Posts for Exchange and Learning
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.
**Cross-posted from MuST Blog**
By Shaddy Mbaka, Muungano Support Trust (Kenya)
NAIROBI, 18 APRIL 2013 | SDI has officially joined the World Urban Campaign, a lobby and advocacy platform on sustainable urbanization for “Better City, Better Life,” coordinated by UN-HABITAT.
The World Urban Campaign brings together partners from across sectors. It is designed to facilitate international cooperation, and acts as platform to converge organizations in order to collaborate on solutions and build consensus towards a new urban agenda for the Habitat III conference that is expected to take place in 2016.
SDI, now a partner in the World Urban Campaign, will help engage cities around the world through the I’m a City Changer campaign, aimed at raising awareness on urban issues and to include the voice of the people to propose positive solutions to urban challenges.
SDI will also have an opportunity to represent the voices and interests of the poor, and thereby engage slum dwellers as city changers, while working closely with key World Urban Campaign partners around the world to ensure improved cities and to integrate poor communities in the management and development of their cities.
UN-HABITAT runs a series of strategic programmes designed to help make cities safer, to bring relief in countries suffering the aftermath of war or natural disasters, and to promote sustainable cities and good governance. Under the Urban Management Programme, an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN-HABITAT, the World Bank and various bilateral donors, the agency fosters urban management in the fields of participatory urban governance, urban poverty alleviation, environmental management, and the dissemination of this information at the local, national and regional levels.
UN-HABITAT also develops indicators of good urban governance with two principle aims. The first aim is to help cities identify urban governance priorities and assess their progress towards the quality of city-life and the second aim is to develop a global Good Urban Governance Index. The agency has a Training and Capacity Building Branch which works at national and local levels in various countries to strengthen capacity building through high-level policy dialogues seminars, consultations and expert workshops.
The SDI team, led by Jockin Arputhum, Sheela Patel, Rose Malokoane and Joel Bolnick, expressed enthusiasm for continuing to collaborate with UN-HABITAT and use the campaign platform to work with other organizations in order to improve urban life for all.
In her speech to the press, Rose Molokoane one of the SDI Coordinators said;
“We feel really honored for the recognition by UN-HABITAT as a partner in World Urban Campaign. It is the basics of engaging the communities that has brought us this far, through savings and placing the women at the centre of collective community leadership, has created engagements with governments and local authorities. This has set precedent for government and other stakeholders that organized communities can bring about transformation.
Slum dwellers know how settlements can be planned. This can only happen by involving the poor in the planning process, deal with slums not slum dwellers. The urban poor are the only ones who can open up cities for development; therefore they should be seen as partners who are well able to change the cities, to achieve this, governments should give the urban poor security of tenure to witness urban development”.
SDI Chairperson Sheela Patel acknowledged that it was indeed a special moment for SDI. She said that change requires transformation, and through the Memorandum signed between UN-HABITAT and SDI, the urban poor global network can seek to demonstrate the potential for transformation especially from below. “ This kind of partnership has been waiting to happen for a long time, we have tried to engage in the past, some have been successful while some unsuccessful, either way we hope to change how stakeholders view the urban poor,” said Ms. Patel.
On his part as the SDI President, Jockin thanked the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, for agreeing to sign an MOU with Slum Dwellers International, for it has opened a new chapter. ”SDI is privileged to partner with UN-Habitat on the urban transformative agenda. Being part of the decision making process, this partnership will bring change through the involvement of the poor, and we take it as a challenge in helping to realize the Millennium Development Goals. The issue of lack of proper sanitation infrastructure is a major impediment to development. We are going to work together and show the world how we are going to change, we have the information and we know how to plan”, said Jockin.
Dr. Joan Clos, UN-HABITAT Executive Director expressed appreciation for the work that SDI has done and continues to do, and for SDI’s unique makeup and tireless efforts to create inclusive cities and to promote participatory processes beginning at community level to city wide transformation.
“SDI has become a force in favor of the poor by demanding the recognition of the poor as far as the urban agenda is concerned. Slums are a source of innovation (citing Mumbai), therefore there will be no bulldozing of livelihoods of the people living in these settlements, any transformation in urban poor settlements need be in participatory of slum dwellers because these communities are well organized, something governments are yet to do,” said Clos.
He also noted the importance of this collaboration in bringing the urban poor to the forefront of shaping the global urban agenda, and the important role SDI has continued to play in building inclusive cities.
Part I: A Testimony From Ouagadougou
By Kotimi Kéré, resident of spontaneous zone “Taabtenga” in Ouagadougou (translation by Chantal Hildebrand, SDI Secretariat)
Photo above: Kotimi Kéré, adjoining treasurer of the “Association ‘Id-rayim-taab yeele,” and community member of sector 45 “Taab-Tenga” (a spontaneous zone of in Ouagadougou).
Taking part in the study tour to Ghana from 21-26 January 2013, I got a better understanding of the SDI strategy. It is a matter of mobilizing poor communities to improve their living conditions and be able to influence the actions of decision-makers in the favor of these populations.
Aspects of SDI strategy that arouses the most interest during this exchange included:
- Mobilising communities around a common project and/or idea;
- The introduction of savings groups within urban poor communities. People living in slums are a the priority poor. Having faith in an individual project, each community member, to the best of their ability, will put aside a little bit of money everyday to add to their savings book (for example, 2 cedis, 5 cedis, etc.);
- The possibility of savings group members being able to save enough to support individual projects;
- The solidarity and team spirit found within the savings groups in terms of supporting each member even if they experience difficulties in repaying a loan;
The main lesson I learned from this trip is the following:
The modernization of cities is often a process split into two speeds. On the one hand, the institutional principles set by national and local policy makers, and on the other side, the poor settlements in cities who have difficulty fitting into the formal principles. The inclusion and non-marginalization of the urban poor are esstential to the modernization of cities.
The alternative is to make the urban poor aware of their own abilities to change their destinies. We do not always need to wait for others to do everything for us and lift us out of our misery. Overcoming poverty and improving our lives depend primarily on us. It is necessary to know our prioities to first realise our own progress with patience and self-confidence. Although poor, I can find ways to spare a little of what I earn each day to support projects that benefit my life. The battle for registering poor communities in urban development is based primarily on our abilities to improve our own living conditions.
From what I have seen and learned, in my opinion it would be selfish to keep it to oneself. I come from a community living in a precarious neighborhood (slum) of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. In my opinion, I think the first action to do on my return to my country is to mobilise my own community to change our current living conditions and our lives.
To read Kotimi Kéré's testimonial in French, please click here.
Photo above of Ouagadougou delegation that participated in the exchange to Ghana: Florent Y. Bakouan (representative from Laboratoire Citeyonnetés), Madeleine Bouda (community member from Taabtenga), Kotimi Kere (community member from Nioko 2) and Franck Kabore (representative from le Coalition Nationale pour L’Habitat).
Part II: The Way Forward
By Chantal Hildebrand, using “Restitution Ghana report” by Florent Bakouan.
Upon their return to Burkina Faso, the Ouagadougou delegation who participated in the learning exchange to Ghana met to discuss how to implement some of the lessons and tools they learned in the spontaneous zones of Ouagadougou. It was agreed that they would begin by sharing the lessons learned in Ghana with their own communities specifically Nioko 2 and Taabtenga – the two spontaneous zones where Mrs. Bouda and Ms. Kéré live.
Beginning with Nioko 2, a presentation was conducted by Mrs. Bouda reporting her experience on the Ghana exchange and presenting the SDI approach and core rituals. Attended by 150 community members and members of a local women’s group called “Songr Nooma la Zamstaaba” (which Mrs. Bouda is a member), the presentation resulted in a collective interest in implementing some of the SDI approach in the Nioko 2 community. Identifying lack of access to safe drinking water in households as a key issue in the community, the interested residents decided to mobilise the rest of the Nioko 2 community around this priority. The community, with the help of Laboratoire Citeyonnetés and the other individuals who participated in the Ghana exchange, have begun mobilizing community members through the establishment of a savings scheme, with current membership totaling 130 people. Future plans include:
- Conducting an enumeration of Nioko 2, identifying areas with available drinking water, the number of households without water, those who want water, etc;
- Conducting a mapping exercise focusing on the current water situation in the community.
A meeting in Taabtenga is scheduled for Sunday 10 March 2013. As explained by Mr. Florent Bakouan, a representative from the Laboratoire Citeyonnetés who participated in the Ghana exchange, in Taabtenga, like Nioko 2, “Nous allons partager ce que nous avons appris au Ghana, susciter l'adhésion des habitants à l'approche SDI et envisager avec eux un projet commun pour le réaliser par eux et pour eux.” – English translation: “We will share what we have learned in Ghana, build support from the residents around the SDI approach and consider a joint project with the residents to help facilitate community-run upgrading and work with them on a communal project to realize by them for them.”
He ends by saying, “En conclusion…Nous avons mis l'accent d'abord sur l'adhésion des populations à l'approche SDI, ensuite à leur mobilisation autour d'un projet commun. Nous allons progressivement étape par étape pour avoir plus de chances de réussite.” – English translation: “In conclusion… we focus first on public support around the SDI approach, then their mobilisation around a common project. We are progressing gradually, step by step, to have a better chance of success.”
Langrug informal settlement hosted an SDI-AAPS studio this past year.
By Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat
Last week's 5 Cities Seminar focused on building relationships; relationships between urban poor communities and government, between federations of the urban poor in different cities who face similar, yet unique, challenges and between the formal and informal worlds that shape rapidly urbanizing cities. Throughout the conference, urban planners from the African Association of Planning Schools (AAPS) have joined communities and officials to learn about incremental informal settlement upgrading.
Partnerships with university planning schools can produce tangible results and leverage resources for urban poor communities. Over the past year, AAPS and SDI have facilitated a number of planning studios (In Uganda, Cape Town and Malawi) with various outputs (e.g. settlement-wide upgrading strategies, circulation and infrastructure designs, and detailed maps of previously undocumented settlements). The studios have started to remove planners from the comfort of their offices and challenged antiquated norms and standards, ensuring a serious engagement with urban poor communities. These engagements need to be sustained and not once off interventions so that their value is not significantly diminished.
On the third day of the 5 Cities conference, planners from across Africa held a separate reflection session where they received a detailed brief on the Cape Town planning studio which took place in the beginning of 2012 and discussed the other studios that had taken place in Kampala and Malawi. The Cape Town studio, a partnership between the South African SDI Alliance and The University of Cape Town has taken place for the last two years. The 2012 studio was a 6-month engagement with Langrug, the informal settlement that the 5 Cities delegates visited on day 1 of the conference.
Students with backgrounds in urban planning and architecture worked with the community to produce upgrading plans for the settlement to be used by the local municipality with whom the community already has an MoU. A significant challenge is what actual impacts such long terms plans have, and if more immediate short or medium term plans would have led to more immediate results for the community, rather than grand scale long term visions.
Further discussions ranged across a number of studio related topics, including what type and level of students have worked on the studios, how studios should become sustainable permanent fixtures in the curriculum, the importance of drawing in government officials to maximize political capital and momentum and how the studio, in a dialogic engagement between community leaders and students, should set community priorities and have tangible outputs.
An important point raised by Professor Mtafu Muanda from Malawi was about working in communities that do not have a large SDI presence. He related how the planning studio in Salisbury Lines, Mzuzu had worked with a much larger community and there was a relatively insignificant SDI federation. He explained that for a studio to be effective it had to draw in the whole community and not just a select group of federation members as this fragments the community and might undermine traditional leadership structures. In the case of the Blantyre studio, the Federation used the studio to mobilize the larger community and make them aware of their activities. The traditional leadership structure, and their buy-in into the studio, also assisted greatly with making the studio a community wide process.
Images from the SDI-AAPS Studio at Salisbury Lines settlement in Mzuzu.
In addition, new studios were mooted, especially outside of South Africa, for the upcoming year. In Tanzania preparations are already underway for a collaborative studio between the SDI affiliate (CCI - Center for Community Initiatives) and Ardhi University; a Namibian studio will take place later in the year and the possibility of a studio in Zimbabwe was raised. The point was stressed that such studios need to become a part of the curriculum and not singular events.
Just as planning does not occur in a silo, separated form local contexts of informality, neither does the shaping of a city. The links between legislators, planners, implementers and communities are evident, although all too often not given enough consideration. Because of these links, it makes sense that AAPS planners form part of the 5 Cities programme and learn about informal settlement planning and upgrading, themes that are relevant to experiences and conditions of informality in South Africa and across the African continent.
Building relationships between planners and urban poor communities is an important part of SDI’s ongoing efforts to link the formal with the informal. There is certainly a space for planners within such partnerships, as long as they are positioned not as “top down” professionals but as co-learners who work with the community to produce tangible results based on community priorities and grounded reality.
Community members showcase model homes in Mtshini Wam.
By Ariana K. MacPherson, SDI Secretariat
The second day of the 5 Cities Seminar kicked off in Mtshini Wam, a settlement of roughly 200 households located in the greater Joe Slovo Park area of Milnerton, Cape Town. The day focused a lot of attention on the change that is possible through re-blocking, or blocking out, a community-led upgrading methodology that reconfigures a community’s layout to transform tiny passageways, dangerous and impassable, into wide walkways with courtyards where children can play and women can hang washing to dry. Shacks upgraded with fire-retardant material face each other, providing added safety for families who can now find shelter from the Cape’s sometimes harsh conditions.
A wide walkway and upgraded shacks in re-blocked Mtshini Wam.
Mtshini Wam was founded in 2006 when settlers occupied open spaces of a government-funded housing settlement in Joe Slovo Park. Though the Western Cape Anti-Land Invasion Unit responded with threats of demolitions, The South African National Civic Organization (SANCO) and Informal Settlement Unit (City of Cape Town) were able to prevent evictions.
Mtshini Wam settlement expanded and continued to grow. Households in Mtshini Wam depended on water and services from the formal RDP houses, paying up to R50 (USD $6) a month for water. When Mtshini Wam asked the City to provide them with service delivery, they were told this could not be done because the settlement’s density was too high and there were no access roads. Greg Exford, Informal Settlements Manager for the City of Cape Town, said during his welcoming remarks on Wednesday that, “This area was, per capita, so dense that under normal conditions the City would never have been able to make it work.”
In 2009, responding to a lack of services and the challenges they had faced in trying to work with City, community leadership from Mtshini Wam approached the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) for support. “Prior to re-blocking, the settlement was very dense,” said community leader Nokwezi Klaas, “There were no passageways and when there were fires it was virtually impossible to get into the settlement. All the toilets were on the outskirts and there were only three water taps for over 200 households in the settlement.”
Local community leader Nokwezi Klaas describes her work in Mtshini Wam.
2009 was the starting point of a partnership between the Mtshini Wam community, CORC and ISN and the City of Cape Town. To date, this partnership has allowed the community to carry out a settlement-wide enumeration and re-blocking process, install chemical toilets and water taps, and upgrade their shacks using durable, fire-resistant material. Both the City and the community agree that this would never have been possible without a strong, dialogic partnership.
Representatives from ISN, including Western Cape coordinator Mzwanele Zulu (pictured on far left) and the City of Cape Town, including Greg Exford, Informal Settlements Manager for the City of Cape Town, were present at the gathering in Mtshini Wam on Wednesday.
“This project will go down in the history books of human settlements,” said Mr. Exford, “It shows what can be done when the community works together with partners in government… In order to make government work for informal settlements, we have to fuse the conventional with the unconventional, otherwise it’s not going to work.”
Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg, the Mayoral Committee Member for Utilities Services, echoed this point, stating that, “Unless you physically take the community with you and ask them how we are going to achieve change together, you are going to get nowhere. In this way, you can find the synergy between what is demanded and what is feasible.”
Luthando Klaas, another community leader and supervisor for the Mtshini Wam technical team, described some of the more technical aspects of the upgrading process in Mtshini Wam. There are seven teams, made up solely of community members, responsible for different aspects of upgrading. These include a technical team, gardening team, carpentry team, cleaning team, compacting team, demolition team and a building team.
Mr. Klaas describes the various aspects that influenced the design process for the layout planning of the settlement. “When they started the design process,” he says, “one of the important things was to see how to improve services and improve safety and security so that police and emergency vehicles can come into the community and the community can feel safe in their space.”
In addition to this, he describes the sometimes-challenging process of negotiating with the community about the size of structures. During the enumeration, it became apparent that the size of structures varied considerably from one household to the next. In order to make adequate space for each household, community members agreed that no structure would exceed 20 sq. meters in size, allowing those households occupying the smallest shacks (some under 5 sq. meters in size) to live in more comfortable, livable spaces. This willingness to sacrifice individual gain for the benefit of the whole community is something that is quite understandably nearly impossible without a community-led process.
Mr. Klaas spoke confidently about the community’s plans for the future, stating “we don’t want to be in shacks forever.” Members of the technical team showcased housing models that illustrate the community’s hopes for permanent, brick houses and their determination to continue upgrading their settlement. Klaas emphasized that, “it does not end with iKhayalami [upgraded] shacks. The community was able to move from wooden shacks to safer structures, and now they want to continue to move up to more livable structures for themselves – brick houses.”
Following these presentations by the community, the group of roughly 100 participants had a chance to walk around the settlement and witness the change made through the processes of re-blocking and upgrading. Wide walkways give way to courtyards where clothes hang to dry and kids play under their mothers’ feet. Each cluster contains between 10-15 shacks and is built around a courtyard, sharing a communal vegetable garden that grows everything from spinach to dill to tomatoes. Shacks without adequate exposure to sunlight are lit with low-cost solar lights made from a plastic soda bottle filled with water and bleach. A community member welcomes a few others and me into his home so that we can see just how much light one of these bottle-lights can provide.
A community member from Mtshini Wam describes his solar-powered light to another community member from Zimbabwe.
Community leader Nokwezi Klaas shows a community garden to a community member from Ghana.
All in all, the most striking thing about Mtshini Wam is the spirit of the community. They have transformed their impassable settlement into a neighborhood. There is a sense of pride and enthusiasm that is contagious, a reality which is evident in the inspired words of the city officials present at the gathering.
After a morning in Mtshini Wam, the afternoon was spent in the chambers of the City of Cape Town government building. Participants were given the opportunity to discuss and reflect on their experiences in Langrug and Mtshini Wam. The afternoon session began with introductions by Vuyani Mnyango, a local ISN leader, and Mkhabela Estavao, a FEDUP leader from KwaZulu-Natal province. Mr. Mnyango began by describing the formation of the ISN in Cape Town and the steps that were taken to build a partnership with the City.
“In 2011,” Mnyango says, “it was decided that the partnership needed to take action on the ground.” Today, CORC, ISN and the City of Cape Town are engaged in re-blocking processes in the settlements of Mtshini Wam, BBT Section of Khayelitsha, Vygieskraal and Masilunge.
Mkhabela Estavao describes South Africa’s Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), a national network of women’s centered savings groups that, in partnership with CORC and ISN, mobilizes poor people to improve their lives. FEDUP was started in 1991 and is one of the oldest federations in the SDI network, having given birth to a number of other affiliates across the African continent. Membership currently sits at roughly 20,000, but Ms. Estavao emphasizes that this number does not even begin to capture the number of families that have been impacted by the work of FEDUP. For example, she states that over 80,000 families have received housing through the Federation’s processes. When FEDUP realized that they could have even greater impact by involving men more actively, ISN was formed.
Leon Poleman, Project Manager with the City of Cape Town, was next to speak. He spoke of his experience working with CORC and ISN on upgrading and re-blocking, of his inexperience planning for informal settlements and his initial skepticism at the somewhat unconventional methods already being implemented by ISN in Mtshini Wam when he arrived on the scene.
“I come from a formal engineering background,” he said, “When you go to university and technikon, no one speaks of the design of informal settlements, or at least not in my time. So it was quite simple: In my day there were no informal settlements, and this re-blocking thing, we don’t know anything about it, so off you go! And back into our meetings we went to keep discussing how we go about this.”
But what Mr. Poleman quickly realized was that these unconventional methods were the perfect compliment to his formal engineering background, and that through working hand in hand with the community, they were able to find solutions that would have been impossible had the community not been involved. He concluded with a reminder to the other professionals in the room: “We have to understand that this is informal by its nature,” and that therefore, the solutions we find must speak to this informality.
Shortly after this, the discussion was opened up to comments and questions from the floor. Councillor James Slabbert, Portfolio Head for Human Settlements for the City of Cape Town, expressed a keen interest in learning more about the work being done in Langrug, and welcomed CORC and ISN’s input in utilizing their experience with re-blocking to provide input to the drafting of policy around informal settlement upgrading for the City. Mzwanele Zulu, ISN Coordinator for the Western Cape, was pleased to hear the City’s willingness to make re-blocking part of informal settlement upgrading policy, and urged the City to stick to its word on this point. Following the meeting, arrangements were made by CORC staff and ISN leaders to meet with Mr. Slabbert at a later date to continue these discussions.
Another issue that came to the fore during this session was the question of secure tenure for residents of settlements like Langrug and Mtshini Wam, questioning whether upgrading and re-blocking do enough towards this aim. Patrick Magebhula, national coordinator for ISN, confirmed that “the reasons for upgrading is to allow people to live where they are now, so re-blocking is just another way to give people land tenure where they live.”
Greg Exford echoed this point, stating, “If we do upgrading [in our informal settlements], people are given security of tenure. If we do enumerations, as soon as we have that person on [the City’s] database, they have security of tenure.”
The meeting closed on a positive note, with a colleague from Zambia commending CORC, ISN and the City of Cape Town. “What you have achieved in Mtshini Wam is a huge achievement. This is a wonderful first step. Now how do we get other communities on board so that we can spread upgrading to more communities?”
This is the key question for the 5 Cities Programme. Earlier in the day, Mzwanele Zulu had expressed his eagerness to scale up the activities in Mtshini Wam to settlements across Cape Town. In Cape Town, thanks to a growing partnership with the City, this becoming more of a reality. Despite challenges and setbacks, experiences like that of Mtshini Wam is evidence of the promise these partnerships can bring when the community takes the lead.
By Chantal Hildebrand & Ariana K. MacPherson, SDI Secretariat
Today marked the first day of the third 5 Cities Seminar, being held in Cape Town, South Africa from 5 – 7 February. Delegations made up of slum dwellers, government officials, support staff, and academic partners from across South Africa, and from the cities of Accra in Ghana, Kampala in Uganda, Blantyre in Malawi and Harare in Zimbabwe have come to share in the learning over the course of these three days.
The 5 Cities Programme is an initiative started in the aforementioned cities in Malawi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana and South Africa to support slum communities and local governments to work together with the goal of taking incremental slum upgrading to the citywide scale. Through collaboration on precedent-setting projects, slum communities and their municipalities begin a dialogue where the experiences and knowledge of the slum dwellers plays a crucial role in the development of their cities. These discussions have led to innovative and scalable slum upgrading projects, which demonstrate the strength of truly inclusive partnerships between the formal and informal in changing the face of their communities.
Rose Molokoane, a member of the SDI board and national coordinator of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), opened the day’s programme with an enthusiastic speech, addressing both the slum dwellers and government officials present at Franschoek Town Hall. She made it clear that SDI’s objective is to “connect the world from the bottom to the top, putting the people in front.” She stressed the importance of building partnerships in order to do this, comparing the relationships being built between slum communities and their local governments to the building of a marriage. Ms. Molokoane expressed that, although these relationships have their ups and downs, in the end we hope to be able to look at each other as equals. With this mindset, and the implementation of collaborative work between municipalities and slum dwellers, projects in these five cities will set a precedent of slum upgrading at scale, and will be able to serve as a model for other cities around the world. Ms. Molokoane ended her speech with the promise that, “When we go together as 5 Cities, we come together as a collective and leave as one!”
Following Ms. Molokoane’s address, the Mayor of Stellenbosch, Mr. Conrad Sidego, spoke about the municipality’s experience working with the community of Langrug, an informal settlement on the slopes of a mountain in the beautiful Franschoek valley. With a historical past, Stellenbosch has experienced many challenges and setbacks in terms of slum upgrading. Using the words of the Mayor, “We can’t change our past, but with time we can change the course of history…which is what we are trying to do today.”
Following these welcoming remarks, roughly 104 delegates joined the Langrug community for a site visit to the Langrug settlement. As “a settlement in transition” (borrowed term from a slum dweller from Johannesburg), Langrug, like many of the settlements in the other five cities present at the seminar, is currently working on a number of projects in collaboration with the Stellenbosch municipality around housing, water and sanitation, and general upgrading.
The delegation broke into four groups with community members as the group leaders. The groups spent an hour visiting four different sites: re-blocking, sanitation, relocation and a WASH facility (water, sanitation, hygiene). At each site, community members, government officials and support staff explained the details of the projects, and visiting delegates were given time to ask questions and experience the work taking place in Langrug..
At the reblocking site, the Langrug community presented maps and plans for the reblocking project taking place in F block, the largest section of the community. The presenters explained that the process of reblocking begins with community-led profiling and enumeration of the settlement. After this process, community members are trained in GIS mapping and planning, where they use these skills to create their own maps of their community. Together, the community plans how they will rebuild each section to best fit the wants and needs of the community members living there.
Based on the results of the profiles and enumerations, the main priorities of F block were identified as: security, building community through communal space, and drainage. Using this information, the community planned to reblock the section with the doors and windows facing inwards, towards a communal space which facilitates dialogue between community members, a safe area where their children can play and a space where the women can hang up the washing. The community designers explained that “the most important part of the planning was listening to what the people in F block wanted and making sure to plan blocks that people want to live in.” This plan has already been approved and now plans are being made to begin the re-blocking process.
Alfred Ratana, a local community leader, describes the relocation process.
Following the re-blocking site was the relocation site. Coming upon an open area, paved with ball courts and equipped with a jungle gym, the group faced four community toilets delicately painted with pictures to appeal to the children of the communty, a water tap, community built drain pipes and an open space before a perfectly lined set of houses which demonstrate the improvement that can be made to a settlement through relocation when it involves community-led initatives such as reblocking. Aditya Kumar, a member of CORC staff who actively supports the work in Langrug, and Alfred Ratana, a community leader from Langrug, explained the process of relocation that took place here. In November 2010, a neighboring farm owner obtained a court interdict against the Municipality for the settlement’s greywater runoff into their irrigation dam. The municipality was forced to start negotiating with the settlement, because 14 families were to be relocated in the reserve earmarked for an access road construction. Cape Town's Informal Settlement Network (ISN) was introduced to the settlement after the municipality engaged the network, opening a year-long relationship-building window. Ever since, a full scale in-situ upgrade project has been launched; providing better service with minimal disruption to residents’ lives.
In addition to the relocation, Mr. Ratana directed the delegates’ attention to toilets and a water tap, also constructed as part of the relocation project, and addressing some of the settlement’s sewerage issues. In addition, the community used rocks from the mountain to construct four drainage pipes, which catch the grey water and help with the overall sanitation of the community, providing a solution to the issue of grey water run-off.
Another impressive site was the WASH facility. With collaboration and funding from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in the USA, the Langrug community was able to construct their first multi-purpose WASH centre. According to Trevor Masiy, another community leader from Langrug, this WASH centre will house toilets and showers for men, women and children, a toilet that is handicap accessible, a salon for income generation, a reading centre for children and youth and sinks with seats where women will be able to do washing. Run and managed by the community, Mr. Masiy was clear that “this centre is not free, community members will have to pay to use showers and toilets…then the funds generated from the centre will be added to our UPF [urban poor fund] for other projects.”
Trevor Masiy describes the WASH facility.
