Know Your City takes Latin America by storm!


Earlier this month, delegates from countries across Latin America gathered in Lima, Peru for the inaugural Know Your City Latin America learning exchange.  The exchange was a success, providing an important opportunity for community groups and their support organizations engaged in Know Your City community-driven data collection work to develop a shared vision for the Know Your City Latin America campaign and to learn more about SDI’s governance, tools, and methodologies. Participants were able to build a solid basis for further collaboration in the region, affirming their interest in strengthening peer learning and experiential exchanges with the SDI network.

Some of the highlights and key learnings from the exchange are outlined by the team below.

Some of our key achievements & outcomes:

  • We identified the need to develop a vision for SDI in Latin America as a top priority, understanding that the Know Your City work is an entry point – an opportunity for SDI to establish links in Latin America and for us to get to know each other;
  • We developed a general understanding of SDI, including the Theory of Change, governance systems, and federation membership;
  • We learned about SDI’s expectations around calls for funds, contracts, reporting, and budgeting;


We discussed what makes SDI ‘different’ and ‘attractive’ in its approach to addressing urban poverty. Some of the key points include:

  • SDI’s practical approaching, with the entry points into community organisation being rooted in concrete actions and practical tools such as data collection and daily savings, as opposed to a political or institutionalised network. This speaks to SDI’s being rooted in urban poor communities in need of everyday solutions.
  • SDI’s priorities come from the bottom up, determined by demand from the communities themselves.
  • There is huge potential for intercontinental peer learning through engagement with and in the SDI network. The size, scope, and reputation of the SDI network give credibility and leverage to local struggles.


In drawing the week of learning to a close, a number of items were identified to take forward the energy and learnings from time together in Lima. Some of these include:

  • Deeper learning on use of data collection tools, including SDI’s web-based data platform. A series of tutorials was proposed and is already in the planning stages.
  • Increased learning on savings and mobilization through tutorials and experience sharing
  • Regular group calls to follow up on successes, challenges, and ongoing work
  • Producing / translating SDI content into Spanish in order to keep the Latin American groups up to date on the latest SDI news, ideally via social media, newsletters, WhatsApp, etc.
  • Deeper learning on advocacy strategy and achievements from across the network. There was particular interest in learning more about the South Africans’ experience managing government subsidies and upgrading funds.
  • A request emerged for the Brazilians plus 2-3 other Latin American communities to participate in an African Regional Hub meeting in 2019
  • Adding further resources to the Google Drive folder established for the exchange in order to make it a resource centre for Latin American groups.

There was an undeniable interest among the groups present to learn more about SDI and become increasingly engaged as part of the SDI family. The role of the Brazilian federation was highlighted as being crucial in bridging regional, cultural, and language gaps in this process. There are great opportunities for impactful work, but it was noted that this will require energy, resources, and support from the SDI network, and an open-mindedness to adapting language and opening to complementary approaches and models linked to existing networks and spaces in Latin America.



Remembering Jockin Arputham: SDI’s president, leader, mentor, & friend

Jockin visiting Mathare Slum_2

By Joel Bolnick, lifelong friend and colleague, and manager of SDI Secretariat

I am very angry that Jockin has died. Anger is a normal response to the death of someone you love and admire. But the thing about Jockin is that you could never be angry with him for long, no matter how much he provoked you with his energy, his vision, his dogmatic certainties and his commitment – all of which knew no bounds and were always ferociously executed.

The many tens of thousands of people who met him would soon feel his magnetism. He was an enormously charismatic human being. He was an unstoppable force for good and an unbelievable champion of the urban poor. For their rights most certainly but at the same time for their humanity and for the recognition – not yet won – that they were not a mass of thugs, victims, or guinea pigs. Instead he was determined to show the ever growing number of people who understood the importance of listening to him that the capacities, the resilience, and the collective wisdom of the urban poor presented humanity with a blue print for survival and for a better future.

This makes me think of Jockin’s Mandela-like tolerance. It was not weak and compromising like a few have had the temerity to argue – but a tolerance of others that came from complete self-assurance and a deep understanding that resolution of conflict comes from seeing your own humanity in those that the gross inequalities of life forced you to challenge.

