Cleaner Cooking in Slums

People-driven Initiative for Cleaner Cooking and Improved Women and Child Health in Slum Communities

Toxic smoke of household cooking with charcoal or paraffin kills 4.3 million people annually (more than HIV/AIDS and Malaria combined) and primarily affects women and children. In slums, the indoor air pollution risks are coupled with grave risk of fires that frequently destroy lives and livelihoods.

SDI’s people-driven clean cooking initiative improves public health in slum communities by providing valuable solutions for the poorest households – especially women and children. Click above to learn more. 

What does it mean to “Know Your City” in South Africa?


**This post originally appeared on the SA SDI Alliance blog.**
By Yolande Hendler and Kwanda Lande (on behalf of CORC)

“What’s the difference when we collect data on our own informal settlements?” – a question that Melanie and Nozuko asked to a packed room of 150 people, including the South African Minister of Human SettIements, Lindiwe Sisulu. As urban poor residents and coordinators of social movements (FEDUP and ISN), it was noteworthy that both Nozuko and Melanie shared the stage with the minister as equals.

Nozuko Fulani speaking together with FEDUP Chairperson, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and ISN’s Melanie Johnson in a panel discussion on data collection from vulnerable population.
Nozuko (far right) sharing the stage with FEDUP Chairperson Rose Molokoane (far left), Minister Lindiwe Sisulu (centre left) and ISN’s Melanie Johnson (centre right) in a panel discussion on data collection from vulnerable population.

In a world in which digital data (including data on informal settlements) is increasingly collected and owned by “experts”, Melanie and Nozuko introduced a different narrative: “As FEDUP and ISN we have profiled 1500 informal settlements in South Africa over the past 20 years.” This is close to half the number informal settlements in South Africa (currently estimated at between 2700 and 3200).

[caption id="attachment_12187" align="alignnone" width="768"]SAMSUNG CSC Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu, welcoming participants of the conference and setting the stage for a conversation to share ideas and experiences.[/caption]


On 7 September 2017, the South African SDI Alliance co-hosted the Digital Impact World Tour with SDI and the US-based Stanford Centre for Philanthropy and Civil Society in Cape Town’s Langa township. This one-day “stop” – the eighth on the tour and the first in Africa – discussed the role of data collection in the production of social change in the digital age, and in particular the power of community-gathered data for partnerships with local governments.

Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu, welcoming participants of the conference and setting the Setting the stage for a conversation to share ideas and experiences.
Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu, welcoming participants of the conference and setting the stage for a conversation to share ideas and experiences.

With people in attendance who represent fellow slum dweller social movements, civil society, funders, academics, government at all tiers and private sector actors, the event reinforced a commitment to ensure that urban poor communities are part of and shape the conversation. On behalf of informal settlement residents affiliated to FEDUP and ISN, Melanie and Nozuko spoke about the core of community-gathered data:

To us, data collection is about organising communities. We don’t just collect information but collect people too. The minute we start collecting data about ourselves, we begin to understand ourselves as a collective and in a fairly deeper way.

We understand the context of our settlements and we go deep into the household level when collecting data. When we profile and enumerate settlements, data is collected by community members living in that settlement. We make sure that we count everyone. This is why sometimes when you compare our data and government’s data they are totally different. We also communicate the data back to our communities in a way that communities understand – government does not always do this.

This data helps us to make our own community based plans. It is about looking at problems from our point of view and finding solutions. It is about opening up a space to plan for our own upgrading. It is necessary for government to get involved because we do have solutions on the ground.

[caption id="attachment_12189" align="alignnone" width="768"]SAMSUNG CSC Melanie speaking during panel discussion on data collection from vulnerable populations.[/caption]


Amidst conversations on digital dependencies and innovative digital organisations, the urgency for government to “get involved” and support community-gathered data was evident. This emerged strongly in contributions made by members of the broader SDI network, South African SDI Alliance, Social Justice Coalition and International Budget Partnership, a fellow social movement and partner in the sector, who spoke about community-gathered data through social audits.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="768"]SAMSUNG CSC Fellow partners making contributions based on their own experiences and work that they are doing.[/caption]


The task to the minister and all government representatives in the room was clear, whether local, provincial or national: commit to supporting the Know Your City campaign on community-gathered data for co-productive partnerships between slum dwellers and local governments.

Though organized urban poor communities have been profiling and enumerating their settlements for over 20 years, the campaign (launched in 2014) established a digital platform to house this data and anchor the coproduction of inclusive urban development by communities, city governments and global urban development actors.

We have the power, ability and knowledge to collect data and organise our communities but what we want is for government to walk with us. We already started but we need a partnership to scale up our efforts. We want support from government, non-government organisations, private sector and academia.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="768"]SAMSUNG CSC Rose participating during the conference and emphasising the importance of partnerships between communities and government.[/caption]


The minister committed to financially supporting the work of community-gathered data in cities across South Africa. For South African organisations and movements in the sector, THE next steps are clear: “We need to follow up the minister’s pledge to support data collection by informal settlement residents for all organisations” (Rose Molokoane, national SA Alliance coordinator).

So what is the difference with community-gathered data? “It’s about organizing ourselves, understanding ourselves and our settlements. It’s about making our own development plans, partnering with our local governments and sharing a stage as equals. It’s about Knowing Our City.”