At the fourth site, David Carolissen, Deputy Director for Stellenbosch Municipality, and Langrug community members presented an impressive sanitation facility, complete with roughly ten toilets and eight water taps. This sanitation unit was constructed following an enumeration which found that households in this part of the settlement had no access to sanitation. Mr. Carolissen then shared his perspective saying, “[in Langrug] we mobilise around community commonalities.” By bringing the community together around a problem that affects everyone, such as sanitation, they are more likely to work together to find a solution.
Although questions were posed throughout the site visit, it was not until the final discussion session after lunch that a panel from the Stellenbosch municipality and the Langrug community addressed comments and questions about the settlement. The visiting professionals seemed very skeptical of the sustainability and worth of the projects they witnessed at Langrug. Many questions from their side surrounded the funding mechanisms, the permanency of the shacks currently being built and the plans for permanent, formal housing in the long term. These concerns were addressed by Mr. Carolissen, who pointed out that planning for Langrug is based on the idea of a “rising platform of services.” In most informal settlements, this means starting with no services, moving then to communal services, to bulk service infrastructure, and ultimately to an formal house with on-site services for each household.
On the other hand, the community’s questions and interests were focused on the community initiatives and the future of the partnership between the community and Stellenbosch Municipality. Some of the question posed included:
- How long has it taken to get the partnership to the current level (between Stellenbosch municipality and Langrug)?
- How are the R2 million managed for Langrug?
- Which policy is being used when looking at levels for electrification? Much of the settlement was electrified, how was this achieved?
- What motivates the municipality to engage or work in these areas?
The day’s final discussion demonstrated the continuous tug of war between the formal and the informal, as some still struggle to see the value of community-run, incremental initiatives for fear that it will not fit into the expectation of a permanent, formal settlement. Hopefully the next two days will continue to demonstrate the value of these types of incremental improvements, for while an improved shack is still a shack, a working toilet, access to clean water, and space for your children to play, combined with a structure that can withstand the realities of fire and rain, are surely steps towards a more dignified life, particularly when achieved through a process of co-production, hand-in-hand with key stakeholders who were previously out of reach.
For more information on the upgrading work taking place in Langrug, click here.
By Celine d'Cruz, SDI Secretariat
Planning for the National leaders meeting in November began in June 2012. This was a gradual outcome of several exchanges to and from Bolivia over the last three years by SDI. In June 2012 the Government of Bolivia came out with a regularization law, which created a lot of commotion amongst the informal communities. There were many rumors spreading and the leadership did not understand the implications of this new law for the land that they occupied. There are informal settlements on municipal lands, state lands, private lands and so on. Ownership for much of these occupied lands is unclear, creating numerous complications as the law has different implications for those residing on different types of lands.
For the Bolivian support NGO, Red de Accion Comunitaria (RAC), the first response was to strengthen and consolidate the slum enumeration process in District 8, a settlement in Cochabamba, which started long before the law was in sight. This settlement data proved to be mouth watering to both the national and local government who have no information at all. The local officials in District 8 are in dialogue with the community leaders who are mostly men. District 8 was one of the first settlements to respond, but similar concerns were raised by informal settlements in other cities. This prompted the need to plan for the November meeting in Cochabamba where the leadership - both men and women - from the four cities would have the space to discuss the law and its implications for residents of informal settlements across Bolivia.
During the planning phase it was decided that the objective of the November meeting was 1) To understand the new regularization law and its implications for informal settlements with regard to issues of land ownership, and 2) To consolidate the voices of the leadership from the four cities to create a national federation of the urban poor.
Participants at the conference included about 150 community women from the 4 cities in Bolivia, 4 representatives from neighboring countries of Brazil, Ecuador and Columbia with three representatives from SDI including SDI Coordinators Celine d’Cruz (India) and Rose Molokoane (South Africa) and SDI Board member Sonia Fadrigo (Philippines).
In addition to these participants, about 7 - 8 local government officials (men and women) and one representative from the National government (also a woman). This configuration ensured maximum participation from women during the course of the conference. It was amazing how well some of the women narrated their stories about issues around the regularization of their land, their collective savings, and how their experiences with banks and micro credit institutions captured the attention of the both the local and the national government officials present. This is something all the officials will take back home. For the community leaders it was the first time they had the chance to speak in public; this event was a good opportunity for them to understand their own capacities and skills.
This conference was the first time that the leaders from the four cities were meeting each other. In her introduction, Sonia Fadrigo said, “You are all women and are all saving. You are clearly on the right track.”
There are signs of a relationship being formed between communities, local governments and national government in all four cities. This needs to be pursued consistently and strategically.
The two women leaders from Brazil were very motivated after this meeting. For example, they asked Maria Eugenia Torrico of Bolivia if they could come for 15 days in January to spend time with the community leaders to learn and go back home and strengthen their own community savings.
Rose felt that SDI was doing so much good in all these places around the world especially with these very poor women from Bolivia.
The woman from Ecuador had a lot of experience with housing and had come to both share and learn. Their community-based organization is free to learn about the SDI rituals and replicate them in their context.
Adriana from Colombia plans to take some of the lessons and test them out in Colombia with the agency working on poverty issues. We also started a dialogue on possible ideas of strengthening a people’s process within a national government program.
The Peruvian women did not arrive as one of them was sick and so the other did not want to travel alone. This would be their first time out of their country without any NGO support and this may have caused its own set of dynamics within their community and with their men. Eli and Maria will follow up with them and understand better what transpired. It has been a struggle finding a support NGO in Peru. It was decided that if the community leaders who are saving do not want to continue then we may want to stall Peru for awhile till we find an individual or an NGO willing to walk through this path. SDI needs to review this.
There were a number of key outcomes of the conference. There was an MOU signed between the Director of Housing from the national government and RAC. However, with no federation in place yet none of the community leaders could sign this MOU. Government, community leaders and RAC are learning to work with each other while building their separate capacities.
This meeting enabled both the local and national government representatives to better understand the community building process through community savings, slum enumerations and slum upgrading works. The Villa Vista upgrading was a good example to the all present.
As a result of the conference, RAC better understands the need for a national level leadership that they will work in tandem with. The idea emerged to create and build a collective leadership, which is more horizontal, and not just a couple of leaders who have power on the top.
RAC will work in the coming month to select the national leadership from a locally driven process. RAC estimates that there are at least 20 leaders in the four cities who can take on the responsibility of national leadership.
A brief outline of the conference events is included below:
Day 1: After the inaugural speeches the group divided into ten groups according to their land titles and discussed issues relevant to their land ownership. There was a very good reflection within the groups, which the leaders presented at the end of the day. A lot of very important issues came up and the local officials sitting with these teams had a chance to respond or advise the group on how to take this forward. Maria and her team worked to consolidate some of the important lessons for each of the groups and what needs to be followed up.
Day 2: The morning was spent on presentations by the women to the National government representative on their savings, their experience with the local banks and with micro credit. The government is planning to have a new bank law encouraging micro credit. Listening to the stories of the women pressed panic buttons with the Director for Housing who said she would try to see what she could do about this. There was an MOU signed with the Director before she left. She has promised to work on a couple of pilots with RAC so that they can refine their learning together.
The afternoon session was on slum enumerations and the leaders broke up into groups and discussed the progress of the settlement profiles in their respective cities. Sonia and Celine wrapped up by presenting the SDI perspective on slum enumerations.
Day 3: Event planned at District 8 to inaugurate the slum enumeration process in one of the new settlements. Ended with a closing ceremony and street theatre.
Day 4: Morning, reflection with RAC and the core leadership on the event and the future steps to be taken. Afternoon spent time with the core leaders and the some of the District 8 leaders on explaining some core ideas and concepts of savings and enumerations.
By Joseph Kimani (Muungano Support Trust, Kenya) and Joseph Muturi (Muungano Wa Wanavijiji, Kenya)
Imagine a world without slums. Fine, let's keep it close: imagine the city of Nairobi, Cape Town, Mumbai or your favorite city without a single informal settlement, slum or shacks. That is exactly the thing…your mind is probably saying, "Well it is possible." Perhaps you are also wondering how this could be possible and, in reality, how that could happen. Most likely you are also pondering whether we have the same definition of slums or shacks. Are the favellas in Brazil the same as the ghettos in Kenya, or are the slums in India the same as those in South Africa? Can slums in Nairobi, Mumbai, Brazil, South Africa or anywhere be defined the same way? Are access to sanitation, water, infrastructure and services and secure tenure the only indicators that we should use to measure the extinction of slums? These were some of the main issues addressed at Habitat III, a UN Habitat sponsored international conference that took place in November 2012 in Rabat, Morocco.
The three-day conference was organized by the Government of Morocco under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and under the authority of UN-HABITAT as an effort to share best practices on policies and the implementation of slum upgrading, eradication and prevention programmes by local and national governments around the world. The organizers invited 20 top countries that have been rated as having performed best in making slums history. The specific objectives of the conference were:
- Develop specific recommendations and guidelines for slum improvement policies and the development of well-adapted housing alternatives to prevent new slum formation (the Rabat Declaration).
- Devise the strategy required to revise Target 7-D of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and adjust it more closely to the diversity of national conditions and circumstances.
- Share successful experiences, methodologies and evaluation methods with regard to slum reduction.
- Broaden the scope of experience-sharing within the conference to bring in Least performing Countries (and African countries in particular), to help them implement effective slum reduction policies.
- Strengthen partnerships between Morocco and other African countries.
The Rabat Conference brought together over 150 participants representing 24 government delegations. The countries identified as the 20 best performers in slum upgrading invited were: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda and Vietnam.
Summary report of the plenary discussions, workshops and expert group meeting:
Some of those who spoke at the conference included the Minister of Housing, City Planning and Urban Policy of Morocco, the UN-Habitat Director, Cities Alliance, World Bank and SDI. In our main presentation, we were able to present SDI's background, mandate and experience by highlighting the role of the community in slum upgrading. We then shared our perspectives on slums post-2015 MDGs or perspectives that we thought stakeholders in slum upgrading need to consider as UN HABITAT proposes to develop Sustainable Development Goals. We presented three key points that we argued were important in helping a slum upgrading process to take shape, and some of our perspectives regarding the development of Sustainable Development Goals. Here our main argument was with respect to the issue of community organization and the role of the rituals of the federations in promoting community ownership and community led initiatives. We provided examples of Huruma Slum Upgrading in Huruma, Kenya and our experience of the Kenya Railway Relocation Programme. Our second point stressed that land delivery was a prerequisite for any slum upgrading to happen.
Using our Kenyan example again we shared the challenges of attempting to make slums history when in a situation like Nairobi in which 50% of the slums are on private land and another 40% are on land considered to be unlivable (i.e. riparian and railway reserve and high-risk zones such as those living under the high voltage electrical powerline). This allowed us to highlight the need of government and all actors address the issue of land. Our third point was the need to scale up successful cases by not only choosing to deal with the settlements that are appealing, but to also invest in finding solutions to deal with informal settlements that appear to be difficult. Our major issue on this matter was to encourage all players to consider looking at slum upgrading as both functional and spatial and as a broader strategy of poverty alleviation.
Joseph Muturi of Muungano wa Wanavijiji addresses the audience.
Below is a sample of comments and suggestions captured during sessions by SDI representatives.
“We would have wished to see more representation of the slum dwellers, especially from the case studies, shared in this conference. One would have hoped that the hosts would have had in this conference representative of upgraded areas as well as those that have not succeeded or waiting to benefit”. - Joseph Muturi, during the thematic workshop session on Planning, Land Management and Urban.
“In the spirit of sharing could we have in the future conferences representation by countries considered to be under performing in slum upgrading processes or those that have the potential and yet challenged in whatever form. It is amazing to hear stories of change and success and one hopes some of countries would have benefitted a lot from the experiences shared here and could have re-kindled hope to those that have despaired and lost hope of assisting the poor.” - Suggestion by Joseph Kimani, Program Manager at MuST during the South-South Cooperation Session.
“I want to acknowledge and appreciate that this conference has provided most of us with valuable knowledge and experience. In fact I kind of agree with most of the presenters who holds that we can make slums history in our world. However I strongly propose that we ensure that the message we are taking home to all our governments and slum upgrading stakeholders is that the role of the community in this processes should not be underrated at all. In fact is it possible for all of us professionals and Government as well to allow the slum upgrading process to be led by the slum dwellers while we journey with them in this process, so that the issue is not just mere participation and inclusion for the sake of it but to carry with us the spirit and commitment that requires the people to be at the center of their own developments.” - Statement by Joseph Kimani during the Expert Group Meeting.
Our main question: Is it possible to make slums history? How did the Morocco attain this goal?
The Moroccan speakers took all the participants through their journey of making slums history in their nationwide “Cities without slums” programme which focuses on improved shelter conditions for over 1,742,000 people living in informal, substandard housing, contributing to better urban inclusiveness and social cohesion. We learnt that since 2004 the Morocco programme has achieved over 70 per cent of its overall objective. The speakers too acknowledged there were challenges that they are facing as a government while implementing the programme but emphasised that the 70% success so far has been as a result of the strong push of their strong leadership, political will, well defined objectives, an appropriate modus operandi and adequate budgeting.
In a nutshell as documented in the National Report (2012) the ‘Cities without Shanties” programme has made it possible to:
- Reduce the demographic weight of household dwellings in shanties across Moroccan cities and towns from 8.2% to 3.9% between 2004 and 2010;
- Improve the living conditions of roughly 1 million inhabitants;
- Declare 45 cities without shanties out of a total of 85.
In achieving the above, Morocco and many other countries in the world have managed to beat MDG Target 7-D by a multiple of 2.2, namely to “significantly improve living conditions for at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020." UN HABITAT estimates that, between 2000 and 2010, a total 227 million people in developing countries have experienced significant improvements in living conditions.
General lessons drawn from the conference:
The presentations by best performing countries like Brazil, China, Morocco, Turkey highlighted the extent countries and their governments can go to to improve the standards of those living in informal settlements through scaled-up housing developments. However, it should be noted that caution should be taken to ensure that the large scale housing developments do not create shells of void, silence and emptiness by ignoring the value of human development. This is summarized in the quote below:
“What we aim at... is not simply to have shanty-free cities, still less to set up soulless concrete slabs which thwart all forms of sociable living. We rather intend to evolve cities that are not solely conducive to smart, friendly, and dignified living, but also investment-friendly and productive spaces - urban areas, that is, which are attached to their specific character and to the originality of their style.” - Extract from the Speech delivered by His Majesty King Mohammed VI on the occasion of the National Convention of Local Collectivities Agadir, 12/12/2006.
The fact that some of the presenters and participants appreciated and acknowledged the role of SDI in facilitating and enabling urban poor communities i to be the drivers of slum upgrading and human development was very encouraging and inspiring. It is with this same spirit that we hope those of us within SDI will continue to work hard in ensuring that slum upgrading does not only become a rhetoric of the state authorities and institutions but remains real and focused towards addressing the economic, social and physical needs of the people. It is our desire to see countries like Kenya respond by speeding up efforts to scale up slum improvements. The ability is there, the resources are with the public and private institutions, and all that we hope for now is the government's goodwill and commitment.
SDI delegates take part in a reflection on the Land, Services and Citizenship Project hosted by Cities Alliance at Africities
By George Masimba, Dialogue on Shelter, Zimbabwe
The recent Afri-Cities conference was held in Dakar, Senegal and took place under the theme - ‘Building Africa from its territories: which challenges for local governments’. About 5 000 delegates from African cities and beyond converged in the coastal city of Dakar to deliberate issues confronting modern African cities. The concept of territory in the theme referred to, among other things, exploring the role of Africa’s institutions and resources as major components for catalyzing the growth of the continent. In particular, the focus was centered on the local government sphere as a critical institutional space for mediating development processes. This year, Slum Dwellers International (SDI) was able to send a delegation consisting of five countries (South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) accompanied by Mayors from cities where affiliates have established strong links. Through their presentations, the five country affiliates highlighted how they had escalated their engagement with their respective to the brokering of meaningful agreements and equal partnerships.
The session titled ‘Strategies for people’s participation and citizenship’ saw Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe sharing experiences from their countries on the topic. The Zimbabwean delegation presented the Harare Slum Upgrading Project that is being jointly implemented with the City of Harare as an example of how a partnership had evolved out of a precedent-setting slum improvement project. The presenters narrated how the relationship had evolved first through land allocations that supported community participation to more equal relationships grounded and firmed up with memorandums of agreements. In Harare, it was noted that the slum upgrading project had not only improved slum conditions but more significantly had provided a site to test alternative solutions to the challenges that slum dwellers face in slums. Construction of ecological sanitation units (ecosan toilets) under the project, for instance, was one such alternative that the partners were able to pilot in the Dzivarasekwa Extension settlement where previously families had to rely on pit-latrines.
Besides testing practical solutions, the Harare Slum Upgrading Project has also enabled the City of Harare and the alliance of Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter to develop a slum upgrading strategy for the city, undertake a review of the building regulations and explore the establishment of a city-wide pro-poor slum upgrading finance facility. The upgrading strategy now acts as a protocol detailing a set of procedures for dealing with slums. Additionally, the city-wide slum upgrading fund initiative was an important step in innovating joint funding mechanisms that combine city and communities resources. These activities were reported as significant milestones in addressing the systemic causes underlying the emergence of slums in the city.
Mayor of Harare officially launching a book at the Cities Alliance booth at the Africities Conference in Dakar, Senegal
In Ghana, the presenters from the alliance of Ghana Federation and People’s Dialogue related their interaction with local government indicating how this had birthed very strong partnerships. The Ghana experience centered on the Land, Services and Citizenship (LSC) program, a 3-year project targeting mobilization of savings groups, community infrastructure, profiling, mapping and organization of city-wide forums. Under the first phase of LSC 18 slum settlements have been mapped and profiled in two cities and a memorandum of understanding signed with Ashaiman Municipal Assembly. A Project Implementation Team (PIT) has been set to jointly oversee the implementation of project activities. Municipal Assembly staff provides technical assistance to anchor the profiling and mapping activities while local councilors support Federation groups around community mobilization efforts. It is through such projects that interactions with city governments have been changed from undertaking once-off projects were communities simply participate to carrying out partnership projects with enduring results that alter relations and increase the scope for going to scale.
The SDI delegation from Uganda was supported by the Mayor of Mbale, the Presidential Advisor on Poverty Alleviation and the Commissioner of Urban Development from the local government ministry. In Uganda, central government, local governments and urban poor communities have been brought together around the ‘Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda (TSUPU) project. Like its Ghanaian counterpart, TSUPU is also supported by Cities Alliance and aims to: establish urban forums at various tiers of government, develop city development strategies, undertake mapping and enumeration of slums and set up community upgrading funds.
The Ugandan presentation centered on the TSUPU project, which is being undertaken in the cities of Mbale, Jinja, Arua, Mbarara and Kabale. In three of these cities, (Mbale, Jinja and Arua) MOUs have been signed with urban forums having been set up. These forums are community-wide development platforms that rally together all urban stakeholders. During the session, the Mayor of Mbale commended the Ugandan Alliance’s achievements and committed continued support to the Federation.
The next session in which SDI participated centred around the Know Your City Project (KYC), also supported by Cities Alliance. The panelists for this session were from the Zambian SDI Alliance, Lusaka City Council’s Director of Planning, the Mayor of Kitwe, the Mayor of Ndola, the Mayor of Harare and the representatives from Burkina Faso. The Zambian presentation commenced with the Lusaka City Council outlining the background and context of slums in Lusaka. It was indicated that the Improvement Areas Act is a piece of legislation that provides the necessary legal ingredients for upgrading, setting out the procedures for undertaking upgrading. Therefore, armed with such legislation, communities and local authorities joined hands in Zambia’s two major cities under the Know Your City Campaign to collect and document information that would feed into slum upgrading.
An MOU had been signed between Lusaka City Council, Zambia Homeless People’s Federation and People’s Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia earlier in 2012, which has helped to define the roles and vision of the partnership. The Zambian Federation reported that with support from Lusaka City Council they had been able to conduct profiling, enumerations and mapping in slum areas such as George Compound. A National Housing Forum was convened to discuss the findings from these information gathering exercises and government declared three slums improvement areas. It is through joint execution of these project activities that these partnerships have engendered trust and confidence amongst the partners. Through this co-operation, urban communities from these slums have been given a chance to offer solutions to their challenges and design sustainable strategies together with local government.
These SDI sessions were capped with a presentation from Rose Molokoane during a political session on Africa’s Integration where she presented alongside the former presidents of Benin and Cape Verde. Rose stressed that SDI has shifted gears from participation to partnerships with local governments. She also emphasized that urban poor communities have a great deal of information which cities can use to transform slum settlements. Whilst African leaders have established the African Union, slum dwellers had also rallied together around their own African Union of the Urban Poor through the SDI network.
By Sheela Patel, SPARC & SDI
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.
This process clearly has many outcomes. It produces data rarely collected by city goverments; it organizes inter-settlement networks that form organizations and begin to dialogue with the city; it forces cities to begin to accommodate new information that it chose to ignore in the past and to address the needs of the poor in its fiscal and organizational planning.
While this process began in India, it has now been adopted in various forms in different SDI affiliates in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In its initial form and thanks to its important role as a learning tool, communities looked at what others did and developed their own formats, aggregated their data as they felt relevant.
However, while information was very useful at the time of doing the survey, many challenges have since emerged. The data is stored in different ways, sometimes the data sheets are lost; most data is not stored in digital form and is not compatible across countries. SDI, whose role is to deepen and strengthen local processes and produce global advocacy to legitimate the co-production of informal settlements data with communities taking lead, cannot do so unless this data can be aggregated.
Initially through an internal learning and reflection process, ten affiliates met in India in January 2011 to reflect on their national processes and develop an SDI agenda around enumerations: to retain local focus but to begin to develop at least 70% data which could be aggregated across cities. It also agreed that city wide slum profiles were critical to collect and should be attempted in as many cities as possible. Finally, the decision was made to attempt to develop a SDI wide data base. Issues related to enumeration have now been published in Environment and Urbanization (IIED UK) and are available online.
When attempts were finally made to compile all the gathered data at one web-based location, many challenges emerged and, while in discussions with different support organizations of SDI, the uniqueness of how data is collected by affiliates, its usage and its advocacy value were highlighted, yet clearly the present data was not amenable to be digitalized.
The Gates Foundation has linked SDI to the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), and financed a project which will assist the two to work together to begin such aggregation and improve SDI's data collection and management systems. From the side of SDI, this partnership will seek to:
- Standardize questions for settlement profiles
- Aggregate globally and disaggregate locally appropriate information for advocacy and local negotiation
- Develop indicators to measure levels of vulnerability of slum settlements within cities
Some members of SDI, from its Secretariat, affiliates and federations are presently in Santa Fe meet with partners there and discuss how this project will be taken forward. They in turn will coordinate with SFI and SDI affiliates to improve standardization without losing capacity to bring in local realities, while also working with the team to build a data management system at SDI and national level.
This is a year-long project and will operate at the city, national and international level. It will deepen capacity of federation leaders to clean up their city level data, dialogue with city government and and other key stakeholders and expand their federation as widely as possible across the cities. Through SDI and association with various city mayors networks SDI will seek partnerships to undertake such projects in collaboration.
It is the new global challenge to make information and knowledge equally accessible to design solutions, execute them and monitor them locally while seeking global attention to the poor of bottom up solutions for sustainable development.
L-R: Joan Clos (ED UN Habitat), Heikki Holmas (Min. Int'l Dev't, Gov't of Norway), and Robert (Muungano leader) tour the Mukuru Green Fields project.
**Cross-posted from the Muungano Support Trust Blog**
NAIROBI, Kenya, November 13 | The Norwegian Minister for International Development, Heikki Holmas and UN-HABITAT Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos, visited Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums to share experiences with the slum dwellers as well as tour some of the ongoing projects such as the Mukuru Greenfields housing project.
The two visited the settlement to offer encouragement to the Kenyan people living in slums and encouraged the communities to instill confidence and scope to some of the projects they are engaged in, under the stewardship of Muungano wa Wanavijiji. The visit was organized by UN-HABITAT, SDI, the Norwegian Embassy, and the Kenyan SDI Alliance: Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Akiba Mashinani Trust and Muungano Support Trust.
Min. Holmas is received by founder of Mukuru Kwa Njenga settlement, Mr. Mzee Njenga.
During the visit, Minister Heikki Holmas made the following statement: “The objective of the visit by representation of the Norwegian Government and UN-HABITAT to Mukuru slums is to give support and encouragement to the Kenyan people and the country’s institutions as it continues to bring about reforms in Kenyan land and housing. The right to own a home gives one and his family the opportunity to grow as a human being. There have been strong movements in Norway that campaign for home ownership. There is also the need for public policy on land and housing to affect the housing agenda in Kenya, this will then give organized communities the opportunity to develop areas where they live in conjunction with their government.”
Mr. Heikki Holmas also took notice of the tool of savings, which helps community mobilize under a common vision, which in future will be a model to future generations within and without the country for years to come.
ED of UN Habitat, Joan Clos, addresses the gathering.
UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, shared the following: “I appreciate the real change that we have been able to spot on the ground which is essential in every communal setup. The world today is growing fast, specifically if I take issue with Nairobi which is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, with the new constitutional changes and devolved county governments the country’s growth will continue to be felt. I must say the grass root organizations around savings is important especially to some of the projects you are involved in, this is fantastic. UN-HABITAT will continue to support such movements be it technically or socially that they took root.”
Dr. Clos also took note of the need for technical officials working with communities that we provide advice on technical aspects underlying fundamental things and not delegate knowledge to communities to initiate projects at the beginning which can easily compromise the well being of the project at its initial projects.
Mukuru community members gather for the visit.
The Millennium Development Goal 7, Target 11 commits the international community to improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020. However, rural-urban migration, natural increase and expansion of urban centres all contribute to rapid urbanisation resulting in the constant increase in the number of slum dwellers.
Secure land tenure and property rights are fundamental to shelter and livelihoods, and a cornerstone for the realisation of human rights and for poverty reduction. Secure land rights are particularly important in helping reverse gender discrimination, social exclusion of vulnerable groups, and wider social and economic inequalities linked to inequitable and insecure access to land.
It is now well recognised that secure land and property rights for all are essential to reducing poverty, because they underpin economic development and social inclusion. Secure land tenure and property rights enable people in rural and urban areas to invest in improved homes and livelihoods. They also help to promote good environmental management, improve food security, and assist directly in the realization of human rights, including the elimination of discrimination against women, the vulnerable, indigenous groups and other minorities.
It’s now being witnessed that changes in land policies, which reflect these principles, are being implemented in a variety of countries across the world. Today, however, land resources face pressures and demands as never before, and developing countries still lack the tools, systematic strategies and support necessary to deliver secure land rights for all.
Sound land policies should protect people from forced removals and evictions, or where displacement is determined by legitimate processes as necessary for the greater public good and is carried out in conformity with national and international norms, policies should ensure that citizens have access to adequate compensation. Another critical dimension is ensuring gender equality, because women face such widespread discrimination around land and property. When women enjoy secure and equal rights, everybody benefits. Also, secure land rights for all citizens contributes to conflict reduction and improvement in environmental management as well as household living conditions.
During the visit, the following projects were presented to the Norwegian Government and UN HABITAT by Muungano wa Wanavijiji and the Kenyan Alliance:
1. Finance Modeling Through Community Tools- MUKURU GREEN FIELDS HOUSING PROJECT
Faith Moraa, an architect with AMT, explains the designs for the Mukuru Green Fields housing project.
Urban development and sustainable development are not contradictory. There have been recent efforts by Slum Dwellers International to show that urban growth and development can be managed to make cities more livable and to curb the issue of inadequate housing, especially when it comes to the poor living amongst us. However, the tendency to think that urbanization is primarily responsible for unsustainable development is still predominant.
