About BUIP

 

Why 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?
We 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.
This 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.
That 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.

The Bahrain Urban Indicators Programme (BUIP) will give us that essential information, in language we can easily understand.



What is BUIP?

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.
BUIP’s objectives are simple. It will:
  • improve our ability to collect useful information about conditions and trends in our cities;
  • through analysis, convert that information into knowledge;
  • use that knowledge to create and modify urban policies and programmes in a way that encourages participation

Why use Indicators?

An 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.

Indicators 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 its significance.

Here’s 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’.

An 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.


The future users

BUIP 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.

Each 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.


User Groups

Residents
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.

National governments
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.

City managers
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 initiatives.

Private sector
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.

Non-governmental 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.


BUIP’s workplan
Working 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 collection.
This 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.

Towards 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.


Want to get involved?
If 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.
You 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 time.