And challenge the rich and powerful Jockin most certainly did; not to score ideological and abstract victories (although he certainly understood their value) but to make a real, tangible differences in the lives of poor people.

This was something he delivered in spades all over the world. Few, if any organizations, can demonstrate a similar scale and depth in terms of their impact on poor communities – through securing tenure, installing drainage, upgrading services and incrementally building houses.

This required superhuman energy and courage. It required a brilliant mind. It required a capacity to see opportunities and seize them. Most of all, it required the capacity to mobilize, humanize, conscientize and inspire people like himself, people downtrodden, excluded, evicted, exploited, and objectified.

I am angry because my best friend is gone. The silence is deafening. No more the deep discussions, the brilliant strategy sessions, the gentle laughter. No longer the unwavering support of a man whose loyalty was monumental as was his optimism and courage.

My anger is assuaged by the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of people living in slums in over 4,000 cities are also feeling shattered by the deafening silence. But that silence is momentary. Those hundreds of thousands of slum dwellers who belong to Jockin’s beautiful, rag-tag, festive but deeply determined army are on the march. They are the ones that will fill the Jockin-sized hole that the great man has left behind.

IMG_2019 IMG_2081 IMG_2085 IMG_2231 IMG_2232 P1120550 P1120871 P1120741Jocking

Read more messages and remembrances of Jockin’s life here.

Know Your City: the Process, the Platform, and the Campaign

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 11.51.40 AM

The end of 2017 marked the end of a four-year strategic planning period for SDI and the close-out of various projects and contracts in support of implementation of that plan. To report on the successes, challenges, and impact of our work over that time, SDI produced a Basket Fund Close Out report, available in full here. In this series of blog posts, we present excerpts from this report that highlight some of the key learnings and impact of our work over the past four years and point towards areas for continued growth in the new Strategic Plan, launched this year.

Fundamental to effective learning and influence is the quality and accessibility of the knowledge produced. SDI’s commitment to increased rigour in settlement profiling meant that 2013 – 2017 was a watershed period for this work which has come to be known widely as SDI’s Know Your City work and campaign.

The Process

Since the SDI network was founded, grassroots profiling, enumeration and mapping has been at the heart of the organizing process. Pioneered by slum and pavement dwellers in India, community profiles and enumerations have served to organize the urban poor and make informal settlements visible to city authorities throughout the Global South. These data then ground dialogue and partnerships between communities and local government aimed at improved security of tenure, basic services and housing. As such, the information becomes power for the organized slum dwellers who gathered it. Power balances shift between the community and city officials. Instead of beggars or protesters, the community asks officials to recognize them as partners with information and ideas for how to make changes that will benefit cities and informal settlements. For over 20 years, SDI’s peer-to-peer exchange programs have helped to spread and refine the practise of community-led profiling and enumeration from the congested slums of Mumbai throughout SDI’s network of close to 30 federations. As more and more federations undertook the process, it became clear that the data could play a powerful role in global advocacy aimed at enhancing the hand of each local federation to influence urban policy and practice. Without a measure of standardization in data collection tools and a transition to digital data management, the aggregation and dissemination of data is limited. SDI federations agreed to design a single, standardized informal settlement profile tool and to adopt and co-design support technologies to enhance data accessibility.

The Platform

The decision was made to create a Know Your City (KYC) data platform to house and analyze the SDI network’s slum settlement data. The federations remained laser focused on their principles and insisted: technological support and standardization could not substitute face-to-face engagement; the technology had to be simple and was pointless if not useful to local communities; and the transition had to ensure it did not exclude those without technological capacity. Two iterations of the KYC platform have been developed in conjunction with community profilers and enumerators throughout the network. KYC 1.0 proved that SDI’s profiling and enumeration processes could use standardized tools to enable global aggregation, while preserving the community organizing and inclusive social processes that give SDI’s data its power. KYC 2.0 proved this data would be of tremendous use to communities, governments and development partners in understanding informality and guiding upgrading plans. KYC 3.0 seeks to institutionalize people-driven data as the core starting point for building and monitoring inclusive and resilient city development. To do so, the platform and the community process must step up to yet another level in terms of its accessibility, data rigor, and data visualizations. This new iteration will reflect SDI’s improved TOC and measurement of resilience outcomes and will be housed on SDI’s own platform built in Bangalore by the federation’s partners.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 10.59.18

