**Cross posted from ARISE Consortium blog
By Samuel Saidu and Abu Conteh
“Don’t remove them from the slum, remove the slum-ness from them…Informal settlement residents are used to their communities, which they relate with socially, culturally, economically, so it makes much sense to improve conditions around them rather than removing them.”
These were the words of Dr Brima Gogra of the School of Environmental Sciences, Njala University, at our launch earlier this month. He argued that it made more sense for government to provide communities with a safe environment that met their needs rather than evicting or relocating residents.
The stakeholders at the launch were broad-based, including health workers, chiefs, youth groups, women’s leaders and representatives from various government departments, including the Ministries of Health and Planning.
At the launch of the project, various speakers, including informal residents, community elders and advocates of settlement upgrading spoke about the need for government to integrate informal settlement upgrading needs into planning by providing water, health services and adequate drainage, and give up plans of relocating them.
We heard from Sister Elizabeth Musa of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation that better research was key to the development of the informal settlements, ‘‘Sierra Leone lacks informed data to make real time decision on the people living in an informal settlement, and today it has resulted into seasonal movement in and out of their dwelling houses and communities. It is scary to hear that a third of the people living in the cities live in slums.”
The chief from one of the informal coastal settlements (Pa. Alimamy S. Kargbo of Cockle Bay) in Freetown, passionately expressed how their community has been repeatedly neglected by political leaders in planning and service delivery, yet they often revert to them when they need political votes:
“We are all Sierra Leoneans but we in informal settlements are loved by season; we are the Cotton Tree, so we remain strong…Our settlements are regarded as illegal, but they don’t refer to us as illegal when they need political votes. We need development, we need change in our community.’’
A community representative from Dwarzark and a member of FEDURP, Margeret Bayoh, expressed similar frustration about the disdainful way informal residents often are treated by people in authority:
“You say we live in illegal settlements, but our taxes and services are never illegal; we cook, clean, baby sit and drive for the so-called ‘people living in formal settlements’.”
ARISE is working in three communities on accountability, governance, health and well being, there was a lot of support from all stakeholders to change the narrative around communities in informal settlements. Communities are already well organized, particularly in areas where the presence of central government is limited. They have established networks with government and institutions that can help them effect change, as expressed in some of their popular slogans:
- “We reason together, involve together, identify together and evaluate together”
- “Information is power”
- ‘‘We are busy for something”
There is a lot of tension in communities now with fear that slum dwellers may be relocated from their current settlements. In Sierra Leone, the risk of living in an informal settlement is increasing year by year since 2013, with intermittent flooding events, disease outbreaks, and one of the worst mudslides. Urbanization and poverty have made thousands of people leave their homes in the provinces in search of livelihoods in the cities, many of whom live in informal settlements due to lack of adequate housing. Yet, relocation of people living in informal settlements has proven controversial, primarily because of limited access to livelihood options and social services in relocated settlements. A case in point was the relocation of thousands of flood victims in 2015 to a settlement about 20 miles outside Freetown. Many of those who were moved returned to Freetown due to remoteness of the location and difficulty earning a living.
It is important to reflect on a few issues as ARISE becomes a reality in Sierra Leone. How do we hope to address the contrasting views of communities and policy stakeholders in addressing intractable health problems of vulnerable people? How do we get ARISE prepared to meet the urban development challenges and the aspirations of informal settlement dwellers? It is yet to be seen how our contributions will contribute to solving problems that seem so insurmountable.
Jockin Arputham has been fighting for the rights of slum dwellers for nearly 50 years. This blog is drawn from an interview by IIED’s David Satterthwaite ahead of World Habitat Day about what the Sustainable Development Goals could mean for slum dwellers.
Jockin Arputham founded the first national slum dweller federation in India in 1976 and went on to ally this with Mahila Milan, the Indian federation of women slum and pavement dweller savers. He has spent over 20 years encouraging and supporting slum and shack dwellers federations in many other countries – and he is President of Slum/Shack Dwellers International.
Making the SDGs action oriented
The SDGs promise so much but they are not action oriented. Many countries do not have the capacity to act. We see dreams of a slum-free world or a slum-free country or slum-free cities. But that is an ideal that needs strong political will, a strong and stable economy, and a conducive environment for the community. In Europe you might expect UN promises that everyone has a decent home to be met – but is this realistic for India?
Ambitions must be achievable
My ambition for the SDGs is limited to what we can do – what is meaningful, useful and sustainable – and implementable. So our goal is not slum-free cities but slum-friendly cities. Not a slum-free India but a slum-friendly India.
What does slum-friendly mean? That the SDG promises like clean water and good sanitation for all, land tenure for people, incremental housing and basic employment are met for all slum dwellers. If these five mandates are accepted, how can we set standards and measure what is or is not happening in each city? If there is also a mandate for people to participate, and take part, then set dates by which to achieve each of these. Even to achieve the more modest goals for slum-friendly cities means that governments have to do three times what they are doing now
Will action on the SDGs be any better than the Millennium Development Goals? So much high talk of all the goals in last 15 years but where are we in the goals and in their measurement? Are we setting unattainable goals with the SDGs?
We have seen government commitments made at Habitat I (the first UN Conference on Human Settlements) in Vancouver in 1976; then at Habitat II in Istanbul in 1996. At Habitat 1, there were commitments and targets for 1990 and these were not met. There have been very few tangible achievements. I was invited to go to speak at Habitat I in 1976 but the government was bulldozing the settlement where I lived, so I stayed in Mumbai where I had fought this threat for 10 years.
Habitat III is approaching (in 2016). Will this bring more unrealistic commitments? Or will it truly be a “new urban agenda” with a clear strategy for achieving the goals with new measures? New locally-generated metrics that everyone can follow. Everyone’s participation including slum dwellers. All the UN documents and processes claim they have people’s participation but usually this is just a grand talk show.
Looking back – what was the world’s urban population at the time of Habitat 1? Just 1.6 billion people. At Habitat II there were 2.6 billion. And now 4 billion.
