#DignifiedUrbanLife Youth Summit: Intergenerational Dialogue and Music Unite to Fight Inequality

As the world marks the third anniversary of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to come together and make sense of what happened and what we can learn from the experience.

SDI and Know Your City TV’s Youth Summit is bringing together youth and elders from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya and South Africa to create a federation song for the #DignifiedUrbanLife campaign, which is set to launch this Friday the 31st of March.

This campaign aims to be a powerful platform for change and progress, providing a unique opportunity for different generations to share knowledge, ideas and experiences.

SDI and Know Your City TV’s Youth Summit

The SDI and Know Your City TV‘s Youth Summit seeks to bring together youth and elders to create a federation song for the #DignifiedUrbanLife campaign. This campaign is a response to the immense challenges exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly for youth living in informal settlements. Through the summit, the aim is to mobilise groups of women and young people to create a federation song, utilising the age-old medium of song to transmit knowledge and values.

#DignifiedUrbanLife Campaign

The federation song is a unique opportunity to bring together different generations to share knowledge, ideas and experiences. Through intergenerational dialogue, young people can learn from the wisdom and experience of the older generation, while the older generation can learn from the creativity and enthusiasm of youth. By combining the two perspectives, we aim to create a powerful platform for change and progress. The federation song is a unique opportunity for bringing together different generations to share knowledge, ideas and experiences. By coming together and collaborating, we can create a song that is both inspirational and motivating. It can be used to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people living in slums, while also providing a platform to inspire and empower them to come together and find sustainable solutions to the problems they face.

Our Workplan

The #DignifiedUrbanLife campaign includes a step-by-step guide for community mobilisation and communications strategy. Our Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya and South Africa affiliates appointed youth groups with experience in music production to lead the campaign. The steps include intergenerational dialogue, choir recording, youth remix, international collaboration and coordination, distribution, and monitoring, evaluation and outreach.

International Collaboration and Coordination

A small team from each country join us in Cape Town at the SDI Secretariat, bringing audio stems and demo along with behind-the-scenes videos, archive video, images, and documentation for a one-week hack-a-thon. At the hack-a-Thon, they will develop a targeted audience campaign strategy, coordinated media products, a policy shift strategy and plan of action, and a monitoring and evaluation framework.


Once the song, media products, and policy strategy have been developed, the next step is to promote and distribute them. This includes launching social media campaigns, creating music videos or other visuals to accompany the song, and distributing materials to the target groups.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Outreach

The final step is to monitor and evaluate the success of the campaign. This wil include tracking the reach of the campaign, as well as measuring the impact it has had on the target groups. We aim to do this through surveys, interviews, or other methods.

The #DignifiedUrbanLife campaign is an inspiring example of the power of intergenerational dialogue and music production to fight inequality. It provides a platform for different generations to come together and share knowledge, ideas and experiences, while also creating a powerful platform for change and progress.

This Friday the 31st of March marks the launch of this exciting campaign, and it is sure to be an inspiring event.

Support for Cyclone Freddy Affected Households in Malawi

Campsite Blantyre in Malawi, where residents that were affected by Cyclone Freddy have set up camp.

From Friday, March 10, 2022 Malawi was hit by Cyclone Freddy, which has resulted to over 500 confirmed deaths in the country, loss of livestock and property. Cyclone Freddy was characterized by heavy rains, which led to flooding and mudslides, and storms, which destroyed homes and critical infrastructure. 

The impact of this cyclone has been highly pronounced in Southern Malawi, especially in Blantyre City and the surrounding districts of Phalombe, Chikhwawa, Mulanje Thyolo, Chikwawa and Chiradzulu. Due to the flooding and mudslides, thousands of people have been rendered homeless and have sought shelter in camps. The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) has reported that over  19,000 people are living as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) in camps that have been erected in the country. The country’s President has described the cyclone’s impact as a national tragedy and has declared a State of Disaster in the Southern Region of Malawi, effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families. Until Friday, March 17, 2023, the number of households directly affected was more than 50,000

Meanwhile, site visits and media reports indicate that the IDPS are living in dire conditions characterised by poor sanitation and limited access to basic amenities including food and clothes in the camps. This situation is worrisome, especially considering Malawi is still facing a cholera outbreak that has so far claimed hundreds of lives. Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. There are fears that the poor sanitation and hygienic conditions in the camps can lead to an escalation in the number of Cholera cases, which could potentially put thousands of lives in danger. 

