At this event I was invited on behalf of SPARC and SDI to discuss the urban poor and cities. BMZ, which is the German department of development, which commissions GIZ and another agency to undertake the development investment is one of the few which is present in cities, and therefore it was of value for SDI and SPARC to showcase the value of citizen participation, especially as it pertains to informal slum dwellers.
My presentation at a side event focused on the inability of cities to accommodate informality and the habitat and livelihood implications of these challenges to both slum dwellers and city. The global development agency also did not address the issue of urbanization with a perspective to embrace its challenges but rather to spread a sense of gloom about it
GIZ works with municipalities in Bangladesh and sitting next to a mayor who is a medical doctor and who works on a range of issues was interesting. Often meeting mayors at meetings like this is interesting, however there is rarely any follow-up. Also bilateral agencies do not seem to have any flexibility to explore additional possibilities.
In the final Plenary, all on the stage represented different constituency stakeholders and we challenged each other and the audience to embrace the urban challenge and to anticipate future possible scenarios by dealing with present deficits.
The constant discussion about participation never got actualized and the manipulation of projects to deliver what everyone but the poor considered important could be the cause of why many solutions were not sustainable.