By Walter Fieuw, CORC
When the question of collaboratively testing new techniques in profiling informal settlements was raised, Cape Town was proposed as the gathering place for federations from Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, India, Namibia, and South Africa. Community leaders and NGO representatives from these countries have in common the quest for improving data capture processes. The agenda has a global imperative: first, to analyse the 7,000 profiles federations have captured over two decades in more than 15 countries, and second, to look forward at improved processes for citywide settlement profiling.
SDI and SFI Partnership Background
Delegations gathered for an intense 10 day programme, which started on the 3rd of June 2013. Old friends reunited, and new contacts were made. This project is a collaboration between SDI and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), which is supported by an 18-month, $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is anticipated that this project could yield a “science of slums” if SDI’s data and SFI’s methodology are successfully paired.
SFI’s special research focus on Cities, Scaling, and Sustainability, which is the key department working with SDI, has a “… particularly important focus [of this research area] is to develop theoretical insights about cities that can inform quantitative analyses of their long-term sustainability in terms of the interplay between innovation, resource appropriation, and consumption and the make up of their social and economic activity”. SFI Professor Luis Bettencourt, who is the SFI project leader, remarked on evolving partnership with SDI in an interview with Txchnologist. “We want to find ways to make the greatest use of the data SDI collects,” Bettencourt says. “In this way, the project will help create standards through which informal communities can collect and use data about themselves and develop economic models to sustain these efforts.“
The project has been a work in progress since January 2013, when key representatives from India, Uganda, South Africa and Kenya visited the SFI group in the USA to discuss the make-up of the project. Sheela Patel, Director of the Indian NGO SPARC and Chair of the SDI Board, reflected on the evolving partnership with SFI in a SDI blog article. “As part of its ongoing quest to bridge informal urban settlements into city planning, an important first step has been to get communities of the urban poor living in informal settlements to believe that aggregating information about their settlement and households is a valuable tool towards improving their lives."
After the 7,000 slum profiles were collected and analysed, Federations came together again in Kenya in April 2013. Read the article on the workshop here.
Cape Town Workshop
The workshop started with a meet and greet, and presentations and informal conversations on the vastly diverse experiences of profiling informal settlements followed. Luis Bettencourt from SFI presented on the work of the institute, bringing into focus the dynamics of city growth by drawing on recent research SFI has conducted through GIS modelling. This was also a touch point for how SDI data could help federations understand cities better. Federations shared different experiences of profiling informal settlements. At the grassroots level, the data helps communities understand their settlements better and build relationships with government. Even though this is a practice commonly shared, SDI affiliates have, over the years, developed different mechanisms and processes for collecting information. The challenge and advocacy agenda of SDI saw it crucially important to start a horizontal conversation on how to integrate all the different data sets.
Sheila, a community leader from the Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation, said that the federation has been profiling informal settlements since the early 2000s. Initially they had challenges to store and analyse the data, and this also delayed the feedback to communities. The Federation decided that involving members from the local savings schemes was the most efficient way to move forward. In this way, they were much more involved, and they were also the first to pick up on errors. There were accounts of political interference, because the politicians were still denying the natural urbanisation. We have now come to a point where we can compare and integrate information to find workable solutions to upgrading.
The issue of data management seemed to be familiar in the Ugandan experience. The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda is presently comprised of 355 savings groups operating in six cities: Kampala, Arua, Jinja, Kabale, Mbale, and Mbarara. Katana Goretti elaborated that the question of local language difference was a further motivator to involve local people. For instance, people would lie about how many children they had because they thought there would be a kickback for their families. This is resolved in the verification process, "We had to update the database in response to increased evictions, since the data the government cites in justification of their actions are out of date. The large database helps us assist one another in times when other settlements are facing evictions."
The cultural and experiential exchanges were important to align the various experiences. But the main focus was on learning by doing, and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), a South African social movement linked to the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), the South African SDI affiliate, suggested that UT Section was perfect location.
