Community Based Results Accountability for the Intercultural Cities - three cities, three experiences, a lot of similarities

 

The Intercultural Cities programme has encouraged cities to research the possibilities of introducing the approach of Community Based Results Accountability (CBRA) in relation to defining intercultural policies and actions. Three cities, Oslo, Tilburg and Lisbon have invited experts from the Centre for the Study of Social Policy (Washington) and Ordina (The Netherlands) to visit them and support them in designing more focused and participatory processes in their neighbourhoods. The leading principles in the approaches are: define precise results you want to obtain, use facts and figures, involve citizens and make the institutions accountable. The three cities are more or less successful in their approach, but they all are very curious to learn from the experiences in other countries and cities.

 

The approach


CBRA supports a community partnership to get better results, what means to get better conditions of well-being for children, adults, families or communities. The approach has six steps to build a community plan. Each step builds on the next, but it’s not necessary to start with the first step. In some cases we see that some parts of plan are already finished and of course in practice we build on those results. A brief summary of the six steps:

 

Step 1

Identify Structure and Partnerships. Be sure that you’ve got the right people at the table. Citizens have to be involved and engaged.

 

Step 2

Conduct Community Assessment Gather and analyze the data. Make sure the partners understand the data and feel the ownership.

 

Step 3

Select Results and Indicators Define the results; what do we want to achieve in the future for our children, adults, families or community. Select the indicators: the data that show us the current situation (the baseline) and the outcomes we want to achieve.

 

Step 4

Select Strategies Create a comprehensive plan with current programs with potential and new programs. Involve the partners by asking them ‘what will work?’ and select the strategies that contribute to the defined results.

 

Step 5

Design Financing Strategies Create a plan worth financing, now and over time, with a view of the current and future financing opportunities.

 

Step 6

Establish Accountability Monitor the specific agreements and elements of the community’s plan, and engage, educate, and regularly inform the community about progress being made to improve results. During our trip we’ve informed the participants about this approach and about the experiences in different cities, countries and continents.

 

The experiences in the three cities


Of course a lot of the steps in the approach were familiar to the three cities. The most important conclusion is that all the people we’ve met are very involved, enthusiastic and studious, and they all want to make the next step to get better results for the community. They want to learn from the situation and experiences in the other cities, and very remarkable: they all think that the situation and opportunities in the other cities are better (because they think they are better organised, have another culture, have more expertise).

 

A brief summary of our findings

 

The successes

 

The cities have in one way or another defined their results in terms of ‘our city is tolerant’, ‘’the city is for all’ or ‘everybody has to participate’. There is a lot of information: data, surveys, interviews. They also make plans; they define the activities to be carried out.

 

The challenges

 

The relationship between the results, data and plans are not always visible. The results are defined, but there’s no agreement about the indicators to measure them. The plans are made, but the contribution of the different activities to the defined results are not always clear. Different organizations have different plans for the same neighbourhood . And in all the three cities they find it hard to involve the residents.

 

Finally: during our trip we’ve seen that pieces of the puzzle of the CBRA approach are already available. The next step will be to define the missing pieces and to put the pieces together to get the whole picture. A very nice, hard job, with a lot of possibilities for the other cities in the program of the ICC.

 

Willie van Eijs