CHAPTER3 THEORETICAL JUSTIFICATION FOR A NEW SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM
Chapter two provided a theoretical background for sustainable development and its dimensions. Chapter two also argued that, often, developed countries unfairly apply the traditional theoretical basis to measure the progress of sustainable development in developing countries. Chapter three attempts to bring about a fundamental shift away from the normative approaches of sustainable development towards a human centred development approach. This chapter will focus on the rationale and relevance of such a development approach in South Africa.
A PARTICIPATORY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT APPROACH
What has emerged from chapter two is that the traditional approach towards sustainable development focuses more on the desired effects rather than on participatory processes. The desired effects can represent anything from the environmental or technological fields to economic development. However, participation is often not an integral part of the above traditional dimensions. This study moves towards a participatory sustainable development approach, with emphasis on processes of empowerment and human development.
Concerns for empowerment and human development are about people and their immediate living environment. They are also about people participating in matters which affect them directly or indirectly. Their full participation depends on a number of factors such as the methods and approaches used, steps and activities undertaken and models applied. These factors demonstrate that the field of development studies comprises complex and dynamic processes. Often, this field is also saturated with a variety of interpretations of the term « development ». These interpretations, depending on their application, often refer to change or an improved state of something. Change can also be influenced by natural phenomena or by human beings themselves. A development approach can also reflect a desire to change.
In the field of development studies, such a desire is often motivated by policy imperatives by means of which governments seek solutions for social and economic issues. Policy makers therefore face the challenge of creating an enabling legislative, regulatory, and policy environment, in order to achieve certain development goals. These goals can become meaningful if public participation is considered a priority by governments.
There are numerous experiences of public participation around the world. It is also reported that the most effective popular participation is reflected in some developing countries of Asia and the Pacific (Tolentino cited in Ginther et al 1995: 145). However, effective public participation can also become a potential threat to governments. That is, a vocal civil society can easily identify vulnerable areas of a government. A vulnerable government is therefore more likely to react negatively and its credibility could therefore be affected. For example, the People’s Republic of China is well renowned for its participatory planning approaches at community or grassroots level (Tolentino cited in Ginther et al 1995: 145). However, it is also alleged that the Peoples’ Republic of China is known to be repressive.
Public participation needs to be looked at as a human rights issue. According to Taylor (cited in Ginther et al 1995: 205), the United Nations World Conference on human rights emphasised that:
The human person (sic) is the central subject of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and consequently should be the principal beneficiary and should participate actively in the realisation of rights and freedoms.
A new theoretical paradigm which promotes human rights is feasible; however, it requires a critical look at a country’s internal, local, resources and the historical situation in which a country finds itself (see chapter four). The previous discussion pointed out that sustainable development is a process which aims to bring about a desired change, either through environmental, economic or technological means. However, such a change is perceived differently by different people.
What is important is that the concept of sustainable development should be understood as the integral systemic complex process which has as its objective, a quest to improve the quality of life of the whole population. It should put more emphasis on an integral productive development, a social development with equity and full citizens’ participation, based on the principle of conservation of the base of natural resources and the preservation of environmental quality. This implies that there is a need for people’s participation as a means towards achieving a better quality of life for them. Such an achievement would require an interplay of factors such as the economic, environmental, technological and institutional, thereby doing justice to the complex nature of sustainable development. For example, economic growth which is not centred around human beings is not sustainable; that is to say that we have to overcome the technocratic and environmentalist vision by which development is conceptualised and operationalised. Overcoming technocratic and bureaucratic systems implies that the government should decentralise responsibilities by placing them with local government, thereby doing away with centralised systems and structures which hinder good governance. For example, the current local government system in South Africa is indicative of the government’s commitment towards good governance. However, good governance requires sound management, administrative and human resources capacities and fewer bureaucratic and technocratic systems. These systems should be geared towards and designed to advance human development.
The discussion points out that the human dimension of sustainable development can become better operationalised at local government level. This implies that every so-called democratic government which embraces the notion of decentralisation has an overall responsibility to effectively improve the quality of lives of the people. Such a responsibility implies that for a country to succeed, it has to encourage sustainable development through the promotion of effective public participation. The government should play a role in promoting a new culture and a vision for public participation. The new culture should emphasise decentralised forms of governance, choice in services at local level, consumer responsibility in payment for services and an effective monitoring of municipal development programmes. Given its diverse focus, it is clear that sustainable development is not an end in itself, but a process towards building the capacities of people through economic, environmental, technological, institutional, cultural, social and political means (see chapter eight table 8.4).
Diverse application of the concept of sustainable development implies that it is important to consider the context within which participation takes place. Common logic points out that participation takes place during project development, as indicated in chapter two. However, it should be noted that neither project planning nor project development processes are sufficient to bring about the desired end results of sustainable development. Project development is often used as a basis for assessing sustainability. This is so because projects are characterised by a number of sequences and processes which are easy to measure over a specific time. The author compiled a table which shows an overview of a typical project cycle
The above table provides a classical simplified version of what constitutes a project cycle. This table highlights key activities and processes which are undertaken, from the beginning to the end. The project planning process has become predictable and conventional in that it tends to follow the same pattern of events and sequences. Simultaneously, it tends to suggest that if the cycle is completed successfully in the sequence provided, then there are better prospects for sustainability. As argued by Abrams (1998: 3), this is a common « clockwise myth » which often develops false expectations. This implies that the beginning and the end of a project pose serious problems. First, the sponsors of a project such as donors or government become satisfied when the project has reached its final stage and second, beneficiaries assume further responsibilities, unprepared for future challenges. The two assumptions are wrong and misleading in that the end of the project is in fact the beginning of a tough process for beneficiaries. The project cycle is static or time-bound and therefore does not take into consideration the dynamic nature of projects in service delivery. This dynamism is in fact the point of departure in understanding sustainable development, as a process and not simply a product arising from project implementation.
