Asian Urban Information Center of Kobe

AUICK Action Plan Progress Report, 2010

The Context and Influence of the Asian Urban Information Center of Kobe

1. The History and Activities of AUICK

2.1. Establishment and Support

2.2. 1989-2004: AUICK's Activities for Capacity Building

2.3. 2004-2009: Working with Nine AUICK Associte Cities

2.1. Establishment and Support

In 1984, a team from Michigan University and Nihon University Population Research Institute (NUPRI) carried out a comparative study on the development of Kobe City and Singapore as port cities, supported by UNFPA. This established a working relationship among those entities with Kobe City. UNFPA also supported a series of other studies and conferences focusing on urbanization, population dynamics and development, including the International Conference on Population and the Urban Future in 1980 in Rome; and the Mexico City Conference on Population and Small and Medium-sized Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean and Barcelona Conference on Population and the Urban Future, both held in 1986. The representatives of NUPRI, the University of Michigan and UNFPA involved in the 1984 Kobe-Singapore study advocated for the 1987 International Conference on Population and Development to be held in Kobe. The 1987 conference aimed to highlight the role of medium-sized cities in their countries’ development, and the lack of their financial and administrative capacities to solve the issues connected with their population growth and neglect in overall development planning. It revealed that there was a lack of coherent national policies to define and manage their roles in national development. The conference declaration recommended that UNFPA support the development of a network to link officials of Asian medium-sized cities, to assure that action be taken on the findings of the conference. Representatives of UNFPA, Kobe City Government, NUPRI and the University of Michigan took the necessary steps to ensure that this recommendation came to fruition, and on 12 April 1989, AUICK was established as a cooperative agreement between the City of Kobe and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). 

In the years since AUICK’s establishment, Kobe City Government has provided around two-thirds of AUICK’s financial support, while UNFPA has provided the other third. Each is critical for the other to continue.


2.2. 1989 – 2004: AUICK’s Activities for Capacity Building

Upon its establishment, AUICK’s first activity was to conduct an inquiry of mayors and administrations of 270 Asian cities, to find out the issues that they commonly shared, and that thus needed to be addressed. The administrations of 128 cities in 8 countries responded, each outlining problems and issues affecting the population and development of their cities. The inquiry found that urban populations were increasing by up to 3% per year, and that cities were lacking physical infrastructure to deal with this increase. Administrators sought capacity building technical information, so, the course of AUICK to take as an organization would be to facilitate the exchange of information so help solve those problems. Further inquiries followed, each revealing urban administrators’ concerns on expanding urbanization and population related issues, such as migration, family planning, urban air and water pollution, traffic and other related issues. Each inquiry was followed by an in-depth study and the dissemination of its findings. lessons learned incorporated successful practices and policies of the cities, and the cities’ characteristics in terms of location and site, population growth and development, quality of life, autonomy, human administrative capacity and turnover, need for capital, and family planning programs. 

The outcomes of the inquiries were published and disseminated to an increasing audience, and a way to achieve a more practical outcome, AUICK began to arrange workshop training seminars in 1996, for participation by Asian local government officials of the departments related to each of the workshop’s themes. While research on commonly shared issues will undoubtedly assist city government policy formation, there is also a strong argument for such training programs, in that education and training represent an investment in people, and so are important ways to put a capacity-building approach to development into practice. Eight annual seminars between 1996 and 2003 were held on themes of primary and reproductive health care, environment, medical care and welfare, public utilities, waste management, HIV/AIDS, ageing issues, and urban policy. To reach a wider audience of developmental planners and related institutions, a Newsletter and website / database also further disseminated their findings. Throughout the course of its activities, AUICK was provided guidance by its International Advisory Committee, made up of scholars and political figures of prominence in Asia, as well as a domestic committee of such persons in Japan.


2.3. 2004 – 2009: Working with Nine AUICK Associate Cities

In 2004, the importance of capacity development for good urban governance had never been greater. Reflecting on the tenth anniversary of the ICPD Programme of Action, the 2004 UNFPA State of World Population Report called for “the mobilization of political will and funding” to improve maternal and child health, gender equality, educational advancement, poverty reduction, environmental quality and improved development partnerships. In the same year, upon the advice of its International Advisory Committee, and to create a stronger focus for its activities, and therefore a more tangible outcome, AUICK selected a core group of nine cities as principal ‘stakeholder’ AUICK Associate Cities (AACs). They were chosen according to their location, size, proximity to academic institutions, and population and developmental needs. With a specific group of cities, measured and continuous developmental assistance could more conceivably be provided, and ‘critical masses’ of trained personnel within those cities would be built to address challenges in an ongoing manner, and in doing so could become model cities in their countries. The cities selected were Chittagong (Bangladesh), Weihai (China), Chennai (India), Surabaya (Indonesia), Kuantan (Malaysia), Faisalabad (Pakistan), Olongapo (Philippines), Khon Kaen (Thailand), and Danang (Vietnam). 

