Translating city development projects in informal settlements: reframing, anchoring and muddling through
Paper i proceeding, 2015
Numerous programs have been launched to deal with the serious solid waste predicaments in informal settlements. However, in both policy and research, there is an increasing concern with the disparities that exist between solid waste policies and what they actually achieve in practice. Informed by the case of the city of Kisumu and its Kisumu Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan (KISWAMP), this paper examines how municipal waste management programs are translated into practice in informal settlements. It is based on action-research carried out by a multidisciplinary and transdiciplinary group of researchers, through focus groups, participatory workshops, collaborative action, in-depth interviews, document analysis and observations. City management literature and the concepts of reframing, anchoring and muddling through are used to understand the KISWAMP and its implementation. It starts by reconstructing the history of KISWAMP and how it became a project. Then, it examines what original aspects of KISWAMP were actually translated, i.e. which ones faded out and which ones became stabilized into and travel as best practices to other locations. The analysis shows how KISWAMP was translated into practice by reframing the meanings and status of waste as a profession, as a policy and as a critical service worthy to pay for among residents. KISWAMP also thrived to anchor the program into existing waste entrepreneurship practices . Municipal officers and politicians were also trained to connect the plan within the municipality, yet as many moved, KISWAMP remained weakly bounded to city budgets and decision-making processes. Trust also grew among residents being served by the new waste collection services. Yet in lower-income settlements with insufficient assets to anchor the project, distrust and resentment grew instead. Skips in the new waste transfer points soon disappeared and were not regularly evacuated. Still, the skip idea did not totally vanish as it was recovered by the new KUP program. A final aspect in the implementation of KISWAMP was the ability of waste entrepreneurs and officers to develop ways to muddle through arbitrary and loosely coupled partnership arrangements to evacuate transfer points; waste pickers’ coping strategies to compensate low paid labour;; or residents’ persistent illegal disposal of waste where the skip used to be.