Depending on their nature and scope, projects differ in their life-span, commonly ranging from one year to five years. Experience shows that often the project steering committees are perceived as representatives of communities. That is, community participation is reduced to a steering committee. Due to capacity constraints and time factors, what should have been participation is replaced by mere consultation of the community. Because contractors are under pressure to implement and complete projects, real participation is compromised.
The extremes indicated in the table further demonstrate that the concept of participation is also rife with contradictions, especially in situations in which participation is becoming meaningless. While there is much consensus on the principles of participation and development, what is still lacking is a comprehensive and critical examination of their semantic, conceptual and practical application (Ginther et al 1995: 25). The consensus does not emphasise their contribution in decision making, but their presence serves a great purpose. As argued above, this approach compromises the integrity of the process of sustainable development. Contrary to the passive typology, the interactive typology is quite intense. It recognises people’s potential, and where possible, it strives towards improving the potential of those who are involved in a project. People being treated as subjects (decision makers) and not objects (numbers).
The above table shows that development is void of sustainability unless it takes into consideration meaningful forms of participation. Participatory methods of sustainability are effective in situations in which the outcomes of a project or its continuation are emphasised (see above: table 3.2 on interactive participation). A strategic approach, rather than a conventional project approach, is ideal for participatory sustainable development. A participatory sustainable development approach should be seen as a strategic process, in which strategies (Omat 1997: 3) are defined as:
participatory and cyclical processes of planning and action to achieve three objectives such as economic, ecological and social.
Planning is an important element of participation. Often, strategic planning is perceived merely as the creation of a document which outlines the vision, mission, strategic goals, time-frames and budget of government or organisations. Such an approach becomes an end in itself, thereby defeating the entire purpose of having a strategy. A strategy should guide the implementation process. It should be a process and not a document which guides an organisation. According to Omat (1997: 25):
Strategies are processes leading towards a comprehensive, complex objective, namely sustainable development.
A strategic planning process should approach strategy as a management tool to assist an organisation to reach certain decisions. To reach key decisions, strategies can be applied to generate a practical model. Such a model can be applied to operationalise a strategy or policy. Implementers or practitioners of sustainable development should be able to apply the information they have about their organisation and understand the purpose for its existence. While they implement policies, they should also test the applicability and appropriateness of the model and its impact. They should exchange information based either on best practice experiences, or their livelihood community or political experiences. That is, existing community knowledge is put under scrutiny, not for criticism, but to assess whether or not the priorities chosen are realistic. Moore (cited in Stewart 1999: 29) calls this « a diagnosis of political expectations ». It is about a reality check and also the setting of clear targets and time-frames. Therefore, it is clear that strategic planning and public participation co-exist. A planning process driven solely by government officials and consultants in the form of a simple project-cycle, is not desirable, as it cannot guarantee sustainable development. It is in this context that members of a community are empowered through interactive planning methods so that they are in a position to address issues of sustainable livelihoods. Projects should thus be seen in the broader process of service delivery, and not as mere activities or events leading to a conclusion of a process.
CHAPTER! ORIENTATION AND STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.2 BACKGROUND TO AND MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY .
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT AND RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
1.5 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
1.6 STRUCTURAL PRESENTATION OF THE STUDY
CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL DIMENSIONS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
2.2 LITERATURE REVIEW ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
2.3 THE CONCEPT « SUST AINABILITY »
CHAPTER3 THEORETICAL JUSTIFICATION FOR A NEW SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM
3.2 A PARTICIPATORY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT APPROACH
3.3 PRINCIPLES FOR PARTICIPATORY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
3.4 PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND IMP ACT ASSESSMENT
CHAPTER4 SETTING THE SCENE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA
4.2 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN CONTEXT
4.3 THE INFLUENCE OF THE COLONIAL AND APARTHEID PAST
CHAPTERS SUSTAINABILITY OF WATER SERVICES
5.2 SOUTH AFRICA’S WATER POLICY
5.3 SECTORAL ANALYSIS :KEY SUCCESS FACTORS AND LESSONS LEARNT
5.4 TOWARDS A NEW WATER SERVICES POLICY
CHAPTER6 SOUTH AFRICA’S LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM: WATER SERVICES IN TRANSITION
6.2 LOCAL GOVERNMENT TRANSFORMATION: TERRITORIAL ALIGNMENT
6.3 THE NEW LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY FRAMEWORK
CHAPTER 7 STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS FROM LA TIN AMERICAN EXPERIENCES
7.2 POST-DEMOCRATISATION ADJUSTMENT EXPERIENCES
7.3 LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE ABOVE EXPERIENCES
7.4 CONSOLIDATION OF PARTICIPATORY METHODOLOGY AND LESSONS LEARNT
CHAPTERS A PARTICIPATORY MODEL TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
8.2 AN INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK
CHAPTER9 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
9.2 DECONSTRUCTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9.4 PREREQUISITES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
9.6 AREAS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A PARTICIPATORY MODEL FOR THE WATER SERVICES SECTOR IN SOUTH AFRICA