In July 2013 the Southern Africa Regional Hub – consisting of the SDI-affiliated urban poor federations from South Africa, Malawi, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, and Botswana – met in Windhoek, Namibia. The meeting allowed affiliates to report on the progress and challenges faced by their various processes and plot future strategies and work plans, bearing in mind regional trends. The meeting was an ideal learning platform for new processes such as Swaziland, Botswana and Angola who are being drawn into the SDI fold. Key issues discussed included sustainability within the scope of diminishing donor funding, challenges of loan repayment (especially around housing), strengthening of the community voice and leadership, shared learning across border towns in different countries, the possibility of a regional hub fund and organizing to prevent evictions.
A key aspect of this hub meeting was that it allowed affiliates to think collectively about challenges which they all face (e.g. diminishing resources) and propose actions at a regional level. This scale of engagement enables strategic cross-pollination of knowledge and planning to address challenges that cut across geographical boundaries. The strength of numbers replicated in a broad-based approach to citywide change can be replicated and achieve added political clout when affiliates strategize collectively to meet challenges.
While Namibia used discussions and field visits to critically address the issue of non-repayment of housing loans (a challenge reflected in most Southern African processes) it was felt that the meeting could also have attempted to develop the Windhoek process’ stalled relationship with government. Being used to the political advantage of the local process is also an important component of regional hub meetings. The full report outlines the key activities, discussions and reflections while providing a list of the agreed upon outputs. Discussions are contextualized within SDI’s overarching goals of strengthening local government and building a strong community process.
Click here to read the full Southern Africa regional hub meeting report.