SDI Rituals: Profiling & Enumeration through the Vusi Ntsuntsha Project
A piece written by Camila Yanzaguano, Erica Levenson, Manuela Chedjou, with photography by Ana Holschuch.
Every year SDI hosts students from The New School, as part of their International Field Program. During the internship the students, alongside the SA SDI Alliance and Know Your City youth from the Western Cape, documented the data collection process and community organising of the Vusi Ntsuntsha project.
Bridging the gap in data surrounding informal settlements is one of the main priorities of SDI. As the profiling process has developed SDI has relied more and more on the community participation of residents of informal settlements. The lack of data on informal settlements is a major issue, and speaks to a larger oversight of informal settlement residents. For this reason, community participation in the data collection process is crucial. Through SDI’s ‘Know Your City’ Campaign (KYC), this profiling and enumeration work is active across 32 different countries, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, serving as an engine for active community participation. The initiative’s main goal is to produce valuable data on informal settlements so that the data can be used to determine what and where service improvements are needed.
Settlement profiling and enumeration is a process driven by the community for the community. The process helps to organize communities and define the most pressing problems in their settlement, as well as provide a space for communities to discuss priorities while encouraging cross-learning. Through social interaction, residents of informal settlements learn from each other and give helpful suggestions regarding the implementation of development projects.
Informal settlements are typically built by the residents themselves, and the conditions of the construction are not always under local or national codes and regulations. In South Africa in particular, there has been a steady increase in the number and population of informal settlements in the last two decades. The lack of information and data on these settlements has made authorities’ attempts at improvements extremely prolonged. Thus, the KYC initiative aims to expedite slum upgrading projects by compiling crucial data, all the while engaging communities in the process.
photograph taken by Ana Holschuch at Vusi Ntsuntsha meeting.
Enumeration, settlement profiling, and mapping are some of the processes that KYC is involved with and led by slum dwellers. Gathered data has facilitated sanitation improvements as well as the construction of transportation infrastructure, such as the paving of roads within several informal settlements across the SDI affiliated countries. As a result, residents of informal settlements have received improvements in roads, potable water, and sanitation- improvements that they have needed for some time. In some cases, communities have been able to get access to health services, construction of community centers, and schools.
Enumeration is a community-driven process that has been used by the SA SDI Alliance for years. Enumeration is essential to profiling residents of townships: how many residents per household, what resources they have and do not have, and so on. The data gained by enumeration is then presented to governments and used in requests for resource provisions. In other words, by having an exact number of people residing in each area, it becomes simpler and quicker for the government to budget, plan, and implement upgrading projects at the sites.
The South African (SA) SDI Alliance has been working in informal settlements for years and has come together with communities to develop the Vusi Ntsuntsha project through community participation. The Vusi Ntsuntsha project was stalled for twenty years, but with leadership commitment and contributions from members of the Vusi Ntsuntsha community, the project was recently re-established. The ultimate goal of the project is to build affordable, proper housing for community members using subsidies from the South African government. With the help of community leaders and the Alliance, the Vusi Ntsuntsha project is making impressive progress.
photograph taken by Ana Holschuch around profiling and enumeration of the Vusi Ntsuntsha project.
Community members have to be ‘visible’ to the government in order for any project to be planned. Profiling and enumeration create an undeniable visibility of residents and their needs. Through enumeration many important questions are answered: how long respective people have lived in their respective settlements and how they make a living. The data collected is ultimately used to ensure that all residents’ needs are accounted for in planning and service delivery. The data collection work of communities has gained organizations such as SDI and the SA SDI Alliance worldwide recognition. By collecting necessary information, the Western Cape Provincial Government was able to screen all Vusi Ntsuntsha beneficiaries and to provide a response about members who qualify for grants, and set new options for those households who do not qualify. Today, at least half of the 800 beneficiaries have been enumerated and verified, becoming formal members of the Vusi Ntsuntsha project.