Appeal for Support

Currently, IDPs are in need of relief items that would make their lives bearable in these hard times including food, clothes and potable water as well as hygiene products and sanitation. While there are a number of organisations that have moved in to assist with food supplies in camps, there has not been much support around improving access to better sanitation, water, hygiene, food and warmth. Further, due to limitations in resources, many of the IDPs may have to live in the camps for a long time as they have no means to move back to their former settlements that are now in ruins or have been completely razed down by the floods and mudslides. As such, some of them are in dire need of materials to repair their homes so that they are in a habitable state. 

Relief project to secure lives and support households to recover from disasters 

The Centre for Community Organisation and Development and its alliance partner the Federation of the Rural and Urban Poor (the Federation) – the Malawi alliance, intend to roll out a relief programme targeting IDPS who are currently living in camps across the region. In the short term, the alliance will support these camps with sanitation and hygiene solutions in an attempt to curtail any possibility of water-borne diseases and ensure that the IDPs have better access to health services. 

The alliance intends to do this through the provision of water and sanitation solutions, including the construction of temporary sanitation facilities, and the provision of water treatment solutions and utensils. In addition, the alliance will also provide food rations. Currently, the supply of food rations is intermittent and some IDPs are reportedly sleeping on empty stomachs or scampering for whatever food is available. 

Providing a platform for communities to tell their stories and set the rebuilding agenda 

Community-led data collection after disasters is crucial for assessing the impact and identifying the needs of the affected population. In many cases, affected communities may not have the capacity to undertake such assignments due to a number of underlining factors. In this case, we want to use previous knowledge to provide training in data collection and analysis to the affected communities. The alliance will provide tools and equipment to aid data collection and analysis processes. These tools are in the form of cameras and GPS devices etc. The data collection process will employ participatory approaches by ensuring that the process has been consulted widely so that the voices of the voiceless are heard and their needs are included in the rebuilding process. This in turn will help in building trust and ensure that the data collected accurately reflects the experiences and perspectives of the entire community.

Support the rebuilding process 

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, there has been extensive damage to community infrastructure, houses and WASH facilities. Other infrastructures such as power and communications are still down in many areas leaving communities in darkness. Rebuilding infrastructure such as homes, WASH facilities and roads is important for restoring normalcy to the lives of those affected by the disaster. The alliance’s plan is to recapitalise the Mchenga Urban Poor Fund to provide financial support for the rebuilding exercise; targeting the provision of houses, potable water and decent sanitation through ecological sanitation toilets. 

Additionally, Cyclone Freddy will have a significant impact on the local economy. Therefore, the alliance intends to support economic recovery by helping individual households and the community to rebuild their economic lives. This will involve providing start-ups for small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as creating jobs – through reconstruction jobs, and providing training and education opportunities.

Provide mental health support

This disaster has had a significant impact on mental health and well-being of the affected population – including children that have seen the government extending the suspension of schools until March 31, when the second term was scheduled to end. Schools have been suspended as about 230 schools have been turned into holding camps for IDPs. Thus, providing access to mental health support services, in this case, will help individuals and communities cope with the trauma of the event.

Exit Strategy 

As an exit strategy, the alliance would also want to champion dialogue with authorities and other stakeholders on effective ways of managing these disasters as well as recommending measures that would reduce the vulnerability of the households when such disasters have stricken. Further, we will deploy our KYC.TV Malawi Team to document the situation in the City to champion solutions that address the vulnerabilities of the households in the medium and long terms. 

KYC.TV Online Training: Lessons Taught and Lessons Learnt

Towards a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for and by youth in slums

credit Nigerian Slum Informal Settlement Federation nose mask


Photo credit: Nigeria Media Team

With in person learning exchanges put on hold due to Covid-19 lockdowns, and in response to a demand from participants for training on social impact media, filmmaking and storytelling for change, KYC.TV hosted a number of well attended online learning exchanges between March and September 2020. Each training was hosted on Zoom and simultaneously livestreamed on Facebook to increase accessibility and reach. 

The first session, held in April, was a stock taking exercise to get participant input and better understand what the needs and demands for training were. As the coronavirus pandemic spread to more SDI affiliated countries, federations were confronted with fake news about various aspects of the pandemic. Before long, it became clear how dangerous and destructive these fake news reports were – misrepresenting the disease and increasing the risk of infection. In response, KYC.TV hosted its second online training session to help  participants identify and analyse suspected fake news posts.

As the borders closed and hard lockdowns were enforced in one country after another, participants began requesting updates from their peers in order to better understand their own situation and get a sense of what their futures could look like. This third KYC.TV session was very insightful and helped build pan-African solidarity amongst the youth participants. 