To achieve the commitment to the AUICK program of the mayors of these cities, the 2004 AUICK Associate Cities Conference on ICPD Tenth Anniversary Review: The Current Status and Future Challenges of Asian Medium-sized Cities, was held in Kobe. It was attended by 166 participants, which included AACs mayors and representatives, the Director of UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Division, UNFPA Country Representatives, representatives of academic partners, and the Mayor and other senior officials of the Kobe City Government. Each of the nine cities’ mayors signed the conference declaration, which achieved the commitment of every AAC to both send senior officials to AUICK workshops, and to incorporate the ideas and policies that the officials brought back from those workshops in the administrations of their cities (AUICK, 2004). Subsequently, all mayors have sent senior officials to all biannual AUICK workshops, with few exceptions, underlining the success of the 2004 conference and its declaration. AUICK secretariat members have met with the mayors, as well as UNFPA officials, during monitoring visits to assess the AUICK Program. Although termed ‘workshops’, the meetings also incorporate best practice study dissemination, discussion and city report presentations by each AAC representative. This maintains the South-South (AAC–AAC), as well as the North-South (Kobe–AAC) element to AUICK. 

The administrative levels and number of workshop participants between 2004 and 2009 were as follows:

                  Administrative level of AUICK Workshop participants

Since 2005, each participant has formulated an Action Plan for implementation by his/her AAC government department. This has added a quantifiable, results-based outcome to the workshop project, which reflected UNFPA’s commitment to “building the capacity of countries in the region to manage their own solutions to emerging and persistent development challenges” . Chapter 3 of this study will assess the implementation status of those plans, in order to understand the ways that AUICK has influenced the provision of welfare to citizens by the nine AAC administrations. The relevance of these nine cities to the AUICK programme can be seen in the characteristics that they share with, and what they can learn from Kobe and each other. 

Chittagong, Bangladesh 

Chittagong is the second largest city in Bangladesh, a major seaport. It covers 155 square kilometers and has a population of around 3.6 million. It serves as a commercial centre for Bangladesh, and houses some 40% of the country’s heavy industry. The city is growing at an annual rate of 4.5%, and some 60% of its population are migrants from neighboring districts. Its economy has grown rapidly since independence in 1971, but wealth is grossly unbalanced, and challenges are faced such as rapid unplanned urban growth, high child and maternal mortality rates, disease, unemployment, pollution, poor waste management and sewerage systems, and lacking power supply and civic facilities. The city has been hit by flooding and earthquakes, as well as mudslides, which affect slums built into its hills. There is also high crime and some political and social tension. The City has implemented successful urban greening and female employment promotion projects, and has a strong network of NGO activity. 

Weihai, China 

Weihai Municipality, in China’s Shandong Province, has a population of 2.5 million, a large number of ‘floating’ residents, and 420,000 in its central city area. It was one of China’s first coastal cities to open to the world, and is backed against mountains. The city’s infrastructure and economy have developed rapidly, and its environmental policies have won various national and international awards, including the UN Habitat Scroll of Honor Award in 2003. The city faces issues concerning housing, medical care, education, transportation, and employment, and an increasingly aged population. Chennai, India Chennai (formerly ‘Madras’), in Tamil Nadu State, is India’s fourth largest city. Its population is around 5.0 million, with floating population of 1 million, and an annual increase of 200,000. The coastal city covers 174 km², and has automobile, textile, chemical, I.T. and film industries. The city has had a successful rainwater harvesting and waterway clearing policies (such as the Chennai City Rivers Conservation Project, funded by the World Bank), as well as slum housing, health and employment schemes and a family planning program. Slum areas are expanding though, and there is much traffic pollution, and the city’s topography leaves it exposed to flooding in the rainy season, and the city was badly hit by the 2004 Sumatra Earthquake Tsunami. 

Surabaya, Indonesia 

Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, is located on the northern shore of Java, has a population of around 3.5 million and covers an area of 326km², and is a centre for trade and commerce for East Java. Its community-based development is characterized by successful community greening, projects have high citizen participation. Issues the city faces are have come with rapid urbanization; lack of urban infrastructure, financial capacity and human resources. There is high poverty, and polluted water supplies, as well as infectious diseases, flooding and pollution. Education and health care lack funding, and the elderly population is beginning to become an issue to be addressed too. 

Kuantan, Malaysia 

Kuantan, the state capital of Pahang, has a population of 350,000 people, and covers an area of 2,000 km². It has developed rapidly since 1980 from a booming timber industry, and is now a commercial centre for the east coast of the Malaysian Peninsula, and produces palm oil, rubber, cocoa, and petrochemicals, as well as housing machinery manufacturing and other heavy industry. The city has introduced successful mangrove greening and low-cost housing programs. Issues affecting its development are water management and unplanned settlements lacking basic amenities, roads and drainage. Unlike other Asian cities, Kuantan does not suffer from earthquakes, volcanoes and typhoons, but it does experience annual flooding. 

