Reflections on the Southern African Hub Meeting: Blantyre, Malawi

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Thursday, 16 April 2015

By: Mariana Gallo, Knowledge Management Officer CCODE; Nico Keijzer, LME Officer Southern Africa SDI; & Noah Schermbrucker, Projects Officer SDI 

The recent regional hub meeting for Southern Africa took place in Blantyre, Malawi, from 28-31st March 2015. It was the first time that Blanytre or Malawi have hosted a regional hub meeting and provided an opportunity for the Malawian alliance to showcase their work. Participants from South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe attended the meeting. Botswana was invited but not able to attend.

Country Reports and Field Visits

The day commenced with each country reporting on their key indicators using the new Learning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (LME) reporting format. All countries concurred that this format assisted them in measuring progress, setting realistic targets, identifying challenges, and more targeted learning to overcome them. For the first time the hub was able to produce accurate totals for Southern Africa – as illustrated in the below table. 

Southern African Hub Totals

Baseline

Target

Achieved

Total

Members

 161 961,00

 8 765,00

 7 084,00

 169 045,00

Savings Groups

2490

300

217

2707

Daily Savings

 4 354 901,00

 829 755,00

 287 494,00

 4 642 395,00

UPF Savings

 1 960 417,00

 210 099,00

 127 794,00

 2 088 211,00

 

 

 

 

 

Settlement Profiles

1553

445

316

1869

City-wide profiles

123

32

3

126

Enumerations

294

50

47

341

Maps - GIS

109

306

207

316

Maps - Hand drawn

15

24

10

25

A variety of field visits also took place. Those who visited Nancholi settlement learnt about the slum upgrading activities that were being undertaken by the federation. Work included the construction of bridges, the development of an agricultural market, the renovation of a local clinic, and the construction of additional blocks for the local secondary school. Other delegates visited a variety of groups who were involved in income generation projects. One group called “Waste for Wealth” produces and sells compost. Another group makes sausages that they package and sell, while a third group makes and sells tie-dye clothes. 

The group producing compost manure in Chilomani, explaining their experience with the enterprise. 

City Council and Discussions on Country Projects

On the third day, hub delegates visited the Blantyre City Council for a meeting with the Mayor, the Director of Planning and Development for Blantyre, and other officials. While the meeting illustrated the successful partnership between the Malawian Alliance and the Blantyre City Council (BCC) it became clear, through the lively discussions that took place, that these types of partnerships need to be underpinned by material commitments from government (e.g. land, budgetary allocations for slum upgrading). The international delegation pushed the BCC around its previous commitments to establish a citywide slum-upgrading fund. The Malawian federation needs to follow up on the space opened by this discussion. 

The meeting attracted media attention, and was reported on the front page of one of the main newspapers on the following day.

Hub participants attending a meeting with the Blantyre City Council. 

The afternoon’s sessions provided an opportunity for delegates to reflect more deeply on their LME process. Not only in terms of challenges identified but feasible actions to address these issues. Below is an example of this work that the hub collectively committed to implementing over the next period. Outcomes will be reported at the next hub meeting.

Challenges:

1) Unrealistic targets,

2) Understanding of enumerations process or profiling is difficult,

3) Not having a system of reporting,

4) Politics delays the process,

5) Working with other stakeholders is always difficult and can delay the whole process,

6) Changing the mindset of people who expect a lot of money as some organisation does,

7) Slow implementation of projects,

8) Not practicing daily savings. 

Possible Solutions:

1)     Setting of realistic targets within a specific period of time,

2)     Drawing of process maps - steps involved in saving, profiling, enumeration etc.,

3)     Mobilizing communities on why they are doing the profiling, enumeration etc.,

4)     Having standard reporting templates/systems,

5)     Signing of MOU's (exchange visits among municipal/local officials),

6)     Joint working groups that involves stakeholders,

7)     Communities must take ownership and drive the change in the community,

8)     Communities should have one voice in getting resources from local authorities,

9)     Going back to the roots of daily savings.  Take ownership of savings and how the money is managed to build confidence.

 

Data, Reflections on Donor Funding, Exchanges, and Closing

The final day commenced with a presentation on the data platform from the SDI Secretariat. Federations were able to access, discuss and interact with the online platform that stores their profiling information. This is part of a process to deepen federation ownership of the information collected.

An interesting and important discussion, which is central to the work of all federations and affiliates, then took place.  The crux if this discussion is that while it is recognised that donor funding is needed for activities, the agenda and priorities of donors can sometimes be in conflict with the federation’s core vision (e.g. building unaffordable housing on the periphery of the city).  Broken into country groups delegates discussed criteria for accepting donor funding. Flexibility, equal partnerships, common vision and inclusion of the poorest were amongst the common points of consideration.

