhra Pradesh state in southern India by the Government of Andhra Pradesh in partnership with the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID). The project covers 32 Class 1 towns, which in 1991 had a combined population of 5.5 million. The project goal is to achieve ‘sustained reduction in poverty and vulnerability of the urban poor in Andhra Pradesh’. The purpose is that ‘the poor in Class 1 towns of Andhra Pradesh benefit from improved access to more appropriate and sustainable services’.

Over a seven-year period, the project is expected directly to benefit more than 2.2 million slum dwellers in the 32 towns.2 However, in a large country such as India, which has experienced many governmentand donor-funded poverty reduction programmes over the last three decades, it is neither the scale nor the goal of APUSP that deserves attention. Rather, the merit of APUSP lies in its approach to poverty reduction.

The concept of poverty reduction in APUSP is based on three premises. First, reforms are required within municipalities in order to improve their performance in poverty reduction activities. Second, improvements in environmental infrastructure in slums have multiple impacts on improving the conditions of poor people, but need to be based on the demands of poor people and on the capacity of the municipality to operate and maintain this infrastructure. Third, civil society should be strengthened as a way to invigorate the interaction between poor people and the municipality and to stimulate policies in favour of the poor. This reflects the notion that poverty reduction requires the building of partnerships in both government and community or civil society, and that it needs to be based on the actual needs of poor people.

This concept has been translated into a three-pronged approach, consisting of funding for three inter-linked components: municipal reform (£15.7 million); environmental infrastructure improvement (£66.1 million); and working with civil society (£12.6 million). The three components are expected to be mutually reinforcing in a number of ways.

The first two components are being undertaken by government and are brought together in a medium-term rolling plan, the Municipal Action Plan for Poverty Reduction (MAPP), articulated by each of the
32 municipalities with the participation of local stakeholders. Over time, the parallel civil society initiative is expected to improve the quality of participation and the poverty and vulnerability focus of the MAPP. It is also expected to influence state policy.

The first year of project implementation (2000-2001) has demonstrated the validity of the approach and the commitment of both partners (the Government of Andhra Pradesh and DFID) to the project principles. It has also brought into sharp focus the complexity of implementing some of the key principles of APUSP. In the following sections we will look into the practical implications, but first we will review the project components and the MAPP process in order to gain a better understanding
of their contribution to mainstreaming the urban poor.