We have seen the growth of NGOs and big donors and their budgets but for slum dwellers, where has all this money gone? NGOs and big donors are sharing a platform in the name of the poor and the poor are left out. Local governments and slum dweller organisations are the ones working on achieving the goals but these are usually left out of these new platforms.
No forced evictions
And the threat of eviction for slum dwellers still remains. After Habitat I, we had many sister city programmes – beautiful red wine talk – but this did not deliver land tenure. There should be a commitment at Habitat III – no forced evictions. No evictions without relocations that are acceptable to those who are relocated. After 40 years we still have not cracked this. Now the pressures of forced eviction will grow as cities invest more in infrastructure.
The cost of decent relocation is peanuts compared to infrastructure budgets. It should be part of the cost of all projects that require relocation. But this needs political will and administrative skill to work with the people and design with the communities. The huge costs of forced evictions are not counted – for the residents, the lost homes, possessions, assets, livelihoods, access to schools….
Where people are moved, we need a package of meaningful rehousing through which the quality of life of the people moved also improves.
What new urban agenda?
Now, with Habitat III, either you close the dialogue that has produced so little or you come forward with what we can realistically achieve in the next 15 years and set up a system of measurement that involves and is accountable to slum dwellers. From this, we learn about what works and from our mistakes.
We need to learn how to find solutions for renters too; so often, relocation programmes only benefit those who ‘own’ their home and can prove they have lived there for many years.
Slum dwellers must become a central part of slum friendly cities especially the women savings groups who are the foundation of the slum dweller federations around the world. But how? We need community participation with a strong focus on women. Full involvement of women in developing slum friendly cities gives a clear change of life for millions of people. As the women say, I work with my sisters, my federation, my family. Women’s savings groups can manage money and this is a big change. It helps them learn to budget, and they bring their knowledge of the local situation. Then as they join together they work at city scale and interact with city government and city politicians
For each of the SDGs, you need to connect them to the ground. Create a mechanism to achieve each target. You do not set up targets without setting out system of delivery – and this system has to involve community groups and local governments. And with progress monitored locally and openly – so these are accountable for all.
Jockin Arputham was regarded for decades in India as a public enemy as he fought against evictions (and imprisoned dozens of times). Latterly his incredible contribution to how to address slums (and work with their inhabitants) has been recognised in India where he was awarded the Padma Shri award and internationally.
David Satterthwaite is a Senior Fellow in IIED’s Human Settlements Group.
A Commentary On A Recent Spate Of Evictions To Affect Federation Groups In West And Southern Africa.
In the last fortnight the SDI Secretariat has received reports from a number of our affiliates about large-scale evictions taking place in settlements in which the SDI network has a presence. Current estimates are that over 40,000 people have been evicted in Badia East, Lagos (Nigeria), Crab Town, Freetown (Sierra Leone), Old Fadama, Accra (Ghana), and Caledonia Farm, Harare (Zimbabwe).
In their desperation to find a way to stop the destruction of Crab Town, the SDI affiliate in Sierra Leone reached out to the network. A lively correspondence has ensued. It is a revealing and enlightening communication between slum dwellers and support professionals that reminds us that the SDI network has its roots in a struggle against evictions and that over thirty years later struggles for land and security of tenure still lie at the heart of the movement.
We invite you to read the full correspondence, included below, and to contribute to the discussion. SDI will continue to support community efforts to get ahead of the bulldozers and invites its partners to intensify efforts to find workable solutions.
Subject: MASSIVE EVICTION AND DEMOLITION OF CRAB TOWN SLUM (ABERDEEN)
On Sep 7, 2015, at 6:36 PM, Samuel Sesay, SDI affiliate in Sierra Leone wrote:
It is sad to inform you that one popular slum in Freetown situation at Aberdeen Beach axis has been absolutely demolished and about 9,000 slum dwellers made homeless in the middle of the heavy down pour of rain in West Africa. The entire exercise started on Saturday 5th Sept. 2015 and the demolition work is still going on. The entire deal was driven by the Ministry of Tourism with the intention of taking away all the coastal slums and make them attractive for tourism. The government intend to continue in this until they get rid of all coastal slums in Freetown. This has created a very serious alarm. Fedurp and Codohsapa went on the ground and bull dossers, caterpillars and vibrant youth were hired for the exercise.
Sorry we couldn’t provide pictorial evidence because the entire area was heavily covered with military and police presence and picture and videoing was not allowed, if you are caught, then you will be charged to court for various offences. So, that is the situation we are faced with right now and the exercise is still on going. So that is that the SDI family.
Samuel Sheka Sesay,
Centre Of Dialogue On Human Settlement And Poverty Alleviation (CODOHSAPA).
REPLY From: Joe Muturi, National Leader Kenya Federation
Subject: Re: MASSIVE EVICTION AND DEMOLITION OF CRAB TOWN SLUM (ABERDEEN)
Date: 11 September 2015 at 11:52:57 AM SAST
On one of my visits to SL, you took us to a part of kroobay where the families where evicted and I remember telling you that you should never take visitors on field visits to showcase your failures. This is exactly what I meant. If you appeal for sympathy after evictions happen then they will continue to happen. You must do something to make sure you raise the price of evicting a community.
As I say this I want you to know that my and all of SDI’s thoughts are with you and we feel you. We know how cruel it is and we also know how difficult it is to deal with these situations.
The immediate problem is that when a community is evicted and they do not stay on the land, they end up losing because they are already hard hit and cannot afford to re-invade the land. And when they leave the settlement everyone ends up looking for a place to go by themselves and it is very difficult to bring them together again.
Nigeria, has had an experience of going to court and getting compensation for the evicted families. So I am copying in Megan who can share on the Badia East experience. I am also copying in Jane, who could share a Kenyan legal precedent where the courts granted compensation for evicted families in a settlement called city carton.