The meeting closed with a collective reflection session that gave delegates an opportunity to assess the content and structure of the hub meeting.  More substantive details can be found in the hub report. The next hub meeting was set for September in Zimbabwe. 

Malawi Federation members work with the online data platform. 

The Malawi Alliance prepares their data for sharing. 

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Settlement Planning and Design: Experiences from Mandaue City, Philippines

Thursday, 07 May 2015

The below article has been cross-posted from the University College of London's Bartlett Development Planning Unit (UCL DPU). It is part of a series of articles written over the past five months about the Philippines SDI Alliance. To read the entire series, visit the DPU blog. 

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By Jessica Mamo, on 28 April 2015

The Philippine Alliance has been an active agent in Mandaue City since 2000. Their work is primarily focused on two large sites, involving a large number of communities, each one at a different stage of settlement upgrading. The team collaborate with Local Government Units (LGU) to address the housing gaps within the city by adopting a sustainable citywide approach which benefits both the low-income groups, as well as the city’s vision of development.

This post explains the approach that has been adopted for the upgrading of the 6.5 Relocation Site in Paknaan, one of the two prominent sites where the Alliance is active in Mandaue City.

The relocation site is situated in Barangay Paknaan, on the periphery of Mandaue City, and covers an area of 6.5 hectares. Originally a mangrove area, the site was chosen to accommodate 1,200 families, organised into 12 Homeowner Associations (HOA). These families are being relocated from along Mahiga Creek in central Mandaue City, as part of the River Rehabilitation Program, after the area was devastated by flooding in January 2011.

Although the site was still a mangrove area, families started living in Paknaan in October 2011. Today, 465 families who were allocated a plot of land have moved on site, some building permanent housing, whilst others simply rebuilding houses out of light recycled materials.

Informal developments on site (left); Construction of permanent housing development overseen by TAMPEI (right). 

10 out of the 12 HOAs are part of the Homeless Peoples Federation (HPFPI) and collaborate with the Alliance, particularly with regards to organising communities to save, enabling them to finance the construction of their new homes, or pay monthly amortizations for loan repayments. TAMPEI, the technical support unit to the Alliance, have provided assistance in the planning, design and construction stages of the upgrading process.

The Role of Homeowner Associations

The strong role of the HOA is interesting to note. In order for a family to be eligible for an upgrading or relocation programme, they must first form part of a HOA which is registered by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. This requirement has driven communities to get organised and collaborate closely with one another, creating close-knit communities which take pride in the recognition they receive as a registered HOA.

This contrasts greatly with the situation in some other countries, for example the communities I encountered during fieldwork in Cambodia with the MSc Building and Urban Design in Development last year. The particular settlement we were working with in Battambang faced particular concerns regarding community mobilisation and organisation. As a students group, we were constantly challenging the concept of referring to the residents as a community since they did not actually work as a single unit, and found it difficult to support each other. Therefore, the requirement of forming part of a duly registered association acts as a form of mobilisation for residents to really act as a community.

The HOA is an important representation for community members, as a form of formal identification within the City. 

Land Acquisition and Financial Support

One of the most important elements of slum upgrading is the acquisition of land, which allows families to have security of tenure, whether they are being relocated, or able to upgrade on site. Without the constant threat of eviction, families are able to invest in their homes by building permanent structures. To be able to do so, families need the financial support to buy the land, as well as to pay for the construction of the house and site development. This support either takes the form of the savings program run by the Federation, or loans.

An important stakeholder is the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC). SHFC is mandated by the President of the Philippines, and aims to provide shelter solutions to organised, urban poor communities. It was created to lead in developing and administering social housing programmes, such as the Community Mortgage Program (CMP), which is currently being implemented in Paknaan. The CMP is a loan system, targeting residents of informal settlements, that aims to finance the lot purchase, site development and house construction, which will be repaid over 25 years.

By far the most encouraging approach that has been adopted in Mandaue City is the housing construction through personal savings. Some families, mobilised and organised by HPFPI, have been able to limit their loan from SHFC to the lot purchase, and finance the construction of their homes through their own personal savings.

The construction of their houses, which began in September 2014, was dependent on the capacity of the families to save a fixed amount per month to keep up with the rolling costs of construction since no capital was initially available for the project, other than the money they put aside.