As the youth began to adjust to the “new normal” of living in various stages of lockdown, we attempted to bring “regular programming” back to the online training curriculum – turning our focus to storytelling methodologies that would continue to build the participants’ creative capacities. In response to a call for more formal training on documentary storytelling, KYC.TV’s fourth online training session was the first in a series of short courses in small and larger groups focused on new and innovative approaches to this accessible and impactful style. The second session in the documentary masterclass series focussed on story structure and how to move events forward in a film in a coherent and structured way that tells a story, has an emotional impact, and serves as a catalyst for change. 

Considering creative and resilient response to the economic impacts of lockdown became critical over this time. In the next session, KYC.TV provided a platform for young entrepreneurs from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria and other countries across Africa to talk shop and encourage their peers to start their own businesses or professionalise their service offering.

As the programme picked up momentum and new participants joined, we felt it important to provide a special session for everyone to re-introduce themselves, building unity and relationships amongst the participants. Simultaneous translation of English to French in each session also attempted to bridge any barriers between participants. In an effort to alleviate the burden of translation, the team decided to offer some sessions in French. But one of the lessons emerging from this first phase of online trainings is that effective simultaneous translation is key. Going forward, there are plans to ensure that this is done in a more formal, professionalised way – ensuring that all participants are able to contribute and participate equally. 

Our next session took place in the wake of the upheaval and indignation that swept across the world following George Floyd’s murder by US police. We took this opportunity to explore themes of morality, ethics and reporting, and discussed the influence and impact of citizen journalism on society at large and challenged the participants to consider how they can use their own storytelling to catalyse change. 



In our last four sessions, we brought in special guests to present on a variety of storytelling tools and skills relevant to the participating youth. Special guests ranged from fellow federation youth to professionals from the film/media industry. Sessions seemed to really come alive with a co-presenter that was from the federation, while special guests from the industry drew an audience and helped inspire the participants to professionalize themselves. First, we spoke to Richard Bockarie from Sierra Leone, who described how they designed a mobile app for data collection and offered tips to participants about how to make their own mobile apps. In the Shooting for the Edit masterclass, we built on the previous masterclass training, exploring the different types of shots that should be captured on a shoot and how to use these in the final edit. Our next masterclass focused on cinematography, featuring special guest Leo Purman, a young cinematographer making waves in Los Angeles and New York. He offered practical tips and tricks for developing skills as a cinematographer and how to approach production to get the best results. The last masterclass, “Getting to Grips with Lightroom,” was co-hosted by KYCTV participant Sam Okechukwu from Nigeria, a rising star in the Lagos photography scene who excels at mobile phone photography and Lightroom manipulation. 

credit Know Your City TV Zambia Zambia Awareness


 Photo credit: Zambia KYC TV team

Major takeaways from this first phase of online training include the insights into how effectively peer peer training is, and the impact of featuring special guests from the industry. Going forward we will identify different tutors from federation media teams to prepare and co-present the content and continue to invite special guests. However, special guests need to answer specific questions from the participants and the participants themselves should have some say in who is invited to the MOOC.

A number of participants requested certifications. While this is an important psychological reward, on investigation we found potential employers or investors are actually less impressed with a certificate of participation than with a well worded and insightful letter of recommendation. Certificates simply state that the participant was on a course, while a letter of recommendation is far more personal, providing insight into the character and capability of the participants. As reward and motivation, we will issue letters of recommendation to participants who show work with distinction.

Credit Mukuru Youth Initiatives stay fresh maxresdefault


Photo credit: Mukuru Youth Initiative

We all also realised that it is important to adhere to the principle of learning by doing as outlined in the SDI theory of change. Retention of knowledge is very low if it is not linked to action. The MOOC will be designed as a program of action and deliverables from each student will link directly back to their individual learning goal that impacts on their own built environment. The thrust of the MOOC will be co-creation, and this learning cannot be theory based: we are looking to learn as much from participants as we are to teach them.

It is encouraging to see how eager participants are to learn, and how easily they were able to pick up the skills taught and use them to create relevant media. In the next phase of our online training curriculum we are hoping to scale up and diversify the training. There is huge demand for practical, task orientated knowledge production around creating social impact on ground in informal settlements. As the pressures of climate emergency and increasing inequality bite these skills will be hard tested. Time is of the essence, we need to prepare and face resilience. 


Media Making an Impact: #ChangeOurPicture

Originally published on urbanet, SDI presents the work of youth slum dwellers across the SDI network linked to documenting issues linked to resilience, livelihoods and housing.

A photo competition called for urban residents in African countries to portray how they use media to change the narrative on their environment. Slum Dwellers International presents some beautiful results of the #ChangeOurPicture competition.

The CoHabitat Network in partnership with Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and The Bartlett Development Planning Unit announced a photo competition for urban citizens across Africa, aimed at documenting how they make media to make change.