Under this subheading, we look at the Mukuru Greenfield Project. As the clamor for better housing by the urban poor continues, the need for secure land tenure is indeed becoming a major problem for the poor. It is out of such circumstances that 2,000 community members using the SDI tool of savings came together to address their plight- housing and secure tenure. The community identified a 23 acre piece of land in Mukuru Kwa Njenga’s sisal area.
Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT) then took the mantle to help the community to negotiate the price of the land with the owner of the land on the behalf of the community. The negotiations began and a substantial price value were arrived at. The quest for acquiring the land began, AMT negotiated with ECO Bank for a loan to the 2,000 community members to offset payment for the 23 acre land. The loan was granted with Slum Dwellers International as the guarantor in the land acquisition deal.
Having been able to continuously save their personal resources, the community has been able to repay their loan to Eco Bank and have embarked on putting forward deposits for the next phase which is house designs and construction. The designs are awaiting approval from the Nairobi City Council and it is expected that ground breaking process will be in January 2013.
Opportunities that arose from the Process
- Community Mobilsation and Savings
- Access for basic services and infrastructure
- Security of tenure to over 2,000 Kenyan citizens
- House dreaming processes for the urban poor to ensure participation and project ownership
- Embracing current market cross subsidies strategies, hence affordability of housing infrastructure by the poor
- Competitive Community tendering process
- Incremental house improvement strategies.
2. Changing the Planning Discourse- MATHARE ZONAL PLAN
Edwin Simiyu of MuST and Emily Wangari of Muungano explain the Mathare Zonal Plan.
Mathare is an informal settlement that is home to nearly 188,000 people confronting a range of challenges. Mathare is one of the largest slums in Nairobi, a city where over half of the approximately 3.5 million residents live in over 180 different slums. Like many informal settlements, Mathare is characterized by unsafe and overcrowded housing, elevated exposure to environmental hazards, high prevalence of communicable diseases, and a lack of access to essential services, such as sanitation, water and electricity. Residents in Nairobi’s slums frequently suffer from tenure insecurity, while widespread poverty and violence further increase their vulnerabilities.
The Zonal plan offers planning strategies for thirteen villages in Mathare Valley. The analyses and recommendations in the plan emerged from an ongoing collaborative project involving residents, the non-governmental organization Muungano Support Trust (MuST), the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) Department of City and Regional Planning, the University of Nairobi (UoN) Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Slum Dwellers International (SDI).
Guiding Principles and Goals of Mathare Zonal Development Plan
The Mathare Zonal Plan aims to integrate the dimensions of our Relational Model for Participatory Upgrading. Using this approach, we developed Community Planning Teams comprised of residents from each village in Mathare that focused on valley-wide issues. Through this process, the project worked with residents to build new awareness of the opportunities and challenges for infrastructure planning at the zonal scale.
While the Community Planning Teams generate ideas for improving the settlements’ physical conditions, we recognize that local action alone is insufficient and broader policy change will also be necessary to improve living conditions and the lives of slum-dwellers. Thus, our approach rejects single-issue slum improvement approaches and instead focuses on the inter relationships between poverty alleviation, securing infrastructure and services, improving housing, economic opportunities, food security, human health and safety, among other issues.
Key project principles and goals include:
1. Build upon existing community assets and strengths.
2. Use infrastructure planning as an entry-point to address other related issues.
3. Ensure meaningful participation & community ownership.
1. Generate Valley-wide analyses of existing conditions and concrete ideas for improving lives and living conditions.
2. Provide evidence & ideas that can strengthen community organizing, leadership and coalition building.
3. Provide a framework for addressing emerging policies and plans at the county, municipal, and national level aimed at slum dwellers.
4. Inspire service providers to invest in valley-wide infrastructure provision.
3. Linking the National and International Development Agenda to Community Needs and Processes: Railway Relocation Action Plan (RAP)
David Mathenge (MuST) and Jack Makau (SDI) present the concept behind the RAP.
In 2004 the government of Kenya through various state agencies issued eviction notices to persons living on public lands that were considered riparian. It’s to this effect that the Federation of Slum Dwellers (Muungano wa Wanavijiji) initiated advocacy and lobbying campaigns to address the looming danger of forced evictions which would have rendered millions of people homeless. Out of these efforts the evictions were suspended and dialogue given a chance.
The federation, with the help of SDI, approached Kenya Railways to foster discussions on suitable mechanisms of preventing mass evictions. It is estimated that 10,000 people live along the railway riparian. Through an exchange programme organized by SDI, government officials from the Ministry of Transport and Kenya Railways toured India to learn how the country had dealt with a similar situation.
This then led to the formalization of an engagement between the World Bank and the Kenyan Government on the need of coming up with a Relocation Action Plan (RAP). The Kenyan SDI affiliate, through recognized tools of enumerations and mapping was able to develop concrete recommendations and plans that would see 10,000 people resettled. It is estimated that the project cost was USD 40 million.
4. Kenya Jubilee Campaign
On 12 December 2013 Kenya will celebrate 50 years as an independent republic, marking the nations Golden Jubilee celebrations. The Fiftieth Anniversary marks a significant milestone in a nation’s heritage, a very symbolic moment. In the Bible it formed the year of Jubilee, a year that literally signified “True Liberty – Ukombozi wa Kweli”. The Jubilee is an announcement of freedom, restitution of land and property, ending inequalities created by the extremes of wealth and poverty. In Nairobi, slum land is claimed by three distinct categories of owners, namely:
- The Registered Title Deed Holder
- Slumlord Cartels
- Slum Tenants
The Kenya Jubilee campaign was started to build awareness to the plight of issues affecting urban poor Kenyans and to give hope to Kenyans. Those who occupy slums live under the shadow of constant threat of demolitions, violent evictions, fires, floods and insecurity. Their neighborhoods often lack the most basic amenities and infrastructure and this situation is often preserved by powerful forces within Government and the private sector. The Jubilee campaign is meant to set a legal precedent to deal with land occupied by the slum dwellers and the development of legislation with a bias on guidelines on evictions and community land ownership bill.
5. Sanitation Campaign.
The Women and Sanitation campaign is a comprehensive campaign to improve sanitation conditions for Nairobi’s slum dwellers, beginning in the expansive slum of Mukuru. Women are the most severely affected by a lack of toilets and bathing facilities in informal settlements, as they become vulnerable to sexual assault, unique health problems, and a lack of dignity.
It is rather obvious that lack of sanitation facilities in poorly planned areas has got a tremendous impact on the health and economic development of communities, unfortunately women and girls are the hardest hit by absence of toilets and bathrooms within the areas they reside.
In crowded urban settlements women go through the entire day without relieving themselves and also risk harassment or even rape when accessing toilet facilities in the cover of darkness. In urban areas, shame, embarrassment and the great desire for privacy force women to defecate in secluded areas where they risk assault or underneath their beds put plastic containers that act as emergency toilets. Needless to say, menstruation, pregnancy and postnatal bleeding add further complications and discomforts.
For more photos from this exchange, please visit the Muungano Federation's Facebook page.
SDI is happy to annouce our 2011/12 Annual Report, a reflection of where SDI has grown to over the past 25 years. This includes a discussion of SDI's practices for change, a report on the SDI Secretariat, the building of internal reporting and documentation systems, and SDI's international advocacy and increasing presence on the global stage. The report concludes with a discussion of SDI's approach to key urban issues affecting the lives of the urban poor across the developing south, including water and sanitation, climate change, natural disasters, incremental habitat, enumerations and mapping of slum settlements, and financing slum upgrading.
For the complete document, click here.
By Ariana K. MacPherson, SDI Secretariat
In early September a large delegation from SDI attended the World Urban Forum in Naples, Italy. The weeklong event was attended by virtually all major players in the urban development field and was host to a wide variety of sessions focusing on everything from water and sanitation to evictions to optimized public transit and green spaces.
SDI’s presence at WUF6, whose overall theme was “The Urban Future”, was marked by a sharp realization during the planning phase that the future WUF6 proposed seemed remarkably devoid of the issues facing the millions of urban poor across the developing world, not to mention their participation in the construction of said future.
In response, SDI leadership decided to host a series of panels at the SDI exhibition stand in addition to participation in official WUF6 events, launching the first annual World Urban Poor Forum (WUPF).
During the WUPF launch in which slum dwellers from across Africa and Asia raised their voices in song across the exhibition area, Jockin Arputham, a slum dweller from Mumbai, India and president of SDI, spoke of the importance of bringing the voice of the urban poor to global events like WUF, and the reason for organizing a WUPF alongside the official WUF: “This is the World Urban Forum of the Poor, not the rich. This is the forum for the people who have nothing!” and, “We have to believe that change will come from the poor.”
The three WUPF events focused on themes central to SDI’s core methodologies, and to the lives of slum dwellers across the global south: community-driven sanitation, the importance of partnerships with government, and participatory slum upgrading. Experiences from Uganda, South Africa and India were the focus, with slum dweller leaders and government officials speaking on their joint efforts towards people-driven processes in these three countries. The WUPF events were well attended by slum dwellers, government officials, donor partners, academics and civil society alike.
In addition to these WUPF events, SDI participated in a number of official networking events, and organized a session on another critical issue for the urban future: developing alternatives to evictions. The session, held on the first day of WUF6, was incredibly well attended, with standing room only and people packed into the back of the room and spilling out the doorways. Slum dweller leaders and government officials from Cape Town, South Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe and Iloilo City, Philippines shared their experiences working together to develop locally appropriate alternatives to evictions.
Sonia Fadrigo, a slum dweller leader from the Philippines, spoke about evictions she experienced before the Philippines Homeless People’s Federation developed their relationship with local government, “The demolition team came. I had two kids, ages 10 and 12, they were trembling because they were scared of the bulldozer.”
It was only through developing a relationship with the local government, a relationship that the Mayor of Iloilo City, Mr. Jed Patrick Mabilog, described as being characterized by the policy of “No evictions without decent, affordable housing,” that Sonia and her community were able to rest their fears of evictions. As Sonia said, this was achieved through going to government offices – through demanding alternatives.
Similarly, the Mayor of Harare, Mr. Muchadei Masunda, emphasized his commitment to working with the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation to prevent evictions in Harare. Davious Muvindi, leader of the Federation in Zimbabwe, confirmed this, beginning his commentary saying that the Federation and government in Zimbabwe had moved from “fights to engagement.”
Lastly, the South African SDI Alliance was joined by Ernest Sonnenberg from the local government of Cape Town to speak about their experiences in developing alternatives to evictions. This presentation was particularly poignant as Alina Mofokeng and Rose Molokoane, two slum dweller leaders from Gauteng province, spoke about the recent evictions in Johannesburg’s Marlboro Industrial Area. Since early August, over 300 families have been forcibly evicted, often in the middle of the night, from vacant factory buildings, which were then razed to the ground. Alina and Rose were able to utilize this space on the global stage to highlight their local struggles in the hopes that their government officials, seated in the audience, would feel responsible to rise to the occasion.
Whether or not these global events impact local processes is an important question, for if they don’t – if they serve only as a platform for more empty promises – then what is their use? In the past, SDI has used spaces such as WUF to lay the foundation for successful and productive relationships with donor partners and governments. This year, meetings took place between numerous slum dweller federations and their government officials (i.e. Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia). Depending on what happens in the coming months, affiliates will be able to determine whether these meetings will bear meaningful fruit on the ground.
One of the key themes that emerged throughout the week was the lack of representation of the urban poor in the majority of WUF events. Indeed, SDI President Jockin Arputham was the only urban poor representative to participate in any of the official WUF Dialogue Events, where he challenged his fellow panelists saying that “Since 1975 when this discussion began…What have we all done since then to make what we discuss actualized in practice? We keep coming to these events, and we ask each other these questions, and then we go away only to ask the same questions again.”
Jockin’s frustration with too much talk and not enough walk was felt by a number of people involved in fighting urban poverty. As David Satterthwaite wrote in his recent reflection on WUF6: “Why weren’t representatives of urban poor organizations, federations and network on the committees organizing this and previous World Urban Forums? Why are the powerful global institutions so reluctant to engage the urban poor directly?” Until these questions are answered through concrete actions towards the contrary (i.e. involving the urban poor directly), it seems these events will continue to do little to make louder the voice of the urban poor, without the unfortunate reality of developing a separate event for that voice. The reality is that, in our pursuit of “inclusive cities” – a phrase heard time and again both at WUF and in urban development circles – we should not be furthering the divide between the urban poor, the informal, and the formal urban development world. Instead, the issues, agenda, and voice of the urban poor should be prioritized at these events, as it is the voice of those whose urban future stands on the most uncertain ground.
**Cross-posted from the MuST Kenya blog**
By Irene Karanja, MuST Kenya
The World Urban Forum was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing problems facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.
In the space of a few short years, the Forum has turned into the world’s premier conference on cities. Since the first meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in 2002, the Forum has grown in size and stature as it travelled to Barcelona in 2004, Vancouver 2006, Nanjing in 2008 and Rio de Janeiro in 2010.
The Forum is one of the most open and inclusive gatherings of its kind on the international stage. It brings together government leaders, ministers, mayors, diplomats, members of national, regional and international associations of local governments, non-governmental and community organizations, professionals, academics, grassroots women’s organizations, youth and slum dwellers groups as partners working for better cities.
Muungano wa Wanavijiji and Muungano Support Trust in the World urban forum in Naples
Increasing population and rapid urbanization in Africa pose a serious threat of depletion, pollution and degradation of freshwater supplies, especially in the fragile environments of high density areas which are already slowing down development in water-scarce countries in this region. As a result of this scenario, a comprehensive insight into this was warranted and the topic of discussion was floated as:
I. Human Right to Safe Drinking Water & Sanitation, Germany: “Building Sanitation for Equitable Future Cities: Community-Driven Approaches from across the SDI Network”
The key note speakers included:
- Jockin Arputham (President of SDI),
- Celine de’Cruz (SDI Coordinator, India),
- Irene Karanja (Muungano Support Trust /SDI, Kenya),
- Pauline Manguru (Muungano wa Wanavijiji/ SDI, Kenya) and
- Virigina Roaf (UN Special Rapporteur).
During this event SDI’s message is that the existing deficit in sanitation reflects a serious deficit in governance at the city level, as water and sanitation are some of the most obvious amenities that link citizens to their government. In this event, Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI) in collaboration with the UN Rapporteur for the Right to Sanitation will present community-driven approaches to address the serious deficiencies in sanitation in slums across Africa and Asia. In addition, the Rapporteur will share the challenges of stigma faced by various groups within the context of sanitation.
In Kenya, Muungano wa Wanavijiji through the support NGO, MuST has been undertaking community led planning which seeks to leverage city investments on infrastructure to the community managed sewer and water connections.
Following a successful networking event at the World Urban Forum, key points which arose included the following;
- Plan early, plan ahead, plan big and leave plenty of public spaces; this allows for future infrastructure as needed;
- Plan for future population growth – assume a doubling of the population;
- Plan constantly; planning should be going on even while urban improvement programmes are underway;
- Carry out sanitation, water and hygiene (WASH) planning in close collaboration with urban and land use planners – not in isolation. This is essential to ensure that WASH investments are appropriate to the future development plans of each city area and will therefore not be wasted;
- Coordinate WASH planning with energy sector plans as water services are heavily dependent on a reliable energy supplies;
- Integrate water and sanitation planning with flood protection planning to achieve more resilient, city wide systems;
- Have a clear vision of full service coverage and commit to achieving it;
- Segment cities into zones with different characteristics of income levels, topography, housing density, water supply, and access to sewerage. Build up service development plans and wider urban development plans to suit each area;
- Develop specific plans for low income areas, as these are likely to be distinct from those in higher income areas. Use innovative models (such as the micro-water systems in Lagos) and test their viability. Where appropriate, cross-subsidise low income users with revenues from higher income users; make specific plans for city wide faecal sludge management, including the full sanitation value chain;
- Use the planning process as a means of convening stakeholders and building collaboration between Ministries, departments and ensuring the participation of non-government stakeholders.
- Especially in cities with scare water resources, maximise supply by developing all sources of water possible, including where possible: rain water, groundwater, surface water, recycled water and desalination. On the demand side, make every effort to reduce non-revenue water as this is like to deliver a very high return on investment; implement campaigns to reduce consumption;
- Support local governments to perform their key role in urban sanitation, as they have many other responsibilities such as health, education and transport. Help the different departments of local government to plan in an integrated way to ensure a properly coordinated urban development;
- Demonstrate political leadership, as this is needed to ensure that effective and participatory planning is achieved – it will not happen without this;
- Make use of one of the planning tools available, such as IWA’s Sanitation 21 city wide sanitation planning framework.
II. UNDP Side event: Sustainable Urban Governance, Engagement with Informal Dwellers for Inclusive Urban Governance
The participation and civic engagement are key avenues to better governance. Governance addresses pertinent issues of social equity and political legitimacy, which in most cases is misconstrued to mean efficient management of infrastructure and services.
Unfortunately most cities grapple with issues of transparency and accountability to its people. Overtime this has grown into poverty traps thus putting millions of people in socio-economic bondage.
Speakers at this forum included;
- Pauline Manguru (Muungano Federation leader/ Kenya),
- Joyce Lungu (Federation Leader, Zambia),
- Hon. Daniel Chisenga (Mayor of Lusaka, Zambia) and
- Paul Manyala (Ministry of Lands, Kenya)
In hopes of establishing a harmonized governance process in which informal dwellers are included as participants in urban development and governance rather than ignored due to their often characterized “illegal” status, this side-event focuses on building a relationship between these slum dwellers and urban managers of urban centres. The event will convene representatives of government at all levels; technical city managers; representatives of informal urban dwellers; civil society; and academics to discuss alternative forms and processes for urban managers and other actors to engage informal dwellers in responding to slum development as a governance issue.
Closure of the World Urban Forum 2012
The President of the UN-Habitat Governing Council Mr. Albert Inzengiumba appealed to political leaders to pay more than lip service if the urban future was to be a reality. The president, who is also Rwanda’s Minister for Housing was optimistic that achieving the urban future.
In his address, UNEP Executive Director Dr. Achim Steiner said his organization was committed to working with UN-Habitat to achieve sustainable urbanization. “Issues of ustainable urbanization, lessening poverty and such related issues can only be tackled jointly and not in isolation,” he said.
Dr. Kirabo appealed to the delegates to go back to their respective countries and reinvigorate the National Forums saying they were the best avenues for addressing urbanization issues.
By Benjamin Bradlow
Cities are complex systems, comprised of elements both natural and human. Little wonder that they hold great interest to those who study biological processes of development, in addition to those who study social and political processes.
Cities are also places where ordinary people make decisions with extraordinary consequences. Sometimes it would be hard to believe this is true given the gospel of “world class cities” that serves as a model for planning decisions in cities as diverse as New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Bangkok, and Rio de Janeiro. In all of these cities — and many more — the gospel of control and order covers up an altogether different kind of reality for residents. This is especially so for the poor residents of growing cities in the developing world.
One city that has received a great deal of praise over the last few years is Lagos in Nigeria, which has generally been known for anything but order and control. But Lagos state governors such as Babatunde Fashola and his predecessor Bola Tinubu have won plaudits for trying to control the growth of the city. As Fashola’s popular Yoruba slogan goes, “Eko o ni baje” (Lagos will not be spoiled). According to a slew of international newspaper reports on Fashola’s Lagos, the city has become a foreign investment attraction by clearing out informal traders, and exerting tough fines on illegal postering, littering, and loitering.
In a recent report in the Financial Times, Fashola cited a people-centred approach to city management: “It’s a big asset,” he said, referring to the population of Lagos. “[It’s] bigger than the challenge the people represent by their sheer number. People are the biggest and most dependable resource.”
That’s the rhetoric. Consider the reality. Within the past week, up to a quarter of a million Lagos residents find themselves under threat of homelessness in the wake of the Lagos state government’s eviction of the waterfront Makoko slum. About 30,000 people have already been forced to leave their homes due to an eviction order that the state government gave with only 72 hours notice. Local police are reportedly to blame for at least one violent death.
It’s a story that repeats itself in various iterations across the cities of the South. In the name of progress, the poor are nothing but roadblocks to be shunted aside and overcome. Though city managers and planners are increasingly sympathetic to the language of “people-centred” approaches, “participation,” and “inclusiveness,” the inhuman march of development proceeds. Outrage and condemnation are reactions popular amongst professional activists and humanitarian observers to the Makoko evictions like many similar cases before.
But, for poor people in cities like Lagos, a more complex set of questions emerges. Where to go? Where to sleep for the night? Where to find work? How to maintain a façade of stability for children? Where to rebuild the social connections that sustain in times of extreme need? How to ensure that this doesn’t happen again?
Indeed, evictions like that ongoing in Makoko deserve our outrage and condemnation. The violence and insecurity that the urban poor experience in cities like Lagos is a direct result of developmental decision-making that sees the poor as expendable. How to reconcile claims that “people are the biggest and most dependable resource” with the reality of eviction and displacement?
Over the last three decades, we have begun to see organizational strategies of the poor that can fundamentally alter the calculations that go into the decisions that result in this kind of massive displacement. In Mumbai, pavement dwelling women have organized since the 1980s to come together, negotiate with police and city authorities, and remain in their pavement hutments. At the same time they use their bonds of solidarity to collect information about themselves through self-surveys known as enumerations, save daily, and develop plans for housing development. This allows them to negotiate with authorities to not only mitigate the threat of eviction, but also to begin changing the calculations that local authorities make about a place for the poor in a spatial development framework that is otherwise weighted greatly towards the moneyed influence of domestic and foreign investment.
In Nairobi, Kenya, residents of the railway line slums of Kibera and Mukuru have organized over the past decade to stop evictions linked to the development of the railway line. They have done so using similar strategies, many of which they learned from their counterparts in the railway line slums of Mumbai. In both cities, residents counted themselves, mapped their settlements, and used these tools to negotiate with authorities.
Through exchanges within and between cities and countries, informal settlement dwellers around the world, who almost all face common threats of eviction and dislocation at the hands of both the state and the market, are sharing these kinds of strategies. They are strategies that move beyond a reactive approach once the decision to evict has already been made.
The complexity of cities can provide cover for a logic predicated on order and control. This decision-making framework rests on the assumption that economic growth cannot be achieved without a strong hand of the state.
But the experience of poor communities to not only fight eviction but also to develop alternatives upends this kind of naturalization of violence of the state and the market. Indeed, a substantive “people-centred” approach locates urban poor communities as generators of ideas and strategies for more effective governance, instead of positioning poor individuals and families as passive recipients of decisions made in the halls of power.
City growth may exhibit similarities to biological development. Still, the decisions that craft this development are anything but natural. Conscious organizing has developed not only louder voices for the poor, but also real impact on the way city managers and politicians make developmental decisions. As we decry the cruel, inhuman logic of growth in Lagos and many other cities, it is also time to see where to support the learning, solidarity, and profound strategic innovation that is located within the very same poor communities that find themselves under such constant threat.
By Skye Dobson, SDI Secretariat
The SDI/Makerere University Urban Studio is entering its final stage and things are moving along very well. A smaller selection of Makerere Students are working together with graduate students from the New School in New York to further clean the enumeration data and disaggregate information by settlement. The New School students are in Kampala as part of their International Fieldwork and the team of five Makerere students was selected for demonstrating commitment and professionalism during the studio’s first two phases. These local students have just finished their final exams so are now officially graduates and this work experience and mentoring thought the SDI/Makerere Urban Studio will be invaluable as they enter the job market or pursue further studies.
The settlement-level data disaggregation that the teams are carrying out is critical because each settlement has a unique set of circumstances. The interests on the use of land differs between settlements in the same city and this has significant implications for development interventions. Slum upgrading efforts need to be cognizant of existing land use and the corresponding social and economic realities. While the interests on the use of land will be constituted typically of resident tenants, resident and non-resident structure and land owners, business, institutional and public interests, the proportions of these interests will vary greatly from one settlement to the next.
As a result of such variations, the negotiation the federation will engage in around the enumeration data will seek to achieve a solution that reconciles the greatest number of interests in a specific settlement. This is differentiated from conventional approaches to upgrading based on fixed planning standards. For the students involved in the studio the learning is constant. This assertion is supported by a selection of comments from the team:
Sophian (Makerere): “This has taught me a lot like being social, punctual and above all getting involved in data analysis. The process of analyzing data has proved a lot about informal settlements in Uganda like a lot of imbalance in the education levels where we have males being the pioneers, limited access to water, toilets, poor housing etc. “
Audrey (Makerere): “We started off with this exercise with the students of Makerere University and New York cleaning up of the data from Mbarara city. As we completed the cleaning up, we analyzed each of the settlements on their own and we started the drawing of the charts in the respective areas that are we think the graphs are needed.”
Carol (Makerere): “During this exercise we were coordinated by Mara [New School student] whom we consider our group leader. All of us who are doing the cleaning and analyzing of the data are currently working for SDI which has given us the opportunity to learn more which has been a blessing to all of us.”
Judith (Makerere): “Everyone is so great so far and I am so sure every one has learnt so much already. Personally, I wasn’t good with Excel, but now I am unbelievably so good. We have so far finished analyzing the data for Mbarara, Kabale and Arua settlements and have done the graphs for the reports for each of the settlements as well. At the end of last week, we had started writing the reports and we are hopeful that we will be through with them by the end of this week. Thank you so much for this opportunity because the experience I have so far, I would not have gotten it anywhere else.”
Sam (Makerere): “Through this work so far we have done, I have managed to gain some skills and added them to what I already had and I think as we go on, we will continue to teach each other new things in the due course. The work with both Makerere students and students from New York is going well and we are looking forward to produce quality for the community so as to satisfy the set goals and objectives.“
Mara (New School): “The process of cleaning the enumeration data and compiling the reports has given me deeper insight into the work of SDI. In analyzing the data we have been able to see discrepancies in basic services such as education, access to water, and access to sanitation both at the settlement and city level. This data also shows that not all informal settlements are alike and face the same challenges; each is unique and has different needs. Working with the Makerere students has been great. We have been able to exchange ideas and work together, all learning different skills from each other. I am looking forward to the next step of presenting our work back to the community and seeing how they can continue to use these reports to empower and provide the necessary services to their communities.”
Sam (New School graduate): “The enumeration exercises are impressive in their scope and ambition. The data they produce are very interesting and potentially useful because they provide such detail about marginal communities. You cant just google this information! There have been some challenges in working with the data so far, due to incompleteness or errors in data capture. The current review and editing process is a great opportunity to learn from the past and improve how data is captured and reports are written for the future. It is clear that the students, community members and various workers all put a tremendous effort into producing the enumerations and reports, and it is a pleasure to build on their work and support this project.”
We will keep you posted on the final stage of this unique studio which has brought together slum dwellers, local academics, international academics, and local authorities in the pursuit of community-driven information gathering and inclusive, pragmatic planning. During the final stage the students will return to the various cities and accompany the federation as it presents its data to the municipalities.
If you haven’t read the previous two blogs on the studio, please view them here: http://www.sdinet.org/tags/Makerere/
By Skye Dobson, CCI, & SPARC
As with many projects in the SDI network, the Tanzanian federation’s community policing project was in large part inspired by the experience of slum dwellers during a peer-to-peer exchange. These exchanges are a key ritual in the SDI toolkit and the principal mechanism through which lessons are shared amongst the 1.2 million slum dwellers in the SDI movement. The exchange that catalyzed the Tanzanian project involved members from the Tanzanian Urban Poor Federation visiting the Indian federation in Mumbai.
In most of the slum settlements in which members of the Tanzanian Federation live, crime is an ever-present threat and police response has been inadequate. Slum dwellers in the Tanzanian Federation were frustrated by the inability of the police to effectively meditate conflicts within the community. The Tanzanian Federation learned that their fellow slum dwellers in India were running an effective community policing project and organized an exchange to Mumbai. To ensure maximum benefit from the exchange, the federation invited the Commissioner of Police for Dar-es-Salaam to accompany them.