Learning by Doing in UT Section, Khayelitsha
UT Section is a dense informal settlement in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, located south of iKhusi Primary School. Founded in 1985 when people moved from other neighborhoods such as Crossroads to make a new home, UT section has seen incremental development throughout the years. At first service levels were very low, and the City government handed out buckets since toilets could not be installed. Years later, the settlement received grid electricity. Listen to Snax talk us through his settlement.
The delegations from Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, India, Namibia, and South Africa and SFI team had several meetings in UT Section between 4 – 8 June. The new profiling questionnaire was discussed and tested with various technologies, such as an Android phone application coded with the questions, GPS coordinates, and pictures pinned to certain points of interests, such as waste removal skips. Community also experimented with identifying shack usage and mapping out shack numbers by means of large printed satellite photos.
UT Section community mapping team assisted by Shekar (far left) from the Indian SDI Alliance.
Structure use identification through community mapping.
On Saturday the 8th of June, the full settlement enumeration of UT Section was launched with a kick-off party. Government officials from the City of Cape Town’s informal settlement management department and principle field officers (PFO) were invited to the celebration. At the launch, PFO Natalie Samuels remarked:
“In 2009 a partnership was formed between CORC and ISN and the City of Cape Town… and communities were able to petition the City on important needs in informal settlements. The main purpose of this exchange is the profiling of informal settlements and the value that it adds to our communities.”
The on-the-ground learning environment has been a major success. Groups have developed new skills and technologies for profiling and spatially understanding their settlements. The open and transparent learning environment will go a long way in building local capacity to generate better quality spatial and socio-economic enumeration data.
**Cross posted from SA SDI Alliance Blog**
By Walter Fieuw (on behalf of CORC)
To the casual observer, a road is simply a tarmac to allow for different usages. Perhaps we can also define it as a line of communication, which is connected to a greater network through bridges, tunnels, support structures, junctions, crossings, interchanges, and so forth. Roads connect our neighborhoods and cities to one another, and give us right of passage. These road hierarchies are usually planned well, and neighborhoods and cities grow around these cadastral maps.
But in informal settlements, smaller pathways emerge as needed. In many ways, the informal city grows exactly in the opposite direction than the formal city. In the formal city, cadastral maps are carefully designed, but in the informal city, planning emerge through means of negotiating space in the process of place making. What then happens when formal regulations start to interact with informal ways of city-building?
In Langrug, an informal settlement located 3km outside the town of Franschhoek, an example has emerged where the informal processes of settlement has interacted with formal city-building planning processes. This article will not delve into the history of the settlement, which is available here. Important for contextual purposes, the community has been engaging the Stellenbosch Municipality since 2010 around the in-situ upgrading of the settlement, for which the community won the prestigious award from the South African Planning Institute in the “Community” category. The Stellenbosch Municipality applied for Upgrading of Informal Settlement Programme (UISP), or Part 3 of the National Housing Code, funding from the Western Cape Province. The UISP project has advanced to Phase 3, which includes full services.
Last week, the Municipality started paving secondary roads which has emerged organically through the years of settling on the land. The secondary roads have been well planned by the community, when they conducted an intense spatial mapping exercise in March 2011. The Alliance’s report on the spatial mapping in 2011 gives insight into the spatial knowledge the community has generated, which has made a significant contribution to the servicing of the settlement:
CORC supplied an aerial photograph of the terrain as well as some guidance on conducting spatial analysis, and in particular on what indicators to look for and how to identify an area’s constraints or opportunities for development. Then, photograph and markers in hand, the team went out into the February heat to locate all the infrastructure and facilities that they had agreed could benefit from improved maintenance or upgrading. The result was an interim map that detailed the position and conditions of all Langrug’s toilets, water taps, drains, drainage gullies, electricity boxes, street lights, and commercial activities, and thus threw light on some of the settlement’s most pressing issues.