Presented with a theme and using a cell phone camera, the competition portrays the innovative ways in which communities document their history as well as the histories of how homes and cities are built. Communication through media thus becomes instrumental to approaches to development and social change.

The power of grassroots movements is reflected in the structure of the competition: “Federations” from informal settlements organise around collective goals they identify. Having agreed on the need of a platform for creative storytellers to document their lives, the Federations, in partnership with the CoHabitat Network, initiated the competition.

Own Your Narratives

“Nothing for us, without us” is a slogan of the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) across the SDI network. This slogan serves as a reminder that grassroots must remain at the forefront of planning and that it is essential for residents to own the narratives that emerge from their communities.

Informal settlements are hubs of resilience and innovation. When media emerges as a key mode of communication, it highlights the dynamic lives of those living in informal settlements, constituting an opportunity to shift the conversation.

All across Africa, people are building their cities and are documenting the social production of habitat. Documentation –for example through photography – recognises these processes as meaningful, thus acknowledging these people’s actions as contributions to society.

Pictures Telling Stories

To make media to make change, it is essential to recognise the power media has across languages and cultures. As a photography competition relying on cell phones, #ChangeOurPicture is open to anyone, including those living in informal settlements, across Africa. Photos serve as a tool of storytelling; they capture informal spaces as spaces full of innovation and resilience.


Small teams across Africa submitted photographs with captions that were taken with cell phones. They focus on themes that speak to the varied landscapes and most pertinent issues of those living informally. These captions serve as snapshots of a larger story of their lives, challenges, and their perseverance within urban slum environments.

In order to encourage diversity of submissions, when the competition was first announced, there was no theme. The process of establishing themes emerged from a consultative process with youth media makers from across the SDI network. The below photographs are a sampling of the submissions – and of the immense talent of media makers across Africa, narrating the beauty and the pain of life within informal settlements.

They say my neighborhood is informal but we have the joy of life. Despite the determination of the defenders, our goal scorer keeps his cool.
Federation in Burkina Faso

Money & Livelihoods

I’ve always believed that one woman’s success can only help another woman’s success…… You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.. © Bernadett Nkhoma, Federation in Zambia


Before the cock go wake up, every soul and spirit don wake up de look 4 wetin to chop up and down. Na wetin go make you real hustler for lag nai be that oo, as Dem de talk am, no food for lazy man. We no go give up becos say pepper never red. Last last we go de alright.
© Nasu Abdulaziz, Nigeria Slum/Informal Settlement Federation

Courage & Heroism

“As a young producer, I want to put a smile on someone’s face with my work through storytelling. What keeps me going is the people, their story and self motivation. My favorite quote, “Life is a battlefield, don’t rest until you win the battle.” – Nasu Abdulaziz
© Shawn Okechukwu Samuel, Nigeria Slum/Informal Settlement Federation

All submissions to the #ChangeOurPicture competition can be viewed here.

Slums Made Better Together: Impact and Continued Learning

With innovative media being published by grassroots communities, this competition seeks to continue learning and encourage this type of knowledge dissemination.

A selection committee working on civic urban media will engage those with the most creative photography, identifying the finalists that will move forward in the competition process. The grand prize to be won in this competition is the opportunity to participate in an exchange with other media makers from across the continent. The finalists will receive the training and the resources needed to develop their photo series into a documentary.

The work will continue to be shared with partners and stakeholders around the world, as a traveling exhibition that engages the world with pertinent issues such as climate, informal slum upgrading, livelihoods – and the shared, social production of communities.

Follow the 2019 Community-Led Habitat Awardees

Last year SDI and the CoHabitat Network launched the inaugural Community-Led Habitat Awards for Africa. The awards recognise inspiring community-driven habitat solutions from across the continent with the aim to advocate for the expansion of community-led urban development and housing.

Five awards were given in 2019 to the following categories:

  • Best Project Award (3 winning projects)
  • Best Partnership Award (1 winning partnership)
  • Best Short Film (1 winning film)

Click here to read more about each of the winning community-led habitat projects.

Each of the winning teams were awarded $1,000 for continued learning to leverage visibility of the project within their country. Below find an update from each of the awardees on continued local recognition facilitates by the CoHabitat Award.

Best Project Awardees 

Walukuba Material Building Training Center (Uganda).

The Uganda Alliance used their prize money to capitalize on the training center, by igniting activities and projects that can further benefit from the center within Jinja. These included:

  • The signing of a charter for Walukuba Building Material Training Center and Community Hall. The training center had been lacking clear roles and responsibilities on the day-to-day management of the center. In August 2019, a stakeholder meeting was convened and a charter was developed and signed to ensure proper and sustainable management of the center.
  • Near the training center is the Kawama Housing Project. This project had been stalled for some year, however the Uganda Alliance was able to assess how much land is still available for the housing project to ensure proper planning.
  • The Uganda Alliance undertook a structural assessment of the existing Kawana housing structure that is intended to accommodate 30 families who have been living in transit houses. A structural engineer visited the housing site to assess the structural strength to build more than one floor for the housing project.


