Finance mobilization and community ownership: Public projects in Kakegawa City.

Kakegawa city is located in the centre of Japan islands, in between the Oigawa and Tenryu rivers. It was a very active ancient town since 1300s, and became famous as a 'way station' between Edo (now Tokyo) and Osaka/Kyoto. After the Meiji revolution, however, its population decreased drastically to its current 77,000 - primarily due to the proximity of major cities nearby (Shizuoka and Hamamatsu), and lack of bullet train station or expressway interchanges, which made commuting difficult.

In order to stimulate the economy of Kakegawa city, it was decided to build a Bullet Train ('Shinkansen') Station and an expressway interchange. But to do this, the only way was to mobilize funds locally from citizens, to match grants from the prefectural government, since a small town like Kakegawa did not have any other sources of finance. It was therefore decided to invite 'donations' from the citizen.

A campaign was initiated that emphasized pride/attachment for the hometown. Guidelines to achieve the financial goal included the triggering of citizens movements to discuss the merits and demerits of the actions - the donations were an 'investment' in city planning. The Kakegawa campaign also emphasized the need for other neighbouring cities and towns to participate in fund-rising. The intensive campaigns highlighted the community ownership aspect of 'investing' in large public projects.

As a result of this campaigning, more than 3 billion was raised to build the Bullet Train Station (total project cost = 13.02 billion, the balance was raised from prefecture and national governments, and other sources) in 1988; 1.2 billion was raised for the Expressway Interchange (total project cost = 4.5 billion) in 1993, and 1.1 billion raised for the rehabilitation of the Kakegawa Castle and surrounding historical districts in 1994.

The campaign illustrated the ability of community participation to raise substantial funds for local projects - besides the traditional advantage of participation in planning, monitoring and evaluation and design etc. There is no doubt too that these actions also revitalized the local economy, and increased the visibility of Kakegawa city. Due to ease in commuting, the number of visitors also increased.

There are many factors that contributed to the success of the mobilization campaign. One of them is the leadership shown by the Mayor and the commitment of the city government. Clear goals were set, and the steps necessary to achieve the goals were identified. Bonus payments to city officials were cut and passed on as donations to the projects - this created an inducement for the citizens to also participate. A shared sense of 'crisis' (of population decrease and economic deterioration) enabled mobilization of citizens. Emotional attachment to the city, and pride in the success of the mobilization were also factors that contributed to the success of the project.

One of the lessons learnt from Kakegawa's experience is the realization that big projects that are usually beyond the capacity of a small city can still be implemented through 'donations'. Community ownership, and a sense of shared feeling of participation in common goods/assets by their own investments, is an important output. It also developed interest in the city's politicians and policies, increasing the dialogue between citizens and the local government.

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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org