The exchange participants learned that in Mumbai, where slums are notoriously under‐manned in terms of police personnel, the Indian federation launched the Panchayat project. The project has been successful in increasing citizens’ safety rights and addressing the distrust that exists between the poor and the police. Despite the fact that more than half of the population lives in slums, the Tanzanians learned that the proportion of the police allotted to these areas accounts for less than a third of the force.
The exchange revealed that the idea behind the Panchayat is that community disputes should be resolved at the local level whenever possible. The Panchayat mediates family and neighbor quarrels as well as instances of domestic violence. They have been able to do this effectively and thus greatly reduce the caseload for the police. Women form the majority of the Panchayat due to their in depth knowledge of the community and time spent at home.
The Panchayat members have gained such a positive reputation that they are now asked to help the police maintain peace and order when there are festivals in the city. They are also invited to meetings by the police department on critical issues. At present, there are 64 active Panchayats in Mumbai and the federation anticipates this number will grow.
The Tanzanians appreciated the community policing principle of dispute resolution at the local level. These slums disputes if not resolved can lead to serious and pervasive crime. Upon returning home, the Tanzanian Federation decided that this principle would form the core driver of the Tanzanian project, as well as civic education and counseling to youth and children on safety and crime prevention.
Implementation of the Tanzanian Federation community police program began with an enumeration focused on crime and safety within slum settlements in Dar es Salaam. The enumeration – a community conducted household survey – allows the federation to identify key priorities of the community.
Following the identification of areas and issues to be prioritized, the Federation established community police teams. Training and orientation of the community police on their roles and responsibilities was conducted and the federation worked hard with the regional police force to ensure the linkages between its work and that of the community police were clear.
In Tanzania, as with the Panchayat in India, the federation has been especially effective addressing domestic quarrels and disputes among neighbors. The central role of women in the implementation of the community policing is setting a new precedent for crime prevention within cities. Moreover, through the counseling program, slum youth are taught about the effects of drugs and the importance of attending school, which it also believes is reducing crime prevalence.
The implementation of Federation community policing program has thus prompted new thinking in the country’s slums, particularly regarding issues of crime and safety – so much so that the Chief of Police of Tanzania has encouraged all regions in Tanzania to initiate community police programs. Indeed, while the Federation community police program started in Dar-es-Salaam – where five Federation groups are now engaged in community policing activities – the initiative has since been expanded to Arusha, Dodoma and Mara. In each of these cities, the Tanzanian Federation has developed a very close working relationship with the Regional Police office. This has resulted in a shift in the way slum residents are viewed in matters of crime prevention.
As the Tanzanian Federation moves forward with its community policing project, it seeks to establish livelihood projects to support the work of the volunteers. While the federation has received financial support in Arusha and Dodoma from the regional police office, the federation thinks it wise to bring additional resources to the project to ensure a continuity of service. The community policing teams require small funds for communications, transport, and trainings. One group in Dodoma, for instance, has already begun supporting its activities by selling soft drinks. In addition, the federation hopes to secure more funds from the Government and private sector.
By Jack Makau, SDI Secretariat
In many ways the Orangi Pilot Project is probably the closest ideological kin to an SDI urban intervention. At the heart of both organizations is the philosophy that organized communities are the most vital component in any process that aims to improve living conditions for the urban poor. Based in Karachi, Pakistan, OPP has facilitated the installation of a sanitation system for more than 1 million households living in the city’s Katchi Abadis, which are differentiated from slums mostly by state acceptance of the unofficial land tenure rights of the residents. However, the residents of the Abadis are, in almost every other way, the same as the slum dwellers that SDI is organized around.
SDI and OPP are contemporaries and have shared the same space, and similarity of opinion, within development circles since the 1990s. Yet, while there is no active contestation, or any call for it, there is divergence in approach. A distinctiveness which becomes apparent only when you dismantle the approach of each organization into separate pieces and juxtapose comparable pieces from each organization. So you have historical and local contexts that pit OPP’s Karachi experience against SDI’s intervention in Kampala. Or the sources and amount of development finance that has gone into 1 million individual household sanitation connections in Karachi and 2,000 communal sanitation units in Mumbai, and so on.
Photos of Orangi Pilot Project, courtesy of www.oppinstitutions.org.
In January, architect, activist, and writer and now-retired founder of OPP, Arif Hasan engaged SDI’s national affiliates through workshops held in Nairobi and Lilongwe. In open-ended discussions, Hasan laid out learning from three decades of OPPs experience. The attending SDI affiliates, including Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Namibia, Kenya, and Malawi, also told their individual stories about experiences over the last decade and a half. However, the most poignant achievement of the workshops was the disaggregation of both OPP’s and SDI’s approaches.
Having dissected and studied the approaches, it follows that we hold a discussion on the question, “How then do we, or you, construct (using the OPP and SDI components) an urban intervention that has real impact on poverty in a city?” – any city.
Over the next four weeks, we will feature a discussion on four components that OPP and SDI have designed differently – with varying degrees of success. This is an attempt at isolating the DNA of a successful intervention in how to reverse the impoverishing impacts of urbanization.
The first in the series will be a discussion on community organization. The two approaches under discussion are OPP’s “component sharing”, where the formation, sustenance and management of community organizations is almost entirely a community responsibility. This is looked at against the SDI tools of community organization, collectively called “federation building;” a model where organization is prescribed and the responsibility is shared between communities and development agencies. The discussion seeks to establish the structure for a successful interventions
The second part of the series will focus on the ways communities interact with the city. Who do communities talk to? How do they do this? And what do they say? This section discusses the strategy of interventions.
How is delivery resourced – who pays for what? This constitutes the third part of the series. What are the appropriate proportions of community contributions; government, private sector and external development finance.
The last part of the series is a discussion on achieving scale: what is distinct about the OPP strategy for scale against the SDI strategy?
Please join us in the coming weeks as we continue this important discussion.
By Celine D'Cruz, SDI Secretariat
Zabaleen is Arabic for Garbage People.
Our visit to Cairo in late January 2012 was planned on the invitation of Ezzat Naem Gunn, a leader from a local Egyptian NGO called Spirit of Youth (SOY), run and managed by residents from the Zabbaleen community.
The objective of this visit was for SDI to understand how the Zabbaleen organise themselves and create a voice and an identity for themselves in the city of Cairo. This visit also gave the opportunity for SDI to share with members of SOY, SDI’s strategy for organising and creating a voice of slum dwellers locally, nationally and internationally. Though SDI does not specifically work with issues of garbage collectors and recycling, it does work with settlements where communities also recycle among many other occupations. For example, in Dharavi, in Mumbai, NSDF/SPARC have been working towards making sure that the interest of the recycling communities are taken care of while the government is planning the redevelopment of Dharavi.
Past exchanges by members of the SDI federation members from South Africa and Kenya to Cairo focused essentially on sharing technical information on the recycling process and savings. The focus of this particular visit was to understand the evolution of the leadership and organisational set up of the Zabbaleen.
Day1:Visited Al Mokattam (the hills) close to where one of the six zabbaleen communities of Cairo is located. The Mokattam township houses one of the six garbage collectors settlements in Cairo. This is also where SOY has its office. Since it was a Sunday most of the recycling workshops/ businesses were closed, but we noticed women sort the garbage backlog from the previous days collection. Most of the Zabbaleen are Coptic Christians and being a Sunday they took us to see the St. Simon’s church at Al Mokattam located very close to the community.
Ezzat, 43 years, who gives leadership to SOY, lives with his family in the Mukattam village and was also a garbage collector as a young boy. He was one of those bright boys who decided to start his own NGO, “Spirit of Youth” to work for the rights of garbage collectors like him. Not knowing any better, they decided to create an NGO with members from the Zabbaleen settlements. Ezzat gave us a background of their history and politics of garbage in the city of Cairo. Later that afternoon we got more of the history and context from Laila Iskander (not a Zabbaleen) but who was invited to be on the Board of SOY.
What Got our Attention...
The differentiation between the garbage collectors - mostly men and young boys - who use trucks (they used donkey carts in the past, however, the quantity of garbage they collect has increased and they have had to invest in trucks) to collect garbage from door to door in their respective areas. On the other hand, the garbage sorters are mostly women and children who are responsible to sort the waste once the truckloads of garbage return to the settlement. They separate the garbage in different categories but mainly they separate the organic from the inorganic waste. The inorganic waste like paper, plastic, metal etc. are then recycled in the recycling workshops owned by members of the Zabaleen community who have been able to afford to buy the machinery over time. In the past the Wahahi’s controlled this part of the process as they made the profits from recycling.
History and politics of garbage in Cairo is very interesting. The Zabaleen families manage the waste of about 60% of the cities population. The other 30% is managed (or not so well managed) by private companies. The rest of the 10% of the slums get left out, as they cannot afford to pay for their garbage removal. The slum dwellers also consume less as compared to the others citizens in the city, making their garbage valueless to the garage collector. So according to Zabaleens they recycle 80% of the garbage they collect (it use to be 100% when the pigs were around), while the corporations recycle 25% of the garbage they collect, and put the rest in landfills.
The history of garbage collection in the city of Cairo began with the people who migrated from the oasis (Wahiyas) who came first to the city in 1910. They monopolised garbage collection in Cairo by signing contracts with building owners. In turn, they collected money each month from families who lived in these apartments. In the second wave of migration around the 1940’s, families, mostly farmers from Upper Egypt affected by the drought, migrated to the city in search for jobs. The Wahiyas who were Muslims made a deal with these new migrants who were Coptic Christians that they would give them access to the areas that they collected their garbage from and promised them land if they collected their garbage for them. The Wahiyas controlled the right to collect garbage and took responsibility for waste removal in the city and the Zabaleen managed the hauling and the disposal of the garbage. Though this meant working under the control of the Wahiyas, the early leaders agreed to this, as it seemed like a reasonable deal. In the early days when the Wahiya’s managed this process by themselves, the organic waste was used for heating water in the public baths (also called hamams in Arabic) and for cooking large pots of beans which needed long hours of slow cooking. When the Zabaleen arrived, they began to purchase the organic waste from the Wahiyas to feed to their pigs. This worked well for the Wahiyas as well, as the common baths and community kitchens for cooking beans was soon dated.
The government realised how lucrative the garbage business is and, in 1989, decided to take more interest in the city’s garbage. They decided to regulate the garbage collection process and give out contracts to private corporations to look after different sections of the city. The government did not compensate the Zabaleen for these changes, and as a result, the privatisation of waste collection threatens the socio-economic sustainability of the Zabaleen community. The Wahiya’s who continue to have some control and have struck deals with the city and the private corporations on behalf of the Zabaleen. However, the Zabaleen have overtime understood that they need to create their own private businesses and register as companies so that they can bid for contracts directly just like the private corporations do.
More recently, in April 2009 the Zabaleen have faced another challenge when the Mubarak government, ordered the culling of all pigs in Cairo, They used the spread of H1N1 (a type of hepatitis) as an excuse. However, the Zabaleens are clear that this was a way to appease the Muslims who have had a long standing issue about the pigs. This has had its own implications for the Zabaleens and the city, both negative and positive. This was a major setback to the Zabbaleen and the city because the pigs ate all the organic waste. Immediately after the culling of the pigs, there was a visible increase of trash piles and rotting food on the streets of Cairo. However, the young people in the community having now lived without pigs since 2009 like it that way. The community is divided about having pigs and this is also pushing them to think of compositing their organic waste (a fairly new idea). They are also rethinking about creating pig farms away from their home (with the change in government in the last year they think they can get the pigs back) separate from their present living space. There are also worries that the government is seeking to remove the Mokattam Village, also known as "Garbage City" on grounds that their occupation is hazardous and therefore want them to relocate outside of Cairo.
Forming a Syndicate of Garbage Collectors is the next strategy. That evening there was a celebration of the Zabaleen Syndicate, a new born institution created by SOY, as a next step to create an identity and voice for the Garbage Collectors in the city. The idea of the syndicate is in the process of being refined and the leadership have yet to get clarity on the role and function of the syndicate and how they wish to see this grow and evolve. They defined it more as a union while Shekar and I felt that the scope would be greater if it was created as a federation of garbage collectors, a concept that was larger than the union, which is to organise and build their capacity and their voice as a movement of the urban poor garbage collectors in the city.
Day 2: Visited APE, an income generation focussed NGO run by a group of middle and upper class women in Cairo whose mission is to generate income for the Zabaleen women. They train women in making home-based products from recycled material like cloth and paper. Women learn how to weave carpets and do patch work and make items from cloth and paper and sell their produce from an outlet that they have on the same premises. APE calls this “learning by earning.”
However, most of these women who come here also continue to sort garbage, which is their main source of income.
Establishing companies is the next step to create a formal identity as garbage collectors so that they are able to bid for contracts. We spent most of the day with members of SOY at Al Mokattam visiting different recycling businesses. We tagged along with a team of young men who were visiting the Ministry of Investment to register a new Company for Garbage Collectors. This seems to be a recent preoccupation of SOY as a way to deal with the politics of garbage in their city. They have a target to register 100 such companies. The Zabaleen have decided to create companies and formalise themselves so that they can also bid for contracts like the private companies. It was very interesting for us to see that they have their act together, have obviously mastered the procedures and had their paper work in place. They confidently entered the Ministerial office along with us where we were met by the manager of this new company also a Zabbal (single garbage collector). Thereafter we visited an outfit called “GAFI” (General authorities for Investment and free zone), also government-run, that gives advice to emerging and young enterprises. Our three men seemed to have a very professional and long relationship with the officer they were meeting.
This young officer was very enthused to explain to us what his job entailed. We were struck by how passionately this young man was involved in their new company and said that he got his happiness from supporting the Zabaleen. This surprised us but was also not so unusual as it reminded us of similar people in government who care about slum dwellers and want to support them in the cities SDI works with. He also said that he was not the only one and that there were many of his colleagues who feel the same way and want to do what ever they can to support the Zabaleen’s. The Zabaleen’s have found an in road into the government system, which is a smart move on their part. Forming companies as a way to formalise their relationship with government so that they continue to get business.
DAY3: After visiting the Pyramids at Giza, Shekar and I requested for some time with the SOY team. We wanted to use this time to ask questions to SOY and to present the organisational strategies of SDI and have an exchange of ideas.
We had three questions:
- We wanted to know the connection between SOY, CID (a private consultancy company started by Laila Iskander) and APE, the income generation NGO that we visited the previous day.
- We wanted to understand the Zabaleens’ vision of establishing companies and how they saw this in the big picture, with the formation of their own organisation and the newly formed syndicate.
- We clearly saw with our eyes that the women were at the bottom of the garbage pyramid (just like the women in Dharavi, Mumbai). They sat there painstakingly taking care of the details and sorting the garbage thoroughly and looking for little treasures that they may find. We wanted to know how they planned to include these women in their new Syndicate. Would there be a role for these women who merely sorted the garbage too participate? After all they were not the garbage collectors or the recyclers but were a significant actor in the process.
Ezzat and his young team were very interested in NSDF’s and SDI’s story and organisational vision. The main messages were the role of savings and information gathering as a means to organise the communities and as a new way to talk to government and other institutions. The other message that came across was that SDI’s success was mainly due to the participation by women at the level of 60-80% of membership at the city and national level, which gave them something to reflect about.
Our reflections and potential follow up:
- What struck us was the similarity in the role of women in Cairo and Mumbai in the recycling process. They were at the bottom of the pyramid, very powerless and very vulnerable. We strongly feel that there is scope to initiate savings among these women who sort garbage.
- Similarly a large number of children are involved in collecting and sorting garbage. SOY has started a recycling school for them but there is scope to design nutrition and health programs to support the women and children as way to address their needs but also as way to find a more integrated way to address their needs along with the children. The savings groups can take ultimately take responsibility for these other programs as well.
- The Egyptian government does not respect NGOs in the same way that they do with the private sector. The formation of companies is a therefore a very good strategy for the Zabaleen’s in their socio political context.
- Cairo and Bombay are both mega cities are like a mirror image of each other in their energy fields. The Zabbaleen of Cairo may have lessons to learn from the organisation building strategies of NSDF, the slum dwellers from Mumbai, which may be useful to the Zabbaleen leadership and the recycling communities. In turn the slums of Mumbai can learn from the occupation-specific knowledge and skills and negotiations of the Zabaleen.
- Housing and land does not seem to be an immediate problem for most of the Zabaleen. When they first migrated to city they lived in tin shacks. They have since been evicted at least 3-4 times in their history before settling down where they presently have. Now that they seem to be in a fixed place for a long time they have invested much of their income in constructing 3-4 storied buildings of brick and cement. They start with a single brick structure and slowly construct a floor each and move upwards depending on the needs of the family. Not sure if the city has any set building regulations but the construction of these buildings seem unplanned and ad hoc but serves their purpose. The garbage is sorted and stacked in all the by lanes of the settlement. They could have planned better for storage facilities if they had the luxury of making a settlement plan. Each house has its own toilet and water connection and electricity. However, it will be interesting for SDI to understand and compare the housing context of the Zabaleen’s to the slum dwellers of Cairo who we were told continue to live in tin shacks in many areas.
**Cross-Posted from CORC blog**
By Walter Fieuw, CORC
On Thursday 23 February 2012, while South Africa were debating the implications of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech, another group was preparing to put action to words. Community leaders from across the country and associated with the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) were gathering in a community hall in Joe Slovo Park, Milnerton, Cape Town. This group attended a workshop during the week on enumerations, mapping and blocking out of their settlements. The energy was bouncing off the walls, and detonated into a joyous singing-dancing affair along Freedom Way.
The group danced and sang their way to the next stop: an open field in Mshini Wam settlement where a gazebo was set up to receive the Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Ms. Zou Kota-Fredericks. The group sang affectionate songs to the on-lookers, urging them to unite and prepare their communities for improving their living conditions.
Ndikunile isandla [I give my hand]
Ndakunika ingalo [I give my arm]
Ndakunika amabele [I give you my chest / breasts]
Andiyazi byifunayo [I don’t know what else you want]
Yona soze uyifumane [and you wont get it!]
Blocking-out is a term the South African SDI Alliance uses to refer to the community based planning and design processes that lead to the re-organisation of shacks to utilise space much better. The need for blocking out could be anything from opening space to ensure better penetration of emergency services, finding solutions to flooding and fire, security and safety of children in court yards under neighborhood supervision, or better located water and sanitation services. In the case of Mshini Wam – a settlement that has been plagued with fires that not only destroy their belongings, but also have claimed residents’ lives – the community intends to open space to develop roads for emergency services, amongst others. Ms. Kota-Fredericks was led through a narrow alley way littered with the debris of shacks pulled down. However, in the place of the old: the new! Ngcambo, a leader from Mshini Wam, introduced the community designs to the minister in a practical way. He presented the previous layout of shacks with cardboard cut-outs, and rearranged them to show her what the new layout will look like. The iKhayalami team was supporting the affected households on that very same stage, and the minister could see the new synergy of professional builders working alongside unskilled communities. The skills transfer that occurs in this space is notable.
The delegation moved on to another aspect of the enumeration process that is linked to securing people’s tenure and creates a sense of belonging. This time, the minister handed over identity cards to Mshini Wam residents. The identity card contains the following household information:
- Name and national ID number of household head, with a picture of him / her next to his / her numbered shack
- Names and identity numbers of household dependents
- Shack and block / cluster number
- Number of years lived in the shack
This small gesture goes a long way. When the City’s anti-land invasion unit peruses settlements, and allegedly threatens with eviction, residents in enumerated settlements can easily produce tangible evidence to the contrary.
The party then moved on the next venue: Siyahlala settlement across the road from Mshini Wam. “It’s an honor to again have you here amongst the shacks, Minister” said Patrick Magebhula, chair of ISN and advisor to Tokyo Sexwale. “This is where it really matters”. Turning to the buzzing crowd he said, “You need to be a leader with a purpose. A leader that represents solutions to real problems. A leader of the elderly, of the unemployed, of the disabled, of the children. And you will only know your people and your settlement if you have enumerated and discussed the data”. Magebhula also ensured the Minister and officials from the City of Cape Town that ISN, with support of CORC, are preparing a master database of data collected in settlements over the past years.
Member of Mayoral Committee for Human Settlements, Councilor Sonnenberg, also affirmed the City of Cape Town’s commitment to working alongside communities associated with the Informal Settlement Network – in particular the communities of Mshini Wam, BT Section, Burundi, and Vygieskraal. Six objectives in the partnership between the ISN and City of Cape Town were also presented:
- Create a shared community vision of the future, especially with regard to informal settlements upgrading and backyard rehabilitation;
- Identify and prioritise key issues, thereby facilitating immediate measures to alleviate urgent problems;
- Support community-based analysis of local issues, including the comprehensive review of long-term, systemic problems that confront particular service systems and the need to integrate different service strategies so that they are mutually supportive;
- Develop action plans for addressing key issues, drawing from the experiences and innovations of diverse local groups;
- Mobilise community-wide resources to meet service needs, including the joint implementation of sustainable development projects; and
- Increase public support for municipal activities and local understanding of municipal development needs and constraints.
Minister Kota-Fredericks reminded the delegation of minister, councillors and officials that these are the people we serve. She further remarked that the Department is in the process of finalising its budget and at the budget speech, she will report back on the collaborative upgrading initiatives she witnessed in Cape Town.
In closing, minister Kota-Fredericks talked about the “multiplier effect” that small City-wide projects have on national policy deliberations. This starts through organised communities taking the initiative to build horizontal networks of accountability and transparency. Only by building partnerships with all tiers of government, starting at the local level, meaningful engagement will be achieved. The minister walked the talk, and conducted a household level enumeration by completing the CORC questionnaire with a local resident. And in doing so, she also launched the enumeration of Siyahlala settlement.
By Sizwe Mxobo, CORC
Kholeka Xuza, a community leader from Langrug settlement outside Stellenbosch, and myself, a young professional from Cape Town, South Africa, met at Cape Town International Airport late in the evening on 22 January 2012 prior to boarding our first flight north to Norway. We both checked in with no challenges, except Kholeka was not happy when she lost her body lotion and face wash that was in her hand luggage, over 100 ml and not allowed to through security gates. During the wait we were both excited, realizing that there was no turning back now: the next stop is Amsterdam.
We arrived Amsterdam early on the morning of the 23rd. As we arrived at the airport, we could tell we were very far from home due to the cold weather (around 7 degrees). We were shocked at how big the airport was, as we were running through the airport trying to make sure we didn’t miss our next flight to Oslo, Norway. After finding the boarding gate for our flight and looking at the hours we had before our next flight we toured around the airport, amazed by how cheap electronics looked in Euros. Finally around 4pm we made it to Oslo airport in Norway, and for the first time in my life I was in the snow. At this point we were very grateful for the jackets, hats and glovers that SDI brought for us. We geared up as we waiting for the 5pm bus to Ski (Shee as announced by the locals) and took some photos excited and afraid of seeing cold weather.
Day 1: 24 January 2012
Opening address and Welcoming speeches.
After the introduction, the Chair of GLTN Clarissa Augustinus did the opening and welcoming speech, expressing how grateful she was that everyone made it through the GLTN Expert Global Meeting. She introduced the topic “Exploring the Youth Dimensions of the Global Land Agenda” and why it is important that we start thinking about youth involvement in land issues, as they are a marginalized group when it comes to land rights.
After Mrs. Augustinus, Mr. Erik Berg from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed us all to their cold beautiful country. In his welcoming speech, Mr. Berg talked about the importance of human rights education for today's youth, so that the youth can define and defend their rights, knowing exactly what responsibilities they have to their rights as the future leaders of the world.
Mr. Anantha Krishnan from UN-Habitat gave some general information about youth, including the age group that is defined as youth by UN (15-24 years old), and statistics about youth around the world such as :
- 87 % of youth lives in developing countries.
- 62 % of the world youth lives in Asia and
- 17 % in Africa.
He also shared some information about land issues around the world, that 2.7 Billion worth of land is sold in developing countries and that youth represents a marginalized group in land issues.
Asa Jonhsson from GLTN, Un-habitat, officially welcomed all the participants in the Network and stated the vision of GLTN, which is to provide Land Tools at global scale, to give mechanisms that will assist the poor to influence policy making.
Why Focus on Youth and Land?
Siraj Sait from the University of East London presented the GLTN scoping study findings about Youth and Land issues. There is a lot of information that was reflected by the study such as:
- There is no clear definition of what age group is considered to be 'youth.' The UN says age group 15-24 years old, African Youth Charter says its everyone up to the age of 35 and UN-habitat fund says up to 32 years old, and those whom are “young at heart”. While in other areas, age is not sole determinant of youth, it depends on race, culture and traditions.
- For GLTN the importance of doing research with the youth and using a human rights approach.
- A set of hard questions were asked, like can youth work as technical partners in tool developments?
- Do youth want land, and can they commit to the process of developing the agenda, and do they have capacity?
- On literature review: it was shown that there is little to no literature written about youth in land issues. In the 2007 World Bank Youth Report, there is nothing about youth and land.
The major question that the scoping study asked for me is on the Youth to Youth questions: Why or How is land important to the youth? Some of the participants also asked this question, with no clear answer being given.
During the discussion about the GLTN scoping study, facilitated by Williem van Vliet from University of Colorado, three important questions were asked:
- How are youth currently responding to land issues?
- What models do youth use to combat their constraints?
- How are youth resisting the marginalization on land?
A lot was said in addressing these questions and the outcome was that the struggle for Youth and land needs to be addressed or looked at in the same way that the struggle for woman empowerment was tackled.
Panel: Examples of Projects with a Youth and Land Dimension.
During this panel, four selected projects that work with young people in land issues were selected to present the work they do in their respective countries, which are Kenya (Map Kibera), Brazil (OASIS), South Africa (SDI) and Mexico (World Bank).
- Ms. Jamie Lundine from Map Kibera project in Kenya talked about Youth engagement in mapping of informal settlements, and how they use GIS systems and technology to empower young people through training and practice of use the GIS technology to produce a map of their community Kibera, and capture stories of their community so they can influence the development of the community. Please visit www.mapkibera.org for more information on the project.
- Mr. Joao Scarpelini from Brazil presented on Empowering communities to achieve their right to the city by playing the OASIS game in the Brazilians favelas in a period of 7 days, where young people and the older generation of a community is brought together to play a game by building a model of they would like to see their community, and take one project and construct it while discussing issues that affect them as a community and what are the possible solutions.
- Representing SDI, myself and Kholeka Xuza presented on the topic SDI’s work in the context of youth and urban informal settlement in South Africa. The presentation covered the following topics :
- INTRODUCTION: The challenges of informal settlements.
- SDI INTERVENTION:- this explored the organogram that SDI works with in different areas and their role working with communities.
- LANGRUG CASE STUDY:- This slide introduced the work done in Langrug talking about the background of the project from enumeration and mapping. At this point Kholeka took over the presentation and presentated information about her own community.
- A WALK AROUND LANGRUG: - This presented the Langrug enumeration data and the needs of the community, while background pictures provided visuals of community.
- LEARNING BY DOING: - this slide explores and explains some of the projects done by the co-reaserchers and the community of Langrug.
- CONCLUSION: - Briefly explains the impact that the work done by young people of langrug has in them and their community.
The meeting attendees’ seemed very impressed by the presentation and they were happy about Kholeka being there representing the views of communities as a community member not a professional.
- Facilitating Land access to young farmers in Mexico, is a project presented by Mr. Fernard Galeana from the World Bank, shared information about a project that invested in young farmers, by selecting a group of young people that have interest in farming and trained them and gave them a loan of about 30,000 US dollars to start their farming business, but the project failed because there was no clear follow up and the was no community participation through the whole process.