These cases are however exceptions made possible by the involvement of the world bank in Nigeria, and in Kenya we had new laws and the judge was previously muungano’s lawyer. It is easier if you had done an enumeration but I think you had only a profile. And therefore this is the info you will need to fight for the settlement. These cases are long and hard and if there is a legal NGO in SL you could try getting them to take up the case.
Whatever else you do make sure that this eviction does not go away quietly. You must make sure that it is in the media and that there is a petition to government, delivered with people power and some oomph. Demonstrate or do whatever you have to make sure everyone knows that there are consequences. And all settlements in SL need to see you as the movement that fights for them.
This is easier said than done, because you are always trying to build a relationship with government. In Kenya we say we work like a rat, “we bite and blow”. You fight and appease at the same time. You fight over one settlement with ministry of tourism and you build a project in another settlement with another ministry. You should never allow an eviction to happen without a noise.
SDI can help in making a noise if you help us document the eviction and keep us updated on what you are doing. The secretariat will post on its website and all of us will highlight it wherever we are, So keep sharing with us on a daily basis.
Lastly, since you know the evictions for coastal slums will continue. You need to take preventative steps. One way is to create a coastal slums federation – a daughter federation of the big federation. A federation that is just focused on building advocacy and proposals for the coastal slums. If I remember well there are plenty of coastal slums, mo wharf, kroobay, Susan’s bay, colbolt etc. when doing this remember you must mix the positive and negative. Do advocacy and the building local solutions for the communities.
REPLY From: Megan Chapman SDI affiliate in Nigeria
Subject: Re: MASSIVE EVICTION AND DEMOLITION OF CRAB TOWN SLUM (ABERDEEN)
Date: 14 September 2015 at 10:10:57 PM SAST
Very sorry for the slow reply, Samuel, and very sorry to hear of the demolitions and displacement in Freetown. How are the people coping? Can you provide any further details about the background to the evictions — was there any prior statement of intent to demolish by the Ministry of Tourism? Was there any notice? Any prior attempts at engagement between the affected community/communities and the government? Any action in court? Any protest or action since? Media attention?
Indeed, Nigeria has plenty of experience with forced eviction — large scale and ruthless — and, sadly, little experience of success in getting compensation or justice through the courts. Decades of losing in court and continued demolitions is what led us to seek partnership with SDI so as to try new methods — namely mass mobilization and proactive engagement — aimed at changing the politics towards bringing an end to forced evictions in Nigeria (both by raising the costs, as Muturi explained, and practically illustrating win-win alternatives).
We have tried many different approaches to dealing with forced evictions through litigation and advocacy. Generally, it is always best to start working preventively before the worst happens. Trying to get compensation, resettlement, etc, after the fact is an up-hill battle. We have, literally, dozens of demolition/eviction cases before Nigerian courts, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and regional human rights courts — the most successful ones are those where the community is able to continue to stay united and mobilized, bring a lot of media attention, and pursue various political and legal angles at once.
Of all these cases, we have only had ONE instance of after-the-fact compensation — the Badia East 2013 case that Muturi has mentioned. Indeed, there was no opportunity for prior engagement in that case, since the rumors of possible demolition came less than 48 hours before the demolition and the Lagos State Government denied its intention to demolish just the day before they came in and demolished 267 structures affected 9,000+ people.
After the demolition, we followed many angles very very quickly. The community protested two days after the demolition. We filed a case in court seeking an injunction against demolition of the rest of the community. We petitioned the NHRC, which came to investigate a few days after. We got a ton of media attention, including New York Times, Huffington Post, and other international news. And — most importantly — we petitioned the World Bank, which was simultaneously funding an infrastructure upgrading project in Badia East and argued that the WB had a responsibility to the intended beneficiaries of its project.
The last angle was the one that ultimately led to a modicum of relief for the people. World Bank’s involvement was the game changer because we were able to make a compelling legal and political case (with risk of public embarrassment) that the Lagos State Government should have followed World Bank safeguard policies on involuntary resettlement to come up with a “resettlement action plan” (RAP). Ultimately, our continued pressure on World Bank and World Bank’s continued pressure on the Lagos State Government led to a retroactive RAP that involved modest financial and livelihoods assistance amounting to $2mill, which went to landlords (without title documents) and tenants alike — a first in Nigerian history.
That said, the process was messy and imperfect. All of us wish the risk had been identified beforehand and the community had started preparing years in advance. Based on this experience (and dozens of others with even less successful outcomes), the Nigerian Federation is now mobilizing communities at risk of eviction to organize, build strength through savings, profiling, legal awareness, strategic alliances, and proactive solutions.
Happy to chat more on Skype or phone, including discussing the specifics of potential legal claims and/or looking at the political landscape to think about strategic advocacy options. For legal assistance, perhaps you could reach out to Timap for Justice (we can put you in touch if you do not already have contacts)? Just let us know how we can help.
Megan S. Chapman
Co-Founder / Co-Director
Justice & Empowerment Initiatives – Nigeria
SDI’S COMMENT[caption id="attachment_10554" align="alignnone" width="578"] Residents of Bogobogoni village in Kibarani, Changamwe watch from a distance as buldozers demolish their houses as police gaurded the demolition of the houses without a court order to pave way for a private developer. Over two thousand people were left homeless. Photo by Gideon Maundu.[/caption]
This is nothing new for us. Violence, displacement, and legal disempowerment perpetrated by entrenched political and market interests are systematic realities in the lives of slum dwellers the world over. In all of these cases it is clear that the desperate efforts of poor people to cling onto miserable pieces of land end up clashing with vested interests of people with money and power. Local politicians and businessmen resorted to violent means to assert their claims to the spoils of development that should be going to those who often end up being its victims – informal settlement dwellers themselves.[caption id="attachment_10553" align="alignnone" width="602"] A demolition scene at Mitumba Slums near Wilson Airport Nairobi as several Houses were demolished on November 19,2011 , in the ongoing government exercise to clear settlements said to have been illegally constructed on a land belonging to Kenya Airports Authority (KAA)..,government bulldozers rolled into the Slum ,Two Primary Schools and SDA Church were demolished . William Oeri (Nairobi)[/caption]
But before we go any further we need to get some facts straight – starting with some facts about poor people and about cities.
