The World Cup’s winners and losers

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By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI Secretariat

As the wins and losses pile up for the world’s major soccer teams at this year’s World Cup in South Africa, it is much less clear how to assess the impact of the month-long extravaganza on the country’s urban poor. It appears as though the worst possible fears have not been realized. We have not seen forced evictions on the order of those experienced during previous global sporting events. In the run up to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, some estimate that 15% of the city’s population was displaced.

We can describe the pace of evictions in South Africa as more of a slow, continuous burn than such a massive firecracker. Many slum dwellers in Cape Town and Durban are living out their lives in “temporary” transit camps after they were relocated years ago, promised better housing that has not yet come. Not much evidence has surfaced thus far that the pace of these relocations picked up much more in the months immediately before the World Cup. But they didn’t stop either.

In Johannesburg and the rest of Gauteng province, the story is similar. Max Rambau of the Community Organization Resource Center (CORC), SDI’s local NGO affiliate in South Africa, writes about residents of Kliptown in Johannesburg, a historic area near where South Africa’s Freedom Charter was signed. He has been working with the community there after houses were destroyed by the council of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality on 28 June. In the last two months, similar acts of city government-sponsored destruction and dispossession were visited on the neighboring informal settlement communities of Gabon and Chris Hani near the formal town of Daveyton in the Ekurhuleni municipality.

Informal traders also faced harassment from municipal authorities as the World Cup approached. Those selling food to construction workers at some of the major stadiums were continuously moved and forced into temporary stalls as construction progressed. Many worried that they would not benefit from the World Cup at all when FIFA insisted that all concessions be from FIFA’s official sponsors. While many traders lost their prime trading spots — and anticipated revenue from the soccer bonanza — some in Cape Town and Johannesburg did manage to negotiate significant concessions.

So while there are plenty of both winners and losers on the field during this World Cup tournament, the poor are only ending up on one side of the divide. They have not benefited economically from the World Cup, and few are able to afford to attend the games. Exclusion, illegality, and State-sponsored violence and dispossession, are still the hallmarks of urban poverty in South Africa. Much as they are throughout the growing cities of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The challenge will be what happens after the tournament. Will evictions continue apace as the local and national authorities continue their pursuit of “world-class” cities and “cities without slums”? Will the poor continue to be marginalized through the very development programs intended to benefit them?

And let us not restrict our gaze to the State. We can and should ask tough questions of ourselves as civil society actors. What methods of community organization can empower the poor to engage the state around true bottom-up developmental agendas of and by poor communities? How can government actors be moved away from the programmatic initiatives that have failed in the past? What kinds of agglomerations and networks of community organizations are necessary to this end? How can professionals, academics, and others act to support the organic struggles of the poor in ways that achieve tangible gains on the ground?

The World Cup has many people in South Africa in a state of collective euphoria. But, when all is said and done, the urban poor in this country will still face evictions, landlessness, homelessness, and lack of access to basic services. Just as they did well before the World Cup. In a little over a week, the soccer world champion will be clear. But the answers to such questions of urban development are those that will be central to the future of this country.

Housing Construction in Portais, City of Osasco

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By Ana Paula Barretto, Interaçao

84 families from an informal settlement in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, will receive keys to formal houses on 3 July. 18 of those families are part of this scheme because of their participation in savings schemes.

Portal do Campo was an informal settlement established around 1999, when the City of Osasco relocated the residents from another informal settlement called Rochdale,. The municipality had promised that land would eventually be provided for the population.

But what was supposed to be temporary became permanent. So in 2007, the City of Osasco purchased the Portais area, which includes Portal do Campo and Portal Menck, to develop a new housing project.

The residents are receiving rental vouchers from the City, while they are wait for the project’s completion. The City is finishing the first stage of the housing project, with 84 units from what is planned to be a total of 600. The criteria adopted to decide which families would enter the new houses first included participation in negotiations with authorities and community meetings, as well as family size, need, and length of time staying in the settlement.