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdialliance/5734257232/]Langrug_20110324_0001 (2)[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/sdialliance/]South African SDI Alliance[/url], on Flickr
In the coming month, the Stellenbosch Municipality’s appointed contractor will start the groundworks to implement a central access road. The community’s vision for an incremental upgrading approach to developing the neighbourhood has been a powerful guide in imagining what the community could look like.
The 16 week Planning Studio with UCT’s School of Architecture Planning & Geomatics (SAPG), a department in the Engineering & the Built Environment (EBE) faculty, has generated many other proposals for a responsive spatial development framework which can guide the future upgrading of the settlement. The Alliance will continue to report on the development of Langrug informal settlement, and the partnership with the Stellenbosch Municipality.
By By Hellen Nyamweru, AcTogether Uganda
The National Slum Dwellers Federation fraternity was well represented at the recently concluded Commonwealth Local Government Conference held at Munyonyo Kampala from the 14th to the 17th of May, 2013.The conference with the theme ‘Developmental Local Government: Putting Local Government at the Heart of Development’ saw delegates and high ranking personnel coming from all over the world to look into how local governments can be empowered to reduce poverty, stimulate the local economy and ensure provide better services to the community.
The event was launched by the President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on the 14th of May in an event twinned with the opening of the exhibition arena by His Excellency where the federation displayed a myriad of items from their small income generating activities such as beautiful crafts, artifacts, jua-kali works, charcoal briquettes, jewellery, mats among others. NSDFU also displayed sanitation and housing models demonstrating low cost technology and to help demonstrate the cost effectiveness of federation projects.
Local and international organizations such as ACTogether Uganda, SDI, and Cities Alliance had information desks where they publicized their works as organizations in the quest to promote good local governance.
Muturi Joseph, a federation leader from Muungano Wa Wanavijiji Kenya gave a brilliant presentation on the 16th of May in a panel chaired by Julian Baskin from Cities Alliance. The presentation that centered on urban challenges from a community-city-national and global perspective was able to ‘speak’ to the delegates in attendance and generate debate in the house .It stressed on the truth that slums and informal settlement are a reality that cannot be ignored and that governments must plan for them.
The team at the ACTogether/SDI/NSDFU booths also established contact with local governments within and outside Uganda some of who had little or no information about the federation. It was a privilege for the SDI fraternity to be invited in so many municipalities by local governments officials from all over Uganda and a promise of their support once we journey to these municipalities to mobilize the urban poor. Delegates from outside Uganda who happened to come from countries where the federation exists were given a contact of the SDI family to follow up back home.
Many delegates visited the SDI/ACTogether Uganda booth to see the library of books published on the works of the SDI federations. They also interacted with the participants and availed their email addresses for further correspondence to enable them access more information and softcopies of publications by NSDFU/ACT/SDI.
Vicky Nakibuuka from Kampala Central federation and Diana Najuuko from Makindye federation coordinated and supervised the NSDFU exhibition booth, which sold items produced by federation members throughout Kampala. They sold out some of the items they had, most especially the artifacts and made a profit of about UGX 800,000, approximately USD 320. ‘’When I went back to Makindye on Friday evening, those who had given me items to sell told me I have to find out if there was another conference next week so that I can continue selling for them! I found it very interesting’’
In the words of Sri Lanka’s President, His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, “Local governments are the most practical expression of the ideals and aspirations of a functioning democracy.” We, the SDI fraternity, share the same insight having worked with many local governments in mobilizing the urban poor in innovative ways to set priorities, make decisions in participatory, deliberative, collaborative way to overcome conflicts and to solve critical community problems. We continue working together to support positive change and achieve positive tangible outcomes in the communities, regions and the world as a whole.
Quiet Conflict: Social Movements, Institutional Change & Upgrading Informal Settlements in South Africa
Ben Bradlow has worked with Shack/Slum Dwellers International and the SA Alliance since 2009. Ben’s thesis considers the experience of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) in building coalitions of the urban poor and partnerships with local government, which he calls the “Quiet Conflict”. During his time at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): International Development Group where he studied Master’s in City Planning, Ben was active in promoting critical thinking of African urbanism and co-founded the UrbanAfrica group, and a MIT student group on planning and development issues in African cities. For his active contribution to learning, Ben was rewarded with the “Harold Horwitz Research Fellowship” by MIT School of Architecture & Planning and received an ”Honourable mention for intellectual contribution”. The SA Alliance is proud to showcase Ben’s research.