The Campaign

Community-managed profiling and mapping and the KYC data platform are the two legs upon which the Know Your City campaign stands. In 2014, SDI, Cities Alliance and UCLG-A launched the Know Your City campaign in order to promote the institutionalization of people-driven data in government and development partner programing. At the conclusion of 2016, SDI signed a new MOU with UCLG-A to expand partner cities and is working with Cities Alliance to embed people-driven data in all its global programing, monitoring and evaluation. Cities Alliance has supported a Joint Work Program (JWP) to expand the reach of KYC. The Know Your City campaign has proven its capacity to anchor partnership through the organization of slum dwellers at city scale to gather data on the informal settlements. Local government-community partnerships then use this data to set baselines, plan and monitor development interventions, inform policy and practice, co-produce upgrading agendas, and jointly implement urban development that fully capitalizes on the comparative advantages of each party. SDI is partnering with the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) to expand the campaign throughout Asia. In phase 1, settlement profiling was carried out by communities in Davao Philippines; Jhenaidah, Bangladesh; Jogjakarta, Indonesia; Yangon, Myanmar; and Battambang, Cambodia.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 11.02.43

Change Story 2: KYC Campaign Touches Down in Latin America

This year, SDI expanded the Know Your City campaign to Latin America to support organized urban poor communities looking to use community-led profiling and mapping to catalyze dialogue with government and/or other potential collaborators to improve the lives of the poor. Small support grants for this work will be available to organizations who show that organized urban poor communities are working toward outcome level change in their settlement or city linked to: Improved public health and safety; Improved livelihoods; Improved land tenure security; or, Improved strategic influence of the urban poor.

Selected groups will have access to the standarized KYC profiling tools, use of the KYC platform and increased visibility as part of the KYC campaign. The expansion of KYC to Latin American provides an opportunity to connect and network urban poor social movements in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. At the World Urban Forum, SDI secured preliminary commitments from UCLG and partnersh such as TECHO and HFHI to partner in this initiative.

In Recife, the community and support organization INTERAÇÃO (SDI’s Brazil Affiliate) and Habitat for Humanity International are using the KYC framework to strengthen the organization and capacities of poor and vulnerable groups threatened by eviction. Using the data, communities can defend and negotiate for improve tenure security and services. Particular importance will be given to the residents of informal/precarious settlements in the areas most valued and subject to real estate pressure. Information on the different favelas will also be used to develop a city-scale vision that communities will use in proposing or establishing alliances and influencing urban policies. This will serve to strengthen the involvement of these communities and influence the revision process of the Recife Master Plan through spaces for dialogue with the local government in the perspective of ensuring adequate housing spaces for the poorest.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 11.13.30

Profiling Progress per Hub, 2013-2017

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 11.14.54 Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 11.15.05 Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 11.15.19

SDI’s Basket Fund represents a commitment from SDI’s partners to join a global network of slum dweller organizations in their long-term struggle to combat poverty and exclusion in cities. In a development sector dominated by consultants and specialists, SDI adds value as a unique organization channeling resources directly to the poor for the development and implementation of their own strategies for change. This arrangement represents an understanding by SDI’s partners that systemic change won’t be projectized or fall neatly into a funding cycle, but requires long-term multi-pronged collaboration to continuously garrison the gains and push the boundaries.

On both fronts SDI made substantial inroads during the 2013-2017 period. Download the full publication here.

A Learning Centre Emerges in Mukuru, Nairobi


The end of 2017 marked the end of a four-year strategic planning period for SDI and the close-out of various projects and contracts in support of implementation of that plan. To report on the successes, challenges, and impact of our work over that time, SDI produced a Basket Fund Close Out report, available in full here. In this series of blog posts, we present excerpts from this report that highlight some of the key learnings and impact of our work over the past four years and point towards areas for continued growth in the new Strategic Plan, launched this year.

