The Liberia slum dwellers federation (FOLUPS) and support NGO (YMCA) have made and impressive contribution to achieving the intended outcomes of the Cities Alliance-supported Liberia Country Program (LCP). Since 2016, they have organized slum dweller communities across Monrovia (reaching over 60 settlements); and undertaken a community-led city wide slum profiling and mapping effort (completing over 91 of Monrovia’s 113 settlements), completed a household enumeration in West Point, and organizing settlement forums for communities to verify their data and identify shared priorities for intervention. The federation will share its work with all LCP members at the upcoming city forum in April.
To date, the Liberia federation (FOLUPS) has profiled and mapped the following Local Government Areas (LGAs) within Greater Monrovia:
Congo Town LGA Profile (5 settlement profiles); Garwolohn LGA Profile (13 settlement profiles)
- Monrovia City Profile (10 settlement profiles)
- New Georgia LGA Profile (15 settlement profiles)
- New Kru Town LGA Profile (22 settlement profiles)
- Gardnersville LGA Profile (11 settlements)
Savings groups are the building blocks of all SDI federations. Federations throughout the network know that savings groups do more than collect money – they collect people and build a critical mass. When the savings groups are networked, federations are born. During phase one of this project, the Liberian federation, Liberian Urban Poor Savers (FOLUPS), has achieved:
- 272 savings groups spanning 61 communities
- 7,991 members (F: 6,979 M: 1,012)
As can be seen from the savings group data above, close to 90% of members are women. Throughout the SDI network, women’s membership and leadership are prioritized as a deliberate strategy for building the voice of women and nurturing a culture of dialogue, collective priority-setting, peer support, trust, and collaboration. Savings groups offer a safe space for women to learn and grow their leadership capacities and go on to combat the structural exclusion of women’s voices in urban governance. In Liberia, women federation members led clean-up exercises identified as priority action during the settlement forums. The women report that this federation effort increased compliance with community resolutions to improve environmental sanitation and the active participation of slum dwellers in the regular community meetings and clean-up exercises.
Once we realized most of the profilers, enumerators and forum facilitators were men, we made a special effort to increase the participation and leadership of women and youth through hands-on learning-by-doing, including setting benchmarks for female participation
An imminent threat of eviction led the federation to prioritize household enumeration of Monrovia’s oldest and largest informal settlement, West Point. Day in day out, the federation – dressed in bright red Know Your City bibs and gumboots – trekked from house to house administering the enumeration questionnaire and mobilizing federation members. Peers from other federations in the SDI network supported the Liberians in this effort as part of a learning-by-doing exchange. Snapshots from the enumeration report are shown below as well as additional research (Younghyun Kim 2017) on West Point’s risk profile undertaken in partnership with the federation using the enumeration data.
Keep an eye out for the full Monrovia profile report and West Point Enumeration Report, due to be launched in the coming months.