News Release: Cities Alliance supports SDI affiliates to address Covid-19 crisis

by James Tayler



SDI is excited to announce the below partnership with Cities Alliance, supporting  SDI-affiliated federations in their work to fight COVID-19. This programme gives SDI, a long-standing member of The Cities Alliance, the opportunity to work closely with CA on this critical project, aligning the missions of our two organisations to respond to this important and unprecedented cause.

The Cities Alliance programme builds on the ongoing work of SDI-affiliated federations who, through a Rapid Needs Assessment (RNA), received emergency funding from SDI. This funding has supported affiliates to respond quickly to the effects of the COVID-19 in their communities, closing gaps not adequately addressed by government responses.

Over the course of our many years as members of The Cities Alliance we have endeavoured to ensure that SDI’s contribution seeks always to bring the voices and agency of slum dwellers to the centre stage. We are confident that this partnership will continue this effort and will ensure that the dynamism and innovative spirit inherent in SDI’s federations creates meaningful, lasting, and widespread impact in the cities where we work and in the global urban development agenda.

UPDATE: Cities Alliance published this update to the below press release on 30 July 2020. 


Cape Town, Brussels, 27 July 2020 – Cities Alliance is launching a new programme to support the global efforts in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida, the purpose of the project is twofold: strengthen the resilience of communities in informal settlements and support the sustainability of civil society organizations, in cooperation with Slum Dwellers International – SDI; and reinforce the capacities of informal communities to respond to the current outbreak and better prepare for future crises.

The pandemic is having disastrous effects on families in informal settlements that are home to nearly a billion people. These communities have to contend with insecure property rights, low-quality housing, poor sanitation, and limited access to basic services, including health care. Common responses and general health regulations intended to limit the spread of COVID-related infections are a challenge for many slum dwellers. Humanitarian responses do not always reach them. Lockdowns and containment measures cause tremendous losses to livelihoods for families that already have limited or no access to social safety nets.

The new initiative is intended to support the needs of informal communities in 21 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Activities will be implemented primarily through existing community-based systems and networks.

“The current crisis has shown the vital need to scale up efforts of organised community networks to effectively tackle the pandemic, implement meaningful recovery plans and provide solutions in the long-run,” – William Cobbett, Director of Cities Alliance.

Against this background, and in line with its global partnership identity, Cities Alliance will award direct grants to local NGOs in support to federations of urban poor within the SDI network in Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, India, and the Philippines. The grants will be managed by Cities Alliance, while SDI will provide technical support to its affiliates.

“Slum dwellers federations, community groups, street vendors, and waste pickers associations are the frontline actors in the COVID response. We must sustain the civil society fabric in the settlements to solve the crisis. This programme is a great opportunity to do so,” – Joseph Muturi, Chair of the SDI Management Committee.

The second component of the project combines the implementation of COVID-19 prevention and protection measures with initiatives to reduce the social and economic impacts of the epidemic. The activities will be carried out under the common United Nations framework for COVID-19 response, in collaboration with networks of Civil Based Organisations, including slum dwellers and informal workers’ groups in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Liberia, and Uganda.

The activities comprise the distribution of personal protective equipment and hygiene materials, the provision of water and sanitation facilities and the delivery of community awareness and outreach campaigns in slums, together with advocacy, learning and knowledge exchange at regional and global level, engaging Cities Alliance members.

The EUR 3 million initiative will be implemented over a period of 12 months.


UPDATE: Cities Alliance published this update to the below press release on 30 July 2020.