The South African government’s attempts to provide land and housing for the poor have been focused primarily on interventions at the policy level and within internal state bureaucracies. But experiences of social movements for land and housing have shown that significant opportunities for formal institutional change occur through relationships of both contestation and collaboration between such movements and state institutions, especially at the local level. Such a relatively underexplored mechanism of institutional reform enables us to understand exactly how such change processes gain legitimacy and potency. This thesis draws on case studies of two recent, formalized partnerships between grassroots social movements and local authorities in the metropolitan municipality of Cape Town and the municipality of Stellenbosch. The studies examine exactly how such relationships create the space for both conflict and collaboration between communities and city government. They are based on semi-structured interviews with government officials, community, and movement leaders, and participant observations of engagements between the movements and city authorities in January and June-August 2012. The evidence suggests that theories of the state and institutional change require much greater attention to the multiple ways in which social movements interact with the state in order to realize rights of access to land and housing. The contingent endowments of these actors allow them to be more or less able to trigger institutional reform processes. When change has occurred, collaboration has been essential. But these cases also highlight the value of a credible threat of conflict based on city-wide mobilization, no matter how quietly such a threat lurks in the background. Policy interventions in the urban land and housing sector in South Africa, pitched as rational bureaucratic recipes, are unlikely to realize such rights without institutionalized engagements, especially at the city level, with organized social movements of the landless urban poor that articulate both conflictual and collaborative tendencies.
**Cross-posted from Living The City: Urban Informality**
By Baraka Mwau, SDI
"When the modern city does not adapt to the people…The People will adapt to the city” (Urban Think Tank, Trailer-Torre David: the World’s Tallest Squat)
Living in the Tenements of Nairobi – Part One
Typical Tenement Building: Pipeline, Embakasi-Nairobi © B.Mwau 2012
Tenements, or if used informally vertical semi-slums, are in their own version congested settlements which have been around since the industrial age and have been witnessed in all regions of the world, and especially in particular urban growth stages. These settlements, often strategically located near key urban services (mostly commercial areas) are a representation of the role of market forces in housing provision for a particular class of urban residents. These settlements maximize space use (mostly by exploiting ground coverage and plot ratio standards) and leverage huge capital investments with many housing units for which residents pay “affordable” rents. Like in many parts of the world, this phenomenon is rive in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya and one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. In this article and its subsequent series, we will highlight various aspects of living in tenement buildings in Nairobi as told by individual dwellers.
It is 5 am on Saturday May 11 2013 in Pipeline Estate, Embakasi – Nairobi, one of the most notorious areas for unregularised tenements in the city. Milcah Kioko* (not her real name) has just woken up. No, it isn’t an early day because she has to report to “work”. Throughout her stay in the city, a day must start early, regardless of the fact that she is a housewife. Milka is however somewhat optimistic about landing a reliable job someday that will enable her to support her husband and combat the ruthless and indiscriminative escalating living cost in Nairobi. Having migrated from Eastern Kenya a few years ago to the city, she started urban life in a Nairobi slum, Mukuru kwa Njenga, where she was lucky to be sheltered by her elder married sister while looking for a job. Many slum residents can narrate how agonizing life can be for rural converts, making a fresh start in Nairobi slums. Without critical social networks, such as Milcah’s, the ‘arrival city’ (slums) can turn out to be one legendary, horror narrative to pass to your descendants. Even after being nested by her sister and tirelessly hunting for a reliable job for years, Milka has made very little progress. After the first few years, she had to leave the nest and continue with her job hunt from somewhere else, a move that opened a new chapter in her life. She got married and shifted focus to raising her young family. Life might have improved after her husband managed to move the family from Mukuru kwa Njenga slum to the adjacent ‘concrete jungle’, the high-rise tenements of Pipeline Estate, Embakasi.
