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.