PRO-POOR PLANNING: A Tool for Strategic Territorial Planning and a Conceptual Framework Drawn from Studies in Colombia and Costa Rica
Abstract: Few planning practices in the South seem to be equipped with key concepts and technical, empirical and administrative capacities required to comprehend and visualize the phenomenon of poverty at inter- and intra-urban levels, which compromises their ability to inform decision-makers on the effects on poverty reduction of the land-based actions they design, implement and monitor. This challenge was addressed from conceptual, technical, empirical, and administrative angles, which correspond to the research objectives. As a result, the study developed a Tool for Strategic Territorial Planning, TSTP™, which – using evidence-based poverty maps – helps urban planners comprehend and visualize the effects of land-based actions on poverty reduction in order to be better equipped to inform decision-makers. A Pro-poor Planning Conceptual Framework was also developed based on the applications of the TSTP™. Particularly, the study used a spiral methodology in which experiences of planning practice were used to reflect on, conceptualise, experiment with and suggest modifications to specific aspects of planning theory, which in turns nourished the same planning practice, as follows. First, the TSTP™ was developed on the bases of observations, literature review and in-depth interviews; then, the proposed technique was tested in two case studies, in which data was collected from surveys, questionnaires and census microdata, and analysed using geographic information systems; and lastly, the reflection on, and conceptualisation of, findings was used to develop the Pro-poor Planning Conceptual Framework using structured discussions, working papers and research workshops. The study showed that the use of an evidence-based poverty map technique is of significant importance to promote pro-poor planning practice, not only as a method to visualise the geographical distribution of poverty, but also as a tool to facilitate dialogue amongst different planning stakeholders when defining indicators of poverty, when analysing and discussing the results, and when defining and prioritizing actions. On the other hand, it showed that decentralization in Latin America has been a top-down process initiated in response to systemic economic or political crisis and accompanied by external pressures (as opposed to its motor being the deepening of democracy), and that management of public resources has not improved, participation of civil society is poor, and inter-regional inequalities still persist. Hence, it argued that the causal link between decentralization and democratic development in Latin America appears to be tenuous, which helps to understand why the impact of local planning practice on poverty reduction still looks weak. Six specific findings emerged: • the combination of poverty and inequality maps help in the identification of deprived urban areas with a clearly defined territory in which to implement pro-poor land-based actions that are in line with scarce resources • social and physical public interventions need to be combined and articulated in a plan of actions in order to reduce poverty, instead of just displacing the poor • more attention is required to targeting strategies and to long-term impacts of public programmes and projects in order to effectively and efficiently combat poverty • the proposed technique is flexible enough to be used in at least four functions of urban planning: diagnostic, simulation, decision-making and monitoring • the proposed technique alone cannot cope with structural limitations of urban planning, which is why a pro-poor planning conceptual framework was developed • greater efforts are required in relation to the collection and management of statistical and cartographic data in the South.
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