Since her move, waking up early is Milka’s Saturday routine. The day normally begins by climbing down the sharply-inclined staircase from her unit on the sixth floor to the ground floor, where she joins the long queue at the water tap. Having migrated from the dry lands of Eastern Kenya, queuing for water is ‘normal’. She migrated from her rural home in the quest of living the ‘urban dream’ and creating a new ‘normal’ life. It’s almost a decade now, and the city still seems unforgiving to her.
Being a Saturday, her two young daughters are in slumberland until mid the morning. It’s not a school day and in any case, they have nowhere to play, except the dangerous and narrow balcony at their doorstep. This is highly unappealing for the kids. The numerous warnings they have received from their mother not to play near the balcony as well as the obvious physical danger has cultivated sufficient fear in them. They have also adapted to routine everyday re-organization of the house. The family lives in a single room, which similarly to a shack, is partitioned by a curtain and is accustomed to space-use transformation at different times of the day. After getting her water, Milcah is going to undertake a makeover of this temporal children bedroom to the living room and the kitchen.
The queue at the tap is long, taking several loops on the open-indoor space at the ground floor. You are never too early for it, unless you have a ‘good relationship’ with the building caretaker, who sends signals to his ‘friendly tenants’ when he is about to open the tap. That’s how powerful this position can be in these kinds of tenement buildings where communal facilities exist and infrastructure services are rationed. Often, the caretaker (mostly men) doesn’t send the signals for free; there are ‘payments’ involved. The ‘payments’ range from cash money to a beer in the bar at the ground floor and/or more ‘personalised’ forms from certain female tenants. This system is a clear illustration of how survival in tenements can be constructed through social networks. In these residences, the city council and utility companies are partially to blame for the inadequacy of services. The other half involves complex dealings with all sorts of actors, mainly including the landlord, property care taker, utility company workers, and service cartels.
Milcah has no choice but to join the queue and get her usual ration—4 jerricans (20 litres each). She is no party to the ‘exclusive club’ in the building, hence no favours from the care taker. As an offer of support, her husband will give her a hand in ferrying the water to their unit in the sixth floor, before he goes for work. Despite the building exceeding 4 floors (recommended threshold for a lift in Kenya), this particular building does not have a lift.
Her husband will also help to ferry the household solid waste (collected into a polythene bag) to dump it somewhere along the road side, on his way to work. Solid waste collection is yet another scarce service here. At least the City Council will pick up that garbage, when the ‘mountain’ gets visible enough.
The building used to have a booster pump which pumped water from the mains at the ground floor to the 7th floor. However, this pump worked only for a few months when the building was new. After its starting to malfunction, the landlord did not bother to repair or replace it. Surprisingly, Milcah is not even aware that there was such a pump in the building, even after living there for over a year. She is actually surprised that water indeed flowed in the taps and shared toilets/ bathrooms beyond the ground floor. It is not that she is ignorant, she just copes with the situation as is, and is motivated by the fact that her rent is just worth what she gets.
Front View of a Typical Tenement Building in Pipeline Estate, Embakasi-Nairobi © B.Mwau 2012
In most tenements, the utility bills (mainly water and electricity) are inclusive in the rent and only the landlord knows what goes to the service providers. In roomed tenements, sharing of toilets and bathrooms is the norm. The maintenance of these shared facilities is in most cases left to the tenants. Where there is no proper ‘maintenance plan’ formulated and followed by the tenants, the ‘tragedy of the commons’ triumphs. Should the later prevail, chances are that some tenement residents will find themselves grappling with the dilemma of ‘to have or to avoid guests’, just as it has been narrated by numerous shack residents. The dignified visitors could easily loathe the reception at the “small rooms”, especially those coming from upmarket areas. In most cases tenants develop a duty rooster for maintaining common spaces and facilities. Its not surprising to see tenants being actively engaged in managing the asset for the landlord, to whom they pay rent. For them, the free service they offer semi-consciously for the landlord is more to their benefit, and particularly in safe guarding their public health.