Dzivarasekwa Slum Upgrading Project (Zimbabwe).

The Zimbabwe Alliance planned to capitalize on their award by establishing and consolidating the position of the project as a key slum upgrading learning ground for communities, government, universities and other stakeholders across the country. By inviting targeted local authority officials and government, a celebration event was scheduled to demonstrate and influence policy regarding informal settlement responses in Zimbabwe. The event was scheduled for August but has been postponed due to unavailability of key government and council officials.

Home Improvement/Upgrading Project in Flood-prone areas // Appui á la reconstruction de l’Habitat en zone sinistrée (Senegal).

The Senegalese Federation (FSH) and urbaSEN took the award as an opportunity to present their most recent program to key government officials, ministries, and non-governmental organizations in Dakar. The PING-GIRI project seeks to mitigate flood risks in six municipalities of the suburbs of Dakar, in which the Federation is active, and to finance small-scale urban upgrading projects through the Federation’s revolving fund, which to date has allowed 350 families to rehabilitate their homes. The extension of the revolving fund mechanism to semi-collective sanitation and urban upgrading projects in the public space, designed and implemented by savings groups, is an ambitious step for the Senegalese Federation. The award allowed for gaining greater visibility and recognition of the achievements of the Federation, which are essential for leveraging public support and collaboration for upcoming activities.

Best Partnership Awardee 

A Multiple Partnership Approach for Community-led Housing and Services in Namibia.



The Namibia SDI Alliance used their award money to host a ceremony with local officials and leverage the recognition of a partnership approach to housing during the opening of houses in Okongo-north. During the ceremony, Standard Bank handed over the Buy-A-Brick contribution of 13 million rand to the Namibian federation!

Best Short Film Awardee

Undevelopment: Forced Evictions in Nigeria



The Nigerian federation has screened “Undevelopment” almost a dozen times in a variety of different forums. There have been community screenings in Lagos (Orisunmibare, Ago Egun Bariga, Arobadade, Tarkwa Bay), and in Port Harcourt (Deinma Polo). It has also been screened at the Federation General Meeting in Lagos and Port Harcourt, the West Africa Storytelling for Change KYC TV Summit, and also at a Media For Advocacy Training the team led in August for other CSOs in Lagos.

Additionally, “Undevelopment” was screened the week of September 16, 2019 in Abuja for a collection of civil society organizations and UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing at the Norwegian Ambassador’s residence as part of an advocacy push for legislation prohibiting forced evictions and displacement.



2019 Community-Led Habitat Award for Africa: Call for Submissions

Screenshot 2019-02-04 at 13.39.39

We invite you to learn more about the 2019 Community-Led Habitat Award for Africa, an initiative of the CoHabitat Network, and submit your project today!

Deadline: 31 March 2019

In Africa, millions are faced with insecure and inadequate housing. But around the continent, there are inspiring examples of how communities are developing innovative and affordable housing solutions and upgrading their neighbourhoods sustainably.

The Community-Led Habitat Awards, an initiative of the CoHabitat Network, recognise inspiring community-driven habitat solutions from across the continent with the aim to advocate for the expansion of community-led urban development and housing.

Share your story to be part of a growing network of actors securing housing rights and implementing people-led habitat solutions.

Gain visibility and public exposure to advocate for the expansion of community-led housing.

Learn from your peers.

Participate in the World Habitat Awards.

Awards will be given in the following three categories:

  • Best Project Award
  • Best Video Award
  • Best Partnership Award

More information regarding each category is available below. Submissions are welcome in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Visit co-habitat.net to apply!

Download the Co-habitat.net Tutorial here.

Deadline: 31 March 2019

Screenshot 2019-02-01 at 14.17.33


Award for best community-led habitat / upgrading project.

Open to all resident-led groups or grassroots organizations working on issues of habitat and the built environment. The nominated project must be already implemented and must have resulted in changes to the built environment (e.g. housing, infrastructure, public space).

Submission Process: Create project profile on co-habitat.net; upload project information, and photos, and submit.

Selection Process: Two-step selection process:

  1. Shortlist of projects by committee of SDI representatives, community leaders, and academia
  2. Shortlisted projects will be contacted for additional info/questions if needed.

Prize: 2-3 winning projects will be invited to the CoHabitat Network regional hub hosted at the UN Habitat Governing Council, 27 – 31 May in Nairobi to present winning projects and to share experiences with peers. The winning projects will be have the chance to enter the shortlist stage of the prestigious World Habitat Awards, organized by our partner World Habitat.

