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.



Recife Hosts Brazil’s First National Slum Dweller Exchange



As of 2017, SDI’s Brazil partner is supporting 17 savings groups in 3 cities. In the last year, organizing efforts concentrated on coordination with local institutional partners, expansion to bring new groups into the network, and supporting groups with their specific challenges. These strategies were pursued in Osasco, Varzea Paulista, and Recife. In September 2017, Recife hosted Brazil’s first national exchange to bring these groups and their partners together for the purpose of exploring shared concerns and strengthening the relationship between efforts in each region/city. Topics discussed centered on women and youth, land regularization, and the environment as they relate to community organization and The Right to the City.


The community in Ilha de Deus, Recife, collaborates strategically with a host of actors including other popular movements and regional NGOs. A joint project with Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) is under preparation in which the community will combine various profiling and enumeration approaches pioneered by SDI and HFHI to combat eviction threats and enhance tenure security for slum communities. Efforts are also underway to bring more youth into the network and introduce savings to new communities in the city and region. As part of this effort, the groups hope to document the history of their organizing and leadership of urban poor communities. In terms of government collaboration, Ilha de Deus are beginning to act at municipal level as part of Recife’s Master Plan Discussion Forum. This effort is being undertaken in partnership with the Women’s Secretariat of the Recife Municipality, HFHI, and ActionAid. The group is also taking part in the Urban Reform Forum in coordination with organized youth groups (FOJUPE) and women artisans and fishing communities.


The national exchange convened this year was an important step in building solidarity among slum dweller groups across the country. At present the groups work effectively in their various communities, but do not have a strong sense of belonging to a national network. In partnership with the local NGO Rede Interação, considerable alliance opportunities exist with the potential to bring about a shift in The Right to the City dialogue that positions slum dwellers as partners rather than beneficiaries of resilient city developments.

The Brazil slum dwellers’ efforts contribute to improved city resilience through the building of collective identity and support, organizing active citizens, and strengthening pro-active multi-stakeholder collaboration.

This post is part of a series of case studies from our 2017 Annual Report titled ‘The Road to Resilience.’ Emerging from the field of ecology,  ‘resilience’  describes the capacity of a system to maintain or recover from disruption or disturbance. Cities are also complex systems and a resilience framework addresses the inter- connectedness of formal and informal city futures. Moreover, it enables a nuanced reflection on the nature of shocks and chronic stressors – recognising that the latter are particularly acute in slum dweller communities and that this critically undermines the entire city’s economic, social, political, and environmental resilience.As with personal resilience, city resilience demands awareness, acknowledgment of reality, and a capacity to move beyond reactivity to responses that are proactive, thoughtful, and beneficial to the whole. The most enlightened individuals and cities will be those that understand their responsibility to the most vulnerable and to the planet. Our 2017 Annual Report showcases some of SDI’s achievements over the past year on the road to resilience. Click here for the full report. 

Know Your City Campaign Launches in Latin America

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 12.28.10 PM

*Desplácese hacia abajo para español*

SDI is excited to announce that in 2018 we will support organized urban poor communities in Latin America looking to use community-led profiling and mapping to catalyze dialogue with government or other authorities to improve the lives of the poor. Small support grants for this work will be available to organization who show that organized urban poor communities are working toward one or more of the following outcome level changes in their settlement or city:

  • Improved public health and safety
  • Improved livelihoods
  • Improved land tenure security
  • Improved strategic influence of the urban poor

We invite community-based organizations, local NGOs and other entities in Latin America to identify organized informal settlement communities who may need support, and reflect on how profiling and mapping could advance their planning, negotiation or implementation efforts.

Summary of Opportunity

  • Approximately 10 grants to support community groups proposing to undertake community led informal settlement profiling and mapping in order to start initiatives that will improve the lives of the urban poor and engage local and national governments and/or other potential collaborators in community led urban processes.
  • Maximum grant size of $20,000; additional funds can be provided by the community and/or other sources.
  • Use of Know Your City (KYC) profiling tools (and support for adaptation of these to meet local context and purpose of profiling), use of KYC platform, increased visibility as part of the KYC campaign, identification of possible new community groups in Latin American countries; and networking with other community groups in the SDI network.
  • Eligible applicants must be community-based organizations, local non-government organizations, or local authorities supporting organized urban poor communities in Latin American countries.
  • Opportunity to connect with SDI urban poor social movements in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

To apply for pre-selection, please complete the application concept note and submit to before midnight on April 28, 2018.