After the presentations Mr. Mabala chaired a discussion were everyone had the opportunity to ask the presenters questions and comment about the different projects, Mr Mabala comment is that all the projects illustrated that all young people have a place in Land issues, and what role they’ll play will be determined by purpose or goal in their different communities.
At this point, all the participants were separated into 4 groups. The groups discussed these following questions:
1. What are the most pressing youth and land concerns globally?
- Foreign acquisitions of land in developing countries – pressure on land/resource constraints
- Lack of youth participation in policy processes, youth friendly policies
- Recognition of rights of young people
- Civic education and public participation – realizing your rights and mechanisms to access them
- Access to urban land – rental and ownership – landlords vs renters
- Unemployment and underemployment (and education) as it relates to ability to secure housing or land
2. Are the any regions/countries and particular issues that stand-out as needing particular attention?
- Marginalization (age, certain indigenous groups, girls, women, people with disabilities, etc.)
- Inheritance for females in Africa
- Europe – collapse of housing market, defaulting on loans and mortgages
- The recognition of informality
3. How can youth perspectives best be integrated into Land Projects?
- Structural integration and participation in decision making, including inter-generational integration)
- Supporting youth structures at all levels
- Integration of technology (meeting youth where they are)
- Awareness of benefits of youth participation
Day 2: Wednesday, 25 January 2012.
Panel: Programme Responses To Youth and Land Challenges.
1. During this section Mr. Stein Holden presented the Norwegian Government Strategy for Youth and development. The strategy is called 3000 reasons for youth development and looks at how youth can be involved in development issues, and has suggestions on how this can be done and depicts all the role players that must get involved when to assist youth into a position of understanding development. The challenges with this strategy are that:-
- There is no clear follow up on the strategy because of the assumption that when a strategy is released the problem is solved.
- Little follow up has been done through UN-Habitat.
- Is it in line with the MDG?
- It doesn’t address a holistic approach to development.
- And there is no checklist to measure things achieved through this strategy.
2. Mr. Willem van Vliet presented about Youth Friendly cities. In his presentation, he showed measures that can used to create a youth friendly city, some of his strategic points were :-
- The importance of creating a human rights approach that looks at the future and gives a room for development and growth.
- An approach that focuses on needs, and addresses the shortcomings of lack that there is.
- Creating safe public open spaces that promote a space for dialogue.
- Engage young people in discussions around clean water and air.
He also talked about an assessment toolkit of a child friendly city, that makes sure that a city has spaces where children can Play, Participate in different activities in safe spaces, that have social, health and education services, and this got me thinking of the small projects that we do around Langrug like painting toilets, and abandon concrete slabs, on how important is it for the children in informal settlements and how it can spread to different communities.
3. Ms. Katie Fairlier from FIG young surveyors network, talked about Recruiting young people into Land Profession. She talked about the aims and vision of the network and the importance and the nature of the work the network does and the benefits it gives to young professionals in land issues and the exposure it gives them into different projects. www.fig.net/ys.
4. On the topic Lessons from working on gender and land presented by Mr. Siraj Sait, this presentation explored a study done by GLTN and its partners, some of the subjects are that were explored are:-
- The role women have play in acquiring land.
- Breaking Youth and Gender may lead to fragmentation.
- What’s the holistic approach between Youth and Woman (young woman)?
- What are the problems facing Youth: The definition of youth and the fact that young people don’t remain in one place, they turn to move around, and
- What is the specific youth political approach
This study posed suggestions that can lead into understanding of a key approach in achieving Land and Youth Human rights approach, and recognize all working within the land sector, despite their gender.
During discussion chaired by Ms. Clarissa Augustinus on the presentations, the following outcomes were discussed:-
- Land is about politics, technicalities and high-risks.
- Land is still a problem for a lot of people in the world; only 30% of the world population is registered land owners, with documents attaching them to piece of land, so adding youth increases the problem of land issues.
- An affordable solution in solving land issues doesn’t mean cheap technology, but how do we not marginalize those that are technological challenged.
This discussion with these points led to Ms. Clarissa Augustinus presentation about GLTN’s responses to Land concerns. The presentation started by defining GLTN, and stating its mission and vision in creating a pro-poor agenda in land issues, by doing research on investigation on the root courses to urban poor rights and developing a tools to combat and facilitate the agenda.
In closing I learnt a lot of information at GLTN meeting and meet a lot of people working relative in the same field as myself, that are passionate about their projects they work in, they have inspired me to look at how to include young people more, while not excluding all the other groups into land issues, and how South African in can champion young people involvement in land issues. Although the is no clear definition on what Land means for the youth and why do young people need land, is it for shelter or agriculture or livelihoods the is a clear role that young people are marginalized when it comes to land culturally and economically and the current systems although it promotes youth development but the is not enough information about young people role in land issues, and as much as this is a challenge, for it is an opportunity for young people all over the world to claim their dignity in their community.
This opportunity also gave myself and Kholeka to exposure to other projects like MapKibera, that we are looking at creating a link with so that we can share and learn from about using GIS in Langrug, and also with FIG see what organization of young surveyors they are working with in South Africa, so we can see how the can help Langrug community and other informal settlements in survey information. Thank you a lot to SDI and GLTN for making this opportunity possible.
To view Sizwe & Kholeka's presentation, click here.
Water Kiosk, Kosovo Village, Mathare, Nairobi Kenya
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
Cities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, so often exclude the poor from the political decision-making and financial flows that affect their lives. A meeting of slum dweller federations, local government officials, and academics in Nairobi, Kenya, explored the role of the poor in the growing cities of Africa, and the need to break down the false assumptions of government bureaucracies and professional expertise.
Pakistani architect, activist, and writer Arif Hasan had a simple reflection after a visit last week to the bustling informal neighborhoods of the Mathare Valley in Nairobi, Kenya: “Laws are as good as the rules, regulations and procedures that accompany them. They are as good as the institutions that implement them.”
Slum dwellers in cities throughout the South currently achieve very little through the laws that supposedly govern their lives. Access to water, toilets, electricity, and security of tenure is but a dream for the vast majority of the billion informal residents of cities. The current rules of this life and death “game” of urban development are not only not working, but often actively exclude the poor. So what will it take to build the constituencies with the influence and desire to change these rules?
Such was the underlying charge of a meeting of officials from local government and utility companies, academics, and city/nation-wide slum dweller community organizations, known as “federations,” from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The encounter, hosted by Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), was ostensibly about identifying “emerging trends in urban cities in Africa.” But the need for a new governing order that includes the poor emerged consistently through interactions in Nairobi’s slum neighborhoods, as well as in the air-conditioned hotel conference room appointed to bring these actors together.
Kosovo, one of 13 “villages” in Mathare, is the site of a new approach to inclusion of the urban poor in water delivery to informal areas. For years, the Kenya Water Company had complained that they were not receiving revenue from the 6,000 Kosovo residents who were using informal water connections. The SDI-affiliated federation in Kenya, known as Muungano wa wanavijiji (Muungano for short), included many of the residents. They began to organize the community to negotiate with the Water Company to achieve greater access to water, and formalize the connections, so that the Company would receive revenue. As Kosovo resident and Muungano secretary Jason Waweru described it to last year, “We said that both us have rights. So who is to say who has a more important right? So we opened a dialogue.”
Collaboration and contestation have gone hand-in-hand, as both Muungano and the Water Company negotiate the tricky terrain of partnership between “informal” and “formal” actors. At one point, community members began digging individual trenches for water pipes without approval from the Company, in order to speed along the process. Eventually, everyone agreed to something called a “delegated management model,” whereby the Company provides bulk infrastructure, while the community members build and manage street-level piping, as well as collection of fees.
Rules for the Kosovo Water Kiosk
It is a model that went beyond the rules and regulations of a utility company that had not previously been willing to cede control of its authority to distribute water in such a way. And now it is a model that is taking hold in informal settlements not only throughout the Mathare valley and elsewhere in Nairobi, but also in the city of Kisumu.
So how do we actually change the rules of the game? Hasan argues that, in part, the professions associated with development tend to be a major impediment rather than enabler of change: “I worked as an architect and I can say that we are perhaps the most retrogressive of professions because we are so wedded to standards,” he said last week. “We need to break this passion for small ideal solutions and move to large-scale, non-ideal solutions.”
The interactions between communities, professionals, and government officials are beginning to produce the kinds of breakthroughs that can go to scale. This is precisely because they move beyond the regulations and rules that Hasan describes as rooted in “the ruins of collapsed [colonial] empires … even though those empires no longer exist.” In fact, many planning and architecture standards throughout cities in Africa are unchanged from the original codes established by colonial authorities.
One strategy popular amongst SDI federations to build relationships that break down such walls is community-led information collection, sometimes known as “enumeration.” In Stellenbosch, a small municipality outside of Cape Town, South Africa, an informal community called Langrug is home to approximately 1,800 households. After residents conducted their own enumeration, both the municipality and community found space to engage whereas previously the relationship had been full of protest, unmet expectations, and little change on the ground.
David Carolissen, municipal head of the Informal Settlements Unit, says that space made all the difference. “The data has on the one hand connected us to the slums. But it has also allowed the community to reflect themselves to us.” Now, the municipality and community are talking and planning together as they install more toilets, water points, clean up drains, build a new multi-purpose community hall, and prioritize 300 new employment opportunities for women-headed households.
Sometimes achieving this kind of change, which is often small at first, means creating “a spirit of trust among all the actors in this drama,” Hasan argues. “Trust will lead to better laws, less laws, and less bureaucracy.”
This means that both communities and professional actors need to prepare to act in new ways to move from the relationships of exclusion and conflict that characterize the urbanization of poverty in our cities. Tools for community organization such as enumeration and women-led daily savings, are working for groups like SDI federations to build political voice that can strike advantageous deals with formal actors to upgrade informal settlements. Settlements from every country represented at the Nairobi meeting could attest to real physical and social improvements that had come about through these initial steps of self-organization.
But for professionals in the “formal” sector — government officials, NGO professionals, and academics — there are few, if any, guiding principles for how they can act to achieve real change. Changing the rules of the game is anything but a technocractic exercise. A set of professional ethics for those working in development makes a lot of sense to create a sense of professional judgment that can approach challenges of urban growth. These are challenges for which no clear formula for technical action exists.
Hasan proposes one set of ethics that could, in fact, be useful for all actors, both “formal” and “informal”:
1. Planning and projects should respect the ecology of the region in which the city/town is located.
2. Land use should be determined on the basis of social and environmental considerations and not on the basis of land value alone.
3. Development should cater to the needs of the majority population, which is usually low and lower-middle income.
4. Planning and projects should respect and promote the tangible and intangible heritage of the communities that live in urban settlements.
Of course, as he notes, given the current paradigm of development, few, if any, projects would be enacted if they had to fill all four of these criteria. But a shift in professional mindset, as well as a shift in the formal strictures of bureaucracy and governance, is a prerequisite for new pathways to more equitable cities.
By: Ariana K MacPherson, SDI Secretariat
Mumbai has a constant buzz. That is the best way to put it. The city is always moving, coming and going in all directions And full of light. I arrived in Mumbai three days ago, and immediately was taken aback by the vibrancy of it. Even as I made my way from the bustling airport at 1am to my hotel, taxi cabs lined the streets and pavement dwellers sit in front of their tin shacks, eating around fires.
I am here to visit the Indian SDI alliance, an impressive trio of organizations consisting of Mahila Milan (the women's savings collectives, which are federated citywide as well as nationwide), the National Slum Dwellers Federation (a network of male-dominated slum dweller federations operating at the same scale as MM) and the support NGO, SPARC. I have heard tales of the dynamism, innovation and success of MM-SPARC-NSDF, but truly there is nothing like seeing it for yourself. The same goes for Mumbai, for Dharavi, for all of it: you can read all the books, see the movies, read the newspaper and taste the food abroad, but there is nothing like coming face-to-face with the life of the city, of the people, to make you really understand.
Yesterday was my first day in the field. Alongside a colleague from SPARC, I visited three of Alliance's projects in Greater Mumbai. First we stopped at a housing project in Dharavi called Rajiv Indira, designed by the women of Mahila Milan. The building is light and airy, with children playing and riding small bicycles in the wide corridor. On the ground floor there is an open courtyard, where women congregate with their kids, chatting about the day. All but the top two floors of the building have been constructed with 14-foot ceilings so that families can build a mezzanine floor to maximize the 225 sq ft space.
The women make this happen through financing from various sources, but savings is a big part of it. Not only does money collected through daily savings go towards financing the actual housing projects, but it also serves as a means to organize, mobilize and unify the group around a common vision for the community. Even after moving into the building, the women continue to save in order to pay for maintenance and further improvements to their homes. It is not a project-based activity, but instead becomes the very core of their activities.
I have read so much about Dharavi. How residential and commercial uses co-exist. How many millions of dollars are generated there. How high the population density is. How poor some of the living conditions. How vibrant, and dynamic a place it is. But again, nothing compares to reality. It is not simply a slum - Dharavi is a town. The true essence of an informal city, existing right in the centre of the formal city, feeding into it minute to minute and day by day. We make our way to a community toilet project, turning off the main (4-lane) road and onto a crowded, winding side street. We pass a Hindu temple, painted bright with garlands and incense adorning the entrance, and are shaded by green canopies of tall, old trees. A white cow passes us on the right.
We arrive at the community toilet and it is bright, airy and clean. My colleague explains that it is used by 226 families (roughly 1,300 people), each of whom pays 20 rupees per month (about USD .40). Others pay 2 rupees per use. There is a caretaker who looks after the facility daily, closing it only from 1am - 5am. He has a room upstairs that he shares with his family, and there is a lovely roof terrace with a mosaic tiled floor that can be used by the 226 families for community events and meetings. There are basically two other options for toilets in Dharavi: 1) shit wherever you can find a hole, which often means holding it in until it is safe (especially for women), and of course causes numerous health risks; or 2) use one of the government-provided communal toilets, which tend not to be well looked after, and are often dark, smelly and unpleasant to use. By making this a community project, it has kept the toilet clean and pleasant to use. One of us even stopped to pay the 2 rupees to use it during our visit!
The last site we visit is a housing project called Milan Nagar, also designed by the women of Mahila Milan, located in Mankhurd settlement quite a ways from the centre of Mumbai. This group of women were pavement dwellers, perhaps Mumbai's poorest population, and some of Mahila Milan's oldest members. They lived in shacks along the sidewalks, crowding the streets near Bombay Central station. The women tell us that one of the biggest differences in their lives today is that they are no longer called "pavement dwellers" - that they are respected by others because they now live in formal housing. But pavement dwellers chose their spots on the streets to be close to economic activity, and the women say this is one of the challenges of their new home. It is further to go to work, and they cannot come home between jobs to spend time with their children. There are three different design options within the building, each one consisting of a mezzanine floor like the building in Dharavi. The homes are modest but beautifully maintained, with sparkling pots and pans and spotless floors. Children play in the hallways, and music pours down the stairwells as a family upstairs prepares for an upcoming wedding.
After spending the afternoon at the SPARC offices, housed in a beautiful old municipal building in South Bombay, another colleague whisks me off to a Mahila Milan function in honor of a Hindu holiday celebrating the beginning of spring. This is the real thing. There are hundreds of women, all dressed in colorful saris and their best gold jewelry. We are asked to come on stage, and are honored with flowers, and decorated with saffron and turmeric on our foreheads. We eat sesame sweets and listen to the women speak about their daily realities, from the importance of daily savings to their struggles with crime. Before the close of the evening, traditional music comes on and the women begin to dance. We are drawn into the crowd and a young women smiles and grabs my hand. We dance together, laughing and I doing my best to imitate her every move. It is infectious - the vibrant soul of this community. Empowered and real, dancing under the scaffolding of 900 new homes.
**Cross-posted from the CORC Blog**
By Ariana K. MacPherson, SDI Secretariat
In July 2011, a national leader of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), Patrick Magebhula Hunsley, was appointed to serve on the Ministerial Task Team on Water and Sanitation headed by Ms. Winnie Madikizela Mandela. The Team came into being in response to the Makhaza toilet scandal earlier this year, and was tasked with addressing the issue of open-air, incomplete and dilapidated toilets in poor communities across South Africa.
By early 2012, the team is meant to report back to Minister Sexwale of the Department of Human Settlements with recommendations based on their findings on the scale and geographic spread of the problem, as well as any "irregularities or malpractices," of which quite a few have already been unearthed.
In early December, Ms. Mandela was in Cape Town for a National Task Team forum, where community leaders, task teams and members of social movements such as the Informal Settlement Network, one of the members of the South African SDI alliance, presented reports on the state of sanitation in their communities. Following these reports, the SA SDI Alliance made recommendations on upgrading of urban informal settlements based on their experiences of re-blocking at Sheffield Road.
They shared how this process has led to many positive outcomes, including the incorporation of sanitation within the re-blocked clusters, rather than on the periphery of the settlement as is usually the case. Where toilets have been incorporated into clusters, community members reported a marked difference in levels of vandalism and blockages, both of which are problems that can cause the State huge costs in informal settlements.
Upon hearing about Sheffield Rd., Ms. Mandela was eager to visit the community. She spent time meeting with women who have mobilized to turn what was not long ago a maze of dark alleyways with few safe or functioning toilets nearby into a vibrant community working together to bring about permanent change.
**Cross-posted from the SA SDI Alliance Blog**
By Walter Fieuw, CORC
“This is a dream come true in bringing City Councils and communities around a table to talk about possibilities of city-wide informal settlement upgrading,” said Jerry Adlard, the facilitator of the 9th November learning event organised by South African, Namibian and Malawian poor people’s movements aligned to Shack/Slum Dwellers International. Paired with these words, was the call for honest reflection on the objective, structure, achievements, lessons learnt and challenges of unfolding partnerships in the cities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Ethekwini, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, Windhoek and Lilongwe. The learning event was preceded by two days of site visits to re-blocking, sanitation and relocation projects in the City of Cape Town and Stellenbosch Municipality.
How do various actors implicated in urban development build partnerships to ensure pro-poor and inclusive cities? Contemporary African cities are juxtaposed with multiple layers of social, political, economic and environmental realities, which in many ways are aggravated by its colonial past. On the one hand, cities are the spaces of aspiration, innovation and drivers of social change, and on the other, social polarisation, poverty, conflict and environmental degradation narrate the conditions of large portions of city dwellers. In an age that is characterised by urbanisation, said to transform the cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America, there is arguably never been a time where effective partnerships are more needed.
In many cases, slum dwellers are taking the lead in building partnerships with local authorities with the view to significantly influence the way slum upgrading is conceptualised and operationalised. The full participation of slum dwellers in upgrading programmes is central to meeting the outcomes of sustainable human settlements, tending towards social (and political) change. For instance, slum dwellers of the Homeless People’s Federation of Malawi influenced the Lilongwe City Council’s bureaucracy through its large scale enumeration project which involved churches, tribal chieftaincies and other community based organisations (Lilongwe slums span municipal boundaries and averages in sizes of 50,000 residents). This inclusive project resulted in a shift on the part of the City Council from treating urban development as homogeneous to rural development. The establishment of the Informal Settlement Unit, a department which reports directly to the Mayor, was the result of effective lobbying on the part of the urban poor. This partnership illustrates the limitations of technocrats and the possibilities of communities initiating their own developmental priorities.
In Windhoek, the partnership between the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN), City of Windhoek and the Polytech is challenging the limitations to transformation implicated in the inherited colonial land use management norms. Space for policy innovation is opening where the contribution and full participation of informal settlements are at the plinth.
Partnerships unfolding in South Africa through the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) and Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) were also discussed at length. Some of the overarching achievements to date have included pilot projects in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and the mining belt in Ekurhuleni whereby communities successfully re-blocked (e.g. Ruimsig (CoJ) and Sheffield Road (CoCT)), installed drainage (Masilunghe (CoCT)), and resettled (Langrug (Stellenbosch) and Lwazi Park (CoCT)). Innovation through upgrading is challenging the enduring (mis)conceptions associated to the subsidised housing paradigm which only looked after the interests of the nucleus family. The SA Alliance’s aspirations for establishing city-wide Urban Poor Funds – funding facilities that support the initiatives of poor communities – have also partially realised when communities successfully leveraged funds from the Stellenbosch Municipality in financing the relocation project and associated service provision.
The institutionalisation of partnerships for city-wide upgrading initiatives is underway. Reports were heard from city officials and community leaders of respective cities. As communities penetrate the seemingly perceived ‘iron towers’ of city bureaucracy and build effective partnerships that influence budgetary allocation and prioritisation, the emphases are shifting from ‘control’ to ‘participation’.
Delegates argued that if the partnership cannot affect political will, for instance to transform the ward councillor structure (in the SA case), then there is no real power to promote the upgrading agenda. One of the Namibian delegates remarked:
“There is a problem to talk about the poor’s ‘self-reliance’ when the issue actually lies with the state’s orientation. Political space is opened to engage around delivery priorities and this is a two-way process; both the state needs to be held accountable, and citizens, demanding basic human rights, need to be proud and organised. One of the main reasons why the partnerships fail to deliver is that the departments don’t understand the difference between upgrading and housing delivery”.
Leila Lopes and Marlene Silva, savers from the state of São Paulo, in Brazil, were in Cochabamba, Bolivia, from 03 to 07 October to support the Bolivian savers and the technical team of the Bolivian support NGO Red Internacional de Acción Comunitaria (Red Interaccion) – the affiliate of SDI in Bolivia - in their strategic planning for the following 3 years (2012-2014). Leila and Marlene also participated in the strategic planning carried out in Brazil, in June 2011, and along with Fernanda Lima, Institutional Development Coordinator from Rede Internacional de Ação Comunitária (Rede Interação), the savers were there to support the planning and exchange experiences on the saving groups´ work and challenges in the different countries.
For the Brazilian and Bolivian savers, it was an amazing experience to develop the strategic planning in partnership. During the first three days, a group of about 15 people (savers from Brazil and Bolivia and the members of Red Interacción) participated in several activities in order to create the strategic planning for the organization and the Bolivian savings groups. During this time, they discussed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats faced by Red Interacción and the institutional goals and activities for the coming years.
On the fourth day, the Brazilian team went to “Districto 8”, in Cochabamba, to get a better understanding of the area and the challenges and demands of the savings groups in Bolivia. There, they participated in the meeting of two savings groups in an area called “Libertad”.
Now, the partnership between the Brazilian and Bolivian savings groups has a new step: from 16 - 19 November, savers from Cochabamba and Oruro, Bolivia will travel to Osasco and Várzea Paulista, Brazil for several activities and meetings in order to exchange experiences about the savings groups methods of organization and challenges, the relationship with the local/national government and the creation of the National Federation in the two countries.
For more photographs from this exchange, visit the Flickr page.
By Anaclaudia Rossbach (Rede Interecao, Brasil), Celine D´Cruz (SDI Coordinator) and Maria E. Torrico (Red Interaccion, Bolivia)
Participants: (i) from Secretariat, Celine D´Cruz; (ii) from Bolivia, Maria Eugenia Torrico and Elizabeth Bustos; (iii) from Brazil, Eli Sandra Santana and Anacláudia Rossbach.
Municipalities visited: within Lima metropolitan area – Puente Piedra, San Juan de Miraflores and San Juan de Lurigancho
Institutions visited: Public Health projects lead by Joe Zunt and Silvia Montano and NGO KalLpa.
Context: This visit [06 - 09 September 2011] was the outcome of an invitation to Celine/SDI after she was invited to share SDI's experience at Washington University, Seattle to a joint team of Neurologist and the School of architecture. This team of health, architectural professionals and students have been working on a joint project with communities in Lima. They invited Celine/SDI to explore the possibility of working with the mothers groups in Peru. What attracted the team was the idea that within SDI savings groups were more than just micro savings and extended to other parts of the communities life.
- Celine´s presentation for multidisciplinary students from Washington University was facilitated by Joe Zunt Neurologist affiliated to Washington University and Silvia Montano a local Neurologist in Lima. This was followed by a Visit to Pitagoras School, local partners for environment and public health projects by Washington University, Joe Zunt and Silvia Monano.
- Meeting with mothers from parents students association (APAFA) to present SDI methodologies and identify interests for a next day follow up, they are residents of a broader neighborhood called Lomas de Zapallal, constituted by several smaller settelements, located at Puente Piedra Municipality. Present: 12 mothers and APAFA President.
- Internal meeting in the evening with exchange team and hosts Joe Zunt and Silvia Montano. Introduction to Jose Vinoles who will be the local anchor for the rest of the week program, that should include follow up visits at Lomas de Zapallal and to KalLpa NGO, including eventual visits to communities were they operate projects related to public health, youth, income generation and improve of urban environment.
- Team meeting on LA Hub coordinated by Celine D´Cruz. Issues discussed: (i) exchange Brazil – Bolivia to take place on the first week of October. This exchange will have two objectives: a) A team led by Fernanda Lima and leaders from Brazil will support Bolivia on their internal planning process and setting up of goals and targets for short and medium term and b) to explore more about the savings instruments from Bolivian groups. (ii) Exchange to Philippines. Discussion on composition of the exchange teams and a subsequent stop over in Brazil for a small exchange of 2/3 days to consolidate planning and a broader discussion with Brazilian savers on savings schemes instruments adopted in Bolivia. The idea is to strengthen savings schemes capacity in Brazil. (iii) On LA hub expansion. We discussed open possibilities in Ecuador (M. Eugenia contacts) through a local social movement and Colombia through Architect Alejandro Echeverri (Sheela Patel contact). The approach will be narrowing the long distance relationship and evaluate after a couple of months the feasibility of exchanges. The idea of having more countries (poor) attached to Brazil, like Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, could represent a window of opportunity to leverage international funds for the hub.
- Follow up meeting at Pitagoras Schooll with mothers from Lomas de Zapallal. The mothers from the previous day meeting weren’t present, but Jose Viñoles facilitated a meeting with other new mothers and just one of them was interested on a further visit at her small settlement. Her name is Sarita Garcia from the settlement called Eliseo Collazos Verde and a visit was scheduled for the following days.
- Meeting with KalLpa President Alejandrina Zamora Pariona and team to exchange institutional information. KalLpa basicly operates in 4 regions in Peru: Ayacucho, Cuzco, Ichitos and Lima on community based projects related to urban environment, public health, youth and income generation (see more at HYPERLINK www.kallpa.org.pe). They invited us to visit one youth center on income generation and one community at San Juan de Miraflores. This community, called Minas 2000, would also be visited by a theater group, supported by Canyon Ranch Institute (US) and Jose Viñoles. We also had conversations with Canyon Ranch Evaluation and Program Manager Maura Pereira, present on the exchange.
- Visit to Youth Center at San Juan de Miraflores. Presentation of mutual programs and brief discussion of possible synergies between SDI methodologies and the purpose of the center located within the municipal offices of San Juan de Miraflores, it is a partnership between NGO, local and central governments.
- Visit to community Minas 2000 at municipality San Juan de Miraflores. Discussion about community issues like lack of water, infrastructure, risk areas, it is a very poor community with shacks in a private property (owner uwilling to sell and exploring rent). The settlement has a total of 200 families. After the presentation by Brazilian and Bolivian community leaders, the local women immediately reacted positively on incorporating SDI methodologies and 2 savings schemes were set. (i) group with 7 members, treasurers Hermila, Monica and Milagros; (ii) group with 20 members, treasurers Ester, Elva and Rosa.
- Visit to community 24 de Diciembre at the Municipality of San Juan de Luricancho. Based on the success of previous day, KalLpa invited us for a meeting with another community, called 24 de Diciembre (estimated number of 200 families) located at the Municipality of San Juan de Luricancho. In the meeting we had the presence of about 8 women and 1 man, the “official community leader”. Besides the presence of the community leader we managed to set up a savings group with the 8 women present, 2 treasurers, Marta and Wilma.