Visit co-habitat.net to apply!

Watch the Co-habitat.net Tutorial here or download it here.

Deadline: 31 March 2019

More information: contact@cohabitat.net

Screenshot 2019-02-04 at 12.03.18


Award for best video documentation of issues related to built environment & informality.

Are you a young person living in an informal settlement? Have you made a film to draw attention to your settlement and how to overcome its challenges? Do you want to win a prize for the Best Community Activist Film and be flown to Nairobi to receive it?  Then enter the 2019 Community-Led Habitat Awards ASAP!

An award for best video documentation of issues related to built environment & informality open to all Know Your City TV teams and any other and other civic media teams for documentation of issues related to the built environment and urban informality.

Submission Process: Create a partner profile on co-habitat.net for the your youth media team; upload video and link video to project profile.

Project Assessment Criteria:

  • Technical quality of the production: Quality of the production in terms of sound, camerawork and editing
  • Creative approach to storytelling
  • Social impact: call to action or take-home message

Selection Process: The public will be able to vote for their favourite Video on co-habitat.net between April 1st and 25th.

Prize: Invitation to the CoHabitat Network regional hub hosted at the UN Habitat Governing Council, 27 – 31 May in Nairobi to present winning project and to share experiences with peers. The winning team will produce a short video during the regional hub to be shared via all CoHabitat Network digital platforms.

Visit co-habitat.net to apply!

Watch the Co-habitat.net Tutorial here or download it here.

Deadline: 31 March 2019

More information: contact@cohabitat.net

Project Call-Partnership


Award for best partnership between a community-based organization of the urban poor & local government.

Organized communities of the urban poor are invited to nominate public authorities or government officials for best partnerships, policies, public programs, MoUs, upgrading projects/plans that demonstrate active community participation and partnership.

Submission Process: Create a partner profile for the federation, support NGO (and public authority) on co-habitat.net for; upload description on the Partnership.

Assessment Criteria:

  • Community leadership: What was the degree of community participation in formulating the policy, program, MoU related to this partnership?
  • Scalability: Is the partnership more of a one-time subsidy or a sustainable financial mechanism that would allow for large-scale impact?
  • Replicability: Can the Partnership be replicated in other countries or cities or is it very context-specific?)
  • Leverage: To what degree has this partnership leveraged additional resources for the community, e.g. technical support, land, funds for housing / upgrading projects, etc.
  • Impact: What has the impact of this partnership been to date on the lived experience / built environment of the urban poor?
  • Political independence: Is the Partnership dependent on a particular political setting, government official, or momentum, or is it formalised to the extent that it can they be sustained through political changes?

Selection Process: A committee of SDI representatives, community leaders, and academia will assess the submitted Partnerships.

Prize: Invitation to UN Habitat Governing Council, 27 – 31 May in Nairobi, and to CoHabitat Network regional hub to present winning project and to share experiences with peers. The winning partnerships will be featured in a short video produced during the event by SDI’s winning media / KYC.TV team.

Visit co-habitat.net to apply!

Watch the Co-habitat.net Tutorial here or download it here.

Deadline: 31 March 2019

More information contact@cohabitat.net 


CoHabitat Network is a network of community-led housing organisations and allies from across the world, working together to implement housing rights through collective, non-speculative, people-led solutions. We want to make community-led housing more widespread and attainable, so that communities are empowered to improve their homes, neighbourhoods and lives.

Slum Dwellers International (SDI) is the regional focal point for the CoHabitat Network in Africa and hosts of the first edition of the Community Habitat Award.

SDI is a network of community-based organisations of the urban poor in over 30 countries and hundreds of cities and towns across Africa, Asia and Latin America. In each country where SDI has a presence, affiliate organisations come together at the community, city and national level to form federations of the urban poor that drive a bottom-up change agenda for inclusive cities. The federations comprise thousands of the most vulnerable women, men, and youth who are mobilized around dynamic savings schemes networked to drive a collective, bottom-up change agenda for inclusive and resilient cities and to influence global development. Federations use tools and strategies such as daily savings, peer-to-peer exchanges, community profiling, enumeration, and mapping to organize a critical mass of urban poor communities in cities of the Global South – enabling them to engage with local and national government as partners in development rather than beneficiaries, and to shift development agendas to be more inclusive and pro-poor and ultimately more resilient and sustainable. Organized communities co-produce citywide strategies for securing tenure and increasing access to basic services, housing, and livelihoods with their local and national governments.