The application concept note is available in English and Spanish here.

Founded in 1996, SDI is a transnational network of the urban poor bringing together over a million federated slum dwellers in 30 countries on 3 continents. The federations comprise thousands of saving groups networked at the settlement, city and national level to collectively drive a bottom-up change agenda for inclusive and resilient cities. Federations use strategies such as daily savings, peer-to-peer exchange, community profiling, enumeration, and mapping to organize a critical mass of urban poor communities in cities of the Global South. The SDI network places a special focus on the role of women as key drivers of this change.

An initiative of SDI and its partners, Know Your City is a groundbreaking global campaign for participatory pro-poor, people-centered urban governance. KYC unites organized slum dwellers and local governments in partnerships anchored by community-led informal settlement profiling, enumeration and mapping. The campaign ushers in a new era for slum community dialogue and collaborative planning with governments. KYC holds potential to guide not only local governments, but national and international policies, programs and investments at scale, and to contribute significantly to managing the persistent social, economic, environmental and political risks facing cities and nations. 

Please contact for more information.



SDI se complace en anunciar que durante 2018 apoyará a comunidades organizadas de pobres urbanos en América Latina para que emprendan proyectos de perfilamiento y mapeo que fortalezcan el diálogo con gobiernos y otras autoridades con el propósito de mejorar las condiciones de vida de los más pobres. Para ello KYC apoyará con una pequeña subvención financiera a organizaciones de base empeñadas en mejorar su asentamiento, barrio o ciudad en aspectos como:

  • Salud pública y seguridad;
  • Medios de subsistencia;
  • Seguridad de la tenencia de la tierra;
  • Influencia estratégica sobre el desarrollo urbano

Las comunidades seleccionadas tendrán la oportunidad de relacionarse con las federaciones de la red SDI para efectos del aprendizaje entre pares.

Invitamos a organizaciones de base, ONGs, y otras entidades de América Latina a identificar comunidades que podrían participar en KYC, y reflexionar sobre cómo esta participación fortalecería su capacidad de proponer, negociar o ejecutar iniciativas desde la base.

Para participar en la preselección, por favor completen el documento de concepto y envíenlo a   antes de medianoche del 28 de abril de 2018.

El documento de concepto es disponible en idioma inglés y español aquí.

SDI es una red internacional de federaciones de pobres urbanos fundada en 1996, e integrada por más de un millón de habitantes de asentamientos precarios en 30 países de 3 continentes. Al interior de las federaciones, miles de grupos de ahorro impulsan colectivamente en sus asentamientos, ciudades y países, iniciativas que “desde la base” generen ciudades más inclusivas y resilientes. Emplean estrategias tales como ahorro diario, intercambios entre pares y confección de perfiles, catastros y mapas de los barrios informales con el propósito de consolidar una red de comunidades organizadas, con presencia y capacidad para influir positivamente en el desarrollo de las ciudades del sur del mundo. La red SDI da especial importancia al papel de las mujeres como motores claves en este cambio.

La iniciativa Know Your City KYC (Conoce tu Ciudad) es una innovadora campaña de alcance mundial que SDI ha puesto en marcha para promover un desarrollo urbano que no solo privilegie a los más pobres, sino además los incluya efectivamente  en la toma de decisiones. KYC favorece la asociación entre las organizaciones comunitarias y los gobiernos locales al apoyar iniciativas de preparación de perfiles, catastros y mapas de los asentamientos informales, lideradas por los propios habitantes. Además de fomentar el   diálogo y colaboración directa entre las comunidades y los gobiernos locales, KYC ha demostrado tener un gran potencial para incidir en las políticas, programas e inversiones urbanas a nivel nacional e internacional, y así contribuir de manera significativa a un mejor manejo de los riesgos sociales, económicos, ambientales y políticos que enfrentan las ciudades y los países.

Por favor, consulta para más información.