Reality number 1. People are leaving the rural areas for good reasons. Changes in how land is farmed and owned and increasingly tied to global markets are leaving more rural people in crippling debt, without land, work, money or any hope of surviving. At the same time, increasing numbers of natural disasters are destroying rural livelihoods and impoverishing more and more households. With TV, cheap mobile phones and easy communications, people in the most remote villages now know what cities have to offer, and their choice to migrate is usually a well-informed one.
Reality number 2. In cities they find job opportunities as well as markets for their own informal businesses, making and selling cheap goods and services. And the money they can make in cities can usually be enough to support themselves and their households, as well as send money home to relatives still in the rural villages. In cities they have better access to schools, health care, culture and opportunities for a future no village could ever offer.
Reality number 3. Cities need large supplies of cheap labour. This is imperative for various city-based economic activities in many different sectors such as industry, construction, the public sector and the informal sector. This cheap labour toils in the factories, staffs the crews that build houses, bridges, roads, and shopping centres. They sweep the streets, carry away the city’s garbage, prune its trees and maintain its sewers. They are the housemaids, the taxi drivers, the cleaners, the delivery boys, the clerks. And where would our cities be without the markets and the street vendors, selling prepared foods, fruits, vegetables, clothes, shoes, and so on?
Reality number 4. These important inhabitants of our cities often have no choice but to live in slums. Land prices in cities have skyrocketed and the poor find themselves increasingly priced out of any formal land or housing market. In most cities in Africa and Asia, planners and governments, at all levels, have been unable to cope with this influx of poor people and with the natural growth of urban poor populations. It is hard to find cases where governments have been able to intervene successfully in these markets with programmes to help meet the land and housing needs of their poor populations.
Reality number 5. Slums are solutions to housing problems. Policy makers, city managers, urban planners and many citizens tend to see the growth of slums in their cities as unsightly and lawless blights that should be cleared away or at least hidden in out-of-the-way corners of the city. Nobody would argue that a crowded, dirty, unplanned settlement is anybody’s idea of an ideal living situation, with its poor quality housing, its bad infrastructure (or no infrastructure at all) and its insecure land tenure. But if you go beneath their admittedly grim outer layer and take a deeper look at what is really going on in slum communities, you will often find them to be places of support and hope and growth and not places of despair at all. In fact, these makeshift settlements evolve quickly into vital and complex life-support systems for the poor, which can help meet a variety of their needs and give them a base for lifting themselves out of poverty. They may fall short when it comes to design, status, comfort and resale value but they generally tick a number of boxes that are critically important for the urban poor, such as location (proximity to jobs, income opportunities, transport hubs, schools), space for home-based economic activities, community support systems in the form of networks of friends, neighbours or kinsfolk, and affordability.[caption id="attachment_10557" align="alignnone" width="605"] A demolition scene at Mitumba Slums near Wilson Airport Nairobi as several Houses were demolished on November 19,2011 , in the ongoing government exercise to clear settlements said to have been illegally constructed on a land belonging to Kenya Airports Authority (KAA)..,government bulldozers rolled into the Slum ,Two Primary Schools and SDA Church were demolished . William Oeri (Nairobi)[/caption]
Given these simple facts one would imagine that city leaders would recognize poor people as valuable contributors to the smooth functioning of our cities and slums as the foundation stone for good urban development. But this is often not the case. In fact as the tragic events in Caledonia Farm, Badia East, Old Fadama and Crab Town demonstrate many city governments make decisions that force poor people out of their homes and off their land. One has to ask the question: “Why?”
Those who are responsible for evictions or choose to justify them often present them as the process by which people who have illegally occupied a piece of land belonging to someone else are removed from that land by due process of law. In this view, the squatters are the criminals and the property owners are the victims. This does not capture the human reality of an eviction, which is always painful, violent and impoverishing for the evictees. And it also does not capture the unjust systems of land use and property ownership in many countries that allow a few to enjoy great property wealth and leave many with little or nothing at all.
There are cases, it must be noted, where evictions cannot be avoided, and this may apply to some of the current crises. But even when health hazards or environmental risks make evictions necessary, suitable alternatives, negotiated with the affected communities, need to be provided. It is not in the interest of the city authorities and the better off to treat poor citizens like leaves swept into a corner only to be blown far and wide by the winds of desperation and necessity. Once evicted the urban poor do not disappear. They do not rush off to the rural areas. They find other parcels of land in the city to settle on once again.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the courts, the constitution, and flimsy barricades are the only recourse for those who face evictions. But it is because of the very power relations described above that we know (not just theoretically, but from bitter experience) that laws, pyrrhic victories in courts, and unfocused public demonstrations do not and will not turn the tables — will not restrain those with power and resources whose intention it is to grab the spoils of development. This does not mean that SDI disregards constitutional rights, litigation, and the courts. However, we know that these are reactive or defensive tools, often applied after evictions have already happened.
There has been a gradual evolution in how community organizations handle evictions. For decades their main tools, as mentioned above, were organizing to bravely and often quixotically resist settlement specific evictions through demonstrations, marches and barricades and by filing court cases to stop demolitions. But during the violence, fear and dislocation of an eviction it is hard to think clearly and negotiate alternatives. Once a crisis erupts, the tools available to communities reduce sharply. So the question for poor communities has got to be how to create a more pro-active, longer-term process to resolve these eviction conflicts. Instead of waiting for the eviction squads to come and then trying to stop them, what if communities could find space to focus on the longer-term goal of securing tenure and gradually building houses long before the evictions happen? Litigation and confrontation are always a last resort, but more and more community organizations have developed, refined and scaled up a number of long-term strategies to stop evictions and change their relationships with their city governments, and these strategies are now starting to bear fruit.
In a seminal document prepared for Cities Alliance, our colleague Tom Kerr summarized the experiences of slum dwellers in SDI and its sister organization the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights and came up with 5 tools or strategies that communities have used to negotiate alternatives to eviction.