In March 2015, 5 units were completed, with another 8 units still under construction. Out of the original 23, 10 families struggled to meet the monthly target, which means that the construction of their units has been delayed. However, these families have shown that persistence can challenge the notion of charity and free housing.

Ongoing construction of 23 housing units, funded by beneficiary families (left); 41 housing units were completed in 2013, funded by the SDI 7 Cities Programme. 

Housing and Service Provision

There are two approaches to the housing development, depending on the affordability of the family in question. If the family is able to cover the full expenses or monthly loan repayments, then the family may proceed to construct the full housing unit. If families are unable to take the full loan amount, they may instead opt to construct them incrementally – however, this second option has never actually been implemented.

Very often, residents aspire to apply for the complete rather than the incremental option, even though they probably cannot afford the loan repayments. This results in families being rejected from taking the larger loan, and therefore actually being unable to build any form of permanent housing.

As part of the TAMPEI team in Mandaue City, I have worked on the design of new housing units that cost less than the original low-cost row house design and are therefore a viable option for a greater number of families, without resorting to the incremental construction. So far, five alternative housing units have been developed, two of which are illustrated in the images below.

Service provision and site development in Paknaan is still lacking, particularly with regards to sanitation services. Through the initiative of one particularly active HOA called SMASH, two communal toilet blocks will be built soon. Through the collaboration between TAMPEI and SMASH, the design proposal and community management system were developed.

By far the biggest challenges that we have faced throughout the developments of the Paknaan relocation site have been due to the large number of stakeholders that are involved in the project… surely a common issue when approaching citywide upgrading!

Shortcomings and delays have been caused by both the communities, some of whom have been unable to keep up with their required savings, as well as the local government units, who have promised more than they can deliver with regards to the site development. However, it is only through close collaboration by actors across various levels that such large-scale projects can be implemented, and have a significant impact on the wellbeing of the city’s urban poor.

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Jessica is an architect and has recently completed the MSc in Building and Urban Design in Development at the DPU. Currently, she is working in the Philippines, as part of the DPU-ACHR joint internship programme. Her interests lie primarily in community-led upgrading, particularly with regards to housing and service provision.

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Announcing SDI Annual Report 2014 - 2015

Monday, 04 May 2015

We are pleased to announce the 2014 - 2015 SDI Annual Report!

The Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network of 33 national affiliates is organized into four regional hubs: The Asian Hub, The East African Hub, The Southern African Hub, and The West African Hub. There is also an emerging Hub in Latin America. Organizing the federations into hubs allows for the building of regional alliances of the urban poor that engage in joint learning, planning and advocacy. In this year's annual report, our progress from the year will be presented by Hub, so the reader can understand the progress being made in each region of the network.

Each hub report captures the health and energy of each of the urban poor federations within the hub and indicates the progression through organizing and mobilizing, the building and networking of savings groups, the profiling and enumeration of settlements and cities, and the negotiation, planning and implementation of upgrading projects in partnership with local authorities. This is a cyclical and overlapping process, but for the purpose of this report we present this process in three stages:

  • Know Your Federation, where we understand the health of federations, their membership, their geographic scope, and their savings
  • Know Your City, where we explore the information federations gather on the settlements and cities in which they live, and
  • Improve Your City, where we understand how the organizing and information gathering translates into improvements and upgrading of informal settlements. Each hub report captures the health and energy of all the urban poor federations within the hub

The presentation of the report in this fashion will help readers to understand the work and practice of the SDI network more deeply. It will also make readers familiar with the structure of our new website (to be launched soon), organized under these three headings, which presents unprecedented levels of access to information on federations, slumsettlements, and federation projects. We hope this will serve as a valuable resource to all those interested in the future of cities in the Global South. 

To read the full report, click here

 

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Rose Molokoane Appointed to Council of Social Housing Regulatory Authority

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

SDI and the South African SDI Alliance were informed last week that Rose Molokoane, national coordinator of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and Deputy President of SDI, has been appointed to the Council of the South African Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) by Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu. The mission and vision of the SHRA is to regulate and invest in the development of affordable rental homes in integrated urban environments through sustainable institutions. 

SDI is hopeful that Rose's appointment to the SHRA board is a signal that this important body will begin to scale up social housing in South Africa. 

Rose Molokoaneis a coordinator of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), and a coordinator of SDI. She is a resident and member of the Oukasie savings scheme in a slum settlement outside Pretoria, South Africa.

A veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, she is one of the most internationally recognized grassroots activists involved in land tenure and housing issues. FEDUP has helped more than 150,000 squatters, the vast majority of whom are women, to pool their savings. This has won them sufficient standing to negotiate with government for a progressive housing policy that has already produced 15,000 new homes and secured more than 1,000 hectares of government land for development.

Molokoane has initiated federations of savings schemes throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. She was awarded the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor in 2005 for her struggle to bring land and homes to the poor.

 

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Building on Community Responses to the Ebola Crisis in Monrovia

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

By Mara Forbes, SDI Secretariat

Liberia has a unique history compared to other African countries. Monrovia, the capital of Liberia was founded in 1822 by freed slaves from the United States of America and was named after the U.S. president James Monroe. The current population of Monrovia according to the 2008 census is around 1 million people, of which 70% live in informal settlements. 

Since the late 1980’s the country has faced three civil wars. Years of conflict have devastated the infrastructure. An estimated 80% of the housing stock was destroyed. However, the central role played by women in the aftermath of the conflict was internationally recognized in 2012, when two of the leading women received the Nobel Peace prize. This recognition of women as central players in the development of the country has continued with the election of a female president in 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the current Mayor of Monrovia, the Honorable Mayor Clara Mvogo.

In 2014, Liberia was hit with another outbreak - Ebola. Again, much of the development that was achieved over the past decade is now being undermined by the spread of the outbreak. Ebola has not only affected people’s health and lives but also has social and economic consequences. Inadequate basic services and infrastructure aided in the rapid spread of the disease. Liberia was one of the hardest hit countries with 9,238 reported cases and 4,037 related deaths (WHO, Feb. 2015). The majority of those affected have been women and those living in informal settlements.

SLUMDAL with the support of YMCA Liberia, the local SDI affiliate in Monrovia, took it upon themselves to develop, implement, and monitor a community Ebola emergency response project for some of the hardest hit informal settlements. The goal of the project was to conduct awareness and sensitization training on Ebola and provide preventative hand washing buckets and chlorine to some of the poorest of the poor living in these slums.

In total SLUMDAL provided 650 hand washing buckets and chlorine to 11 informal settlements (WestPoint, Clara Town, Slipway, S.K. Doe, Logan Town, New Kru Town, Jallah Town, 12th Street, Peace Island, Rock Spring Valley, and St. Paul Bridge).

 

SLUMDAL begins distribution of Ebola response materials

During this time SLUMDAL stepped up and played a key role in bringing the Government of Liberia’s Fight Ebola Campaign into the slum communities through sensitization and distribution of hand washing materials and has been recognized by Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and other stakeholders for their active and vital role with organized communities of the urban poor.

The role of urban poor communities and local authorities in Monrovia in response to the Ebola crisis helped turn the trajectory on new Ebola infections. Monrovia was the hardest hit area in Liberia and had the most fatalities in the region. Liberia is now seen as a success story compared to neighbouring countries due to a shift of approach on behalf of the government. Investments to the national government were decentralized to local authorities and community groups for implementation. Liberia now has the least outbreaks of new cases each week and curfew and land border lock downs have recently been lifted. 

From 1-6 of February a team from SDI visited Monrovia to get a deeper understanding the organization and the work of SLUMDAL and YMCA Liberia. We visited 5 settlements (WestPoint, S.K. Doe, New Kru Town, 12th Street, and Peace Island) and met with 13 savings groups. Federation leaders from Uganda worked with SLUMDAL and the savings groups to better understand the role of the federation and the rituals it practices, particularly the importance of savings. These peer-to-peer exchanges help emerging federations like in Liberia better understand and see the power and importance of federated communities from their more mature affiliates. Ideas are shared and then discussed and adapted to fit the local context.

Members of the Uganda Federation share their experiences with savers in S.K. Doe settlement

The key role of SLUMDAL now will be to move beyond crisis response to a sustainable community development approach by continuing to build on their relationship with local government, expand federation membership, and governance structures.

Cities Alliance is working with SDI and the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) to develop a joint local government/community led Monrovia City Programme, modeled on country programmes that have been implemented in Uganda and Ghana. The programme seeks to support the resilient social and economic recovery of slum dwellers in Greater Monrovia in response to the Ebola crisis while also improving the living and working conditions of the urban poor. Through this programme organized communities of slums dwellers will work with local government to profile and map all settlements within Greater Monrovia. Communities collect and analyze data about their settlements to inform dialogue with authorities on resource flows and development priorities, to mitigate against disaster and conflict and to make poor communities vocal and visible. This is a critical next step in the development of the Liberian affiliate to demonstrate the potential of community driven solutions in partnership with local government.

 

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