Turning Evidence to Influence at Forums in Monrovia

by James Tayler

Liberia ProfilingIMG_0797


As of 2017, the Federation of Liberia Urban Poor Savers (FOLUPS) has organized 62 groups in 2 cities. In July 2016, as part of the Cities Alliance-supported Liberia Country Program (LCP), slum dwellers in Liberia began profiling, enumerating, and mapping their settlements. This year, the federation conducted the citywide slum profiling and mapping of Greater Monrovia Area and fully enumerated West Point, one of Monrovia’s settlements most at risk of coastal flooding and eviction. While organising communities to undertake this feat was historic, the federation had more organising work to do in order to influence planning.


Based on lessons learned from their peers in Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana, the Liberians decided to organize settlement forums to interrogate the data with the community and extract priorities for slum upgrading and the City Development Strategy. In June, the federation convened its first forums. In West Point, Clara Town, Peace Island, and Duport Cow Field Community, the federation convened spaces for residents and officials to return and verify the information gathered and to generate consensus on the interventions required to transform their settlements into safer, healthier neighborhoods. SDI federation leaders from Uganda and Kenya supported the establishment of these settlement forums, which will continue to be used for community planning and identification of projects to be funded by the Community Upgrading Fund set to launch next year. Collaboration is a key hallmark of the Cities Alliance Country Programs and SDI is proud to play a lead role in community organizing across the programs in Africa.


These efforts positioned the federation as a key player in the first Monrovia City Forum held at the Monrovia City Council in February 2017. The slum dwellers stood out for their in-depth knowledge of informal settlements across the city and their readiness to partner in development of the National Urban Policy, the Monrovia City Development Strategy, and frameworks under development including the Slum Upgrading Strategy and Affordable Housing Framework. FOLUPS presented on their efforts to build a culture of savings and active citizenship in Greater Monrovia. The Liberia federation aims to improve tenure security, services, and housing for the urban poor.

The Liberia slum dweller federation efforts contribute to improved city resilience through building effective mechanisms for community partnership with government, collaborative hazard monitoring and risk assessment, and proactive multi-stakeholder collaboration to develop inclusive urban policy frameworks.

This post is part of a series of case studies from our 2017 Annual Report titled ‘The Road to Resilience.’ Emerging from the field of ecology,  ‘resilience’  describes the capacity of a system to maintain or recover from disruption or disturbance. Cities are also complex systems and a resilience framework addresses the inter- connectedness of formal and informal city futures. Moreover, it enables a nuanced reflection on the nature of shocks and chronic stressors – recognising that the latter are particularly acute in slum dweller communities and that this critically undermines the entire city’s economic, social, political, and environmental resilience.As with personal resilience, city resilience demands awareness, acknowledgment of reality, and a capacity to move beyond reactivity to responses that are proactive, thoughtful, and beneficial to the whole. The most enlightened individuals and cities will be those that understand their responsibility to the most vulnerable and to the planet. Our 2017 Annual Report showcases some of SDI’s achievements over the past year on the road to resilience. Click here for the full report.