While the city learning centers were identified at the outset of the last Strategic Plan, SDI made a provision to identify project-linked sites of learning as they emerged throughout the network. In the past year, the Mukuru Special Planning Area emerged as a key project-linked learning center used to anchor strategic exchanges.

In Mukuru, Nairobi, the Muungano Alliance (including Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Akiba Mashinani Trust, and SDI Kenya), have been wrestling with the threat of eviction for decades. The Mukuru slums cover almost 650 acres and are home to almost 500,000 people. The challenges facing Mukuru are among the most severe in the city. Muungano’s profiling and enumeration revealed the highest population densities in the city and a high poverty penalty exacted on residents whose access to basic services is controlled by cartels. The area faces severe flooding and — owing to its location in an industrial area — high air, water and soil pollution. Virtually all of the land in Mukuru is privately owned by around 230 different landowners. With this information in hand, Muungano and its partners were able to demonstrate that Mukuru should qualify as a Special Planning Area (SPA) owing to the acute challenges faced by residents (especially flooding).

After long negotiations, the Kenyan Government became convinced and, in August 2017, declared Mukuru to be a Special Planning Area (SPA). It was announced that a two-year window would be provided to SPA partners to develop an integrated development plan that will be included in Nairobi’s city development plan. But the SPA does more than provide a legal basis to a slum upgrade: it represents an evolved approach that goes beyond the county government’s planning department to incorporate all departments of the county, as well as a multidisciplinary consortia of non-state actors ranging from academia to non-government organizations to community based organizations such as the federation.

Thematic consortia are assigned the role of contributing to an inclusive master plan, with robust community engagement being managed by Muungano. Each thematic consortium develops a solution that encompasses the community vision, financing, legal, and spatial dimensions. This process is aimed at producing policy briefs that offer a representative vision and range of solutions to be consolidated through a series of planning studios. This innovative, large-scale, community-based planning is inspiring cities throughout the SDI network.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 11.45.04

Communities profiling, mapping, and documenting conditions in Mukuru to ground the SPA planning process. 

SDI’s Basket Fund represents a commitment from SDI’s partners to join a global network of slum dweller organizations in their long-term struggle to combat poverty and exclusion in cities. In a development sector dominated by consultants and specialists, SDI adds value as a unique organization channeling resources directly to the poor for the development and implementation of their own strategies for change. This arrangement represents an understanding by SDI’s partners that systemic change won’t be projectized or fall neatly into a funding cycle, but requires long-term multi-pronged collaboration to continuously garrison the gains and push the boundaries.

On both fronts SDI made substantial inroads during the 2013-2017 period. Download the full publication here.

Highlights from the Nigeria Federation: A year of hard work shows great results


Port Harcourt Federation volunteers launch a new savings group in Diobu waterfront

Despite being one of the younger affiliates in the SDI network, the Nigerian SDI Alliance – comprised of the Nigeria Slum / Informal Settlement Federation and support NGO Justice & Empowerment Initiatives – is doing impressive work building a solid foundation of networked savings schemes, using community-collected data to negotiate eviction alternatives and improved living conditions for their communities, forming active partnerships with government and other urban decision makers, and building capacity and momentum in local youth to catalyse greater change. Below are  some highlights from the affiliate on their activities over the last year. 

Federation Strengthening

During the period the Federation’s savings groups and membership continued to grow through outreach to new communities and strengthening savings groups in existing Federation communities. In Lagos this was primarily supported by the LGA Coordinator system set up by the Federation in 2017 where 2 strong Federation mobilizers have volunteered to take the lead in supporting other savings groups in their LGA. The LGA Coordinators convene meetings with representatives of the savings groups within their LGA, and also provide support to new groups or reenergize ‘inactive’ groups within their LGA.