Strategy Number 1 – Ever expanding networks.
Karl Marx pretty much summed up the state of affairs more than 150 years ago when he declared that the poor are weak because they are not united and they are not united because they are weak. In Europe and the United States at that time the primary terrain of conflict was the industrial factory. While their dwellings were just as squalid, unplanned, overcrowded and insecure as the shantytowns and slums of today, the overwhelming majority of the urban poor worked in these factories. There was not much of an informal sector and so the urban poor and the working class were pretty much synonymous. They were also more easily able to organize since they were concentrated in close working proximity. They were able to come together and secure the occasional victories. But as Marx pointed out “the real fruit of their battle (lay), not in the immediate result”, but in their ever-expanding union.
The urban poor are now defined as much by their physical vulnerability and their living conditions (if not more so) as they are by their direct exploitation as wage labourers. Nevertheless the first and most critical strategy remains the same – to build a movement – that is to federate illegal slum communities at the city, national and international level. With that strength comes unity and with that unity comes strength. Local, national and global solidarity is the number one macro strategy to force negotiations for decent alternatives to evictions. No household or community alone can negotiate with the city for alternatives when organized and well resourced vested interests are pushing for projects that lead to wholesale dislocation. Only when the urban poor negotiate together, in organizations which have the collective force of big numbers, does it work. To make change, there needs to be a “critical mass” of people breaking down resistance to change, and dissolving the barriers between poor people and decision making about the allocation and distribution of resources. Community networks also create platforms for horizontal learning, mutual support and sharing of ideas between poor communities, in different parts of the city, different parts of the country and different parts of the globe.
Strategy Number 2 – Women Centred Community Savings.
Collective saving binds people together, teaches them to manage their collective resources and helps them take control of their own development. Savings make room for poor people to develop self-reliance and self-awareness and to make decisions together through a collective mechanism. When small savings groups link into larger networks or Federations, these networks give community members access to greater financial resources and enhanced clout when negotiating for their basic needs, and enables the poor to deal with the larger, structural issues related to their problems — especially eviction and access to urban land.
Strategy Number 3 – Community Enumeration and Mapping
SDI linked federations of the urban poor have very consciously undertaken a strategy of self-enumeration and self-surveying. Federations constantly gather reliable and complete data about households and families in their own communities. Then they codify these techniques into a series of practical tips for their members and have thus created a revolutionary system of information gathering and management that forms the very basis of a real governmentality from below. All SDI federations are now deeply aware of the radical power that this kind of knowledge gives them in their dealings with local and central state organizations – especially when it comes to trying to prevent evictions. In every country and city there is a host of local, state-level and local entities with a mandate to eradicate, rehabilitate or ameliorate slums. But none of them know exactly who the slum-dwellers are, where they live or how they are to be identified. All slum policies have an abstract slum population as their target and no knowledge of its concrete, human components. Since these populations are by definition social, legally and spatially marginal, invisible citizens as it were, they are by definition uncounted and uncountable except in the most general terms. By rendering them statistically visible, the Alliance controls a central piece of any actual policy process dealing with upgrading, relocation and resettlement.
Strategy Number 4 – Participatory Preparation of Alternative Plans
When poor communities are backed up against the wall and demand their rights through protest or defend what they have through resistance they are putting the authorities in a position where they only have two options: to acknowledge what people are demanding or to reject it. Such a situation is often a dead-end for communities – as the evictees in Accra, Freetown, Harare and Lagos will testify. But things can be very different when there is an opportunity for community organisations to design strategies and plans which demonstrate that their situation can be improved and on that basis begin a dialogue with the authorities. Demonstrable and testable alternative ideas backed up with large numbers of people is a strong way for community organisations to establish their credentials as development partners and therefore by association as citizens with defendable rights.
Strategy Number 5 – Urban Poor Funds
Urban Poor Funds or similar community managed development finance facilities are institutions that have been set up in many SDI countries to respond to different local needs, capacities and political contexts. They all build on the financial and organisational assets that are generated by community savings. As a result money is pulled through the system by people’s real needs, not pushed though by the development agendas of other actors. They become the basis for deal-brokering, for leveraging significant resources from within the network and beyond and putting these resources behind alternative plans to evictions that have emerged from participatory planning and are backed up by knowledge derived from mapping and surveying. This in turn is backed up by large numbers of organized, united and informed slum dwellers – not only from the affected settlement – who are no longer victims but empowered people capable of having a decisive say in their own development destinies.
SDI has chosen to put its efforts and energies into these long-term eviction prevention planning strategies – instead of being defensive, waiting for eviction to come and then scurrying to find a way that “they” should not evict “us” too easily. At the end of the day it is all about ordinary slum dwellers organizing themselves community-by-community, coming together at the city level, at the national level, and at the international level. SDI choses to link communities together so that they can equip one another with knowledge, unity and organisation, starting processes of change, working out and proposing alternatives, making governments understand that when there are evictions, everybody loses, barring a handful well connected individuals.
Our colleague Jane Weru a renowned human rights lawyer from Kenya once summed this up with these insights:
“I am sure you must be asking yourselves who we are as Shack Dwellers International. You see people from all over – brown, white, black coming together and I am sure the question as to what brings these people together must be floating in your minds. I was thinking about that question.
First thing that came to mind is that essentially the people in Shack Dwellers International, in the support organizations, and the Federations are mainly people who are discontented. Discontented with the current status quo. From India to Kenya to South Africa we are people who are very unhappy about evictions. People who felt very strongly that it was wrong for communities, whole families to live on the streets of Bombay or to live on the garbage dumps of Manila. We felt very strongly about that. So we the people within Shack Dwellers International are people who are, in a sense, the discontents of our societies.
I think also we the people within Shack Dwellers International are people who have a vision. We are the dreamers to a certain degree. We believe that this world can be better and we believe that working together we can make a difference. So essentially we are pragmatic. And you can see our pragmatism in the approaches we have. This pragmatism has led us to develop social movements. Not only in our countries but across the borders.