Vusi Ntsuntsha’s process of profiling and enumeration has been crucial to the projects movement and success. Community members not only created valuable data but also gained knowledge during the process. Today, new projects, such as Mossel Bay, are starting with the support of the SA SDI Alliance. Vusi Ntsuntsha leaders and members are exchanging their knowledge on enumeration with Mossel Bay members. Community participation emerges as a key way to give power to the people within informal settlements. Communities are becoming more visible, capitalizing on their rights as citizens.
The Cities We Create Depend on the Choices We Make: Lagos
By Megan Chapman and Andrew Maki
The year 2017 witnessed two very different approaches to urban informal settlements in one city—Lagos, Nigeria. The largest city in Africa, Lagos epitomize the tension between tremendous economic potential and the overwhelming urban planning challenges posed by massive growth and rapid urbanization.
Within the space of a few months, one agency of the Lagos State Government carried out a massive forced eviction of over 30,000 residents of the Otodo Gbame community, an ancestral fishing settlement on the shores of the Lagos Lagoon. The eviction destroyed many hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of property, rendered tens of thousands homeless, and resulted in at least 11 deaths from drowning and gunshots. Evicted residents were literally chased off valuable urban real estate in the upscale Lekki area of Lagos and into wooden fishing boats in the lagoon. They fled by the thousands to no fewer than 16 other informal settlements on the waterfront, where most are still homeless and living in deep poverty. The seized land is meanwhile being rapidly developed into yet another luxury real estate venture, which will likely sit half vacant while the city’s enormous affordable housing deficit grows wider and informal settlements multiply to fill the gap.
During the same year, another agency of the Lagos State Government was—for the first time in the city’s history—opening up dialogue with residents of dozens of informal urban settlements organized under the auspices of the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation, with a view toward partnership in gathering community-led data and planning toward holistic in situ community upgrading. A peer-to-peer exchange for Nigerian slum community and government representatives to Nairobi, hosted by their Kenyan slum federation and government counterparts, provided an opportunity to see viable eviction alternatives forged by communitygovernment partnership. As a result, the Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA) and the SDI-affiliated slum dweller federation started the process of building the mutual understanding and trust that are essential to reversing a history of violent evictions and demonstrating alternatives for inclusively transforming the city.
These starkly different strategies for urban development and the choices they represent reveal the potential for Lagos to be a city of large-scale tragedy or large-scale opportunity.
The Cost of Eviction
The human and development costs of evictions are enormous. For evicted households, the results include homelessness; loss of livelihood; negative health consequences, even death; separation of family and loss of social support systems; interruption of education; and overall worsened living conditions.
These consequences are not limited to the immediate term but have lasting effects on urban poor households. Research conducted among victims of the February 2013 forced eviction in Badia East—another Lagos informal settlement—showed that 2.5 years after the forced evictions, over a third were still homeless, and over 80 percent were living in shelters worse than the homes they inhabited prior to the demolition. More than half were separated from family, and a third of children had been unable to resume schooling. Virtually all described their incomes and access to work as worse or much worse.1 Similar findings are reported on the long-term impact of the forced evictions of the Njemanze and Abonnema Wharf communities in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Nothing leaves people behind as evictions do. Forced evictions are a betrayal of the SDGs we signed up for. A large-scale eviction affecting tens of thousands of urban poor residents undermines progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on poverty, health, education, access to basic services, and sustainable urban development.
Government officials routinely try to justify large scale forced eviction on the grounds that such displacement will improve city security, sanitation, and the environment and will enable implementation of a master plan. But evicted communities do not disappear from the city; rather, the population forcibly displaced from one location simply moves to or creates a new informal settlement and does so with far fewer assets. Far from creating a more secure city, such mass displacement leaves affected populations desperate and erodes trust in government and law enforcement. In short, the city’s resilience is massively reduced.