The LGA Coordinators also generally serve as point persons for all Federation activities within their LGA (e.g. profiling or enumeration efforts). LGA coordinators effectively serve as ‘second tier’ leadership within the Federation even though there is no formal overall leadership structure.

Additionally, in order to emphasize the importance of savings as a core ritual, the Federation instituted a policy that all Federation volunteers would be required to submit copies of their savings passbooks on a monthly basis to show that they are active savers – this cuts across all aspects of Federation work, including that of the media and the profiling/data teams. This has helped to ensure that all Federation work continues to be anchored by community level savings groups as the fundamental building block of the Federation.


General Manager of Lagos Urban Renewal Agency and his staff in Orisunmibare community for a planning meeting with the Orisunmibare Upgrading Committee

Know Your City

To support community planning and partnerships outlined below, we have developed a number of maps, charts, and graphs that present the Federation’s profiling and enumeration data towards specific purposes. When a community completes profiling – a simple map of the community is produced and given back to the community for their own records and use. In Port Harcourt, towards building a collaboration with the Ministry of Works around improving community drainages, we have also developed drainage maps.


In both Lagos and Port Harcourt the Federation has been working to put their data to work – primarily in the context of engaging with government. In Lagos, our engagement with Lagos Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA) towards upgrading Orisunmibare community (and potentially 2 others) is largely informed by the enumeration process carried out in the community together with several LASURA staff. In Port Harcourt, the Federation is working with both the Water Corporation and the Ministry of Works towards community upgrading efforts – improving access to water on one hand, and improving drainages on the other hand. The interest of the Water Corporation and the Ministry of Works to work with the Federation was, in both cases, piqued by the data that the Federation had already collected.

The Federation has collaborated with the Department of Geography at University of Lagos and LASURA towards localizing and measuring indicators for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 – particularly around access to services and climate change resilience and adaptation. The Federation and JEI developed a household survey module that can be added on to our standard enumeration form to capture data about SDG 11.

Another collaboration that the Federation developed was with the Landlord and Tenant Association of Apapa LGA, tackling access to electricity (overbilling and estimated billing). This partnership evolved from a single paralegal case assisting Federation members wrongfully arrested and detained at the instigation of the electricity distribution company to try to silence their advocacy for better access to services, to an LGA-wide house numbering effort facilitated by the Federation towards negotiating better terms of service with the electricity distribution company. Because of the federation’s efforts, the member of the Lagos State House of Representatives for Apapa LGA and the Police Area Commander have participated in meetings to try to resolve the simmering dispute – and have largely supported the Federation’s position against extortionate billing. This negotiation process is still ongoing, however, it has afforded the Federation a lot of productive learning about mass mobilizing and using data to push for improved access to services, while drawing (political) allies to the cause.


Samuel Akinrolabu with the head of the Landlords and Tenants Association planning for mass house numbering across all of Apapa LGA to generate data to use in negotiations with the electricity distribution company


In Lagos, our partnership with Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency has continued to develop primarily through the process of working towards an inclusive in-situ upgrading process in Orisunmibare community. This process – the first of its kind in Lagos – has included community-level data collection through a participatory enumeration together with LASURA, establishment of a community upgrading committee, and dozens of planning meetings to date. As a result of these efforts, LASURA was able to obtain a budget from the State Government for 2018 to specifically support their engagement in the planning process in Orisunmibare.

Separately, the Lagos Federation has been engaged in an Affordable Housing Working Group set up in 2017 to think through mechanisms and designs for affordable housing in Lagos. The working group includes members from the Lagos State Ministry of Housing as well as a group of urban planning, architecture, and housing professionals. During the period numerous meetings were convened and a proposal for a government-backed housing trust fund that is truly accessible to the urban poor is being developed.

Engaging the Youth 


KYC.TV media team in Port Harcourt on a shoot focused on access to health services in Federation communities

During the reporting period the youth Federation’s Know Your City TV team grew and matured by leaps and bounds – transforming from a group of young Federation members interested in making media, to a much more organized, focused, and talented team taking their own initiative to launch new projects. This transition was anchored by a regular series of trainings, exchanges, and other engagements that served to hone skills, build excitement, deepen engagement of the KYC.TV team with the larger Federation, and sharpen our collective focus on making media for change.