- Conclusion meeting with KalLpa team. We agreed on a synergy between both programs, SDI and KalLpa and to stay together following up the savings groups located in their communities. For an initial follow up by KalLpa we will send material (savings books) and information, and Jose Vinoles and Stelita (from KalLpa team) will be our local anchors. A follow up exchange is planned by the beginning of December to set up broader institutional arrangements.
- Afternoon, meeting with Sarita Garcia and community women at Eliseo Collazos Verde (Lomas de Zapallal, Puente Piedra) to present SDI methodologies and discuss community issues. Also a very precarious settlement (90 families), with water, but no infrastructure, poor transport connections and shacks. They are located on public area and are already requesting land titling, what is very easy to get in Peru, even in precarious settlements. A savings group was set with 18 members, treasures: Sarita, Emilia y Mariluz.
- Consolidation of Peruvian savings schemes under supervision of Jose Viñoles/KalLpa NGO.
- Follow up visit coordinate by the Brazilian team on December/2011 to: (i) institutionalize local partnerships; (ii) follow up of savings groups; and (iii) planning exercise with the communities for a long term vision with professional support form Brazilian team (in Peru there is no integrated slum upgrading project, the idea of this exercise is to engage communities on a common dream/goal).\
See more photos from the exchange to Peru on the Peru Flickr page.
By Siku Nkhoma, CCODE Malawi
In 2006, the Malawi SDI Alliance travelled to South Luangwa, Zambia on an income generation exchange. During their time in Zambia, the Alliance visited a community led eco-tourism centre and the famed Tribal Textiles centre. The federation women were convinced that these strategies could be adopted by the Malawi federation as a means of income generation, but enthusiasm dwindled as there was no champion of the effort.
This began to change after a follow up visit was organized in 2009. A group of women from Mtandire, the second largest informal settlement in Lilongwe and home to the first group of the Malawi Federation, returned to Zambia with determination to launch a similar income generation project in Malawi. Many of these women helped found the Federation in Malawi and are aware of the empowering effects of mobilization. So when CCODE, the Federation's support NGO, informed them that there was no money to undertake such a project, they decided that they would do the training by contributing some of their own resources. Thus, from January to December 2010 the members participated in training under the tutelage of Mai Barbara. Many women who had never had chance of attending school got exposed to the basics of measurement, writing and designing. By December 2010, fifteen women received certificates upon successful completion of the training. To date, these 15 women make up the five groups, each comprised of three members, operating in the center. They are able to produce batiks of very high quality, ranging from wall hangings, cushion covers, aprons, tablemats, table runners and more. The fact that these women now have a sustainable income from the sales of these products is life-changing, as over half of them are single mothers or widows responsible for the welfare of their families.
**For the full article, please visit The Global Herald**
By Sheela Patel, Chair of SDI Board
Water and sanitation represent the most clear and obvious amenities that link cities citizens, their local government and national state. SDI Board Chair Sheela Patel sent the message at the World Water Week 2011 that the existing deficit in sanitation is obvious and clearly one of the unachieved Millenium Development Goals set out by the United Nations nearly twelve years ago. Dr. Patel went on to say that this deficit reflects the real deficit in governance, since for the poorest in the city, inclusion and concern about them gets reflected in whether they get access to these amenities. Below is an excerpt from her article, which originally appeared in The Global Herald.
“A secure place to live, and access to basic amenities, followed very closely by the right to undertake livelihoods are the crucial safety networks for the urban poor. Yet these have remained outside the purview of the increasing informal habitation seen in cities, and this exclusion has impacts and implications for an average of 25%, but often up to 60%, of the city residents. Accountability must be sought in national and local policies that continue to ignore the urgent need to address the terrible conditions in which the poor live in informal settlements…
Change has to come now, so that deficits can be addressed and growth in urbanization in the next decade does not have to see such terrible inequities in cities in the future. And this cannot happen unless the poor and their organizations and settlements are seen as partners addressing this challenge. Events like World Water Week have to have community leadership to bring their voices to such debates and it was telling that I, as a professional, was their lone representative among over 2500 people who registered.”
To read the full article, visit The Global Herald here.
**Cross-posted from ACTogether Blog**
By ACTogether Uganda
On the 12th of July a delegation of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) coordinators arrived in Uganda. All three ladies are Federation members. Rose Molokoane, from South Africa, who is also the Vice President of SDI, was joined by Mphatso Njunga from Malawi, and Sheila Magara from Zimbabwe. The visitors came to see the latest progress in the Uganda Federation and share lessons from abroad.
Meeting with the World Bank
The three coordinators only had a short amount of time to spend in Uganda, so they proceeded straight from the airport to the World Bank offices to meet with Mr. Martin Onyach-Olaa, Senior Urban Specialist. Also in attendance, were members of the Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation and their support NGO, ACTogether.
The visit to the World Bank was timely, as Mr. Martin Onyach-Olaa had spent the previous week visiting the Federation in Jinja and Mbale. He was tremendously impressed with the work of the slum dwellers. For a full account of his visit please consult our previous blog entitled “The World Bank Visits the Uganda Federation.”
Mr. Onyach-Olaa emphasized the centrality of slum dwellers to the urban development agenda. He made it clear that no strategy for urban development in Uganda can solely focus on the 40% of residents who live in formal settlements. Without the mobilization, organization, and participation of the 60%, urban development strategies are bound to fail. He lamented the fact that urban centers used to be the places where Uganda’s best infrastructure was found. Today, however, it is the opposite: “In an urban setting you will be met with potholes,” he said.
As the key body responsible for monitoring implementation of the preparatory phase of the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda (TSUPU) program, the World Bank was heartened to see how well the Federation has fulfilled its responsibility as part of the program. As the implementation phase of the project commences, the World Bank is encouraging the Ugandan Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development to prioritize the first tranche of TSUPU funding to the Community Upgrading Fund, as he is confident that the Federation is mobilized and waiting.
The visiting coordinators expressed their appreciation that Mr. Onyach-Olaa took the time to visit the Federation and see, first-hand, its work. “Many in other countries don’t leave their offices and just talk about the community from the office,” said Sheila Magara. Rose spoke about SDI’s history of interaction with the Bank and how difficult it has been for them to understand the SDI-approach. The World Bank, she said, thought working with communities was too risky and insisted that it was their mandate to work with governments.
With time, however, seeing encouraged believing. The Bank first came to appreciate the Federation’s approach in India. The Indian Federation proved that community managed sanitation projects can be more efficient and better able to achieve city-wide scale impact than public or private sectors approaches. Rose made it clear that Mr. Onyach-Olaa’s visit was the first step in the seeing-is-believing process and indeed it was clear what an impact his visit had had. “Talking around a table is not so useful,” said Rose, “I can tell a nice story without anything behind me.”
The parties discussed the critical importance of the enumeration and mapping work the communities have been engaged in and its relevance to urban planning processes. Mr. Onyach-Olaa asked that the Federation present their findings to the Bank, which will encourage MoLHUD to utilize it to strengthen the urban situational analysis that was commissioned to prepare the national urban policy. The SDI coordinators agreed that this is an important next step.
The meeting concluded with all parties agreeing on the importance of continued partnership as their respective goals overlap considerably. Each party can bring unique capabilities and capacity to the urban development sector and, as such, should work in collaboration and ensure their work is complementary and builds the systems and institutions necessary for development to be sustainable.
Meeting at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development
Following lunch, the SDI coordinators, Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation members, and ACTogether staff ventured to the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development. Having just passed through election season, there are now a host of new Ministers to sensitize about the work of the Federation and the commitments made by their predecessors. The new ministers were given a newsletter highlighting the Federation’s latest activities and achievements.
A staunch ally of the Federation, the Commissioner for Urban Development Mr. Samuel Mbala, chaired the meeting. He welcomed the guests by detailing the strong partnership his office has forged with the Federation. He then introduced the new Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development and the new Minister for Urban Development to the visitors.
Introductions were followed by remarks from Pradip Kuria, the chairman of ACTogether’s board of directors. Mr. Kuria thanked the Ministry for its partnership thus far, and urged the newly elected ministers to sustain the efforts of their predecessors. Following a summary of ACTogether’s work, Mr. Kuria asked Rose to make some follow up remarks.
Rose commented on the necessity of introducing the Federation and its work to the new ministers. “We wanted to introduce ourselves and our work so the partnership with your Ministry contributes seamlessly.” She then brought up the commitments made by the former Minister in order to put pressure on him to abide by the promises made before he left office. “We hope we will not disappoint each other,” Rose concluded.
Both new ministers promised they would not let the Federation down. The Minister for Lands, Housing, and Urban Development said that his Ministry will strongly support such initiatives. “As a Government we don’t have the capacity to deliver all that is required alone,” but, he remarked, working in collaboration with each other the two parties can achieve much. The Minister’s request was that ACTogether submit its work plan to the Ministry so that an active partnership can be negotiated. He congratulated the Federation on its savings methodology as, he contends, it is “essential to sustainable development… Those who are not ready to save cannot push themselves forward,” he said. Critically, he promised that the previous Minister’s commitment to provide land to the Federation would be taken care of – as would the shilling-for-shilling contribution to Suubi promise. The Federation will need to continue to apply pressure to ensure these are more than just empty pledges.
Rose challenged the Ministry to honor its commitment as SDI is prepared to contribute more to Uganda’s urban poor funds if there are concrete pledges from the government to invest in the Federation.
Pradip encouraged the Minister to visit the Federation’s local projects and programs and to participate in international exchanges to see the impressive achievements that have been possible in international Federations that have forged strong partnerships with their governments.
Journey to Jinja
On their second and final day in Uganda the coordinators traveled to Jinja to – among other things – visit the region’s latest project – a sanitation unit and community resource center in Rubaga market. The Federation was able to negotiate for a small piece of land in the market from the Jinja Municipal Council. This was an impressive feat given the fact they have already been allocated land from the council for the Kawama housing project.
The land upon which the project will be built had been occupied by a dilapidated toilet block that no longer functioned, leaving the local population with few sanitary options. Indeed, when the SDI coordinators asked to be taken to the nearest toilet they had to take a rather long walk to a nearby guesthouse. These toilets were only available to visitors because Federation members from Northern Uganda were staying there.
The Federation came together with the management of the Rubaga market and decided to work towards a solution for the lack of sanitation (for a detailed article about Jinja’s sanitation concerns please refer to the article entitled “Water and Sanitation Concerns in Jinja’s Slums”). Thanks to repayments coming in from the Kawama housing project, the Federation is able to access most of the required capital to complete the project. They will use the same technologies being employed in Kawama and will use a design similar to a unit the Federation constructed in Kisenyi, Kampala.
The design consists of a ground floor for toilets and showers and an upper floor for a community center. The community center will be used for Federation meetings and income generating activities. Because the Federation will manage the sanitation unit, there is far less chance that he toilets will fall into disrepair. This is because the Federation community has itself decided that the toilets and necessary and have organized a project management committee that will manage maintenance of the facilities. The toilets in Kisenyi are impeccably clean and in excellent condition years after the project was launched by the Federation.
A second reason for the Jinja trip was the SDI coordinators’ desire to attend the regional Federation leaders’ meeting. At this meeting leaders from each of the Federation’s 8 regions came to Jinja to present their monthly reports. The meeting was an excellent opportunity for the visitors to learn of the latest achievements and challenges facing the Federation. The meeting was also attended by Mpummude’s Assistant Town Clerk, who has been most supportive of the Federation’s agenda.
Rose encouraged the leaders to place greater emphasis on the role of collectors and treasurers as they are the backbone of the Federation. She argued that it is impossible to have a strong Federation without strong, committed, and skilled collectors and treasurers. She also urged the groups not to imitate the projects of other regions, but to think carefully about the projects they think would be most beneficial to their communities.
Kawama Housing Project
The last stop on the Jinja trip was the Kawama Housing Project in Mpumudde. Upon arrival the SDI coordinators were greeted with songs and dances from the local women. They were also greeted by 6 brand new, community-constructed houses. The houses represent the first tranche of the project and the coordinators were also able to see the preparations being made for the second tranche of 30 units (for the latest updates on the Kawama Housing Project please visit the page devoted to it on this website).
The coordinators heard from the 6 beneficiaries of the first houses and the 30 beneficiaries selected for the new block. The 30 were selected owing to their status as the poorest members of the community. Though this represents a significant challenge in terms of financial viability, it is consistent with the Federation’s mission to uplift the poorest members of the community. These beneficiaries – mostly women – have already begun planning for their repayments with assistance from the community and ACTogether.
The coordinators were shown around the site, introduced to the beneficiaries, informed of the project management processes, and shown how building materials are made by federation members.
By Skye Dobson and Charlton Ziervogel, SDI Secretariat
22 July 2011 | The South African enumeration process has been underway since 1995. Enumerations are essentially community-run censuses, managed and conducted by slum dweller federations throughout the SDI-network. Enumeration is one of SDI’s key rituals for mobilizing communities and generating the crucial inputs for collective action required to improve the quality of life in informal settlements. The household information collected – on tenure, income, employment, and services – is vital to combating the invisibility of those living in slums and constitutes a powerful negotiating tool when communities approach their local and municipal governments.
To reap the full benefits of enumeration community ownership of the process is absolutely essential. This truth was discussed at length at an enumeration reflection meeting held in Cape Town on July 23rd, 2011. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Jack Makau, from the Kenyan Alliance, who has been instrumental in facilitating the enumeration process in many of SDI’s member Federations. Enumeration leaders from various settlements were in attendance, these included representatives from Barcelona, Bosbou, Burundi, Europe, Joe Slovo, Macasar, the Manenberg Backyarders, and Shukushukuma.
Mr. Makau opened the meeting by telling the assembled enumeration leaders that he was humbled to be chairing such a meeting, especially given the fact he learnt much of what he knows about enumeration in South Africa while participating in the process in Gauteng. . He also thanked the South African Federation for the inspiration it continues to provide throughout the international network. South Africa has long been associated with inspiring social movements and the Federation is continuing that honorable tradition of collective action to combat injustice.
The purpose of the meeting, Mr. Makau explained, was to reflect upon the enumeration process thus far. Ever the consummate community organizer, Mr. Makau was not there to provide answers, but to guide the community to find their own by asking insightful questions and probing the community to suggest strategies for combating the issues they themselves identified. He opened the discussion by reflecting on the enumeration exercise conducted in Burundi settlement two days earlier. To do so he simply asked, “Why do we do enumerations?”
Things started slowly – as such meetings often do. Those used to speaking started the discussion and highlighted their successes to date. Many of the achievements were stated in generic “development-speak” to begin with, but with a little probing from Mr. Makau, quieter members spoke up, the stories became more personal, and a fuller picture emerged.
The Federation members highlighted the contribution the enumeration process has made to mobilization efforts and the increased attention their groups have garnered. This was particularly true of the women from the Manenberg backyarders who noted the very many discussions they had whilst conducting the survey. Aside from merely asking the recipients to respond to the questionnaire, they answered many questions themselves – about what the Federation is, what it does, and why enumerations are conducted. The group identified the purpose of enumerations as being a tool to give a voice to communities and strengthen their case when it comes time to negotiate with municipalities and other urban development authorities.
The members also identified the deepening of their own understanding of the settlements in which they live. The Manenberg group were shocked and deeply saddened by the horrid conditions “backyarders” live in, and the exploitation they suffer at the hands of their landlords. The group has since taken their enumeration data about the number of backyarders in their settlement to the municipal council demanding that there be budget line committing the council to support these most vulnerable residents.
Others were also able to prioritize certain vulnerable groups for action based on enumeration data. In one settlement it became clear that disabled persons had no access to toilet facilities and the community has approached their council to rectify the matter. Another group found an elderly woman sleeping under a plastic sail and sought donor support to provide her with adequate shelter. Still others cited the ratio of toilets and water-points to residents to be of primary concern.
Melanie Manuels, from the Manenberg backyarders, explained their approach to the enumeration. Before commencing, the group mobilized an effort to map out local stakeholders in their area to whom community members with particular issues could be referred. Despite severely constrained financial capacity, the group knew it could direct vulnerable residents to certain service providers free of charge. This approach received much praise from those assembled in the reflection meeting and will likely be incorporated into the efforts of other groups.
The power of community-driven enumerations was highlighted in an account from Mzwanele, a community leader from Joe Slovo. He explained to the group how their particular enumeration proved that there were less people than originally thought within the settlement. This meant that upgrading could be done in situ without having to relocate people to the periphery.
The meeting then turned its attention to some of the challenges encountered thus far. Of principal concern was the difficulty maintaining community enthusiasm for the effort. Some leaders cited teams of 50 dwindling to teams of 15 by the end of an enumeration, while others expressed dissatisfaction that many enumerators see their contribution as a job, rather than a collective effort to improve the lives and livelihoods of people within their community. The group agreed that real community involvement meant everyone should understand why enumerations were conducted. More importantly the discussions revealed that enumerations should be a tool for inspiring community members to learn about and take action on issues facing their settlement.
Mr. Makau was able to comfort the group by informing them that it is a problem encountered by many Federations. Instead of providing them with a solution, he told them stories of other enumeration processes throughout the world and how other Federations attempted to resolve the issue. He then gave the assembled members a chance to mull over these strategies.
The group concluded that their issues came down to effective mobilization. They decided that it is their job to make sure Federation members see them as role models who are part of the Federation because of a deep desire to seek the greater good for their communities. In so doing, they concluded, the Federation would be encouraged to feel that same passion. They resolved to return to their own communities and reinforce the key SDI rituals and spirit that had drawn them in, and ensure the enumeration exercise is viewed as ritual like any other – conducted to strengthen collective efficacy and capacity in the community. There was agreement that the enumeration exercise should be perceived as a process – rather than a discrete activity.
In addition, the Federation members decided it would be wise to ensure members of the community being enumerated take an active role in enumeration of their settlement. In so doing, it is hoped the value of enumeration will be internalized more wholly and the Federation can minimize the occurrence of members perceiving the exercise as a sort of employment.
The group resolved to share the conclusions from the meeting with their respective settlements and discuss them in greater depth in order to determine specific strategies for more effective mobilization. A powerful suggestion came from an elder in the group who suggested inspiration be taken from the leaders’ own motivation for doing what they do and for getting involved in the Federation in the first place. The group agreed and decided that the way SDI rituals are introduced when first contact is made in a community is very important. False expectations and misinformation in this regard were identified as part of the reason why community enthusiasm may dwindle over the course of an enumeration
Mr. Makau thanked the members for their contribution to a productive reflection meeting. Such meetings are crucial to the collective learning SDI seeks to promote and help to ensure the Federation remains nimble and effective in its work – collectively conscious of strengths, weaknesses, and strategies for success that reflect its core values.
Back in March 2011 members of the Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation, support NGO Dialogue on Shelter and government officials from the City of Harare participated in an exchange visit to Windhoek, Namibia where they met with members of the Shackdwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN), Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG) and city and state officials. The visit was organized in order to provide support for the activities of Harare's five-year slum upgrading program, which include slum settlement profiles, and enumerations and pilot projects in Mbare settlement.
The Zimbabwe group was able to take away some key lessons from this exchange, including:
1) Methods for institutionalizing incremental development in a policy framework.
2) A government-sponsored finance facility that works with networks of urban poor communities (eg. SDFN)
3) Policy impacts through joint exchanges of slum dwellers and government (see also George Masimba's report about the impacts that local exchanges have had on the Zimbabwean constitutional deliberations, available here.)
4) Methods for including and relying upon community-generated information in government planning and research activities.
For a comprehensive report of this exchange, click here.
PMC members during a meeting with the Sustainable Division section from City of Windhoek
By Ariana K. MacPherson, SDI Secretariat
Espina stands. She tells us that she is positive – that she tells women in her community she is not ashamed, and that because she takes care of herself, she does not look sick, “Do I look sick?” she asks with a coy smile on her face. She breaks into song and the woman by her side stands as they begin to dance. They are strong, empowered, have taken control of their lives and ensured that their voice is heard. Espina is right – they do not look sick. They do not look like AIDS or anything close to death. Dressed in bright East African fabrics, they are vibrant and full of life.
These women come from Zambia and are gathered in Windhoek, Namibia to meet with fellow slum/shack dwellers from across Southern Africa to exchange learning around challenges and successes in their efforts to improve living conditions for urban and rural poor throughout the region.
Yesterday they gathered in a nearby settlement called Barcelona. Under the shade of low-hanging branches, members of urban poor federations from across southern Africa gathered alongside members of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) to share knowledge and experience and find solutions to some of the struggles facing the local group here in Barcelona.
Lucia, a SDFN leader from Windhoek, described the challenges they have faced in collecting loan repayments and audit books from community members who have already obtained housing through the SDFN process.
We wait patiently for community members to gather. Slowly they appear, intrigued by the group of visitors waiting under the tree. Eventually, roughly fifteen members of the Barcelona group gather to meet with us, describing how they started their efforts in 1998, meeting on Sundays to collect and report on savings. It was in those early days that they set a goal of saving N$500 per person to put towards purchase of the land, so that someday they could own homes there.
Before long the group accomplished this goal. They purchased the land and constructed shacks on it, continuing to save money towards construction of their homes. In 2002, twenty-four of the group members had saved enough to build homes. Each contributed a down payment of N$750 and received a loan of N$15,000 for housing construction. To date, 31 of the 39 members have constructed homes in Barcelona settlement. Of these, four have paid off their housing loans and now own their homes outright.
Although the community is still participating in a group savings scheme, savings and collection of loan payments have been less regular since most members have acquired housing. It has been a challenge to keep track of owners and to keep up the momentum for savings. In addition, SDFN leaders describe difficulties they have had in obtaining audit reports to contribute to the Federation’s national reports. It seems as though the community has lost touch with the bigger picture of the Federation, and the power that they have as Federation members.
Gradually the community members opened up about some of the challenges they have faced locally. Some owners have rented their homes out to a ever-changing stream of tenants. Loan repayments are not being made by all members. The suggestion is made that tenants must be approved by the group, and members are reminded that until the houses are paid off, they are owned by the Federation. Local members are encouraged to remember their own power as members of a national federation – they can engage the police if necessary, as they are the legal owners of these homes.
A young woman speaks up. She tells the group that she is renting a room in one of the homes. She is paying towards the loan and for water, but she was unaware that the loan was acquired through the Federation or that there was a local savings scheme. She stays for the length of the meeting, taking responsibility for a bundle of savings books showing interest in becoming involved in the group.
An old lady is squatting at the front. She tells the group that she took out a loan for her home and was making her payments, but fell sick and has not been able to continue making full monthly payments, “I divide my money that I need for food, and the rest I pay towards my house, but still it is not enough,” she says. A Federation member from Swaziland suggests that perhaps she could rent a room out to increase her income. She needs help to make this work, and the group says they will help her. Another SDFN member reminds us that this is why savings schemes are so important – they maintain group unity, and keep people informed of what is happening, why individuals can or cannot make payments, and how the group can find solutions to these problems together.
Before the close of the meeting another woman raises her hand. She is very concerned about the situation in one of the houses. “A mama built this house, and then just disappeared!” she says. Apparently the mama’s son and a policeman are now living there, the policeman renting a room, and the homeowner is never seen. Repayments are not being made. It turns out her son is at the meeting. He raises his hand to speak. He tells the group that his mother is living in Khomasdal, another settlement in Windhoek. He has started paying towards the water, but has not been paying for the house. Marlene, a Federation member from the SDI Alliance in South Africa, asks him, “Do you understand that the house you are staying in does not currently belong to you, but to this Federation? Are you willing to take the necessary measures to make this house yours?” He says he is and the group decides to write up a contract right then & there, putting this agreement in writing with the hope of ensuring that loan repayments will now be made.
These solutions would not have been possible without the coming together of people from across the region, exchanging experience and ideas, and encouraging local members to open up about their experiences. This kind of exchange empowers not only the local Federation, but the visiting ones as well, as they share knowledge with others while gaining new knowledge to take back to the Federations at home.
Click here for a full report on the Meeting of the Southern Africa Regional Hub.
To see more photos from the recent trip to Namibia, visit SDI's Flickr page.
The 80,000 residents of the Accra informal settlement known as Old Fadama have faced numerous eviction threats over the past decade. But these are the people that live, work, and build the growing Ghanaian metropolis. A new publication of Ghanaian journalism students and the Federation explains how people such as female head porters and entrepreneurs survive and organize. Click here to download.
By Skye Dobson, SDI secretariat
On July 4th, 2011 an international delegation set off to Kabale in Uganda’s South-West. The group consisted of slum dwellers, support-NGO staff, and a government official from Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Uganda. The Zimbabwean team consisted of Sharon and Samukelisiwe from the Federation, and Takutzwa from their support-NGO. The Malawian team consisted of Loveliness and Fainess from the Federation, Patrick from the support-NGO, and Costly Chanza, Director of Physical Planning from Blantyre. From Uganda, Federation member, Kakinda, was joined by ACTogether representatives.
The journey to Kabale from Kampala was a long one. Poor roads took their toll on the group’s van, but spirits remained high as conversation about the work of each Federation flowed. The groups had much to share and much to learn from one another. The Zimbabweans, experienced in mapping, were able to share some information about their work in Harare, while the Malawians had much to share on housing and sanitation projects. The Ugandans had much to share about their experiences as part of TSUPU and the massive citywide enumerations recently completed. As the group drove through the Ugandan countryside they discussed the similarities and differences between their countries and Uganda. Inspirational singing followed these discussions. The Zimbabwean and Malawian women, despite their different languages, were able to sing their Federation songs in perfect harmony.
Despite the long journey, the group rose early the following morning to meet their fellow Federation members from Kabale. The group then visited Local Council Members to inform them of the mapping exercise and sensitize them about the Federation and the purpose of mapping. They then ventured to the Municipal Council to meet the Town Clerk for the same purpose. Both meetings went well and the community was encouraged by the receptiveness of the local authorities.
These meetings were followed by training with the Kabale mapping team. The Federation’s regional leaders mobilized a group of mappers, many of whom had taken part in the recent enumeration exercise. Since first learning to map on an exchange to Jinja, Federation member from Kampala, Robert Kakinda, has proven to be a strong mapper. He has led mapping teams across Uganda and become an adept teacher and committed and organized mapping leader. In the yard in front of the Kabale federation’s regional office, Kakinda showed the local team the symbols used by the Federation to represent features such as electric poles, water-points, and garbage skips.
Once convinced the group had internalized these symbols he proceeded to show them the satellite maps of Kabale’s cells (neighborhoods). The group was asked to identify certain features on the map to show they understood how to read it. Because each and every structure needs to be identified, interns from local universities digitized the satellite maps to show only the structures. In order for the new map to be big enough for the community to record structure-level features, the satellite map is broken up into a series of “zoomed in” maps. It is on these maps that the community can record the numbers allocated during enumerations on each structure. In so doing, the rich household data that was collected during the recent enumerations (community-run censuses) can be linked to spatial maps using GIS technology. The smaller maps are segments of the entire cell (neighborhood). To ensure the community understands this they assemble the smaller “zoomed in” maps like a jigsaw in strips as can be seen below.
The smaller maps then become recognizable again. Each day of the mapping process, the teams are allocated their own “strips” which traverse the settlement to ensure every square foot is mapped. Each team was led by one experienced mapper and was comprised of a team of local Federation members that will become the leaders once the visitors depart. The exchange participants from Zimbabwe and Malawi were split amongst the groups to learn and to teach. As the groups set out the Learning-by-Doing process began. Concepts that were somewhat abstract in the initial training workshop became concrete as the Kabale team – some of whom are pictured below – navigated the complexities of mapping informal settlements.