Win-Win Alternatives: Learning from Other Federations
As the Nigeria federation and its partners seek and develop win-win eviction alternatives, they do so in solidarity with their peers from the SDI network. In cities across the globe, the experience of mass forced eviction and the manifold negative consequences of such evictions gave rise to these slum dweller movements. Organized communities have leveraged grassroots knowledge and the capacity to change urban policy and practice while developing strategies to protect and improve settlements. Over decades, in response to and in dialogue with these movements, city governments have found ways of working with the urban poor to craft win-win alternatives to eviction with improved outcomes for communities and the city as a whole.
Looking across countries, workable alternatives to eviction can be driven by innovations in policy, practice, and finance. Policy-driven alternatives are those that grow out of policy innovations that unlock investment in in situ slum upgrading. In some countries this has been achieved through innovations in land titling to enable the urban poor to secure tenure and, consequently, invest more in their housing and community infrastructure. Other policy innovations target the private sector, incentivizing investment in housing and infrastructure for the urban poor. For instance, in India, policymakers, in consultation with the SDI-affiliated slum dweller movement, designed a Transferred Development Rights (TDR) scheme by which developers could obtain the right to build high-end housing with augmented density in exchange for building free housing for the urban poor.
Innovations in practice involve partnership between governments and organized communities to directly upgrade or resettle informal settlements, at times with participation by global development partners. Examples include the large-scale railway resettlement programs in India and Kenya, in which SDI-affiliated slum dweller federations led enumerations of people living within railway line setbacks and then worked with the government to plan, organize, and implement resettlement programs. In India, strong partnership and highly organized communities enabled the resettlement of 60,000 in just one year. In Kenya, nearly 10,000 have already been resettled in situ and the program is ongoing. Housing units were constructed on the same land after clearing the 20 meters closest to the rail line through consolidation of households into three-story housing in the remaining 10 meters.
Even where third-party financing may not be available for rapid and large-scale resettlement, organized communities working in partnership with government may still plan for and implement community-led upgrading. An example is in Kambi Moto community in Nairobi, where the SDI-affiliated savings groups in the community negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the government. The government agreed to transfer land title to the community in exchange for a land readjustment and upgrading plan whereby residents used their savings and SDI-supported soft loans to build improved housing, going vertical to make more efficient use of the land and making available a plot for a government building. The layout and process are continuously being improved and have been replicated in other Nairobi slums.
Innovations in finance, as well as in policy and practice, are essential to unlock slum dwellers’ capacity to invest in the upgrading of their own communities. To this end, SDI-affiliated slum dweller movements across the world have been working with city governments to establish and grow Urban Poor Funds. Such funds pool capital from their members and third-party sources to finance investments in land, housing, and related projects. An example is the community-managed uTshani Fund, established in 1995 by the South African SDI affiliate with an initial USD 2.7 million pledge from the Minister of Housing. The uTshani Fund uses donated capital to pre-finance innovative community-based housing design and delivery through bridge loans, which revolve back into supporting new projects. To date, the fund has used its initial grant capital to secure land and build over 13,000 houses.
Trust and Partnership: A Foundation for New Solutions
In each of the successful examples of alternatives to eviction given above, a key to crafting workable innovations in policy, practice, and finance is strong partnership between organized communities and government. Against a history of evictions, it may take time to build trust and mutual understanding to enable such partnership, but the sustainable outcomes—upgrading slums and delivering affordable housing for the urban poor without recourse to evictions—are better for communities and for the city. This is the process that LASURA and the Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation have embarked on, following in the footsteps of other SDI-affiliated movements and their government partners around the globe.
The Lagos chapter of the federation comprises hundreds of savings groups in over 80 settlements across the megacity; of these, the federation has identified three settlements with the strongest savings groups and highest level of contributions to the Nigerian Urban Poor Fund as priorities for upgrading in partnership with LASURA. During the initial phase, the federation has led household-level enumerations in two of the priority communities, with LASURA’s research department joining the fieldwork so that they can understand the process and help validate the data, which will be essential for planning. The federation has also convened a series of large town hall meetings in which community members engage directly with LASURA around upgrading priorities and data-based planning.