Similar to shack areas, infrastructure services in most tenements are constrained, either as a result of collapsed (or on the verge of collapse) building infrastructure, or inefficacies of the service provider. For electricity, the stories are agonizing as well and particularly in buildings where billing is on a shared meter. In these areas, meter reading is classified information that should only be known to three parties – the service provider, the care taker and the landlord. If not rationed by hours, the voltage limit will not permit tenants like Milcah to use certain appliances such as iron boxes, cookers, water heaters etc.
Milcah’s experience is just a tip of the iceberg. Life in Nairobi’s tenements is deeply dynamic and cannot be covered enough within the scope of this article. Mathare-Huruma, Pipeline, Zimmerman, Githurai, Roysambu and Kawangware neighbourhoods epitomize the tenement phenomenon in Nairobi. In these areas, buildings have plot coverage’s of 100% and plot ratios of upto 10 times the recommended standards. Yes, the buildings are built back-to-back, from beacon-to-beacon, go as high as 8floors, and use designs, shapes and space standards that can never be found anywhere else. The vertical densities in these neighbourhoods are extreme, filled with densely massed multi-storey buildings. The facades often decorated by hanging clothes or repugnant like windows that appear as engraved rather than fitted, and at times a view from the street will land on a solid wall.
In tenement areas, social life is influenced by the codes stipulated by landlords to tenants, and fully enforced by the tenants, such as locking the gate or the main entrance at certain times of the night.
The roads in these areas are rough and dusty. When it rains, they turn to muddy streets making walking and driving unbearable. Space convertibility is a key element in these areas, with streets converting into busy business areas in the mornings and evenings. During these times of day, the massive activities taking place on the main streets leading to public transport stops often mimic mass migration.
Subsequent series to this article will illustrate some of the urban qualities produced by tenements, the variety in housing they offer, their production and perhaps their implication to the urban future in Nairobi.
- Community Planning (113)
- Zimbabwe (30)
- South Africa (59)
- Kenya (44)
- Haiti (2)
- Brazil (9)
- Ghana (17)
- Uganda (47)
- India (30)
- Namibia (12)
- Tanzania (10)
- Malawi (18)
- Philippines (9)
- Sierra Leone (4)
- Zambia (4)
- Bolivia (6)
- Developing Alternatives To Evictions (13)
- Enumerations And Mapping (33)
- Exchange And Learning (48)
- Nigeria (1)
- Partnerships (90)
- Savings (34)
- Settlements Under Siege (48)
- Slum Upgrading (106)
- Uncategorized (1)
- Women (47)
- SDI - SFI Partnership in Action: Profiling in Khayelitsha, Cape Town
- Construction of Langrug road hierarchy starts
- SDI Participates in Commonwealth Local Government Conference, Uganda
- Quiet Conflict: Social Movements, Institutional Change & Upgrading Informal Settlements in South Africa
- ‘The Tenement City’: The ‘Inconvenient' Urban Reality Facing Nairobi
- NIMBYism Blocks Development in Havelock, Durban
- An Introspect of the late Benson Osumba, Chair of Muungano wa Wanavijiji
- Creating Organised Communities of Slum Dwellers in Uganda
- SDl Joins World Urban Campaign
- In a Risky Place: Women & Sanitation in Nairobi's Slums
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- Zimbabwe federation holds forum, Southern African hub meets
- The Zabaleen of Cairo
- Community Policing in Slum Settlements
- Culture, identity and slum areas: opportunities and challenges seen from slum dwellers’ perspective
- Re-designing the city one shack cluster at a time
- Slum Dwellers, Academics & City Officials Dialogue in Harare
- Unabated Forced Evictions in Nairobi's Informal Settlements
- SDI at World Urban Forum 6: Making Space for the Urban Poor
- The Beginnings of Enlightened Planning?
- Diary from Mumbai: Part III