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Relevamiento de Barrios Populares (Survey of Popular Neighbourhoods)

The central government is improving social and urban integration of informal settlements faster than ever. Through a collaborative approach, we invited social organizations to design and conduct the 1st National survey of slums. With a mobile app and training, the inhabitants of the neighborhoods help in the process. Then, the families received a Certificate that allows them to request public services.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The Chief of Cabinet of Ministers - Presidency of the Nation- created in 2016 the Program "Coordination of Sociocommunal Projects". The aim of this program is to work with several social organizations and NGOs in a project to gather information on the characteristics of all the slums of the country, as well as the degree of access of its inhabitants to basic social rights and their needs. A “popular neighborhood” (slum), is a neighborhood where at least 8 families are grouped or contiguous, where more than half of the population does not have land tenure or regular access to two or more of the basic services (water network, electric power network with meter and/or cloacal network).

The work was coordinated by the government from a central team in the Cabinet Office with social organizations nucleated in Confederación de Trabajadores de la Economía Popular (CTEP), Corriente Clasista y Combativa (CCC) and Barrios de Pie, and with the organizations TECHO and Caritas Argentina, all of them with territorial presence throughout the country.

All localities with more than 10,000 inhabitants were raked obtaining the perimeter of each one of them. Subsequently, all neighborhoods with their respective lots were digitally mapped, providing training in the use of GIS software to a group of residents of the neighborhoods. Information in the houses of all the slums was gathered with more than 7,000 relayers of the territory of 10 organizations.

The main objective pursued by this survey is to achieve social and urban integration of the “popular neighborhoods”. To do this, two lines of action were taken:

1.  Provide people living in popular neighborhoods with property titles. In this regard, the State Property Administration Agency (Agencia de Administración de Bienes del Estado, AABE) was empowered to issue the Certificate of Family Dwelling (CFD) after the survey was conducted. The CFD can be requested by the families who were relieved and it is only delivered in offices of the National Social Security Administration (ANSES). The CFD also enables the families to request and access public services such as running water, sewers, electricity and natural gas network. As such, the CFD serves as a sufficient title for accreditation of domicile before any national, provincial, municipal public authority, entities, and private companies, also serving as a legal or fiscal domicile.

2.  Create the National Registry of Popular Neighborhoods. This registry was intended to gather all the information that was obtained through the survey, including information regarding inhabitants, and the digitally mapped information regarding location. As well as the situation regarding public services in each neighborhood.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

SITUATION TO THE DATE OF INITIATION

At the national level, there was no systematized, consolidated and up to- date information on the subject.

METHODOLOGY

The methodology involved three phases:

1. Neighborhood mapping: the objective of this first stage was to locate, define and analyze information regarding where these informal settlements where. As a first step, the national government asked the provinces and municipal governments to submit any information regarding “popular neighborhoods” in each one of their jurisdictions. After analyzing that information, they were compared with a prior survey carried out by the NGO TECHO. Finally to conclude this stage people from the NGO selected and contacted one “champion” in the different neighborhoods, who had acquired a certain relationship within the neighborhood, and who could have good information regarding the state of everyone living there. These “champions” were the ones to define where the neighbourhoods where located and define the polygons to locate them using GIS software. Afterwards, they were asked some questions regarding the general state of public services inside the neighborhood.

2. Land plotting using satellite imagery (those trained in GIS): the “popular neighborhoods” were divided into blocks and lots. To finalize this stage each one of the neighborhoods was assigned with an ID, which was unique.

3. Household surveys: the last stage of this was the household surveys, the process consisted of going house by house, surveying each one of the people living there. The standard questions asked were: full name, document number, birth date, to those who were adults (+18) if they worked, in which craft (this because there is no precedent of any systematized information regarding popular economy), to those who were minors if the where collecting the “AUH” (which is a subsidy the State gives to children), this information was passed to the National Social Security Administration to verify if they were not receiving the subsidy and thus getting these kids inside the system. This was done by the relays, with the application that recorded the questions and placed each and every house surveyed in the GPS. When they inserted the ID number of the lot, the surveyed house was then georeferenced.

What is the current status of your innovation?

