Rural-Urban Partnership Programme (NEP/96/003) - Key Areas of Activities and Achievements

By Ramesh Munankami, National Project Manager

Rural-Urban Partnership Programme (RUPP) is premised around the concept of achieving the goals of urban and rural development by strengthening rural-urban linkages. Banking heavily in its successful community mobilization initiatives, RUPP addresses not only the physical aspects of urban development, but also economic as well as social aspects. It has adopted a holistic approach to the issue of urban development that centres on the notion of holding urban areas as engines of growth and seeks to capitalise on the benefits and development potential obtainable through well-articulated and strengthened rural-urban linkages. The Programme is urban-based and urban-led, and hence advocates an "Urban Based Local Development" approach. RUPP is a joint programme of National Planning Commission (NPC), Ministry of Local Development (MLD) and Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MPPW), of His Majesty's Government of Nepal (HMG) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) executed by the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT). Since its inception in September 1997, RUPP has been implementing its activities in partnership with 12 municipalities and 30 Rural Market Centres within the hinterlands of those 12 municipalities. The Programme has made impacts towards building capabilities of the municipalities towards meeting growing urban management challenges brought about by rapid growth in population and urbanisation in Nepal, creating conditions for better urban governance, better delivery of products and services as well as enabling women to enhance their roles in social and economic development. It has also changed the lives of poor urban and rural community members through the development of self-sustaining economic enterprises and generating employment.

Social and host institution acceptance and consensus

The Programme has received a great deal of acceptance due to social capital formation efforts largely through community mobilization initiatives. The development strategy and approach of the Programme are being internalized into the Tenth Five Year Plan by the National Planning Commission, Ministry of Local Development and Ministry of Physical Planning and Works for establishing good urban governance, alleviating urban poverty and mobilizing the community & the private sector for the provision of urban services - physical infrastructures and socio-economic services. The municipalities, as partners of the Programme, have internalized the concepts and developed complete ownership of the Programme. Acceptance from the communities has also been very significant.

RUPP: Some indicators of best practice

Promoting Participatory approach in Urban Governance: - Community participation through TLO's (Tole/Lane Organizations) in municipal decision making and planning has resulted in better targeting of resources based upon specific requirements of the community as well as internal resource mobilization on significant scale. Communities in the urban as well as rural market centres are organised into TLOs. They are the lowest level institutional mechanism that provide a sustainable community based framework for the delivery of support components from a number sources. Over the years, TLOs have emerged as very effective grass-roots level institutions empowered enough to influence policy and planning decisions at the municipality level. They have been oriented by providing training to more than 10,000 people in ways that makes them capable to address the urban development issues in a holistic manner addressing issues ranging from planning to urban poverty reduction. So far 2,390 TLOs have been formed covering all 166 wards of 12 municipalities as well as the Rural Market Centres. These TLOs consists of a total of 93,626 Households as member constituting more than 91% of the total households and more than 53 percent of them are female headed Households. These TLOs have mobilised Rs. 22 miliion as their savings fund.

Promotion of economic enterprises based upon rural-urban linkage for poverty reduction: - The guiding principle of promoting economic and social enterprises through community mobilization and based upon rural-urban linkage has led towards alleviating urban and rural poverty. The persistence of urban poverty remains a serious challenge in Nepal with its manifestations in areas like housing and urban environment. Any holistic attempt aimed at better urban governance is not complete without initiatives aimed at urban poverty reduction. However, since years of development culture has entrenched the concept of poverty being predominantly a rural phenomenon, very little attention have been given by development actors to the issue of urban poverty in Nepal. Realising this, RUPP has engaged in focussed poverty reduction initiatives in the municipalities and Rural Market Centres as an integral part of overall urban development strategy. These activities are carried out through the creation of economic enterprises under a community based and demand driven model with the leadership of TLOs. In this line, more than 8,000 people have been trained and organised them into 2,492 enterprise groups of different types, most of them based upon rural-urban linkages. They have been supported with Rs. 51 million credit money and generated same amount as equity participation.

Building municipal capabilities in the area of decentralised and participatory urban governance: - Participatory Municipality Development Planning (PMDP) process supported by the Programme and adopted by the municipalities has helped establish decentralized participatory urban governance. RUPP has special focus on building capabilities of municipalities and RMC's in the area of participatory planning so as to enable them to play effective roles in local governance. Along these lines, ward members and TLO representatives of partner municipalities have been provided with training on Participatory Municipal Development Planning (PMDP) and Participatory Village Development Planning (PVDP). A total of 4,127 participants have been trained so far by the Programme on PMDP and PVDP.

Resource mobilization and optimization through partnership: - Following participatory planning processes, the TLOs have been engaged in the preparation of TDP (Tole Development Plan) based upon which TLOs have undertaken variety of projects relating to economic and social infrastructure development by mobilising local resources (funds from other projects, line agencies, municipality, ward and community contributions, etc.) as well as seed grant support extended by the Programme. So far more than 640 projects ranging from the construction of link roads and bridges to urban environment improvement activities with Programme funding of Rs. 16 million and others resource of Rs. 48 million have been completed benefiting more than 85,000 household. One of the main components of the RUPP is the promotion of Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives. Such an initiative ensures resource mobilization of the private sector and simultaneously establishes partnership between the municipality and the private sector.