In Portais there are 7 savings groups with 252 savers. They have shown their capacity and confidence through their participation, dedication and organization in this project. Because of their engagement and commitment, 18 savers were included on this first stage.

This project was also written up in Sao Paulo-based magazine Epoca (Portuguese only).

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Ugandan Federation Breaks Ground in Kawama

By Lutwama Muhammed

The Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation began work on a low-cost housing project for 250 families in Kawama, Jinja, last week. The Federation was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by Michael Werikhe, national Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development. The project is on 7.6 acres of land granted to the federation by Jinja municipal council after a long process of negotiation between slum dwellers and the council.

The ceremony coincided with the 29th Annual General Meeting of Shelter Afrique in Uganda from 13 to 17 June. Slum dwellers participated by showcasing their activities and demonstrating low-cost house models. The modeling event took place in Jinja and over 1500 federation members from the cities of Arua, Mbale, Kabale, Mbarara, Kampala, and Jinja were in attendance.

Among the Shelter Afrique delegates were ministers of housing from Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Namibia, and Nigeria. In addition, directors and heads of delegations from Gambia, Malawi, and Zambia, attended alongside Ugandan government officials.

In his remarks, Werikhe expressed commitment and readiness to support Ugandan slum dwellers by allocating them land that is available in Jinja, as well as to find resources to buy land for slum dwellers in Kampala. He added that his government is very positive about the federation’s community-led process and thanked SDI and ACTogether for spearheading such initiatives in Uganda.

SDI coordinator Rose Molokoane thanked the governments of Namibia and Malawi for the tremendous support that they have offered SDI-affiliated federations in their respective countries, and requested the government of Uganda to eumlate what other countries are doing to support slum dwellers to realize their human rights to housing, security of tenure, and basic services.

SDI affiliates from Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, and South Africa, also shared their experience using savings as an organizing tool to influence their governments. The visitors highlighted that “we are not just beggars. We meet the government half way.”

 

New houses in Chamazi

By Tim Ndezi, CCI Tanzania

A couple of photos from the Chamazi housing project in Tanzania. Through a collaborative process with other actors, the Federation has managed to influence Temeke Municipal Council and the Ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlement Development to reduce the plot sizes from the minimum of 400 square meters to 150 square meters. This is being implemented at Chamazi resettlement housing project. Furthermore the Federation has also participated in the development of the unit title and mortgage finance laws. These housing laws are expected to put in place mechanism for improving housing stock in the urban areas.

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Concrete Future

By Ahona Ghosh 

Originally published by Outlook Business magazine (India).

Every day, 65-year-old Sudhir Jagtap, a retired government peon, takes a walk down the narrow alleys of Mother Teresa Nagar slum in Pune to see how far the construction of his new house has progressed. Unlike the crumbling, squalid tin-roofed shack that he has called home for the past 25 years, Jagtap’s new concrete house will have bigger rooms and its own toilet and kitchen. But, more than the stability of concrete and cleanliness, what matters most to him is the fact that the new house will be legal—that his family will own the title, at least for the next 99 years. Looking at the under-construction house, the short, wiry man mumbles: “I don’t know when it will be completed, but they’re doing good work.”

Mother Teresa Nagar is one of seven Pune slums selected for a pilot project under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission’s (JNNURM) plan to improve the living conditions of the urban poor. The programme, rather insipidly titled Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP), was launched about 15 months ago. Under it, the national, state and city authorities tie up with NGOs to develop resettlement and rehabilitation solutions for slum-dwellers.

About 17% of the world’s slum population lives in India. Authorities have tried everything from eviction and demolition to resettlement and selling slum areas in the open market to resolve the problem. But their success has been partial at best. The slum rehabilitation effort in Pune, however, is very different.

Team Work

The project follows an in situ rehabilitation model. Essentially, that means reconstructing and upgrading slums where they are, without moving the residents. Under the BSUP project, about 1,200 families in seven slum areas of Pune—Mother Teresa Nagar, Yashwant Nagar, Bhat Wasti, Netaji Nagar, Sheela Salve Nagar, Wadar Wasti and Chandrama Nagar—will be rehabilitated in upgraded, rebuilt houses. Rs 3 lakh has been allotted for the construction of each house, of which 90% (Rs 2,70,000) will be funded by central, state and civic bodies with the slum-dwellers paying the remaining 10%. They pay Rs 10,000 initially and the remaining Rs 20,000 in four instalments.

