we need BUIP?
Do you know how healthy your city is? How quality of life here
compares to urban life in a neighbouring country, for example,
or in Europe or East Asia? How would you really know if your
city is healthy?
all suffer from information overload: it comes at us from TV,
radio, newspapers and now, almost instantly, from email and
the Internet. So much information - but is it important? What’s
missing is a summary of all those words and images, one that
tells us what is really happening and what it means, on the
issues that concern us most.
is true for our cities and towns. Much work is being done to
improve the places where we live and work, but are these policies
and programmes working? We need a tool to help answer that question.
We need to know if we’re getting closer to our goal of improving
our quality of life by creating sustainable cities.
knowledge is important to all of us who live in cities, but
it is crucial to those whose jobs are to improve our urban areas.
If a multi-million dollar programme is not working, it needs
to be quickly fixed or scrapped. If certain policies consistently
create more problems than they solve, the policy-makers must
know so they can react appropriately.
Urban Indicators Programme (BUIP) will give us that essential
information, in language we can easily understand.
BUIP is a partnership between the Government
of Bahrain, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
and the United Nations Centre on Human Settlement (UNCHS).
It is linked to the UNCHS Global Urban Indicators Programme.
objectives are simple. It will:
our ability to collect useful information about conditions
and trends in our cities;
analysis, convert that information into knowledge;
that knowledge to create and modify urban policies and programmes
in a way that encourages participation
Indicator is something that helps to understand where we are,
where we’re going and how far we are from our goal. A good Indicator
flags a problem before it gets too bad and helps us understand
what we must do to fix it.
are communication tools. It’s difficult for us to judge and
act upon raw information, so Indicators transform that information
so we can clearly see the picture underneath and understand
an example. Everyone talks about ‘quality of life’, but the
concept is hard to measure because many different things determine
quality of life and people may disagree about which of them
are most important. A very simple substitute indicator of quality
of life would be ‘number of people moving into a town compared
to the number moving out’.
Indicator system is only as good as its design. Indicators have
to provide information that relates to the task at hand. That’s
why they should be developed in consultation and co-operation
with the people who will use them. This is the only way to assure
the Indicators will help answer the most pressing questions.
In this way, Indicators encourage participation.
will provide information to different types of users (also called
stakeholders) so they can address the specific issues that concern
them. Residents and consumers are the most important users.
Others include those who offer services, infrastructure and
utility agencies, local governments, financial organisations
and private sector businesses.
of these groups will have a different focus - some wide, others
narrow -but all will work directly or indirectly to create policies,
programmes and projects for developing cities. Each will use
Indicators to help measure progress in the spheres that interest
them and to compare that progress with other cities or countries.
Residents want to use Indicators that are relevant to their
daily lives, simple, easy-to-understand and without technical
detail. They get many of these Indicators via the mass media
and often consider these as a measure of their city’s health
and of the success of government policy. Residents typically
use these Indicators to help decide which organisations or activities
to support, whether and where to move, or to make investment,
education, health or other major life decisions.
Nearly all modern governments view Indicators as important tools
in the business of governing and as valuable measures of the
progress they’re making towards their objectives. Agencies that
set national-level goals for urban development use Indicators
to formulate strategies and to determine progress towards national
objectives. By regularly collecting Indicators, governments
have a powerful tool to monitor if particular problems are being
overcome and how changes in policy influence outcomes over time.
BUIP will help city managers, politicians and local planning agencies
prioritise their work as they develop, implement and assess strategies
for their urban areas. They will use Indicators to monitor the
results of major investments, to ensure that the outcomes sought
are being achieved, that target groups are being reached and that
investments produce no undesirable or unanticipated side-effects.
One of the most critical role of Indicators is to influence future
Private investors and developers make the vast majority of decisions
about development and other economic activity in towns and cities.
To be able to confidently make sound decisions, entrepreneurs
need a wide variety of information about such things as: demographics
(for production and marketing) environmental conditions; government
performance; supply/demand imbalances, as well as an area’s overall
economic and social health.
and community organisations
NGOs have a major stake in developing successful Indicators:
partly to help them better serve their own constituencies, but
particularly because Indicators can assist them to monitor the
performances of governments.
BUIP strongly encourages NGOs to participate in the Programme,
by helping to establish which Indicators are valuable, by collecting
or helping to collect Indicators and in other suitable ways.
with stakeholders, BUIP will identify and test the most important
urban Indicators. It will take as a starting point the general
list of Indicators provided by UN Habitat. These will be complemented
by other more refined Indicators, based on user needs in Bahrain.
BUIP will identify sources for the data that will form the basis
of the Indicators and develop and test methodologies for data
first part of the project will produce a real set of Urban Indicator
values that can be used to plan and assess urban policies and
programmes at the national level and in at least one participating
town. These Indicators will equip Bahrain with the ability to
move towards the goal of Sustainable Human Settlements Development,
at national and subnational levels. These results will also qualify
Bahrain to be one of the countries participating in the Global
Urban Indicators Programme.
year-end, BUIP will have developed a training Programme and
prepared key stakeholders to implement all of BUIP’s required
activities in the years to come.
you have an opinion - professionally or personally - on the way
our towns and cities are developing, you should get involved with
the Bahrain Urban Indicator Programme. We are looking for people
from all walks of life: government, business, university or school,
unemployed or self-employed, young or old, male or female. In
short, if you're concerned about your city, we want you to help.
can be part of our core group and discuss the issues that concern
you most and at the same time help improve the quality of life
in Bahrain’s cities and towns, for today and for our children’s