[caption id="attachment_12190" align="alignnone" width="768"]SAMSUNG CSC Minister Lindiwe Sisulu committing that her department will support communities in data collection of their settlements.[/caption]



Know Your City TV Launches in Kenya

Photo: Nicera Wanjiru

Photo: Nicera Wanjiru

**This article was originally featured on the Muungano wa Wanavijiji blog.**

By Jack Makau

Art has always been central to the struggle of the Kenyan slum dweller for a place in the city. From the prayer associated with the ‘theatre of the oppressed’, to puppetry, traditional and contemporary music, graffiti, film making, and, more recently, social media action, the Kenyan slum dweller story has a rich tradition of art expression.

This year, building on this tradition, Muungano is investing—alongside its perennial search for slum upgrading solutions—in film making and new media, working with Know Your City TV.

Muungano sees that the slum upgrading narrative can benefit from taking pause and engendering an understanding… What does it actually mean to live in a slum? What is it about the slum that makes it such a stubborn development challenge?

It started with a prayer

Sometimes, in the 1990s, when the opportunity presented itself and slum dwellers had occasion to meet local chiefs or government officials—and knowing full well that piety is an assumed quality of the poor—an opening and closing prayer would feature prominently.

Ordinarily, beyond the prayers, Kenyan slum dwellers in the 1990s had their rights to association and expression severely curtailed. And so the opening prayer became a skit, a safe way to set the agenda for a meeting.

The prayer would go, “Our blessed Lord in heaven, we pray for the success of this malaria awareness workshop, we thank you blessed Lord that because of this workshop there will now be an alternative to demolishing the homes by the river. We worship you because those families, your prayerful children bowed here before you, are saved from malaria and demolition. We exalt you for touching the heart of our dear chief, your child that you chose to lead us, to bring this workshop instead. We pray that you continue to give her great wisdom …”

And the closing prayer then became another skit—a way to redirect the conclusions of the meeting.  “Dear blessed Lord, maker of all things possible, we thank you for allowing our dear chief to sit and discuss with us. We pray that you give her the strength and show her your way to intervene with your higher leaders on behalf of your lowly children, blessed Saviour. We know precious Lord that you allow the writing of demolition notices and you can in your grace unwrite those notices, even without us having to visit those higher offices. Let your will be done through her hands …”

Twenty years on, and the civil space for slum dwellers is markedly more open. The slums are no longer condemned to demolition, and slum dwellers are instead enjoined with the state in a frustrated endeavour to upgrade housing, infrastructure, and livelihoods. It is no longer a question of whether the slums have a right to the city, but how that right can be achieved in settlements of seemingly intractable complexity.

The prayer is no longer necessary. Yet art is still indispensable as a way in which difficulty in the slum discussion is managed.

Photo: Nicera Wanjiru

Photo: Nicera Wanjiru

Using art to make planning possible

In June 2017, Muungano launched a local chapter of SDI’s Know Your City TV project, known as KYC TV Kenya.  Supported by Cities Alliance and GIZ, the project equips youth with video documentation resources to tell stories of the lived experiences of the urban poor, and make media that contributes to the transformation of slums and cities.

The project began with recruiting, equipping, and training 20 youth from Mukuru slums in Nairobi. The Mukuru slums sit on 647 acres and are home to 100,000 households. Earlier this year, in March, the slum was designated as a ‘special planning area’ of the Nairobi county government. This designation is a first for slums in Kenya: it recognises that existing city planning laws and procedures cannot be used to address the slums’ complicated land tenure arrangements, improve on very low levels of provision of services like water and sanitation, and upgrade the largely iron sheet housing stock.

The initial focus of KYC TV Kenya is to bring the reality of Mukuru to the fore—to be able to reach, and, using short drama and documentaries, give insights to the planning process. Using art to make planning possible.

The first set of films are supported by Caritas Switzerland, SDI, and the Stockholm Environmental Institute, all organisations that are part of the County’s special planning effort in Mukuru.

Early in September, KYC TV Kenya announced that it would release its first five films at the Mukuru Film Festival, to be held on the 4th of October in Nairobi.

KYC.TV Kenya’s first few offerings. In the fight against global urban poverty, youth from Kenya’s informal settlements are using the power of film to share the fabric of their community with the world and to give voice to slum communities.

What is KYC.TV ?

Know Your City TV puts the power of storytelling into the hands of urban poor youth. By equipping youth with video documentation skills and resources they are able to share stories of the lived experiences of the urban poor with the world by making media that contributes to the transformation of slums and cities.

Young people are at the forefront when it comes to technology. The expansion of smart phones across the Global South has made it much easier for urban poor youth to capture their surroundings and start conversations about the issues that need to be addressed when transforming slums and cities. The KYC.TV project is bridging the north-south tech divide by creating space for urban poor youth to share the stories of their communities with the world.

The KYC.TV process starts with workshops that provide basic gear, filming, and editing training to groups of youth from the slums. These skills are put to use in making short informational or music videos that allow the youth filmmakers to practice and perfect their skills. Through the filming courses, youth gain a set of skills and equipment that they can use to act as advocates for their communities, and improve their livelihood opportunities.

Photo: KYC.TV

Photo: KYC.TV