The local contingent is absolutely critical to the success of the mapping process from the very beginning. Not only will they carry on the exercise once the visitors leave, but they are able to explain the exercise to their fellow Kabale residents and respectfully request permission to enter compounds and homes to collect information. Entering the private spaces of families is invasive and fears of eviction are never far from the minds of those in informal settlements. Having Federation members that speak the local language – which is different in Kabale than it is even in Kampala – and who are known in the community is central to the viability of the exercise.
The complexity of mapping is hard to comprehend unless you take part in the exercise. Satellite images are not always current and things change very rapidly in informal settlements. The teams must remain vigilant and take nothing for granted when analyzing the digitized structure maps they’re given. They must alter the outlines of structures when they do not fit what appears on the map and they must never assume what is seen from the front of a structure will be seen from the back. For example, in Kabale it is common to see a gated compound, which appears to contain a single house. One might assume that a single household occupies this structure and record the enumeration code that appears on the front door and leave. It is more often the case, however, that when you proceed to walk to the back of the house you see an additional 16 doors, meaning a total of 17 households actually occupy the plot upon which it was thought one household resided.
For the next week the experienced mappers will stay with the community to ensure they are confident with the process and then it will be up the Kabale residents and their regional leaders to manage the exercise going forward. They are confident they can carry on the exercise effectively and efficiently and anticipate it greatly strengthening their negotiating capacity when they visit the municipal and local councils. They will also be looked upon as the new teachers when neighboring Mbarara commences mapping later this month.
By Benjamin Bradlow
Building a bridge between the “informal” and the “formal”: Reflections on slum upgrading in South Africa
In January, the South African SDI Alliance affirmed a vision to build city-wide networks of informal settlement communities that mobilize to upgrade their settlements. Nearly six months later, about 30 representatives of the Alliance partners — the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP), Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), iKhayalami, and uTshani Fund — met in Cape Town to reflect on the upgrading work that has been accomplished thus far.
On 7 June, visitors from elsewhere in South Africa visited the settlement of Sheffield Road. There, the ISN and CORC have worked with community leadership to re-arrange or “re-block” shacks in the dense settlement built on a road reserve. In addition to re-arranging the settlement spatially, they have built upgraded shack shelters. As the project has fallen within the ambit of a city-wide partnership between the Alliance and the Metropolitan Municipality of Cape Town, the community has been able to work with the City to install new toilets in locations planned by the community as part of the arrangement of shacks.
The Alliance then spent the next two days reflecting on the way in which the upgrading process has unfolded in Sheffield Road. The lessons from this case study served as a springboard for a deeper discussion around basic principles for upgrading projects ongoing or still to come both in Cape Town and in the Alliance nationwide.
The underlying lesson of this discussion is that upgrading informal settlements is anything but the technical exercise presented by many in the formal world such as governments, professionals, and academics. The primary challenge lies in the basic fact that upgrading settlements requires the inclusion of whole affected communities in the processes that go into such improvements. Whether we refer to the political, financial or planning aspects of upgrading, it is the initiative and leadership of organized communities that is the essential ingredient in making a project successful.
Evaluating and learning from Sheffield Road
Critical feedback from all participants emphasized both positive and negative aspects of the process and outcome of the Sheffield Road project. Positives included the demonstration that in situ reconfiguration of space within a settlement can make a large contribution to the building of social bonds and life within a settlement, as well create a safer environment from both crime and natural calamities. Further, the relationship of the city-wide ISN and the leadership of the Sheffield Road community helped build a bridge to municipal officials. This resulted in the provision of new toilets located as part of a spatial layout plan developed by the community. Though leadership structures have been challenged throughout this process, the existence of strong leaders able to mobilize residents through a risky process of tearing down shacks and rebuilding, has been a powerful impetus for the success of the project.
Participants noted an apparent dependency on technical support from the NGO, insufficient contributions from savings, difficulties with uninterested or unaccountable leadership structures, and a general lack of “sensitization” of the community. It was emphasized that community mobilization is the key to the sustainability of any upgrading project. As long as the NGO drives the process, the project fosters a growing sense of entitlement in the community and prevents residents from taking ownership.
What is blocking out?
Blocking out is a way of refining the planning of informal settlements. Put more simply, “blocking out” or “re-blocking” refers to a rearrangement of shacks in an informal settlement. Re-blocking is a way of addressing the larger concept of spatial reconfiguration versus the simple delineation of sites. The difference is between focusing on individual households or space that is used by whole communities. The space can be used for communal amenities, or to create lanes for installation of services such as water, sanitation and electricity.
Blocking out is also understood as a way to increase tenure. It demonstrates community capacity with regard to planning, and makes way for installation of services, which can provide a greater level of security to residents.
In the case of Sheffield Road, iKhayalami, a NGO linked to CORC, provided replacement zinc shelters to residents who moved their shacks as part of the “re-blocking” exercise. The Alliance debated whether this should be linked to “re-blocking” and how it should be done.
Positive aspects of provision of shelter are primarily related to the fact that residents’ shelters may be damaged in the course of moving their shacks. Further, they are only given four walls, so they contribute to the building of their new shacks, breeding stronger ownership of the project. Finally, the provision of a shelter upgrade through iKhayalami was considered necessary for mobilizing the community in a non-disaster situation.
Criticisms of this approach centered on the linking of private housing space — the upgraded shack — to what is primarily a project about public living space — the re-blocked settlement. Some participants noted that the upgraded shelter may be seen as minimizing the existing investments that residents make into their shelters prior to the re-blocking exercise. A related point was that informal settlement residents have demonstrated great resourcefulness in building shacks and sourcing material for these shacks. Therefore, provision of a new shelter may distract from larger upgrading projects. Some suggested that the provision of new shelters in the context of re-blocking could amount to a reduced form of “RDP” housing provision, and could set an example for a R5,000 subsidy for improved shack versus a R50,000 subsidy for a government house.
Another critique suggested that it would not be cost-effective for CORC/iKhayalami to provide heavily subsidized shelter upgrading solutions at any kind of meaningful scale. While some participants saw this as a critique of working to upgrade private shelter through provision of modular iKhayalami-type materials, an additional view was that this was also a way to access the resources of the State for the poor. The NGO would be making an up-front investment to get much greater returns in terms of the potential resources that could be secured from the State. The view is that funds such as those coming from Emergency Housing Fund or Urban Settlements Development Grant could be made available at large scale for such an upgrading protocol, given a proper demonstration model. The popularity of the iKhayalami shelters in the projects proposed to the Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) board, even with a 10% required contribution on the part of informal settlement residents, indicates that this may be a favorable option.
Finally, there was a discussion about the difference between finance for public upgrading improvements — eg. public space, basic services — and funding constraints for individual improvements — eg. shelter. This led to a discussion of the possibility of trying to implement a financial instrument for shelter upgrades. It could be partly microcredit, which would help provide some recognition for the investments that families make to upgrade their shelters. By the same token, the discussion acknowledged that upgrading an informal shelter is a risk that would be very difficult to get banks to take on without some kind of further guarantee. Hence a mix of grant funding and microcredit was proposed as a way to a) provide access to finance, and deepen formal acknowledgment of investments that the poor make into their shelters, and b) to develop a potentially sustainable mechanism for both securing finances for upgrading informal households from a State nominally keen on providing subsidies for poverty alleviation, while simultaneously “banking” an “unbanked” sector.
How do communities organize to upgrade?
“Blocking out is actually a mobilization tool more than anything else. We are saying that we are an Informal Settlement Network. So we need to be preaching informal settlement upgrading.”
— Rose Molokoane
The case of Sheffield Road highlights a number of challenges regarding community organization. The long time frame of the project is due primarily to difficulties in mobilizing savings contributions for the shelter upgrade. Further, the ISN leadership engagement with the community included the institution of a new community leadership structure that was not initially accepted by the community. Ultimately, there was a sense that it was especially difficult to build a constituency for upgrading at Sheffield Road without dangling the carrot of a shelter upgrade.
But if a community-led approach to upgrading is to be taken to scale within the Alliance, then everyone agreed that the key conversation is about how communities organize themselves. Savings has long been the backbone activity of the Alliance partners. Yet savings has been one of the most difficult activities to mobilize in the upgrading process. A central contradiction is that savings has long been a membership-based activity linked primarily to FEDUP. But upgrading is a community-wide process, which therefore requires community-wide pooling of financial resources.
In Sheffield Road, re-blocking has been done in clusters of about 15 shacks, and savings has also been organized at that level. In Umlazi in Durban, the community divided itself up into five different sections, and has begun saving by section for upgrading projects.
Such strategies for community-wide savings have a big impact on the methods of organization that communities are finding necessary for upgrading at the whole settlement scale. In Slovo Park, in Johannesburg, the community leadership realized that it had to organize structures all the way down to the block or street level in order to be effective. “We realized that we were holding lots of meetings and people weren’t coming,” said community leader Mohau Melani. “We realized that we have to go down to the block level.”
It was further noted that enumeration can be an effective tool for promoting such organization. Perhaps even more importantly the use of enumeration as a tool for understanding the most important needs of a community was underlined. Participants agreed that, in most cases, the enumerations taking place within the Alliance are not being used to the full extent of their potential effectiveness.
A social movement aimed at the upgrading of informal settlements is an issue-based social movement. Therefore, the primary activities of this movement need to be geared towards identifying developmental issues — through tools like enumeration, profiling, and regional dialogues — as well as the pooling of political and financial resources — through the establishment of deeper leadership structures, savings schemes, and participation of women.
The challenge of scale
The establishment of the Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) is an initiative of the Alliance designed to encourage a constituency for community-driven upgrading projects nationwide. CUFF operates through a bottom-up structure. Informal settlement and backyard shack dweller communities make proposals to a board composed of a majority of slum dwellers, for grant funding for upgrading projects.
The intention of CUFF is to demonstrate a wide multiplicity of upgrading solutions, methods for community leadership of upgrading projects, and institutional structures for bottom-up, city-wide finance facilities for upgrading that can eventually be adopted by the State. CUFF was established earlier this year, but few of the projects that the board has approved are yet up and running. Participants in the meeting agreed that a renewed focus on deep mobilization, as detailed in the previous section, needs to be the primary focus in order to generate a constituency for projects that will be creative, effective, respond to community need, and have potential for going to larger scale.
- The number one determinant of an effective upgrading project is an organized community. It was resolved that the following factors are key to evaluating an effective community:
- Leadership structures are constituted all the way down to the street or block level. At the settlement-wide level, a Community Development Committee that include all existing structures in a community (eg. women’s forums, business forums, task teams, etc.)
- Regular community meetings where residents have a chance to bring up their needs and have them recorded.
- Community-wide savings. There are different methods that can exist for how these are organized, but the key is to have transparent and accountable systems that breed trust in the process.
- Enumeration. A clear and participatory account of the needs and make-up of the community.
- Regional dialogues to draw out the type and scale of needs that exist at the regional or city-wide level.
- Participation of women.
- Partnership with local authorities. These are designed to increase learning around the challenges and successes of community-led strategies for informal settlement upgrading, and to get these methods adopted as policy.
- NGO role is to link communities, provide strategic support for external partnerships, and advise network leaders on building their movement. NGO professionals do not mobilize communities, and should not become primary implementers or managers of a project.
- Focus on existing community investments in their settlements. Shelter upgrades should not ignore the pre-existing capacity for building, maintaining, and upgrading shacks in informal settlement communities.
- Alliance goal is to develop a large variety of upgrading solutions, and not to standardize a one-size-fits-all approach for all settlements.
- Shelter upgrade can accompany other upgrades, but mobilization (meetings and exchanges) should make clear that such work is entirely de-linked from other types of upgrading (eg. blocking out). Role of shelter upgrade is to provide a model that can access further resources from the State for the poor.
By Mitali Ayyangar
In January, 2011, the Indian Alliance of SPARC, NSDF and Mahila Milan hosted a four day workshop with SDI affiliate members from across Africa and South-East Asia to consolidate members’ enumeration processes and experiences. The workshop was intended to create a space for, firstly, collective reflection on the importance of this fundamental SDI activity and, secondly, to develop strategies to strengthen the SDI Secretariat’s ability to assist member federations expand and deepen their enumeration processes.
About Enumerations: Functionally, enumerations and surveys are tools by which the community collects information about its resources, land ownership, history, services that are provided and the community’s priorities. The various forms in which enumerations are exercised are detailed here. This information forms an important basis for addressing deprivations in slum areas, long-term strategic planning and for negotiating with authorities for land, tenure and infrastructure.
However, enumerating activities do much more than that. They are used not only as a tool to collect information about their communities, but also as a means of connecting and reaching out to people, and through this process, give individuals a collective sense of identity. They provide communities and their aggregated federations with a sense of who they are, what their collective needs are and information and data to produce insights about their situation. People learn to explore processes of contestation with the state about information the state has generated about the poor, which is often not comprehensive and can generally not be disaggregated to produce projects and investment possibilities or to benchmark what needs to be improved upon.
Workshop and its Objectives: In SDI’s collective experience, enumeration processes have been invaluable. Enumerations need to be expanded and carried forward at a large scale – and it was with this overarching objective in mind that the workshop was organised. Within this, a sub-objective was to focus on how support professionals and NGOs can improve their roles in assisting their federation-partners design and execute surveys, manage data and prepare reports.
The Workshop was therefore designed to create a space to:
- Discuss each participating country’s enumeration process, with the goal of clarifying and strengthening the various activities involved, identifying challenges and planning strategies to overcome these challenges
- Identify opportunities for the SDI Secretariat to support country-exchanges for federations to learn about various enumeration processes strategies
- Increase capability of federations and supporting NGOs in terms of data management and analysis
- Exchange thoughts and ideas about the potential for standardization of basic data used by cities and countries
- Discuss the possible future uses of GIS for mapping settlements and possible future production of biometric ID cards
Participants at the workshop included representatives from the SDI Secretariat and NGOs and federations from Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Philippines and India.
Structure of the Workshop: The Workshop was spread over 4 days. Introductions and outlining individual participants’ expectations of the Workshop dominated the first half of the first day, while the second was dedicated to “setting the stage” – i.e. identifying the current status of federation work, common challenges and an overview of SDI’s near-future objectives. The second day included presentations from each country representative about their enumeration “journey” – each followed by a Q&A session which probed deeper into the role and value of enumerations in addressing needs of federations in that country. On the third day, the Indian Alliance organised a field visit to Pune, where local Mahila Milan presented, on site, their journey from savings and credit activities to enumerations to negotiations with governments to improved housing and sanitation. On the final day, participants evaluated whether their expectations had been met at the Workshop, developed action plans to expand their enumeration activities and identified key peer-to-peer exchanges that would, with the support of the SDI Secretariat, facilitate their goals.
Main themes discussed: Several important issues emerged over the course of the workshop, particularly during the individual country presentations. A brief on each participating country – their enumeration history, processes, key achievements, challenges and top priorities – is included in the full report. Some of the prominent and common issues that emerged were:
- The ‘age’ of NGOs and federations, in terms of experience and capacity for enumerations, in creating processes that lead to effective engagement at the individual/community level and enable a strong federation to take root.
- The importance of building the legitimacy of enumeration processes and data gathered to, firstly, facilitate engagement with outside partners and stakeholders and, secondly, to transform relationships so that federations are valued as partners in national development processes
- Balancing the fundamental commitment of the process to be accountable to its constituents with the demands of governments (and others) to “make data look” a certain way – in an effort to produce information in ways that suit the needs of both, the communities and others
- Understanding the subtleties of the process – including survey design
- Understanding the data – in terms of its findings, its role in bringing communities together and in promoting ownership of the process (translating the data back to the community)
*** A full report with country briefs and other key insights can be downloaded here***
By Carrie Baptist
SDI embarked on a Learning, Monitoring and Evaluation (LM&E) process more than a year ago, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation. A workshop in Mumbai, India, held on 27-29 April was a key milestone in consolidating lessons learned thus far, and to refine and expand LM&E practices for many more SDI affiliates, and the network as a whole.
***What follows is a summary of the four-day workshop. A full report with key quotes and insights from individual participants can be downloaded here.***
At a meeting in Nairobi last year, LM&E was first discussed and 5 countries chose to begin an intensive LM&E process with the support of two organizations commissioned to assist in designing the LME process and facilitating it in these 5 national affiliates. In Asia, Sri Lanka and Nepal began the LM&E process with the support of PRIA, an Indian N.G.O. In Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana were supported in their processes by IPA, a Ghanaian N.G.O.
The purpose of this workshop was to share the process that these 5 countries undertook for LM&E and to envision ways in which these processes can be expanded throughout SDI. This workshop was also intended to continue the processes of clarifying and defining what Learning, Monitoring and Evaluation means for SDI. Principles and purposes of LM&E were articulated for SDI as a whole, as well as specific ways in which LM&E might begin and be incorporated into ongoing learning processes.
The workshop was spread over 4 days. The first day included presentations by the 5 countries which have been doing an in-depth LM&E process this past year. The second day we went over the Mind Map of SDI’s activities in 2011, our projects and relationships, making sure everyone was up to date on the full picture and to fill in any gaps. We then broke up into group discussions about the purposes and principles of LM&E for SDI, and then methods and strategies for implementing LM&E. On the third day, we again split up into small groups, by regional hub, and outlined the specific activities each country would be undertaking in the upcoming year for LM&E. On the afternoon of the third day there was a field visit to Dharavi. On the fourth day, there was a field visit to the federations in Pune, where there is currently an in-situ upgrading project underway.
A lot of important issues were brought up during the workshop, but a few central themes emerged:
- The importance of being able to define for ourselves what M&E is and what it means to us, so that the federations and SDI really own the processes and have a strong internal rationale for it.
- Thoughts on the relationship between working in rural and urban spaces, and possible lessons which can translate between each setting; the importance of M&E relating and reflecting the local needs of the federations and affiliate.
- The foundational importance of the core SDI rituals, savings, enumeration, exchanges, and the ways in which M&E might help strengthen and support these ongoing processes.
- The importance of incorporating M&E into core federation processes, differentiating between M&E for processes and for projects, and actively engaging with it, so that this is something that we do consciously and with commitment.
- The importance of exchanges and the role of regional hubs in supporting M&E.
- That M&E is as much an attitude of critical engagement and reflection as it is a concrete process and that it should strongly reflect SDI’s theory of change.
- The importance of viewing M&E broadly, so that we reflect not just on the number of people saving or the amount of savings, but on women’s empowerment, community organization and strength, advocacy on government policy etc. How we measure these things is also important, as they can be difficult to quantify, ex: how do you measure the empowerment of a community?
What are our principles and purposes of M&E?
The most often mentioned purposes were:
- Review and measure our progress based on the plans we make – track whether we are on the right path.
- Set benchmarks and see whether we achieve them or not.
- Serve as a guiding tool for helping to develop systems within ourselves –self regulation.
- Learn from our mistakes after the review and make changes; identify problems and enable us to develop solutions.
- Strengthen the relationship between local and regional networks; clarification of roles and responsibilities.
- Create documentation which empowers federations/participators – information is power, and also helps to asses/review the federations– build their capacity.
- Facilitate learning between affiliates; increase participation in the process by sharing new ideas and new experiences.
- Strengthen the credibility and integrity of the federations in SDI; protection and management of the reputation of the federations and SDI; manage reputational risk.
- Increase the self-reliance of the federations and SDI.
- To remind the federations of their identity.
- Increase the visibility of SDI and expose more information about the federations.
- Help with being accountable to outside groups and to ourselves.
- Create chances for mobilizing resources through monitoring progress; help effectiveness in reaching objectives and translating that into ability to manage our resources well.
- To create unity in the federations; partnership and collaboration between the federations and government.
- Strengthen downward accountability to our constituencies.
- For SDI at a corporate level to increase standardization and our ability to aggregate and maintain coherence of SDI’s work, shared vision.
The most often mentioned principles were:
- Ownership of the process by federations
- Transparency and accountability to the federations, Secretariat, SDI as a whole.
- Honesty in learning from mistakes and growth
- Making sure that it is suitable to the federation
- The issue of gender has to be reflected.
- Basic standardization of how to capture and aggregate data
- Complimentary role of LME, so it is not something separate, rather it is integrated into things we already do.
- To create a broader process of advocacy.
- Participatory at all levels, not just the federations but also the N.G.O; increase participation through more communication and knowledge sharing.
- Commitment to the process; being consistent and following up on commitments
- Using practical indicators, so that is is understandable to everyone.
- Use data as an opportunity for dialogue and discussion; more information dissemination.
- To reflect the participation of the community in all levels – local, national and international.
How does this compare with mainstream M&E and how is it different?
- Mainstream M&E’s primary purpose is accountability for use of funds and it is linked to the project log frame. It is done in a manner that is ‘objective’ in the sense that it is undertaken by outside parties uninvolved with the work being evaluated. It assesses time and cost efficiency. It is the exercise of external judgment.
- Our process includes a focus on learning and participation. It is interested in qualitative as well as quantitative indicators, which are defined and owned by the federations, not be an outside group. We are interested in efficiency and quality, but also in the quality of our core processes, not just our projects. Our process is about self-reflection and is internally accountable, reflecting on our commitments to ourselves as well as our outside partners.
***A full report with key quotes and insights from individual participants is here.***
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
SDI renewed its commitment to a program of community-driven slum upgrading, planning, and learning, at the meeting of its slum dweller governing Council. The gathering of over 40 leaders of urban poor organizations from 13 countries in Africa and Asia, took place on 2 to 4 March in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Council is the governing body of SDI, and is made up entirely of community-based leaders in affiliated “mature” federations. During the meeting, the Council agreed that the SDI network should support a sustained process of action-based learning around in situ slum upgrading.
In many countries in the Global South, much of housing development that is designed for the poor, provides shelter at the periphery of cities, and often uproots communities. Further, these developments tend not to put a dent in the scale of informal housing that accommodates the poor in cities.
SDI’s Urban Poor Fund International (UPFI) provides finance for projects that affiliate poor people’s federations undertake to build a practical set of experiences for community-driven urban development. As a program of SDI, the Council agreed that UPFI must focus on projects that prioritize in situ solutions, including incremental provision of services and shelter improvements.
UPFI funds will also be used to support the emergence of “centers of learning” in seven cities throughout the SDI network. This means that federations will use funds to create a set of projects at sufficient scale to show how people’s organizations can work with their governments to begin addressing the monumental challenges of urban growth, and prevalence of slums.
Methods of community-driven development planning are an integral part of the upgrading projects that SDI-affiliated communities pursue. The Council therefore approved a program of exchanges around large-scale enumeration, self-survey, and mapping activities that are taking place in six cities in Uganda, Lilongwe (Malawi), and in the Philippines.
The Council also approved the induction of its 14th member, the Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation, which is active in 6 cities in the country (Arua, Jinja, Kabale, Kampale, Mbale, and Mbarara). Further, the Sierra Leone Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor will be invited with observer status at the next Council meeting.
The two-day Council meeting included a meeting of the Board to approve the Council resolutions, and was followed by a one day meeting of all the federations to discuss community-driven methodologies for monitoring and evaluation of their work. It was agreed that, in order to reach meaningful scale, federations have to continuously be self-critical of their methods for capturing learning, monitoring work, and then evaluating results.
By George Masimba, Dialogue on Shelter
The Zimbabwean Alliance hosted the second National Forum whose theme was ‘strengthening our process through savings’. The Forum which was held in the Midlands Province in Gweru was attended by Federation members from the seven regions namely Harare, Matebeleland South Matebeleland North, Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Midlands.
SDI affiliates from South Africa, Namibia, Malawi and Zambia graced the occasion and assisted greatly with the discussions. The Forum’s main agenda involved presentation of regional reports, reflection on the Federation rituals and drafting of regional work-plans.
The various regions reported how they had expanded the Federation coverage through opening savings schemes in new areas. In areas around Harare, new initiatives like Shamva, Bindura, Guruve and Marondera had now been mobilised whilst Matebeleland South now encorporated areas that include Plumtree, Kezi, Gwambe, Esigodini and Tsholotsho. The countrywide mobilisation of new areas had seen uMfelandawonye chapters grow from 32 areas in 2008 to the current 54 areas. The different regions also reported on the establishment of networks in their areas – a strategy that had seen participation of more members and strengthening of groups through breaking regions into smaller clusters. Networks were also reported to be facilitating the decentralisation of regional budgets.
A majority of savings schemes outlined how they had started the creative usage of savings through the mobilisation of money for buying groceries, pre-purchasing building materials and availing loans for business projects. Some of the products from the business ventures were also on display at the Forum. Harare region, for instance, showcased products from a project that was producing building materials and herbal medicines. The various regions also highlighted that the move to ensure the immediate usage of savings had been necessitated by the lack of trust in the banking sector.
The regional reports were then followed by specific presentations on the Federation rituals and components. Under the health component, it was reported that a pilot mobile clinic had been set up and been functional for close to three months. The clinic was currently stationed at the Crowborough Federation resource centre catering for the wider community as well.
The presentation on land noted that negotiations with both central and local government institutions had since yielded a total of around 5354 stands across the country. Infrastructure was however reported to be the biggest challenge hence there was a now a well-coordinated campaign for alternatives like boreholes and ecological sanitation units. Whilst on one hand lobbying was going on with officials to have buy-in, the Federation’s capacity to build the eco-san toilets was being developed through training sessions and exchange visits. Seven artisans training sessions have so far been conducted in the country’s six regions.
Enumerations as a powerful tool for negotiations had been expanded and sharpened to include mapping. The national enumeration team reported how they had started building and strengthening their teams in preparation for a number of surveys as well as the Harare Slum Upgrading Programme. Lastly, the Forum participants then grouped according to the regions in order to prepare regional work plans on the basis of the different areas’ priorities.
Southern African hub meeting
Consistent with current practice with other SDI hubs, the Southern Hub of Africa met in Zimbabwe around the latter’s National Forum. The five SDI affiliates in attendance appraised each other through country reports.
The Malawians provided feedback pertaining to their National Forum held in 2010 and thanked the other affiliates for their support. The Malawians also reported on a series of exchanges around water and sanitation that had taken place with Zimbabwe. The activities in Malawi had also started to have impact on policy as shown by the Malawian government’s Growth and Development Strategy which was modelled around the Federation concept.
The Zambians indicated that they were currently busy with a number of housing projects as well as building resource centres hence they had plans to strengthen their capacity through artisans training programmes. In addition, the Zambians had scheduled two Forums on Housing and Health in the first half of the year which drew a lot of interest from other affiliates.
In Swaziland, the need for Federation strengthening emerged as the main priority although it was mentioned that interaction with central and local government had significantly improved. A national forum held in December inn Swaziland had helped to boost the savings schemes.
In Harare, the Federation was implementing Slum Upgrading Project in partnership with the City of Harare and already an exchange had taken place with the Malawians around this project. The Zimbabweans noted that there were plans to scale up current health programmes.
In Namibia, a countrywide 5-year programme (Community Land Information Programme CLIP) documenting informal settlements, was reported to be underway. The Namibians also informed the meeting about the pending programmes aimed at supporting the emerging process in Angola.
The South Africans invited other affiliates to their National Forum earmarked for March 2011. In particular, FEDUP requested support on health issues from other affiliates during the Forum.
After the country reports the meeting then went on to discuss the UPFI call for proposals whose sum total for the entire hub was US$100000.00 with a repayment period of 3 years. The affiliates discussed the terms for accessing UPFI funds and the following country-level issues were noted as the basis for allocation;
- Fully-fledged status
- Existing city-wide processes
- Existing revolving community-based loan fund
- Existing country-wide network of federations
- Existing partnerships with government.