According to the grant regulations, all houses are to have an area of 270 sq ft. At about Rs 850 a square foot, the new houses have an estimated value of Rs 2.29 lakh. The rest of the Rs 3 lakh grant goes into conducting surveys and workshops to engage the slum-dwellers. Once the houses are rebuilt, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will grant a 99-year tenancy lease in the name of the head of each household and establish these slums as legal colonies.

Giving slum-dwellers legitimacy and a chance to restore their dignity is in itself a big achievement, but what is far more significant is the extent of community participation in the programme. That has come about thanks to the partnership with NGOs.

At the start of the project, the PMC invited tenders from NGOs for reconstruction of the houses. The Mumbai-based Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) bagged the contract to upgrade 750 homes out of a total of 1,200. It works closely with two other sister organisations—the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) which comprises pavement and slum-dwellers, and Mahila Milan (MM), a network of women’s collectives organised around savings and credit. Avinash Salve, a PMC Corporator from the Yerwada area, is all praise for their efforts. “Without the help of NGOs like SPARC, the process would have been very tedious for us,” he says.

Hand-Holding

The presence of the NGOs helps in addressing many of the concerns of the slum-dwellers. One big impact is that the potential beneficiaries become active participants in their rehabilitation. Says SPARC founder Sheela Patel: “Our goal is to demonstrate, through such projects, what communities can achieve when drawn in as participants.”

First, there is free flow of communication and information. The NGOs invest a lot of time in convincing the slum residents about the benefits of joining the scheme. There are quite a few fence-sitters, the majority of whom hold back because of financial insecurity; others simply do not trust the authorities. “We take ropes and mark out 270 sq ft to make them understand the increase in space,” says Jon Rainbow, SPARC’s Project Co-ordinator. They also present the slum-dwellers with scale models of the houses—made of cloth and timber—to help them appreciate the benefits of moving into new, bigger houses.

The consultations ensure that the slum-dwellers have a say in the design and planning of the houses. “Interactions like these help them better understand issues and communicate their needs to architects and government officials,” says Patel. On their part, the NGOs have hired a civil engineer, who works closely with PMC officials.

The discussions go on until the new home-owners move in. Of course, sometimes, the exchange of ideas results in disagreements. For instance, the PMC has enforced a 10-metre height restriction on these buildings, which the NGOs oppose. Says Dhannanjay Tukaram Sadalapure, Mahila Milan’s civil engineer: “It makes sense to build vertically as the ground space is often limited in these slums.” His proposal for construction of four-storeyed houses is still pending with the corporation.

Says Kedar Vaze, junior engineer from the corporation, and one of the supervisors of the project: “We are in talks and should soon approve it.”

Another problem cropped up when, halfway through the project, the PMC asked for proof of occupancy dating prior to 1995 from the slum-dwellers. “That was an absurd demand and impossible to fulfil,” points out Rainbow. In the end, the PMC abandoned the condition, but by then work had been delayed by a month.

The loss of time comes at a critical juncture. The corporation is already facing the heat from the state and central governments to finish the first phase of the project and complete 300 houses within 15 months. Nine of those months have already gone by but work has started on just around 20 houses.

Still, neither the PMC nor the NGOs appear to be discouraged by the slow progress. “About 100 houses are being processed and we will try our best to finish 300 by September this year,” says PMC’s Salve. SPARC’s Patel agrees. “We will take time to build the first 50 houses. After that, it will move faster as issues begin to get ironed out.”

Money Talks

The NGOs also have plans to help the slum-dwellers get loans and jobs. Most of them earn between Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,000 a month, and struggle to pay even the token 10% charged by the government towards construction. Pramila Malik Pawar is candid about her need for monetary support. Pawar’s husband, a factory worker, recently had an accident and lost his leg. Her son, the only earning member, works as a driver and earns Rs 2,000 a month. “I have already paid the initial Rs 10,000. Now, I am struggling to pay the instalments. I need help,” says the housewife from Mother Teresa Nagar.

