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.



“As soon as possible I have to practice email”: SDI’s Bolivia & Brazil Affiliates Visit Chile

In the last week of April 2016, representatives of the slum dweller federations of Bolivia and Brazil traveled to Santiago to attend the 10th Anniversary of the “I love my neighborhood” program of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development of Chile. The anniversary was also attended by representatives from Peru and Uruguay. Thanks to the support of Cities Alliance, the federation members were able to attend the international dialogue, strategic partner meetings, community fairs and visit municipal events that were attended by the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelett.

The two women members, Elivania da Silva from Brazil and Lucia Choque from  Bolivia were able to share their experience in community organizing and  saving. In the process these women enhance their confidence speaking about the issues that matter to the urban poor and feel pride in their capacity to inspiree and teach others. This is leadership training learning-by-doing style.

According to the organizers “[Elivania and Lucia] had an intense but very [relevant] agenda and presentations in the International Dialogue”. Inclusive cities and gender equity were high on the agenda and the contribution of the SDI representatives was shared with country neighbors and their representatives. 

Brazilian federation member, Elivania, reflected the event “…was good. There was a presentation of each Project and then there was an exhibition of neighborhoods with urbanization potos. We were able to visit in the Valparaiso neighborhood. They told the story of how the community started there and then we went to meet the architecture faculty”.

Bolivian federation member, Lucia, reflected, “I was surprised by the interest on savings because they did not know the experience of SDI and only now I realize the need to assess our progress but also get involved in all the problems of our settlements. Several authorities want to learn more about our organization and as soon as possible I have to practice email to keep in touch with the participants”.

As SDI explores options for expanding in Latin America, strong women leaders like Elivania and Lucia will be on the frontline.

After a radio interview


[caption id="attachment_11426" align="alignnone" width="600"]LEADERS WITH CHILEAN MINISTRY OF HOUSING STAFF Community leaders from Bolivia and Brazil meet staff of the Chilean Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.[/caption]