We have a vision of an alternative world that we want to see in existence. And that vision is based on our current discontent with what we see in our cities. This vision is backed up by our practices. Backed up by our customs and our ways of doing things. We have enumerations, savings, house models and these are practices and customs that lead to the development of this alternative society that we believe in.
And how is this? How do these mundane customs and practices like savings and enumerations bring change in our society?
I think these practices and customs help develop a new culture amongst us. What is this new culture? I think the culture that we’ve developed within our community is a culture of care and nurturing, because in our saving schemes we interact at a very high level. We save on a daily basis. On a daily basis people move from house to house collecting money and like we say within the Shack Dwellers International network – collecting information, collecting problems and seeing how as a community we can begin to resolve those problems. Using the different resources we have at that communal level we begin to address the problem of the women who does not have food in her house for that day, who is able to come to that community organisation that has developed within that settlement and say: “today I was not able to get work, can you give me a bit from my savings. So I can buy food today. And if I don’t have a bit from my savings, can this community give me a bit of money for today so I can put food on my table.” So we develop these communities of care and sharing, right from the ground. That is the culture we develop.”[caption id="attachment_10558" align="alignnone" width="387"] Scene of inferno on Saturday night at Mukuru-Hazina Slum in South B, Nairobi. More than 100 houses were reduced to ashes rendering more than 400 people homeless while an informal school and electric posts were not spared. Area chief Solomon L. Muranguri said the fire was caused by a stove. Photo/SAMMY KIMATU (31.07.2011)[/caption]
Below is a selection of images of evictions and demolitions that have taken place in the past few years in Kenya and Ghana.[gallery link="file" ids="10568,10569,10570,10571,10572,10573,10574,10575,10576,10577,10578,10579,10580,10581,10582,10583,10584,10585,10586,10587,10588,10590,10589,10591,10593,10594,10595,10597,10600,10601,10602,10603,10604,10605,10606,10607"]
Sanitation Partnerships: Zimbabwe Federation work with Chinhoyi Municipality to Co-produce New Sanitation Options
By His Worship the Mayor of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter
This month slum dwellers and government officials from Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi met in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe for the annual Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (SHARE) meeting. The meeting focused on exploring options to deliver affordable sanitation services to the poorest urban citizens. It became clear that the sheer scale of sanitation need demands a “toolkit” of options that are collectively affordable, replicable and built using established partnerships with local authorities.
While communities can explore what is possible through collective action and precedent setting projects it is ultimately local government’s mandate to deliver services. The development and improvement of partnerships between urban poor communities and authorities are needed in order for policies to address urban poor conditions. Urban poor communities in the SDI network seek to build incremental partnerships with local government to show the value of community participation in sanitation slum upgrading projects. This demonstrates the capacity of well-organised communities and challenges antiquated norms, standards and policies. Over time these partnerships have the potential for scaling up activities across cities.
During the meeting His Worship the Mayor of Chinhoyi, Test Michaels, reflected on the partnership with the local Federation noting how the engagement has been scaled up over time and opened a dialogue around alternative technologies and the collective rehabilitation and delivery of public toilets.
See full speech below.
Water and Sanitation Dialogue – Building citywide sanitation strategies from the bottom-up
3 – 5 June 2014, Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to start by thanking and congratulating Shack/Slum Dwellers International, the alliance of Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter and my council for organizing this conference. Thank you to the communities of Chinhoyi for your support and cooperation towards this noble cause. I would also like to thank all our friends in development from South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, and the United Kingdom. Your presence makes a big difference to us and we hope you will have a nice and productive experience here in Chinhoyi.
This meeting is an attempt to create dialogue amongst stakeholders in development, especially around finding lasting solutions for sustainable service delivery in our urban areas across the country. As you may be aware, that Zimbabwe as a country has passed through a decade long period of recessive socio-economic and political landscape, which on its own has crippled the operations of all local authorities, Chinhoyi Municipality included. The same period has also seen the introduction and realisation of community led development approaches and the opening of development space for Community Based Organisations (CBOs).
I am also indebted to my previous councils for moving out of the comfort zone and thinking outside the box by allowing the piloting with alternative technologies. Much as it is appreciated that the urban bye-laws are there to govern the implementation of urban development, there has been a mismatch between factors such as the affordability level of residents, increasing populations and the policies. Chinhoyi municipality made a deliberate move to relax some of those inhibiting policies and enter into development agreements with community movements and cooperatives. One such example of such a partnership is the Brundish Housing Project, a project that is being implemented by Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation with Dialogue on Shelter’s technical support. The project is the first in Chinhoyi to use non-conventional infrastructure with council approval and I am happy to share with you that the decision has been so rewarding both in terms of experiences and lessons. We have hosted over five local authorities that have visited the Brundish project with a view to learn about how alternatives can both speed up housing delivery and also provides a sustainable solution to various obstacles that affect service delivery. The project employed alternative infrastructure technologies such as boreholes, for water supply and ecosan toilets for sanitation provision. We are also grateful for the support that has been rendered by SDI through their local affiliates, the Federation and Dialogue on Shelter, for facilitating this learning process and sharing of experiences
The relationship between my council, the Federation and communities at large has grown both in breadth and depth of activities to which this gathering can be appended to that fact. The parties are now looking at sustainable ways of providing water and sanitation services to the poorest at an affordable cost. My council have been involved in discussions geared towards covering research gaps in the provision of sanitation using an approach which utilises the beneficiaries as key drivers. As policy makers, we appreciate the value of ecological sanitation systems and will continue to work closely with communities to ensure that issues of inclusivity and costs are adequately attended to. I have been informed that the council has pencilled a discussion on possible adopting of the ecosan toilet as part of policy. Embracing such practices at policy level will obviously to add value to investment and assure certainty in the development process.