The World Habitat Awards recognize and highlight innovative, outstanding, and sometimes revolutionary housing ideas, projects, and programs from across the world. Every year, two winners receive £10,000 each and a trophy, presented at a global UN-Habitat event.

urbaMonde is a non-profit organization supporting cooperative housing solutions in Switzerland and France and facilitating the CoHabitat Network globally.

Co-habitat.net is a collaborative and interactive database of community-led housing and habitat projects. Join the network and interact with a growing community of peers!

More information: co-habitat.net

Questions: contact@co-habitat.net

How to apply :

Download a tutorial on how to apply here.

Download the project call 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.

Report for Youth Exchange to Nairobi, Kenya


This report was written by Moho Mofokeng, a youth leader from Orange Farm, South Africa. 

The purpose for this exchange between the South Africans, Kenyans and the Paraysam youth was for sharing ideas and helping each other as they have a similar project they youth is working on. Kenyans are doing numbering while the South Africans are doing the street naming project and the two projects are almost similar and both a necessity for every community to have.

Day 1.  28-08-18

South African youth met with the youth from Kenya and the Kenyan KYCTV youth. Everyone introduced themselves and the South African’s were the first to be given a platform the share their work, ideas and everything that they do how and how far are they as well as plans for future projects etc.

Joseph Muturi who is the Muungano (federation) coordinator explained his position in the organisation and what they do as well as their plans, and on how the South African team was different from other youth who was present on the day regarding saving because it was what he had picked on the South African youth that they emprise and practice daily saving.  Later on we got to learn and hear the Mukuru (Nairobi) side of doing things, they shared and explained their ways of collecting data, mapping, enumeration and also the way in which they mobilise.

Kate from the KYCTV and who is also a member of the federation shared how she got engaged with saving with the organisation, she further explained the challenges they had faced by not having toilets eg; the dirtiness and smell their area had which lead to many people getting sick they call it the “fly toilets”, and it made them come up with the idea of coming up with the toilet project which was a success after they’ve presented the idea to the city and the Marubi water, and it brought change and job creation to the unemployment federation youth Nairobi. She later talked about the evictions happening around Nairobi and on how the community have been affected by it. They have seeked help from the government by informing area chief and by also sending a petition to government.


Day 2. 29-08-18

The South African met with the members of Muungano and the community to see how they number their address and what we have realised was that their house numbers are way different from ours like for example their address goes like: RVS/A/202B hence we only have 4-5 numbers and the map which they have done themselves for doing the project.

  • RVS-cluster
  • A-cluster code
  • 202-house number
  • B-door number

We then shared the reason why we do street naming and the challenges we had faced for not having our streets named. People have been dying on our watch while we wait for the emergency service and lots of incidents happening and the emergency services can not reach the community, also mails getting mixed up because they will be delivered to wrong address so the youth took upon themselves to name their streets and how we did it.

Day 3. 30-08-18

We were taken Kibera to view the demolished houses, schools and churches and this area is where the recent eviction and demolishing took place as its said it’s a government land the area is supposed to be a road joining the other big road on the other side. And now most of the people were homeless, kids are now not going to school, most of the community members moved to railway houses that led people working as housekeepers in order to pay for rent and the other side that we saw is the side for people who can afford and it is called “Langata”

Later on that day we went to Kambi Moto to see the houses built by the federation members.  On our way there we were able to see the eviction taking place, shops and other business were evicted and demolished.

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 11.51.23 AM

At Kambi Moto members had planned the houses and the size themselves which were first side 4 scale meters and it took them several years to take place reason why they wanted to do things by themselves it is simply because government will want to build big houses and not all people will be able to get a house,34 houses were built at first phase and second phase has 28 houses.to get a house one must be a member of saving because the houses are from loan from saving

To be part in the construction you must have the following:

  • Saving book
  • Active member of federation

Houses were not enough for every member so some who could not get houses made withdrawals so they can rent to reduce labour. Fed-up mamas were part of the construction. We even went to see their community centre where they have their meetings,the youth also opened a business of washing cars from their savings in order to get a little income since they are not working.

Kambi Moto members aim was to construct houses in 2003 they started with the housing with the money from the federation (AMT) is the term they use for (UPF) the group they have formed, they would get loan from the AMT to build so AMT gives them 80% and 10% will come from each member another 10% will be from the saving this is only for members who save and attend meeting.


DAY 4 31-08-18

We met with the area chief and the people from the slums to share how they do their savings and mobilization, the south African team shared and made the people who were part of the meeting how important and how our challenge is similar to theirs.