One way out is through microfinance loans. “No slum-dweller can pay the 10% contribution at one go,” points out Jockin Arputham, President of NSDF. He says he is in talks with a few microfinance institutions (MFIs) to help slum residents secure loans to pay the initial loan amount as well as the instalments.

Mahila Milan has a more innovative solution. The organisation is offering construction jobs on the site to people who cannot afford their initial loan amounts.

“Currently, we have employed about 12 people. Once the pace of construction picks up, we expect this number to increase six-fold,” says Savita Sonawane, leader of Mahila Milan, Pune. Mahila Milan’s members also collect socio-economic details and conduct biometric surveys of each household’s members. They submit these details to the municipal corporation, which maintains a record.

Transit Problems

A major challenge, however, is transit housing. There is no budgetary provision for transit camps under the JNNURM scheme. Most people are forced to stay with relatives or in rented rooms when their shacks are demolished to make way for the new houses. Says Arputham: “These people cannot pay for transit camps and also pay up 10% of the loan.” Ideally, the project should include budgetary provisions for such transitory housing. Corporator Salve says he is helpless: “Transit camps are not the business of the PMC.”

Still, some effort is being made. The PMC has released government land to build transit homes for the residents of Chandrama Nagar slum. The NGOs are trying to raise funds to build these camps, which will cost Rs 20,000-25,000 per household. “We have approached the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They have shown interest in helping,” says Arputham.

It’s just a small beginning, but it’s a good beginning. And it will enable many like Jagtap to have a concrete future.

Epworth finishes enumeration, starts mapping

By George Masimba, Dialogue on Shelter

Below are new photos from Epworth outside Harare, Zimbabwe. The federation there has been undertaking an enumeration and mapping exercise in order to pursue incremental upgrading of the informal settlement. A larger article on the enumeration project can be found here.

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pictured above: One of the first houses being enumerated by Federation enumerators in Epworth Ward 7.

 

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pictured above: Mapping pictures in Epworth ward 7.

 

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pictured above: Shack and plot boundaries mapping underway in Epworth’s Ward 7.

Harare Slum Dwellers Lead their Development

By George Masimba, People’s Dialogue on Shelter, Zimbabwe

The alliance of the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter in collaboration with the Epworth Local Board, Epworth community members, Ward 7 Development Committee, Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities and Practical Action is currently undertaking an enumeration exercise in Epworth. The enumeration has also drawn 6 students from University of Zimbabwe’s departments of Rural and Urban Planning, Sociology and Surveying and Geo-Informatics who are supporting around data collection, collation and mapping issues. The enumeration exercise follows the profiling exercise that was conducted in May 2009. Whilst the profiling exercise assessed Epworth’s developmental issues from a broad settlement perspective, the enumeration now seeks to gather detailed information at the household level. The intention of the whole exercise is to create information that can be used by various stakeholders as a developmental tool.

The first phase of the enumeration process commenced with Ward 7 where data collection has since been completed. A total of 6252 households were interviewed during the enumeration exercise which was also graced by SDI (Slum Dwellers International) partners from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Namibian who have conducted similar processes in their own countries. A total of 120 enumerators participated in the data collection exercise and these were drawn from the Federation, Dialogue on Shelter, Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, Epworth community members, Ward 7 development committee and SDI countries.

Epworth Ward 7 Background

Epworth’s Ward 7 falls under ‘magada’ which is a name for areas that were informally occupied by the residents. Since the ward is predominantly informal, there are no basic services such as reticulated water and sewer network. More significantly, the residents do not have security of tenure. It is against this backdrop that the Epworth chapter of the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation chose to target this settlement. That is, the enumeration is therefore hoped to kick-start and facilitate upgrading and redevelopment activities in the ward through granting of secure tenure and provision of basic services.  The enumeration will thus enable the residents to define and direct this upgrading process through the information that has been collected from every household.