As we are gathered here, let us all be reminded that the urban challenges that are bedevilling our cities have far much out grown our individual capacities and are continuing in becoming complex. The best option at the moment is to forge synergies and form partnerships, and work as a collective respecting each other’s capacities. It is only through a participatory process that we are be able to sustainably address gaps in service delivery and housing provision. We stand to achieve more through a collective process which recognises and respects communities as equal partners in development. As we deliberate on the issues, let us be informed by realities but think beyond our personal limitations and being cognisant that development is a process with a number of players.
In this partnership, we share an ambitious goal, which is to understand obstacles to sanitation development and attempt to offer approaches that can overcome them on a city wide scale. In our discussions, lets looks at the challenges experienced by current approaches to urban sanitation and objectively try to develop and test new ideas especially their potential their capacity for replication. We learnt some of the limitations of our sophisticated mechanised treatment plants and the shortage for water has further compounded the situation
We look forward to sharing our progress with you and learning from your experiences in your respective countries. The Chinhoyi partnership has shown that it is capable of playing a leading role and can initiative programs and projects to improve living conditions using a bottom up approach.
We have recently finalised our Water and Sanitation Situational Report which provides the baseline information collected through profiles and enumeration exercises. We look towards strengthening our working partnerships and make it more inclusive by having more stakeholders. Some summary profile reports are available for your perusal. Our strategic action plans are based assessing the built precedents and their scope to be taken city wide.
Finally, I would like to extend my special thanks to Municipality of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter staff who have worked very hard to prepare this event and make this meeting a productive and inspiring forum for us all.
I wish you all fruitful deliberations.
By Skye Dobson, ACTogether Uganda
“If not now, then when? If not us, then who?” -His Worship, Mayor of Nakawa, Jan 29, 2014
On the 29th of January 2014, ACTogether and the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) convened a breakfast meeting to discuss participatory governance in Kampala at Boda Boda, atop Garden City. The breakfast brought together the mayors and town clerks of Kampala’s five divisions, top officials at KCCA, the Minister, Commissioners, and officials from the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development, slum dwellers and NGOs. The breakfast was hosted by well-known Ugandan journalist, writer and analyst, Angelo Izama.
ACTogether and the NSDFU in partnership with Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has been supporting the institutionalization of forums under the TSUPU project (Transforming settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda). The project, funded by Cities Alliance and the World Bank, spanned the municipalities of Jinja, Arua, Mbarara, Mbale and Kabale with an aim of empowering the municipalities and the communities therein to effectively and sustainably manage rapid urbanization. ACTogether and the NSDFU have been playing the role of organizing slum communities to participate meaningfully in such forums and linking internationally tested best practices through the Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network to inform local interventions.
It’s evident that Kampala, as Uganda’s largest urban center, is yet to manage the city’s unprecedented urbanization – evidenced by data that shows over 60% of Kampala residents are slum dwellers. The gap that is increasingly widening between city plans and community expectations presents an urgent need for a strategic intervention to address such planning challenges by setting up a platform for government and citizens to engage meaningfully on the development and implementation of city plans in order to promote more efficient and effective service delivery in the city.
The aim of instituting the forums in Kampala is to bridge the gap between planning and implementation as well as enhance the participation of residents (especially slum dwellers) in decision-making processes that affect them. In addition, the forums will support KCCA in its efforts to create a vibrant, sustainable and attractive city with quality services.
The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development – Honorable Daudi Migereko – opened the meeting by thanking his ministry for mainstreaming the idea of forums and supporting communities to generate local solutions to local challenges. He explained that the forums are a perfect space for creating “think tanks” that can generate innovative home-grown solutions. He suggested that they also serve as a space for reflection, stocktaking, identifying priorities, and discovering the resources within our midst. Critically, he informed the participants that in the urban centers where forums exist, project submissions to government have been much smoother, with the forums helping to mitigate against the bickering that stalls too many projects.
Next to speak as the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Samuel Mabala, who explained that he came back from leave especially to take part in the breakfast, such is his commitment to sharing information on the role forums can play in urban management. He argued that the urban poor cannot be left out of the planning process and that it was the history of exclusion of the poor and failed upgrading projects that led the Ministry to launch the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda (TSUPU) project in 2009.
His Worship, the Mayor of Nakawa (one of Kampala’s 5 divisions) presented next and explained that when he came to office in 2011, he was oriented by members of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda and the NGO ACTogether. He came to understand just how widespread the issue of slums is and says he felt enlightened. He decided it was incumbent upon his division to engage the slum communities in order to improve the city. He emphasized the fact that in order to make strides in upgrading, partnerships are essential and that forums are en effective vehicle for promoting this.
Next, the Director of Gender and Community Services at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Madam Harriet Mudondo addressed the breakfast and lamented the lack of funds allocated to slum upgrading in Kampala and expressed hope that such forums could assist in the lobbying and advocacy required to change the status quo. She said that municipal forums can help to bridge the distrust and suspicion between the authority and the community and provide an opportunity to engage communities early in the development process in order to truly implement bottom-up planning.
Following the KCCA presentation a discussion proceeded in which participants sought clarification on certain issues and discussed the practicability of the forums. At the conclusion of the discussion it was agreed that:
1) A steering committee comprised of the mayors and town clerks of each division as well as a representative from KCCA’s Public and Corporate Affairs would be formed to take the process forward and draft the charters and form the committees required to operationalize the forums.
2) The National Urban Forum will be invited to advise the steering committee on the process
3) ACToegther committed to facilitate the forums for the next 5 years. It is hoped that after that period the divisions and KCCA will appreciate the need for the forums and support their operations
4) By the end of March the Kampala forums should be launched
By Sheela Patel, Chair of the SDI Board and Co-Founder & Director, SPARC
For actors and institutions concerned with the economic and social well-being of humanity, urban development is increasingly recognized as the major lacuna of fighting poverty, managing climate change, and generating inclusive growth. Within our network, we are transitioning to a new scale of activities and beginning to get recognition in our cities, countries, and at the global level for what we do. As an institutional form focused on altering the developmental calculus such that the informal poor can achieve greater voice and influence in formal decision-making, we are tasked with navigating the tensions associated with increased institutionalization and formalization. We are in a position where, as an institutional form, we are able to speak to major development debates, as seen through the eyes of the grassroots urban poor federations that comprise our network.