The other major area of youth engagement was in further training and growing the KYC profiling and data teams in Lagos and Port Harcourt – which led a number of intensive efforts to enumerate several settlements towards planning upgrading, house number communities towards engagement with electricity distribution companies, and refine data capture processes — both for KYC and for the Nigerian Federation Savings Database.

Follow the Nigeria federation and their support NGO Justice Empowerment Initiatives on FacebookTwitter for regular updates on their work.

Know Your City & 100RC Joint Work in Cape Town

This report outlines the engagements between the South African SDI Alliance and the City of Cape Town, as part of a partnership between 100 Resilient Cities and SDI’s Know Your City programme. 

Initial engagements with 100RC City of Cape Town: the Agenda Setting Workshop (19 May 2017)

The SA SDI Alliance involvement in the 100RC activities of the City of Cape Town began in earnest on the 19 May 2017 when the members of the alliance together with SDI attended the agenda setting workshop hosted by the City of Cape Town.  The Alliance presented profiling and enumeration work done in partnership with the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Department of Human Settlements in the Western Cape — the key being to reaffirm the position that community driven data collection not only produces excellent data but also places communities at the centre of their own development agendas.

At the event, the team worked in a small group with the Mayor and the facilitators took the participants through a process of identifying shocks and stresses that affect the city. This was then mapped and it was clear from this exercise that the stresses identified, when mapped, basically reproduced the spatial footprint of informality.

This event saw the naming of the CRO and Deputy CRO and laid the foundations for future engagements with the alliance around resilience issues.

Picture1Members of the SA SDI Alliance team and SDI participate in the identification of priority shocks and stresses (Mayor Patricia De Lille & CRO Craig Kesson)

The use of KYC data to engage the City of Cape Town (16 March 2018)

While this connection to the City of Cape Town 100RC process was underway, the alliance also identified another strategic objective in trying to link its strong data collection processes to resilience building in Cape Town. In particular, it was clear from the agenda setting workshop Cape Town was not equipped to address some of the fundamental daily stresses that face the residents of Cape Town’s informal settlements. From the Alliance’s perspective, the need for basic services was a critical starting point. The Alliance developed a parallel strategy, using Know Your City data as the basis for engagement with City departments.

On the 16 March 2018, the Alliance secured an introductory meeting with the Director of Informal Settlements, Riana Pretorious, which was attended by FEDUP and ISN members from across Cape Town as well as key officials from various line departments. This meeting built on the introduction that the Alliance achieved with Ms Pretorius in February 2018 at the African Centre for Cities Urban Conference where she sat on a panel with Rose Molokonae (FEDUP coordinator) and SDI affiliates from Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. This panel discussion opened up the space to discuss the power of community collected data and Ms Pretorius approached the Alliance afterwards for a follow up meeting.

The meeting on the 16 March 2018 sought to achieve the following:

  • Present a clear picture of who the SA SDI Alliance is, what it does, and how it operates
  • Present an overview of the city’s informal settlements using sub-regional reports based on KYC data.
  • Specific asks:
    • What projects can we collaborate on?
    • How do we get our communities’ projects onto the budget for the new financial year?
    • Can we target one settlement per sub-region where we try to demonstrate an effective partnership with the CoCT?
    • Is it possible to convene an inter-departmental team working with the alliance to tackle the settlements with the toughest problems in Cape Town?
  • Discuss potential exchange to Nairobi for exposure to Mukuru project
  • 100RC feedback

The biggest outcome of this meeting was to hold 4 sub-regional forums across the city where CoCT and various line departments would meet with communities from the sub-regions. This would be based around discussing data with a focus on the provision of basic services.

100RC Inception meeting between CoCT and the SA SDI Alliance (4 April 2018)

On the 5 April 2018, the Alliance met with the CRO and deputy CRO for an inception meeting to begin sharing between the CoCT resilience team and theAlliance. The Alliance used the meeting to cover all aspects of our work and from the City’s side they began to share some of the work that had been started. What was very important to note is that Riana Pretorius was also part of this meeting. The deputy CRO would be the main connection to the alliance team but it was stressed that the aim of the CoCT resilience team would not be to duplicate work already being done between the Alliance and the informal settlements department but rather to enhance it.

