Santa Cruz (Cape Verde) municipality upgrades a neighbourhood through a participatory process

The "Credits System" is an instrument that was created to implement the Participatory Consolidation Project, which was carried out, promoted and funded by the Pedra Badejo and Liebnitz Friendship Association in the Municipality of Santa Cruz, Cape Verde.

After a preliminary participatory planning phase, which enabled the definition of the public works that were to be carried out for the redevelopment of the centre of the village of Pedra Badejo, the residents participated in the execution of the works by making their own labour available to others, and receiving aid to improve their own homes in return. Each resident received a credit savings book, and received a stamp in their savings book for each day in which they participate in the public works. Residents regularly received the amount equivalent to the stamps obtained by receiving construction materials or services provided by others to carry out projects in their homes. If necessary, participants were also able to obtain a share of the value of their work in cash, but the amount of cash received under no circumstances exceeded 50% of the total value. The amount of money received was always less than the value of the materials.

  • It thereby succeeded in promoting the physical redevelopment of the neighbourhood, as well as guaranteeing financial support for the residents of the area.
  • This system was implemented in the period between 1985 and 1990, and is currently being restored by the Municipality.
  • The system was conceived in order to improve living (housing and socioeconomic) conditions among the residents. Support was given for the resident population to take responsibility on their own behalf and for collaboration between the institutions and the area's residents.
  • The direct beneficiaries of this project were the residents living in the neighbourhood where the project was taking place, and especially women who were heads of households and families in need.
  • The neighbourhood's residents were partners/collaborators with the municipal institutions in all phases of the process: they participated from the planning stage to the definition of public and private works, and were involved in the implementation and monitoring of those works.
  • The "Credits System" was initially a one-off experience, linked to a specific operating project, but was also used in parallel to carry out other projects and activities.
  • Funds earmarked for investments for the Participatory Consolidation Projectand in particular, the funds allocated to labour, were used to carry out the project.

The most interesting result in the experience is the fact that it has been possible to internalize this system within the Municipality, as the "Credits System" is considered a way of managing the funds allocated for support and redevelopment and physical transformation of both urban and rural territory. Furthermore, this management system was considered the best of all the management systems have been tried: this ensures a better use of funds and greater involvement among the residents of the area.

The challenge today is linked to the idea of replicating this experience. This practice is closely related to social characteristics and local traditions. And that is precisely the reason for its success. The social and economic changes that have taken place in the area during the twenty years that have elapsed since its initial implementation obviously mean that redevelopment and adaptation of the model to the current situation is necessary. The interest in this opportunity has been increased by the type of participation by the City Council Executive, given that the Municipality will incorporate the experience in a more direct way and on a more conscious basis, as it will adopt the practice as an integral part of the Municipality’s policies and may include various areas of community services, including those beyond the scope of the traditional area of public works. 

For more information, please consult the full case study : See the whole case study

For more information: Inclusive Cities Observatory