While building the foundation for partnership, dialogue is beginning on how best to drive eviction alternatives on a megacity scale: Should this start incrementally? Should it involve a development partner? Are policy changes needed to unlock investment? What is the role of private developers? How can communities remain in the driver’s seat if private developers are involved? What is the best way to overcome the legacy of evictions and avoid the pitfalls of the past?
One thing is for certain: as this partnership takes shape, it will not only make history in Lagos, but it has the potential to tap into the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerian slum dwellers to develop new approaches to eviction alternatives. It will simultaneously pose and answer the most pertinent question of all: What happens once an eviction has been prevented?
In February, SDI launched a landmark publication titled “Know Your City: Slum Dwellers Count,” showcasing the extraordinary contribution of the Know Your City (KYC) campaign to creating understanding and taking action to reduce urban poverty and exclusion. We are posting a new chapter from the book every week. Enjoy!
Download the full publication here: http://bit.ly/2seRc0x
Know Your City TV Launches in Kenya
Photo: Nicera Wanjiru
**This article was originally featured on the Muungano wa Wanavijiji blog.**
By Jack Makau
Art has always been central to the struggle of the Kenyan slum dweller for a place in the city. From the prayer associated with the ‘theatre of the oppressed’, to puppetry, traditional and contemporary music, graffiti, film making, and, more recently, social media action, the Kenyan slum dweller story has a rich tradition of art expression.
This year, building on this tradition, Muungano is investing—alongside its perennial search for slum upgrading solutions—in film making and new media, working with Know Your City TV.
Muungano sees that the slum upgrading narrative can benefit from taking pause and engendering an understanding… What does it actually mean to live in a slum? What is it about the slum that makes it such a stubborn development challenge?
It started with a prayer
Sometimes, in the 1990s, when the opportunity presented itself and slum dwellers had occasion to meet local chiefs or government officials—and knowing full well that piety is an assumed quality of the poor—an opening and closing prayer would feature prominently.
Ordinarily, beyond the prayers, Kenyan slum dwellers in the 1990s had their rights to association and expression severely curtailed. And so the opening prayer became a skit, a safe way to set the agenda for a meeting.
The prayer would go, “Our blessed Lord in heaven, we pray for the success of this malaria awareness workshop, we thank you blessed Lord that because of this workshop there will now be an alternative to demolishing the homes by the river. We worship you because those families, your prayerful children bowed here before you, are saved from malaria and demolition. We exalt you for touching the heart of our dear chief, your child that you chose to lead us, to bring this workshop instead. We pray that you continue to give her great wisdom …”
And the closing prayer then became another skit—a way to redirect the conclusions of the meeting. “Dear blessed Lord, maker of all things possible, we thank you for allowing our dear chief to sit and discuss with us. We pray that you give her the strength and show her your way to intervene with your higher leaders on behalf of your lowly children, blessed Saviour. We know precious Lord that you allow the writing of demolition notices and you can in your grace unwrite those notices, even without us having to visit those higher offices. Let your will be done through her hands …”
Twenty years on, and the civil space for slum dwellers is markedly more open. The slums are no longer condemned to demolition, and slum dwellers are instead enjoined with the state in a frustrated endeavour to upgrade housing, infrastructure, and livelihoods. It is no longer a question of whether the slums have a right to the city, but how that right can be achieved in settlements of seemingly intractable complexity.
The prayer is no longer necessary. Yet art is still indispensable as a way in which difficulty in the slum discussion is managed.
Photo: Nicera Wanjiru
Using art to make planning possible
In June 2017, Muungano launched a local chapter of SDI’s Know Your City TV project, known as KYC TV Kenya. Supported by Cities Alliance and GIZ, the project equips youth with video documentation resources to tell stories of the lived experiences of the urban poor, and make media that contributes to the transformation of slums and cities.