Faisalabad, Pakistan 

Faisalabad has a population of around 2 million and covers an area of 168 km². Its many large industrial units include many textiles and textile processing plants, and it also has the largest agricultural university in Asia. Successful industry and housing schemes in small towns, suburbs and rural areas create job opportunities, but issues still need to be addressed concerning sanitation and safe drinking water (with no natural drainage system), food supply, health care and education. The city also has electrical power shortages, and lacks programs to promote the welfare of its aged citizens. Rapid unplanned growth and population increases have also led to more slum dwellers and highlighted the need for improved urban infrastructure. 

Olongapo, the Philippines 

Olongapo, a port city on the northeast coast of Subic Bay, has a population of 250,000 and covers an area of 185km². Over the last two decades, the city has recovered from the closing of a US Navy Base as the city’s main industry, as well the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. The city has developed an integrated solid waste management program, vendors’ cooperatives and local community organizations. It aims to become a successful free port city and a centre for commerce and tourism. Issues faced by the city include unemployment, poverty, maternal and infant mortality rates, and inadequate waste and sewerage systems with a restricted water supply. 

Khon Kaen, Thailand

Khon Kaen Municipality is a local administrative organization covering an area of 46 km², with an urban population of 118,441. The city is a banking and commercial hub, a centre for fish net production, and an important centre in the regional transportation network of the northeast. Main products include rice, tapioca, cassava chips, flour, textiles, fish, carpet, vegetable seeds, and paper pulp. The city also houses many educational facilities, including a major national university. As well as steps to develop its educational facilities, the Municipality has had successful family planning programs which have rapidly reduced infant and maternal mortality rates, and it is addressing the issue of solid waste management through composting, segregation and recycling, with residents converting waste into organic fertilizer. Poverty is an issue, especially among the farming community, which also leads to urban migration. 

Danang, Vietnam 

Danang is Vietnam’s fourth largest city, with a population of over 800,000, and covering 1,256.2 km². Its main industries are service, manufacturing and construction, agro-forestry, fisheries and tourism. The city has had successes in infrastructural development and greening of its environment, and health care and life expectancy are improving. The population growth, partly due to in-migration, has meant that urban planning, such as housing provision, is a problem Poverty is an issue, with low quality agricultural products and low consumer demand, and waste disposal and fresh water are also limited. Danang is regularly affected by typhoons and floods, for which it has built up effective early warning and evacuation procedures. 

Relevance to AUICK of the AACs 

In order for AACs to benefit from the North-South and South-South elements of AUICK’s programme, they should in face common developmental issues and contextual characteristics in which to address those issues. Kobe is a port city in Asia, with a rapidly ageing population of 1.5 million people, so a city with similar characteristics can learn applicable lessons from AUICK. Information on the AUICK Associate Cities shows that they have the need for developmental assistance to improve welfare provision, and that the problems they face have been largely overcome by Kobe. They also share characteristics with both Kobe and each other. As Kobe in the past, Chittagong, Surabaya, and Weihai are all port and industrial cities. Surabaya and Khon Kaen have strong community networks that actively take part in health care and environmental activities. This is important in that the role of civil society can be instrumental towards building the capacity of the vulnerable groups. In Weihai and Surabaya, environmental and greening projects have gained national recognition. Many of the cities have, or will need to plan for ageing populations. For South-South sharing of information, factors such as Chittagong’s strong NGO network and Surabaya’s community-based welfare system are relevant both to the themes of AUICK workshops and the issues faced by other AACs, underlining that eliminating poverty is a job for everyone, not just governments. Such topics were introduced in presentations at workshops between 2005 and 2008. 

The issues of rapid growth, pollution, natural disaster preparedness, waste management, universal education and expansion of infrastructure to address urbanization are faced to varying degrees by all AACs, and these are the themes of AUICK workshops (see Chapter 3). As seen in Chapter 1, Kobe has experienced some related issues to a greater degree, or at an earlier point in its recent history, but this arguably gives it more knowledge and experience to share with other cities’ administrations, as well as more reason to do so. It is for this reason that the characteristics of both AACs and Kobe are so important to AUICK, as they are the basis for the influence that AUICK can have as a capacity building organization on its stakeholder cities.



AUICK Action Plan Progress Report, 2010


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 3.1.

Chapter 3.2.

Chapter 3.3.

Chapter 3.4.

Chapter 3.5.

Chapter 3.6.

Chapter 3.7.

Chapter 3.8.

Chapter 3.9.

Chapter 4

Chapter 5



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