Currently, ward 7 residents under the auspices of the local development committee have managed to produce a strategic plan for their area as well as a commissioning a surveyor to do a topographical survey. This work needs to be linked with the mapping exercise that is part of the wider enumeration process. Thus, in addition to the socio-economic data, the enumeration will also involve generating satellite images depicting the current spatial elements in terms of existing plot boundaries and structures (houses). The rationale behind this is to ensure that the layout plan for the area will be informed to the extent possible by the existing realities on the ground. At the most successful, this approach will minimise displacements.

Socio-economic data – the key issues

The socio-economic data was collected from each household in ward 7 since the envisaged upgrading will be inclusive of all the current residents. In particular, the survey tool probed household information and the views of the residents regarding upgrading. For instance, the residents were asked to prioritise services requirements as well as stands they were likely to afford bearing in mind that most of the existing plots were very big. Furthermore, the possibilities of giving up some of their land was also raised during the community meetings and survey in order to accommodate services such as roads.

Mapping data – the key issues

The mapping exercise which should be started once the satellite images have been secured will be interested in identifying current plot boundaries and structures. However, apart from just identifying these elements, the mapping exercise will also help to show sizes of existing plots and the number of households on the plot. This information will help to explore the possibilities of accommodating a number of households on a plot depending on its size. At the end, each questionnaire will be able to be linked to each structure on the map and this will greatly inform the planning process. All this will be made possible through digitizing the images using GIS (geographic information systems) tools.

Current activities

Following the data collection exercise, collation of information has since started. A dual approach is being used in the data capturing whereby one team is keying in the information manually while the other team is entering the data electronically on a computer database. This strategy has multiple benefits. It has not only provided greater scope for wider participation for the community members but also allows for cross-checking the results.

 

Old Fadama Residents Count Themselves

By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI Secretariat

The community of Old Fadama in Accra, Ghana, along with the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor, have completed a landmark enumeration report of the historic informal settlement. When faced with a forced eviction threat by municipal authorities in August 2009, the community constituted a new leadership structure, the Old Fadama Development Association (OFADA), and engaged the Federation to assist in conducting the enumeration. “When the eviction order came it was like a spontaneous response by the community to unite to fight this,” said OFADA executive committee member and Federation president Philip Kumah.

The municipality agreed to forego further threat of eviction until after it had the baseline data to be part of its considerations regarding the development of the settlement. The community partnered with People’s Dialogue on Human Settlements for the survey activities in November and December 2009.

For the community and OFADA, the rationale behind the enumeration was to allow the residents of Old Fadama to take control of their own developmental processes, including the possibilities of relocation or development in situ. “If we say we will pull Old Fadama down, we will do it. The government must listen to the community,” said Frederick Opoku, a member of the OFADA executive committee. “We can even plan the township properly.”

The enumeration survey’s findings include the revelation that the population numbers are vastly higher than those based on sampling and conjecture that have been previously quoted by public authorities and the press. According to the survey that the community conducted through door-to-door questionnaires, just under 80,000 inhabitants call Old Fadama home. A previous community enumeration in 2007 found that 48,280 people lived in the settlement, but this count did not include the large numbers of head porters who mainly live in group, dormitory-style accommodation.

The Old Fadama community has faced eviction threats from municipal authorities for much of the past decade. The community is a unique heteregeneous mix of religions and cultural groups from all over the country. Abu Haruna, a Federation leader and Old Fadama resident, described the settlement as a “United Nations of Ghana.” The emergence of the Federation in Old Fadama, home to the first Ghanaian federation savings schemes, was linked to another eviction threat in 2002.

The community has a long experience with destructive fires that spread quickly in the dense settlement, mainly made up of wooden structures. A fire two weeks ago destroyed about 200 stalls in a market (see above photo). Residents have been afraid to build with materials other than wood for fear of imminent eviction. But newer structures are being made with concrete as the community now fears fire — there have been three major fires in the past six months — even more than eviction, according to Kumah.

For the full enumeration report click here.