Out of the meetings mentioned above, a series of activities unfolded over the period April to August 2018. What follows is a table summarizing the activities and some of the key outcomes achieved.

Month Activities
April ·       Lead up to first sub-regional forum with the CoCT – alliance prepared sub-region with analysis of data, overview of projects, budget workshop with the help of the IBP to unpack the specific City budget for the specific sub-region

·       18 April – first sub-regional meeting held in Blaauberg. Alliance.

Outcomes of meeting and action items 

1) Quick wins – 4 settlements for basic services

  • Joe Slovo: Marikana and Siyahlala
  • DuNoon: Ezulwini and Soweto
  • Action item: arrange walk about on DuNoon and Joe Slovo site
  • Follow up discussion: toilet issue

2) Settlements under threat of evictions – win-win solutions

  • Joe Slovo: Siqalo
  • DuNoon: Ekupholeni and Soweto
  • Follow up discussion: evictions / demolitions / land invasions / planning together

3) Detention pond settlements and pilot project

  • Joe Slovo: Ekuphumleni, Siyahlala
  • DuNoon: Soweto , Ekupholeni
  • Follow up: 
    • Ekuphumleni as case study / pilot project
    • Set up a team of relevant officials to find solutions to above settlements

4) Other action items:

  • Mtshini Wam retaining wall
  • Exploring the realities of joint profiling and enumeration between Alliance and City for settlements that are not yet recognised by the City
    • How can the Alliance assist the City with service mapping – e.g. manhole mapping
    • Use Alliance enumeration data to identify who works close to the railway line in DuNoon (as Riana indicated that relocation of some people is likely)
  • Backyarder discussion: How does the Alliance engage with backyarders?
  • Who to contact to set up a walk about
  • Update from city about potential sites city is planning to acquire in DuNoon

5) Way forward:

  • City and Alliance to complete other regional meetings
  • Once we’ve done a round trip in all areas we create a list of action items
  • Today’s focus: basic services (easier to get on to budget)
  • Longer term focus: discuss alignment of budget and timeframes when it comes to in situ upgrading (tougher to get on to budget)
  • 23 April 2018 – Follow up meeting to present Preliminary Resilience Assessment for Cape Town to SDI – City Resilience team presented the PRA which revealed some of the main focus areas and how the city was rated in each area.
May ·       Lead up to second sub-regional forum with the CoCT – alliance prepared sub-region with analysis of data, overview of projects, budget workshop with the help of the IBP to unpack the specific City budget for the specific sub-region

·       8 May – second sub-regional meeting held in Mfuleni

o   Mfuleni settlements with no basic services including solid waste managements and electricity

o   Mfuleni settlements with inadequate basic services including solid waste managements and electricity

o   Settlements under and on servitudes

o   Settlements under eviction threat

o   Pilot projects appearing on BEPP

o   Proposed pilot projects

·      Lead up to third sub-regional forum with the CoCT – alliance prepared sub-region with analysis of data, overview of projects, budget workshop with the help of the IBP to unpack the specific City budget for the specific sub-region

·       16 May – third sub-regional meeting held in Khayelitsha

o   Overview of the region

o   Basic services, Electricity, water and sanitation, solid waste, settlements on servitude or wetland, public lighting, access roads, data collection, proposed pilot projects

June ·      Lead up to fourth sub-regional forum with the CoCT – alliance prepared sub-region with analysis of data, overview of projects, budget workshop with the help of the IBP to unpack the specific City budget for the specific sub-region

·       11 June – fourth sub-regional meeting held in Central sub-region

o   Settlements with no basic services

o   Settlements with inadequate basic services

o   Settlements under servitudes, detention, retention ponds

o   Pipeline projects

·       Official from Resilience Department attended engagement between CORC and Informal Settlements Dept. in Central Sub-region

·       Alliance members attended 3 focus groups for the development of the City Water Resilience Framework (CWRF)

·       22 June 2018 – Alliance hosted a site visit and engagement with community members for the consultants developing the CWRF

July ·       12 July – Consolidation meeting between Alliance and the CoCT around all discussions covered in the 4 sub-regional meetings, action plan developed tracking activities across 75 informal settlements, 7 thematic areas identified for follow up that would be developed into either forums, city wide programs or once off workshops.