On the project level, the following specific considerations were observed as critical for the disbursement of funds;
- Impact – the extent to which a project will yield results and benefit members
- Policy – the extent to which a project will influence central and local government policy
- Leverage – the extent to which a project has scope to attract additional resources
- Innovation – the extent to which the resources will go towards new alternative
- Sustainability – the extent to which the resources will go beyond the project period
In the end, the affiliates agreed on the following allocations for the UPFI call;
|Country||Loan Amount||Project Description|
|South Africa||US$40000.00||Housing project in North West Province|
|Zambia||US$20000.00||Completion of Federation resource centre in Lusaka|
|Malawi||US$20000.00||Construction of Chinsapo Community Hall|
|Zimbabwe||US$20000.00||Scaling up of the health initiative in Harare|
*Namibia did not have a proposal during the time of meeting
The following exchange programmes for the hub were planned for the year 2011.
|Visiting Countries||Destination Country|
|Malawi and South Africa
|Malawi and Zambia
|South Africa and Zambia
|South Africa and Namibia||Swaziland|
|Zimbabwe and Malawi||South Africa|
|Swaziland and Zambia||Zimbabwe|
By Jack Makau, SDI secretariat
Traditionally land information held by most governments (certainly all developing world governments) is stored in cadastral formats. What this means is that governments store records of plot boundaries and who owns those plots.
Meanwhile urbanization has rendered this level of information irrelevant. Often a slum will consist of one or two or three plots, while there are 1000 families living, trading, worshiping, schooling in those plots. If the economic, judicial, and governance systems are based on cadastral information, it is no wonder we cannot solve urban poverty issues, regardless of how much money we throw at the problem.
This huge gap in the ability of Southern governments to understand and govern urban centers is in large part an information gap. The cadastral format cannot reflect the reality of how land is organized in urban areas. It cannot account for 1000 families in 3 or even 20 plots of land. The reality of urban land usage completely belies the fundamental concepts of the cadastral system: families living in ungovernable 10 foot by 10-foot spaces and having their primary toilet function 20 meters away in a 3 foot by 3 foot carton shade; and their kitchen on the sidewalk.
What does this all mean? The contract between citizen and state in Nairobi, Kampala, Cape Town and more in Mumbai cannot take place. The contract is based on the cadastre.
So what about GIS? If we were to change how land information is defined then the challenges of urban slums would not be so intractable. GIS allows you to capture, easily and cheaply, the actual use of space. So instead of government having a plot boundary and owner’s name, they could have, for far less than it costs to survey the plot conventionally, the boundary, the size and type of structures, the actual arrangement of structures, the trees and the owner’s name.
And fortunately this is not just about slums. For example, how does the Cape Town municipality manage water if they do not have a land information system that recognizes swimming pool? How is climate change reversed when plot owners are cutting down trees to put up gazebos? Because planting trees at the outskirts of the cities is not enough.
It’s not the cost of the technology that matters — all of a sudden the constraints of plot sizes are removed. The limitations associated with the management of land (by government) do not exist. They have a true picture of the city. And if someone comes along and builds something at night, government can find out and manage it the very next day. It’s cheap, it’s real time and it’s true.
And, when they are done GIS-bombing Bagdad and Afghanistan and putting navsat in every Bentley, Bimmer and Boxter, what are they going to do with all those satellites?
So, the UN Habitat’s Global Land Tools Network (GLTN) and Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) experiment in Uganda is the first stirrings of change in altering the way urban land is managed. STDM at the back-end is a land registry system (sort of a cross between Google Earth for governments and the Land Act). At the front end is GIS and Microsoft Excel that’s appropriate for capturing enumeration and mapping information at household level, one base lower than plot level cadastre-type information.
In January, GLTN and SDI started a discussion on testing the newly developed STDM platform in Uganda. This isn’t the first land tool interaction between the two agencies. At UN Habitat, the developers of STDM studied the federations’ enumeration experiences in Mumbai, Nairobi and Kisumu and coded them onto the open source Quantum GIS program.
However, the STDM discussion was a plugin to an activity already underway: The Government of Uganda, Cities Alliance and SDI urban transformation program that targets transformation of urban slums in five secondary cities (Jinja, Arua, Kabale, Mbale and Mbarara). Estimated to reach 200,000 slum families, the program seeks among other things to register all informal settlement in these cities.
So significant is the application of GIS technology to Uganda that the STDM plugin could attain program engine status. Uganda has one of the most complex, un-resolvable urban land tenure systems in the universe. In certain places, like Kisenyi slum right at the heart of Kampala city, the Kabaka — constitutional king of the Buganda kingdom — owns the land. Over time, landowners have recieved land grants, held at the king’s pleasure. In turn they have parceled the land and made out their own leases to structure owners who have built a sprawl of 35,000 shacks and rent them ever month to the city’s urban poor. Any attempt at slum upgrading is confronted with the question, “who among these layered interests is the beneficiary?”
SDI’s Ugandan affiliate, the 29,000-family-strong Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation, and the federation’s support NGO, Actogether, seek solutions that recognize all interests. Solutions that are underpinned by the corresponding usage and investment on the land. That integrate with the city’s aspirations of future sustainability and prosperity. So citywide enumerations and mapping exercises planned for early 2011 are important for determining the usage and investment patterns, are critical in anchoring possible solutions.
The success of this experiment, at least on the land information side, is hinged on the ability of UN Habitat and SDI to get the Ministry of Lands to buy into STDM. Then the federation enumerates, maps and puts the information into STDM and voila! A real urban land information system and 200,000 slum families in Uganda are in the government registry. And thereafter if anyone invests in infrastructure or housing it doesn’t matter because once the land information system changes so will the definition of land ownership. The title deed will be replaced by the use-deed. Effectively we circumvent a herculean slum land tenure mess. And then we take the show to the next land mess in Nairobi or any other rapidly growing city with byzantine understandings of land usage.
Pictured above: Sonia Fadrigo (center) talks with members of the Sierra Leone Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor in Kroo Bay, Freetown.
Editor's note: From 22 to 26 September, the Filipino federation visited Freetown, Sierra Leone, to work with the seaside slum communities there on strategies for alleviating the effects of natural disasters such as flooding, as well as to secure tenure. Sonia Fadrigo, who was part of the Filipino delegation, sent a quick update to the SDI family, which is reproduced below. A report, published by IIED, on the Filipino strategies for dealing with natural disaster can be found here.
By Sonia Fadrigo, Homeless People's Federation Philippines
Our visit to Freetown was very good, not to mention the 20 hours flying time and some problems in the connecting flight. We stayed there for 5 days and were able to visit communities where savings program was already in place. The communities were very strong and full of energy, they were pointing to us the flooding marks and how they were badly affected. The communities were aware that there is an ongoing plan for the government for them to be relocated, some of the communities like the Susans Bay and Marbellas Bay was not habitable and considered as high risk areas. In the case of Kroo Bay, we saw that as potential for upgrading as well as reblocking and explore other schemes for land ownership (land sharing) can be applied.
We were able to show them the videos from the Philippines and the situation that is similar to theirs, including the climate (wet and dry) typhoons,rains and floodings. They appreciate it and were able to ask questions. We had a very good interaction with the Freetown City Council, City Administrator, the Planning officer and some Disaster committee members and Lands officer. And we recommended for some exchange visit to the Philippines and learn the process of relocation as well as disaster intervention.
I will make a detailed report with pictures highlighting our recommendations as we have already discussed these with Francis and the team. For a quick intervention, we would suggest for an exchange visit to the Philippines for the following reasons:
- To strengthen the savings mobilization that relates to disaster and relocation.
- Local governments to learn what are the challenges in the issue of relocation vs. upgrading
- Communities participation in all issues of shelter and disaster.
- Communities to learn to engage and build federations and networking.
We recommend a multi representation that includes, YMCA, federation leaders, local government (city administrator, mayor, city councilor).
On the other note, our concern was the expensive cost of exchange visits to the Philippines, base on our latest incurred airfare expenses when we go there. If there are similar experiences in other SDI country/affiliates it will be fine.
I am very positive on the scaling up of memberships of the federation in Freetown as the issue that confronts them becomes visible now and need to be dealt by the communities together with the government. They only need guidance and examples to be in the right track if possible. Our short visit was just to see from the outside, and we know that there are still a lot of hidden issues
that we didnt see and feel that needs to be sort out.
This is all for now and thank you very much for YMCA team for a very good accommodation and hospitality.
In behalf of the Philippines Team,
Pictured above: Goretti Katana, national treasurer of the Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation, speaks in Mbale municipal hall to introduce the profiling exercise to city officials in February 2010.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
In February, I joined members of slum dweller federations from Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, who were on an exchange to assist the Ugandan federation to profile the city of Mbale. Just in this past year, the federation, supported by NGO Actogether Uganda, has profiled the cities of Arua, Kabale, Jinja, and Mbarara, in addition to Mbale. I am now back in Uganda, as the federation and Actogether launches household enumerations in each of these cities.
A key challenge for communities that collect information about themselves through city-wide profiling, and household enumerations, is how to make the most impact with the information they have. This can mean getting the information endorsed as official by local authorities, which in turn ensures that it becomes the basis for urban planning decisions in a city. The information collection can also help facilitate closer relations between organized communities and their government so that they can work together to prioritize allocation of resources and improve informal settlements.
The information can also be used to create a public awareness about the planning challenges that exist, and to develop political will within government to approach communities as equal partners in development. Ugandans opened up the New Vision newspaper yesterday to learn how slum dwellers in every informal settlement in Mbale are drinking water contaminated by human waste. New Vision is the most widely-circulated newspaper in the country. A local leader named Richard Wandoba used the information collected through the recent city-wide profiling exercise to raise awareness about drinking water conditions in slums throughout the city. This kind of city-wide approach means that organized groups of the urban poor are now ready to meet with local authorities as equals to engage around planning issues, such as water provision.
You can find a JPEG file of the full article here.
By Blessing Mancitshana and Patience Phewa, CORC South Africa
Editor's note: South African slum dwellers that are part of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) and the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) traveled to Namibia on 6-9 August to learn and support an enumeration exercise in the city of Swakopmund. As the Community Organization Resource Centre's (CORC) Blessing Mancitshana and Patience Phewa write, the activities are of particular note because of the extent to which the local communities controlled and took ownership of the activities, as well as the enthusiasm displayed by local government officials to support this people-centered process.
The first activity was attending to the Swakopmund Municipality meeting where the DRC (Democratically Relocated Community according to the Municipal official) enumeration exercise was briefed. In the evening of the first day, the team attended to a community meeting where they were planning for the presentation of the preliminary results of the enumeration to the municipality of Swakopmund. The community prepared the program for the day. This enumeration was conducted by the community members with some assistance from the councillor’s office; it took the members two months to run the exercise. All the enumerators who took part in the data collection exercise from the beginning up to the end were rewarded certificates for their work by the mayor of Swakopmund. The community used to have some saving schemes but of late all of them are extinct, the Federation women of Namibia also assisted in mobilising the community about the importance of savings.
On the second day of the exchange, presentation of the results to the municipality representatives (who included the mayor, councillor, town planner and even the governor) was done. The meeting took place in the DRC settlement with more than two hundred community members taking part in the meeting. The governor acknowledged the importance of the work which was done by the community, also stressed that this whole activity of enumeration has the potential of lifting the community into another level. The town planner has some previous experience with SDFN, he also promised to work hand in hand with the community especially around the planning related issues.
All the results which were presented during the meeting were calculated manually by the community members. From the South African delegation to Namibia, a great difference was noted since the results take a prolonged period to be presented and mostly they have little reflection of community efforts since they are presented professionally. All the results are written on big charts and then presented in the meeting. The community really demonstrated some ownership of the whole process that they did not wait for NHAG (Namibia Housing Action Group) to do everything for them. The community was advised to form a community team that will follow up all the proposals made by the officials from municipality.
The third day of the exchange was centred on savings, the team was divided into two groups where the other group visited the backyarders at the Hadama |hao community, whilst the other group revisited DRC settlement to assist in setting up a new saving scheme. A new saving scheme was set up in DRC and was named “Promise.” A brief discussion about basic ways of running a saving scheme was held with the members of the new saving schemes. The team was also briefed on how to mobilise other members in the community for them to participate in savings. Some of the backyard saving schemes now have a piece of land with houses which they are paying for on monthly bases. The land is being serviced by the municipality. They have problems in the repayments of their loans from some members, and it was concluded that the group will be supported by the other backyard groups. The other backyard group which are still saving are waiting for blocks of land which were allocated to them. The land is already planned, but the area still need streetlights.
On the same day the team visited Walvis Bay, Kuisebmond settlement where there are other Federation saving communities. The team attended to the Savings meeting which was attended by seventeen saving schemes. Each and every saving scheme present gave a brief report of their social situation and financial status. Most of the members indicated that they were only saving for a house; however, they did not have a clear outline of plans on how to transform their savings into housing and other social issues. Most of the saving schemes are made up of backyard dwellers. In order for them to push their housing agenda, the saving schemes were advised to plan and conduct an enumeration which will help them in bringing in more people and at the same time stimulating the community to take up action for their own development. The community of DRC in Swakopmund and other Federation members were to assist in the proposed planning and implantation of the enumeration. Whilst in Kuisebmond, the team visited a settlement where SDFN houses are being constructed; however, one of the structures caused a lot of controversies especially about its size which was far bigger than the expected size of SDFN houses.
Important observations of the S. African team in the exchange
The community manually work on their information to get the preliminary results ( a faster way)
Presentation of the results to the other community members and the municipality is done by the community itself
The community prepares the agenda of the first meeting / engagement with the municipality
Results are presented manually by the community so as to maintain the community taste in the whole exercise
Implementation of the lessons learnt
The results presentation and preparation methodology observed in Namibia to be implemented in KZN at Umlazi township, Ezakheleni community and in Dunbar settlement
Pictured above: Residents of the Kambimoto incremental housing development in Huruma, a slum area in Nairobi, Kenya.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
Top-down strategies for "eradicating slums" are seemingly always in vogue. Planners, government officials, commentators, and most non-governmental civil society actors, all aim for State-conceived, State-driven solutions to the "problems" of slums. Occasionally, we might hear about the potential of the social energy and even the density of informal settlements. But the solutions, we hear, must always come from the State.
But we can consider for a moment where these "formal" actors are headed, and from where they get their ideas. It is not the State. Governments of the Global South are quite evidently incapable of conceiving and implementing solutions without the people such policies are intended to address. The slums of the South are growing. And in the absence of effective State interventions, the poor — the world of the "informal" — are providing the vast majority of shelter solutions.
So "formal" actors — the State, planners, etc. — are getting their ideas from those who populate the world of the "informal" — the urban poor themselves. Instead of centrally-planned, greenfields housing developments, governments from South Africa to Kenya are talking about "slum upgrading" or "informal settlement upgrading." In India, the term that most closely mirrors this is "redevelopment." To varying degrees, policies that deploy these terms in each country are rooted in "informal" practice. Improvements in the living spaces where people already live.
But "upgrading," while a step in the right direction towards more people-centered kinds of urban policies and planning, is often too vague. It can still mean big projects that results in the removals of many shack dwellers to new slums outside of the city to make way for improvements that often accrue only to a few of the original residents of the area. The goal of any kind of urban policy will always, at some point, mean fully-serviced and titled top-structure housing with secure tenure. Given the capacities of all the actors involved in the policies that would address that kind of goal, in addition to the magnitude of slums in most of the cities of the South, such achievements are still far off in the future.
The poor know this, and address it on a daily basis in the only way they can: incrementalism. To build incrementally is to live within one's means, adding on and improving one's dwelling and environment bit-by-bit. There are obstacles to this approach, namely lack of security of tenure. How can a person save to upgrade when he or she faces the constant threat of being evicted? But even without total security of tenure (i.e. full title), the poor are willing to build incrementally.
I wrote a couple months ago about the Federation incremental housing project in the Kambimoto neighborhood of Huruma in Nairobi, Kenya. There, each homeowner is building the floors of their houses day-by-day, making their own laddi bricks — an alternative egg-shell shape of bricks used for ceilings and floors for the first two floors of the houses — through exchanges with SDI-affiliated savers in India. The residents of this project do not have full title. What they do have is a memorandum of understanding with the city council approving the project. They also receive municipal services. This is just one example about how the poor are leading the way towards new understandings of tenure arrangements and how such attempts to provide security to the poor achieve great things on the ground.
The key is to enable the poor to enact the solutions they already have at their disposal, not to run over them with State-developed, new top-down plans. Even though "formal" actors are beginning to adopt the rhetoric of "upgrading," they usually stray from its original "informal" meaning. "Informal settlement upgrading" still means programmatic, State-driven responses to urban poverty. The "informal" does not fit so easily with the strictures of the "formal." Incrementalism gets brushed aside in favor of rhetorical slights of hand that only glance at the true intentions of "informal" solutions.
The issue of incrementalism got a high-profile mention this week in an article in the Financial Times’ latest installment of its special issues on cities. Heba Saleh reports on development plans in Cairo, where slum dwellers are getting pushed further and further out of the city, while more poor people push back into the city for jobs:
The result is that Cairo is ringed with extensive areas of densely inhabited slums, where the streets are often too narrow for cars to pass and no land has been allocated for services such as schools, hospitals, markets or parks. But affordability and proximity to jobs in the central parts of the city continue to attract people to these neighborhoods, where homeowners build cheap but sturdy housing, adding extra rooms or floors whenever they have the cash.
Laila Iskandar, a development expert who heads CID Consultants, argues that the dynamics in the slums have much to teach government planners when they lay down their schemes for the expansion of the city. “All they are thinking about is how to send people to live in the desert [around the city],” she says. “They still have a top-down European view of the city and they deny that migrants from the countryside need a style of housing that they are not planning for.”
“These people do not have lump sums to pay for flats, and mortgages are out of their reach. Rent is also too expensive for them. They need to be able to build their homes incrementally.”
In the coming months, we will explore this theme further, analyzing examples of incremental solutions, and the ways in which the "informal" world can lead the "formal" world to actionable solutions to the problems of urban poverty. Your comments are, as always, most welcome.
Below is the text of a report by Cape Town Informal Settlement Network leader Vuyani Mnyango on an April exchange to India that included members of the ISN and Cape Town city officials. A report on the same exchange written by the Cape Town city officials can be found here.
15 April 2010
Meeting with Mr. Jockin Arputham & Mr. Sundar Burra
* He introduced himself to the visiting team from South Africa, he also share his long way & stories while in the struggle around the developments for the poor.
* He said that he can just tell the team of the middle -up system not starting from the bottom -up otherwise it will be a long story to tell. He said that they managed to collect people from the streets/ pavements convincing them to form part of the movement (Savings).
* He also stressed that organizing will be the best tool to fulfill the people’s need wherever they will be staying.
* He also encouraged that people need to be patient on whatever they wanted to achieve for communities.
16 April 2010
Federation – Mahila Milan
* They had managed to relocate people from different directions such as Railway line Dwellers, Under – Bridge & Pavement Dwellers & the Harbour Dwellers.
* They convinced these different groups to form part of the movement for the poor (savings) so that they can have a say to the government but the people saw that as a one step forward.
* The Federation had played more than a big role in these different people with different needs.
* Before any development to take place, they also do the enumerations so as to know more about the community its people’s needs.
* There are about 2000 units in each flat that accommodates about 10 000 families.
* Each unit is about 125 square metres wide and that is the size of most units that you can find in each flat.
* These buildings are being managed by these communities.
* The maintenance of these buildings depends to the co-operatives, the people that had chosen by the communities to look after these buildings.
* Each house has its own sanitation (tap & toilet) including electricity; each house has its own electricity box so that the owner is responsible for the use of the service.
* People who were not part of the savings were included in the development to take place in their communities they were not excluded at all.
* Mahila Milan is the platform and the group which is based in the presenting and focusing in the Federation needs but it is presented by people from different communities and different groups.
* The sanitation block is being managed by the communities not the government as the government had failed to look after them.
* People are still saving while in the houses but they called it a general savings which is based on the daily problems that faces the people around the community and that is playing a big role.
* Mahila Milan is also looking at poverty that also affects poor families by supplying food parcels and that is done through the help of SPARC (the NGO that is helping the Federation its needs for its communities.
* Out of their savings they had managed to buy the land which was not that expensive at all they paid for it.
* These buildings had been built after year 2000, but these buildings looked very old on the outside as if they are more than old.
* Mahila Milan is busy on the designing of the plans of the houses (flats) and they also play another role of training the people who will be building the houses training them on how to build from the bottom to the top.
17 April 2010
* The team SA was looking at the contractor when it was starting to build houses in the in-situ upgrading at Pune at Mother Teressa informal settlement.
* Also the savings here are playing a big role amongst the community development as the people are keen to be part of any kind of a change in their communities, even if somebody has to move so that the in-situ upgrading has to take place but people are all in the same page nobody is against of anything.
* They said that Mother Teressa had once visited this settlement that is why they also called it by her name just after she left.
* The in-situ upgrading is taking place in this settlement without of any disturbances from the community side.
* The government is being told by the people on what they wanted & on how it should be done.
Sanitation Block (Toilets)
* SPARC had also played a big role in the construction of the sanitation blocks to these communities with the help of the Federation as they are working closely.
* They had convinced & explained the communities for the need of these sanitation blocks to be built in their communities.
* There are about 300 – 500 families that are using these toilets in daily basis.
* People had to pay for the membership in order to use these facilities and pay the monthly fees the use of them but that is done by each family in the community.
* These toilets are being managed & maintained out of the monthly payment that is being paid by each family.
* The toilets before were not in a good condition for the use of the public (people of each community).
* There is a small amount of money to be paid by the community that will be specifically for the toiletries to keep these toilets healthy.
* The ones for the city are totally different from the ones that are for the projects according to the management of them.
* All the communities had the same way of controlling crime in each area.
* There are about 4 females and the males are about 4 to make what we call it a Police Forum but they call it a Police Panchayat.
* This more than linked to the state policing as this had played a big role in decreasing crime in each community.
* This is only based to the abuse, civil cases including the criminal cases.
* They take the person to the police station where a person has to pay a huge amount regarding that will be reported.
* This had been recognized & authorized by the Commissioner as it will be helpful to the communities at large.
* This had made a big change as it had decreased the crime rate throughout the country.
General Points that had been found in the Indian Exchange (Summary)
* People of India are more than commitment when it goes to the development of their communities.
* They show more than a willingness to co-operate in any kind of process that will lead to the success of their developments.
* They are also peaceful as they will all be wishing to be the go -getters, they won’t fight during the developments.
* They are having more patients to wait for what they want even if it can come after 10 – 20 years but they will wait.
* The human rights are not an issue there, people are focusing on their priority needs and they go for them.
* The communities need to be taught about the processes of the developments to be followed during the period of the development.
* Federation had managed to organized to gather together different people from (i) Pavement Dwellers, Railway Line Dwellers, Under –Bridge Dwellers & the Harbour Dwellers.The savings is the best tool that the communities had put more focus on as the best tool to be used when organizing people but it is based their daily needs.
* They had been taught on how to keep their hope around what they wanted to achieve in future.
* They had also been taught about on how to be strategic when dealing with organizing people for the development of their communities.
* Poor people are more than involved in the developments that will affect them on the ground for making decisions of what they want & how to go for it.
pictured above: Mukuru residents examine the new eviction order from Kenya Railways Corporation.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
As I have already discussed earlier this week, enumerations create enough anxiety due to near-unavoidable internal dynamics of communities. But in the case of the railway relocation program in Nairobi, we should be clear about the ultimate cause of such nervousness: the on-and-off eviction that the Kenya Railways Corporation has been pursuing for the better part of the past decade.
On Monday, residents of slums along the railway learned that the Kenya Railways Corporation had issued a new 30-day eviction notice to all people living within 100 meters of the railway line over the weekend. As we walked through Mukuru on Tuesday, Pamoja Trust staffers and community enumerators handed out the eviction notice to begin discussing what they could do about it. The enumeration was supposed to empower the community to negotiate with the Railways Corporation for a relocation that took their needs into account. A unilateral eviction threat totally defeats that end.
Pamoja sought to reassure residents in Mukuru, many of whom have already witnessed or experienced an eviction earlier this month due to the installation of an oil pipeline nearby the railway line. The all-too-familiar sights common to recently evicted areas of what were the former foundations and flattened ground of shack floors dot an empty space nearby the line in Mukuru. Residents were concerned about the time frame for eviction, but perhaps because there was already action on the ground in the form of mapping, numbering, and enumeration, led by community members themselves, they were not too perturbed.
In Kibera, it has been another story. After disputes between structure owners and tenants delayed the start of the process last week, the eviction notice threw a new wrench into the works this week. Mapping and numbering should have begun yesterday, but concerned residents postponed the activities because of the eviction notice. They needed reassurance that Pamoja was not conspiring with the Kenya Railways Corporation against them. To this end, Pamoja showed them a formal letter submitted to the Railways Corporation opposing the eviction notice. The railway line operator is claiming that the eviction notice did not apply to those affected by the ongoing relocation program, of which this enumeration is a part. But the notice does not make any such distinction.
Instead of helping to jump start the process in Kibera as planned, the South African exchange team visited some of the other sites in Nairobi where Muungano wa wanavijiji (the Kenyan slum dwellers federation) have developed for themselves. The multi-storey, high density dwellings in the slum of Kambimoto in Huruma provided a useful counterpoint to the Mukuru / Kibera experience and, in particular, this week's eviction notice.
The upgrading project has 86 units that were financed by individual savings, group savings, and the Kenyan urban poor finance facility associated with Pamoja, Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT). Muungano member Susan Wanjiru moved into her home in 2004. She told me that the federation in Kambimoto is planning to build another 100 houses, but faces a particular challenge in the rise of material costs since the first houses were built. "Now we are planning to be incremental," she said.
The project is just one of many examples of one of the most important prerequisites for incremental building: security of tenure. The federation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the city council for the land, but "no we are fighting to get the title deed," Wanjiru said.
In Mukuru, trash is everywhere, most structures are made of wood beams and mud, sometimes with corrugated iron. The residents have lived under constant threat of eviction for almost a decade. In the Kambimoto upgrading project, the pathways are clean, lined with plants and flowers put out by the new homeowners. They do not have full security of tenure, but the MoU has been enough to spur the residents to continue to invest in their homes.
pictured above: The clean, plant-lined pathways of Muungano's Kambimoto (Huruma) slum upgrading project.
- Community Planning (111)
- Zimbabwe (29)
- South Africa (57)
- Kenya (43)
- Haiti (2)
- Brazil (9)
- Ghana (17)
- Uganda (46)
- India (29)
- Namibia (11)
- Tanzania (10)
- Malawi (17)
- Philippines (9)
- Sierra Leone (4)
- Zambia (4)
- Bolivia (6)
- Developing Alternatives To Evictions (13)
- Enumerations And Mapping (32)
- Exchange And Learning (47)
- Nigeria (1)
- Partnerships (89)
- Savings (34)
- Settlements Under Siege (48)
- Slum Upgrading (104)
- Uncategorized (1)
- Women (47)
- SDI Participates in Commonwealth Local Government Conference, Uganda
- ‘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
- Using Enumerations for Upgrading: Namibia to Cape Town Learning Exchange
- Benson Osumba on Mindset Change Amongst Youth in Africa
- Project Diary: Kalimali Sanitation Unit, Uganda
- 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
- Slum Dwellers, Academics & City Officials Dialogue in Harare
- Re-designing the city one shack cluster at a time
- Unabated Forced Evictions in Nairobi's Informal Settlements
- The Beginnings of Enlightened Planning?
- SDI at World Urban Forum 6: Making Space for the Urban Poor
- Diary from Mumbai: Part III
- Culture, identity and slum areas: opportunities and challenges seen from slum dwellers’ perspective