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The making of a livable "queen city": local government capacity building in urban service management, Iloilo city, the Philippines Terashima, Mikiko

Abstract

Confronting an ever-worsening scarcity of resources for urban services, developing countries have sought new ways to cope. Both decentralization of government services and greater public participation in service management have emerged as mechanisms to mitigate this scarcity. In the Philippines, these mechanisms were recognized in the early 1990s in the form of a major decentralization policy, the Local Government Code of 1991. This thesis looks at Iloilo City, a mid-size urban city in the Southern Philippines as a case study to examine urban public services of a local government unit (LGU) in light of the new decentralization policy. As the Local Government Code of 1991 was inaugurated, Iloilo City integrated a multi-stakeholder process in its solid waste management (SWM) planning and implementation, with the support from a national government's capacity building support body—the Local Government Support Program (LGSP). Iloilo City's SWM planning process revealed various constraints for a local government in wielding the power and autonomy given by the Code, as well as challenges in the inclusion of civil society organization in the planning processes. These constraints do not only include the technical, administrative and managerial skills of the officials, but also a lack of understanding and willingness among political leaders in pursuing service provisions responsive to the public needs. This thesis argues that institutional strengthening from external forces such as the Code is insufficient without capacity building supports which address local constraints of LGUs. Such supports are vital because it is the LGUs that choose whether they will use the power, autonomy and participatory principles derived from the Code to manage their services effectively. In the Iloilo case, a political culture that weighs against leaders' pursuing responsive service provisions is a major local constraint that needs to be addressed. It perpetuates the under-development of effective intra-and interorganizational communication, a lack of technical, administrative, and managerial skill upgrading of city officials, and a sense of unpreparedness in leading productive government organization (GO)-civil society partnerships. Therefore, local government capacity building efforts must focus on such local constraints, and address them in order to make the development of specific service management responsibilities function. In the case of Iloilo City's SWM, clearly defining the actors and responsibilities involved in solid waste management, conducting ongoing training programs for officials involved in SWM issues, and resolving conflicts over the establishment of the environmental office are some of the immediate actions necessary. Over a longer period, elected leaders and civil servants need to develop both the ability to better analyze the costs and the benefits of pursuing participatory service management and the ability to effectively coordinate GO-civil society collaborative program implementation processes.

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