The project began with recruiting, equipping, and training 20 youth from Mukuru slums in Nairobi. The Mukuru slums sit on 647 acres and are home to 100,000 households. Earlier this year, in March, the slum was designated as a ‘special planning area’ of the Nairobi county government. This designation is a first for slums in Kenya: it recognises that existing city planning laws and procedures cannot be used to address the slums’ complicated land tenure arrangements, improve on very low levels of provision of services like water and sanitation, and upgrade the largely iron sheet housing stock.
The initial focus of KYC TV Kenya is to bring the reality of Mukuru to the fore—to be able to reach, and, using short drama and documentaries, give insights to the planning process. Using art to make planning possible.
The first set of films are supported by Caritas Switzerland, SDI, and the Stockholm Environmental Institute, all organisations that are part of the County’s special planning effort in Mukuru.
Early in September, KYC TV Kenya announced that it would release its first five films at the Mukuru Film Festival, to be held on the 4th of October in Nairobi.
KYC.TV Kenya’s first few offerings. In the fight against global urban poverty, youth from Kenya’s informal settlements are using the power of film to share the fabric of their community with the world and to give voice to slum communities.
What is KYC.TV ?
Know Your City TV puts the power of storytelling into the hands of urban poor youth. By equipping youth with video documentation skills and resources they are able to share stories of the lived experiences of the urban poor with the world by making media that contributes to the transformation of slums and cities.
Young people are at the forefront when it comes to technology. The expansion of smart phones across the Global South has made it much easier for urban poor youth to capture their surroundings and start conversations about the issues that need to be addressed when transforming slums and cities. The KYC.TV project is bridging the north-south tech divide by creating space for urban poor youth to share the stories of their communities with the world.
The KYC.TV process starts with workshops that provide basic gear, filming, and editing training to groups of youth from the slums. These skills are put to use in making short informational or music videos that allow the youth filmmakers to practice and perfect their skills. Through the filming courses, youth gain a set of skills and equipment that they can use to act as advocates for their communities, and improve their livelihood opportunities.
KYC 3.0: Using Community-Driven Slum Data to Build Resilient Cities
SDI’s city-wide profiling work has fed the growth of the Know Your City Campaign. The second phase of this collaboration (KYC 2.0) between SDI, United Cities and Local Governments-Africa (UCLG-A) and Cities Alliance was launched at Habitat III in Quito and a new MOU between UCLG-A and SDI to expand the work was signed. SDI anticipates additional support for this work to come from various partners engaged at HIII, where links were also made between the KYC Campaign and setting baselines and targets for monitoring the New Urban Agenda and SDGs; between the KYC Campaign and enhanced efficacy in UN Habitat’s PSUP program; and as a foundation for resilient city planning.
To this end, considerable effort is being placed in Know Your City 3.0. SDI is finalizing a strategic framework for the next iteration of our Know Your City programme: KYC 3.0. KYC 3.0 is underpinned by the relevant Theory of Change outcomes measurement framework, particularly identifying the leading indicators for normative and predicative analysis of cities’ capacity to manage shocks and stresses. SDI has enlisted the support of Andrew Means to support strategy and design with regards to the KYC data system. Andrew is Head of BeyondUptake the philanthropic and civic innovation arm of Uptake and Co-Founder at The Impact Lab. He has dedicated his career to creating a more effective and efficient social sector by developing data tools that help organizations improve their impact. SDI is confident his guidance will support SDI to achieve its ambitious vision for KYC 3.0.
What is that vision? It is to ensure that women-led collective organizing and action by urban poor communities anchors the co-production (by communities, local government and other development stakeholders) of strategies for transformation of the built environment from slums to resilient, inclusive and integrated city neighborhoods. This co-production results in the joint implementation of incremental, in situ precedent setting upgrading.