When the national government started in December 2015, defined as one of its national priorities the achievement of zero national poverty rate. But, soon the government's agencies in charge of the problem of informal settlements realized that there was a huge lack of data to design good policies. There was no integral assessment of this subject. Prior to creating something from scratch, the Cabinet Office decided to see if there was some work done on the topic by civil society organizations or universities. It was very positive that the government trust in looking for collective intelligence because as a result of this process, the Cabinet office was able to found that there were very interesting efforts from NGOs initiatives that could be capitalized, improved and scaled. That's how the government summoned NGOs to start working on the subject. Through this research, the government found out that the social organization "TECHO" carried out, in 2013 and 2016, a cadaster of the slums and informal settlements in 9 provinces of the country.

As a result, the Cabinet Office realized the importance of collecting this type of data across the country in order to have updated information to design and implement efficient and effective public policies to reach the population in need. It also, realized that those NGOs have a deep knowledge of the situation there that was very valuable. After several years of absence from the State, the NGOs were the only ones to reach the inhabitants and gather the information needed. NGOs were a key part of the planning and implementation of the project. The Undersecretary of Public Innovation and Open Government with the help of the Cabinet Office were able to perform mapping with satellite images of all the settlements that fulfilled the conditions of the so-called "popular neighborhoods", and the NGOs contributed the methodology of the survey and the surveyors.

The surveyors were trained in GIS. Many inhabitants of those informal settlements participated very actively. It is important to highlight that many of them were digital illiterates, the government decided to include them and designed very simple and agile training. After the completion of this GIS training, the inhabitants received an official diploma issued by the National School of Community Organization and Popular Economy and the National University of General San Martin. For instance, 52 young inhabitants from villages and informal settlements received this diploma.

It was a process of iteration and continuous improvement open to feedback to the people that were carrying out the program in the informal settlements. As the teams of surveyors were carrying out the task, they realized that there were some errors in the satellite mapping, and they were corrected. They also discovered the need to upload information on a platform that allows knowing what neighborhoods were relieved and which ones were not. Therefore, a process of continuous improvement between the National Government, the NGOs, and the inhabitants was carried out to improve the satellite mapping and in turn, also improve the survey methodologies. Today the project is at a stage of data collection. Thus, we can use the information gathered to make better public policies based on evidence, and of course, give the certificate of family housing to bring people closer to cover their basic needs.

Mainly, the success of the project has a lot of edges, one of them is the survey itself, being that at the national level there was no systematized, consolidated and up-to-date information on the subject. On the other side, handing out Certificates of Family Dwelling to the full extent of the inhabitants was another objective, that is still in the implementation phase. But besides this and thinking in the mid-term results, there are some indicators that we aim to collect to see the progress of our intervention: inhabitants incorporated into the potable water network, scriptures granted, % of inhabitants incorporated to the gas network, % of inhabitants incorporated to the sewers network, % of inhabitants living under the line of poverty.

We also believe that this Certificate could empower the inhabitants from the popular neighborhoods because, with this instrument, they won´t need to depend anymore on the municipal government to recognize their right to have public services. The program was able to set the agenda and put this topic as a national priority, as well as to establish concrete efforts and tools to progress towards the big purpose of measuring the dimensions of the problem and solve it in the short, medium and long term.

 

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

The partnership established by the national government with NGOs and civil society organizations was crucial for the success of this project. NGOs brought the methodology and the manpower to carry out the surveys. In the first phase of fieldwork and data collection, civil society had the main role. As it was explained before, referents were selected based on their level of participation and knowledge of the community, as well as the level of seniority in the neighborhood. When the second phase arrived and the objective was to survey the inhabitants and families living inside these neighborhoods, we opened the task to be a surveyor to every inhabitant.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

The project is created from the partnership between NGOs and the State. NGOs have been demanding for years the implementation of a survey of this kind, for the first time, the National Government heard them and decided not only to implement it but to bring them as key players in the design and implementation process.

