An approach to achieving inclusive cities. Towards policy formulation

Introduction

Broadly speaking, inclusive cities starts by enabling access to the city. It however, goes beyond presence and entails access to facilities and services of the city and the ability to engage with the city as a whole. As such inclusivity entails spatial, social and economic access for all.

Achieving inclusive built environments, is a complex matter that will require multidimensional approach and inclusive participation. Accessibility will entail addressing issues of approachability, legibility, resilience, and sustainability, while the success of interventionist policy will require participation, accessibility (including literacy) and acceptability. The inclusive city should be a place where needs and aspirations can be achieved.

The ideal city should be a place of opportunities, where aspirations can be met. A city that enables personal development and expression. The ideal city should be inclusive cities that enable participation, where by the voice of all are given consideration. In policy formation, the following questions need to be considered – Who are those participating in the city? Where are they from? what are their needs and aspirations? Why are they here? On the premise that interventionist policies should have obsolescence as a core principle (Ojo-Aromokudu , Samuel, & Dhunpath, 2020), this blog presents thoughts on how to achieve inclusive cities.

Theoretical approach

From a sustainable development perspective, the social, economic, financial, environmental and institutional aspects of the city need to be understood. By so doing, official policy can provide practical response to situations and thus move from the realm of being official policy to enacted policy i.e. policy-in-practice (Ojo-Aromokudu et al 2020). Social considerations are with regards to the demographics (gender, age, literacy), cultural background, safety and security of city users. Consideration should be given to the outliers, the vulnerable and the voiceless, their level of resilience and or ability to adapt to economic, environmental and legislative conditions. Institutional considerations are with regards to governance and how opportunities and inclusive participation and partnerships are enabled. Social, economic, environmental and legislative contexts are critical factors that contribute to the city’s dynamics, either enabling inclusion or supporting exclusion. Such dynamics bring about the creation of binaries such as us and them; formal and informal; rich and poor; able and disable, indigenes and migrants, etc. Interventionist polices may then be needed to reverse exclusion.

Interventionist policies maybe regulatory or non-regulatory. According to OECD (2011), the objective of regulatory policy is to ensure that regulations are in the public interest. It addresses the permanent need to ensure that regulations and regulatory frameworks are justified, of good quality and “fit for purpose”. According to Samuel (2016) policy may be contextualised as a set of practices, and as an enabling tool. From this premise, Ojo-Aromokudu , Samuel, & Dhunpath, (2020): 67 argue that ‘official policy is subject to interpretation by both street-level bureaucrats and the public, who experience policy and who often re-interpret policy to advance private agendas’. As such, clearly defining all possible stakeholders, their contexts, interactions and dynamics is arguably essential to predict and prescribe policy outcomes.

Policy formulation process  

Dickoff, James, & Weidenbanch, (1968) four stages of theory construction, are applied to policy formulation. The first stage is the descriptive stage, within which the actors/ stakeholders and context are defined. It entails identifying all possible stake holders including city leadership (formal and informal) city users (vulnerable and marginalized) etc.; and the implications of the city context. For instance, in the formulation of inclusive housing policy, identifying all possible stakeholders within the city context is critical. In stage two of policy formulation, the explanatory stage, the interactions and dynamics between the actors are explained. It addresses issues of the existing regulatory frameworks, are they known, acceptable and fit for purpose? In the example of housing policy formulation, are building regulations known, acceptable and applicable? Or are there binaries created by policy such as, us and them, formal and informal, rich and poor excluded and included etc. as a result of exclusion? In the third stage, which is the predictive stage, various scenarios are outlined, taking into consideration the outcomes of stage two. In the fourth stage, ideals are reappraised, and interventions to achieving inclusive outcomes are prescribed. Whereas evidence of exclusion brings about survivalist, and antagonistic instincts, where in people are hiding, violating regulatory legislations, the ideals of inclusive cities offer a place of opportunity where people thrive, prosper, expand, settle, and develop.

Conclusion

The interventionist policy requires continuous monitoring, and should eventually become obsolete. The key steps of inclusive city policy formulation, entails carefully describing the actors, and context, and then explaining the interactions and dynamics between the actors in the various contexts identified. This leads to making some predictions and intervention in influencing the character and contexts to bring about predictive responses. Inclusive policy formulation entails the critical identification of all stake holders, and enabling participation and partnerships, and giving consideration to sustainability imperatives.

References

Dickoff, J., James, P., & Weidenbanch, E. (1968). Theory in a practice discipline. Part II: Practice Oriented Research. Nursing Research, 545-554.

OECD. (2011). Regulatory Policy and Governance: Supporting Economic Growth and Serving the Public Interest. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved May 13, 2021, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264116573-en

Ojo-Aromokudu , J. T., Samuel, M. A., & Dhunpath, R. (2020). A demand-driven subsidised housing policy for South Africa. In S. L. Myeni, & A. E. Okem, The Political Economy of Government Subsidised Housing in South Africa (pp. 60-79). London : Routledge.

Samuel, M. A. (2016). Understanding policy analysis: South African policies shaping teachers as professionals. In L. Ramrathan, L. Le Grange, & P. Higgs, Education Studies in Initial Teacher Development (pp. 3-29). Cape Town: Juta Publishers.

Author

Judith Ojo-Aromokudu a Professional Architect and Housing specialist. She is registered with the South African Council of Architectural Profession, and holds a doctorate in Architecture from the University of KwaZulu Natal (2019). In her over 20 years of practice she focused on community and social projects. As a academic she lectured at the University of KwaZulu Natal from 2011-2019. She has been also presented papers at various conferences and a guest lecturer at the Chandigarh University Institute of Architecture in India. Her research interest is in marginalised living spaces and its links to vernacular architecture. Her international networks extend to the University of Ife, University of Ibadan, and the University of Lagos in Nigeria, collaborations with scholars from the UCL and Westminster University in London.

Dr Judith currently runs the Sustainable Housing-Food-Health (SHFH) Non-profit company. The vision being Self-reliant sustainable human settlements and communities. and the mission is to support and empower marginalized communities to build self-reliant healthy human settlements. Ultimately to stimulate urban rural migration, as response to the spread of informal settlement. She also serves on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) committee of the 5th term South African Council of the Architecture Profession

Judith Ojo-Aromokudu
Judith Ojo-Aromokudu

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