·       16, 17, 18 July – Alliance attended the SDI hosted Resilience learning exchange in Cape Town. Director of informal settlements from CoCT in attendance along with deputy CRO from the CoCT. Deputy CRO agrees to a strategic follow up session for a deeper dive into the City Resilience Index tool

August ·       22 August – Meeting between alliance and deputy CRO for deep dive into CRI tool and mapping way forward for collaboration

o   Alliance to assess tool

o   Deputy CRO to share questions that build up the tool

o   Alliance to attend the CoCT PRA launch 21 September 2018

·       29 August 2018 – strategic review meeting between alliance and CoCT informal settlements department to discuss way forward.

September ·       3 – 8 September 2018 – alliance members to travel with Riana Pretorius from CoCT and David Ali from Provincial human settlements department Western Cape to attend a learning exchange in Sierra Leone.


Way forward

With respect to the interactions with the Deputy CRO the following way forward was agreed to:

  1. Alliance review of CRI tool and identify what questions were missing
  2. Look at identifying potential projects that could be done in partnership, exploring innovation around resilience building.
  3. Alliance to attend the launch of the Preliminary Resilience Assessment in September.
  4. Alliance resilience team and deputy CRO to meet once a month to track progress. Produce critique of tool and improve it to better reflect realities of cities with large amounts of informal settlements. Plan would be to link with other SDI affiliates who are linked to resilience cities and begin to develop a tool that factors in informality.
  5. Look at time horizon of three years – when the CRI could be run again but using our improved version – look at how KYC data could feed into this process.

With respect to interactions with the CoCT department of informal settlements using KYC data as a locus around which communities engage the city on resilience the following way forward was agreed, including concrete steps to deepen the partnership and the upgrading strategies in order to deepen and broaden impact.

Challenges and lessons learnt

It must be noted that the partnership between the CoCT and the Alliance is currently going through a rebuilding phase. This process has meant re-establishing trust and learning from the mistakes of the past. City officials in these engagements know the Alliance but have not held the space when changes in strategic leadership happened inside the city. A strategy needs to be developed to ensure that the partnership has ways of withstanding major institutional shifts.

From the city official side, it was noted that at times the city did not want to have communities present but through a process of building trust and creating safe spaces for sharing, officials began to understand that communities are a critical part of the alliance process.

From the Alliance, side the engagement of over 75 settlements across the city could be difficult to manage and at times leaders who were not fully up to speed with the rebuilding of the relationship used other forums of engagement to attack the city – this had the potential to set things back – but these issues were tackled between the Director of Informal Settlements and the Director of CORC as well as leadership from ISN and FEDUP.

On the CRO front, the challenge is to manage the expectations of the city who have put a lot of work into their  development framework without using the Alliance as a major stakeholder. This is shifting, however, and from the PRA it can be seen that informality has been prioritized within the city plans. The key is to develop clear lines of communication, dedicated teams assigned to specific tasks from both sides and a broad understanding of the strategic direction the partnership wants to take.


The resilience work in Cape Town has followed a two-pronged approach by developing a partnership with the CoCT resilience team as well as the Department of Informal Settlements and Backyarders. This does not exclude the building of relationships with various line departments in the city. The Alliance has learnt to develop these relationships at various levels to ensure that the changing of officials in strategic positions (which happens often in the city) does not derail the process. It is hoped that the relationship with the CoCT resilience team will help establish protocols of engagement that would withstand the institutional shocks that come along with municipal reshuffling and in particular try to drive a community process to the centre of municipal processes so that community engagement can be embedded inside the city and withstand the onslaught of the national elections next year.