NGOs were also part of the process of design and implementation of the program, most of the people who worked on this project come from NGOs. Other areas of government also participated such as the Modernization Ministry, the State Property Administration Agency (AABE), the National Social Security Administration (ANSES), the Ministry of Social Development, and the Ministry of the Interior. It was an innovative collaborative work scheme. Many of the surveyors were the same inhabitants of the neighborhoods, so the users were part of the process. We are also currently working with service providers to change their internal rules and regulations.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

The Chief of Cabinet of Ministers - Presidency of the Nation- created in 2016 the Program "Coordination of Sociocommunal Projects". The aim of this program is to work with several social organizations and NGOs in a project to gather information on the characteristics of all the slums of the country, as well as the degree of access of its inhabitants to basic social rights and their needs. A “popular neighborhood” (slum), is a neighborhood where at least 8 families are grouped or contiguous, where more than half of the population does not have land tenure or regular access to two or more of the basic services (water network, electric power network with meter and/or cloacal network).

The work was coordinated by the government from a central team in the Cabinet Office with social organizations nucleated in Confederación de Trabajadores de la Economía Popular (CTEP), Corriente Clasista y Combativa (CCC) and Barrios de Pie, and with the organizations TECHO and Caritas Argentina, all of them with territorial presence throughout the country.

All localities with more than 10,000 inhabitants were raked obtaining the perimeter of each one of them. Subsequently, all neighborhoods with their respective lots were digitally mapped, providing training in the use of GIS software to a group of residents of the neighborhoods. Information in the houses of all the slums was gathered with more than 7,000 relayers of the territory of 10 organizations.

The main objective pursued by this survey is to achieve social and urban integration of the “popular neighborhoods”. To do this, two lines of action were taken:

1.  Provide people living in popular neighborhoods with title to property of their houses. In this regard, the State Property Administration Agency (Agencia de Administración de Bienes del Estado, AABE) was empowered to issue the Certificate of Family Dwelling (CFD) after the survey was conducted. The CFD can be requested by the families who were relieved and it is only delivered in offices of the National Social Security Administration (ANSES). The CFD also enables the families to request and access public services such as running water, sewers, electricity and natural gas network. As such, the CFD serves as a sufficient title for accreditation of domicile before any national, provincial, municipal public authority, entities, and private companies, also serving as a legal or fiscal domicile.

2.  Create the National Registry of Popular Neighborhoods. This registry was intended to gather all the information that was obtained through the survey, including information regarding inhabitants, and the digitally mapped information regarding location. As well as the situation regarding public services in each neighborhood.

Challenges and Failures

The first challenge we encountered was the lack of systematized and up-to-date information on villages and settlements in the country. In Argentina, the different areas of government were used to work very isolatedly, there is a weak tradition of public policy coordination among different agencies. This intervention is a big effort made by different teams to implement an integrated approach to reach the vulnerable and excluded population to solve their main needs, from the beginning to the end.

On the other hand, the relationship with NGOs was not always on the bright side, even though there were conflicts on other fronts the project succeed.

Finally, we ask ourselves the following question: would this be enough for popular neighborhoods to become socially and urban integrated?

Conditions for Success

For the success of an innovation like this one, it is crucial to have the political will from the top of the government. Also, it’s crucial the commitment to work in partnership with NGOs and other organizations that have already worked on the subject. On the other hand, it is really important to work with the public service regulators so they adequate their regulations to the needs of the vulnerable people.

Replication

The innovation has a lot of potential, the problem of central governments not having systematized information regarding slums is present in many other countries in Latin America. The methodology, the way the program was implemented, and of course the use of this data to design and implement better public policies evidence-driven, could be replicable in other countries. We are eager in sharing our lessons learned, and by any means surrender all the documentation regarding the implementation of the program itself.

Lessons Learned

It is crucial to work on getting the highest political priority and validation. It is also very important to set up good systems and open up the government to sit around the table the NGOs, organizations and local champions. They can bring a unique perspective because they tend to have a close relationship with the communities. They could also help a lot in reaching places that are very hard for the government to access.

It is important to set open conversations and clear rules and roles. It´s crucial that the surveyors, who in this case where digital analphabets, are enthusiastic and is important to train them in a simple and agile way. We understand that political validation is the first step to run a project like this one, that requires interministerial work, and high public exposition. In our specific case, NGOs and civil society were asking for something like this to happen a long time ago, and the highest ranks from the government heard them and decided to make this a State priority.

Year: 2016
Level of Government: National/Federal government

Status:

  • Implementation - making the innovation happen

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

14 May 2017

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