On the last day of exchange, the participants visited Riara village in Mukuru where the federation met with a number of community mobilisers. The exchange participants gained a broader understanding of the community planning process anchored under the following:

  1. Mapping
  2. Formation of clusters
  3. Numbering and data collection
  4. Creation of occupancy registers
  5. Formation of cells(nyumba kumi)
  6. Formation of subclusters (baraza ndogo)






SDI partners with Twins on Tour to share stories of African youth


Next week SDI’s co-founder Joel Bolnick will hit the road with Morgan and Gabriel, the brothers who make up Twins on Tour. Read more below about how this project came into being and what this partnership hopes to achieve for the twins and for SDI. 

Guest post by Morgan & Gabriel Bolnick, Twins on Tour.

It all started with a moment of inspiration.

The idea that Gabriel stumbled upon some 12 months ago – then seeming like a distant, and highly unlikely possibility – is now only days away from becoming a reality.

What was the it? Simple: to piggy-back on the upcoming visits of one of SDI’s co-founders, Joel Bolnick, to SDI’s African affiliates and, while he discusses politics and strategy with the community leaders, we would document the lives, tell the stories of, and get to know youth living in Africa’s slums.

So, what’s it all about?

We are motivated by a belief that the world’s wealthy minority (us included) misunderstands the majority who live in poverty. Because of this, soul and hope-crushing judgments are often  (and, in many cases, unconsciously) made. Thus, by changing the perceptions that wealthy youth have of less privileged youth, and maybe even vice-versa, we hope to unify youth globally, irrespective of class, gender or race – making space for transformation and change.

And, who are these twins?

Twin brothers Morgan and Gabriel Bolnick are departing on a Cape Town to Kampala road trip on the 4th of June. This road trip will take them through cities and slums, towns and villages in their quest to explore what it means to be African.

“Born in Zimbabwe, I have always felt a deep connection with Africa. I want to use this opportunity to learn from this continent and other young people – to open space for the talents and creativity of all kids to shine and get the light we all deserve.” – Morgan

“I understood from a very young age that I live a privileged life. Not only do I want to see how other people live, but I want to find a way to give back – to feel part of something bigger than me.” – Gabriel


This is about the stories of Africa’s youth.

We are going to be telling the stories of Africa’s youth– with a focus on those living in the slums of Africa’s growing cities. We will do this through interviews, photos, and daily vlogs on our Instagram and Facebook pages. Follow us to travel Sub-Saharan Africa with us from your couch!

Who is helping us to make this happen?

Twins on Tour will be using the ION360 camera to document plastic pollution throughout Africa for environment organization Earth Day Network.  We will also document the What’s Cooking in Urban Africa? Master Chef series, featuring Michelin Star Chef Alan Wise, in collaboration with Clean Cooking Revolution and SDI.

Inspired to help? You can!

Head over to our Thundafund page for a more in-depth explanation of our 180-day expeditions, as well as to see how you can make this journey to the hearts of Africa’s youth, even better. 

Remembering Daniel Aya | #OtodoGbame #SaveOurWaterfronts


By Megan S. Chapman, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Justice & Empowerment Initiatives – Nigeria

The footage you see at the beginning of the promo clip for “The Legend of the Vagabond Queen of Lagos” showing thousands of people in wooden fishing boats on the Lagos Lagoon watching their homes being burned by the government was taken almost a year ago to the day by my husband. He was with the evictees while tear gas and live bullets were being shot in their general direction to keep them from returning to land.

The man in the second clip whose head was lolling back was Daniel Aya, a young man and Federation member who was hit by one of those bullets in the neck and whose community members were trying to pole him to another boat that could try to take him to get urgent treatment across the Lagoon. I met that boat when it landed 45 minutes later carrying his dead body. A few minutes later, another boat arrived with a young man shot in the chest whose life we were able to save.

The Otodo Gbame community including 30,000 people was violently and forcibly evicted so their land could be turned into a luxury real estate development. It was destroyed violently and ruthlessly despite peaceful protests by thousands of Federation members from the Lagos waterfronts. Despite a court injunction restraining the government from carrying out the eviction of Otodo Gbame and 39 other communities who remain at risk of eviction up to today despite a court judgement in their favour.

This project is born out of the need for alternative ways to get the message out and change these lived realities of the urban poor in Lagos, in Nigeria, and around the globe. There is urgency in the struggle. It is personal to me and to hundreds of thousands of Lagos urban poor who are leading the struggle for dramatic change.

We believe deeply in co-creative processes. These are the key to alternatives we are pushing for the government to take to pursue win-win solutions with the poor instead of violent land grab. But co-creation is messy, is labour intensive and takes time to be done well and be truly co-creative and pluralistic. I both recognize the “essentialness” of this approach and struggle to be patient for the end-product (or mid-stream) tools that will advance the struggle — and hopefully transform it into something that will change the conversation and lived realities of the people with whom my daily life is intertwined.