Change is a crucial and foundational aspect of ongoing influences that impact a neighborhood, city, nation and now our planet. Some changes we can plan for and embrace. Others we can imagine, but communities on the ground need space and time to reflect on the impact on their lives and produce a response. Still others come without any warning. The changes that emerge from what communities seek to do and aspire for have been negotiated for acknowledgement and inclusion into policy, and our work over the past year clearly reflects the projects and partnerships that reflect the progress made. SDI now increasingly seeks to develop capacity to anticipate the impact of global and externally promoted developments, to ensure that its affiliates and their memberships understand and develop confidence to respond rather than react to them, and to ensure that they can participate in discussions around these issues.
So how do we create a balance that retains focus on what can be done by civil society and by our own institutional interventions, while external support of often oppositional currents of change continues? How do we accommodate planetary challenges and national issues within our perspective without allowing them to drown our focus on creating voice, choice and space for the urban poor in cities? Clearly the choice is between reacting or responding to expand our vision, capacity and reflections on these processes as we engage communities of the urban poor and their city government for local action with a global perspective.
In the context of continuing to build and refine the strategic orientation of our network, it is worth reflecting on the oft-used and misunderstood concept of “sustainability.” We need to clearly understand the implications of what we do and where it will take us. In development-linked discussions there is a big debate on how institutional sustainability is defined. The prevalent, simplistic assumption is that if you have financial sustainability all else will follow. There is no question that financial independence and sustainability have value in and of themselves. However, such a singular focus is a denial of the complex environment in which organizations working on issues of poverty operate.
Formal institutions seem decades away from creating real inclusion of informal urban dwellers and all rhetoric of inclusion has to be constantly tested. The innovative precedents needed to make this process operational are few and far between. Even those financial institutions that exist are in a hurry to demonstrate sustainable models in time frames that are not suited for the task at hand.
We in SDI are of the opinion that the development institutions and projects owned and managed by the poor are viewed as investments in strategies to provide voice, outreach, scale and impact in addressing poverty. If viewed from a lens of research and development for addressing urban poverty, SDI and similar organizations become learning centers for the larger community. There are few strategies, and even fewer systems, that encourage the poor to seek investments from the state. Clear linkages between what is good for the poor, and strategies that have both local prospects for achieving scale and potential to be globally transferable, are in short supply.
What we do and with whom we interact to create solutions has huge significance for plotting the development agenda more broadly than just in our own network. The quest to refine and develop our strategic approaches in our cities and countries merits investment as a priority, far and above the notion of simply becoming financially self-sufficient. At some point we may no longer have financial support from traditional development aid institutions, and will be forced to develop alternative strategies. We are already preparing ourselves internally for this possibility. The fear is that this may limit our ability to set precedents, take risks and innovate while building internal governance structures and management skills that will work not only for us but inform policy and practice for a sector that, to a significant degree, still needs to be built from scratch. This requires continued exploration of both the successes and fruitful failures on our road of experimentation for building voice, influence and knowledge of, by, and for the poor in our cities.
For more about SDI’s strategies for developing institutional sustainability and building voice and influence through partnerships at the city, national and global level, read our 2012-2013 Annual Report.
Efraim Dawids, (CEO Gobabis Municipality), Mariana Bernardus (SDFN) and Anna Muller (NHAG) with signed documents
By Royal Mabakeng, NHAG (Namibian Housing Action Group)
The Community Land Information Programme (CLIP) implemented by the Federation, community, Municipality of Gobabis and NHAG has already enumerated all four informal settlements in Gobabis (approximately 6000 people). In March 2013 a group of Namibians, including a Gobabis municipal official and a community member visited Stellenbosch and Cape Town to learn about upgrading. This inspired the Gobabis delegation to involve the informal settlement community in their own upgrading and to prepare for an MOU with the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia.
On the 15th August 2013 the first MOU with a Local Authority in Namibia was signed under the same tree where the first Gobabis saving group began 15 years ago. This historical tree is next to the largest informal settlement in Gobabis, Freedom Square (previously Damara Block), home to approximately 3000 people.
Elfriede Kujane from Turipamwe saving group in Gobabis explained how excited she was during the ceremony. The community have been working with the municipality to obtain land and construct houses for over 120 households. “ The day has come for us to put it on paper. If new councillors don’t know about the federation but now we have put it on paper nd they will know about us.
The 400 community members who attended the signing ceremony were relieved to learn that Freedom Square residents will not be relocated. They will be the first informal settlement community in Gobabis to be directly involved in their own upgrading. As part of an agreement between Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and the African Association of Planning Schools (AAPS), a planning studio with students from the Polytechnic of Namibia will begin in September 2013. The studio will assist in developing an upgrading strategy and plan for Freedom Square.
By Namibia Housing Acton Group (NHAG) & Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN)
The below report refers to an exchange that took place from 6 – 8 March 2013.
Purpose of the Exchange:
The exchange was initiated by the Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG), supporting NGO for the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN), in order to expose municipal officials, the federation members and the NGO itself to upgrading as a result of an enumeration process. The municipal officials and community members on the exchange are directly or indirectly involved in the Community Land Information Program (CLIP), Namibia’s version of the enumeration process. Upgrading as a result of this enumeration process has not yet taken place. Cape Town and Stellenbosch provided a great platform for the exchange delegates to learn and influence a change in mind-set and the promotion of a bottom up approach to planning procedures in their local authorities and influence national government policy in the future.
Langrug Site Visit, Stellenbosch:
The exchange started off with a site visit to Langrug informal settlement in Stellenbosch. Trevor, a community leader, explained the outcome of the survey to the delegation:
“Mapping is done in the community to identify all the issues that the settlement is faced with. Alfred from the ISN ‘two years back, enumeration showed the community that they can talk to the municipality. The leadership for the enumeration is divided into sections, with each one having a subject to focus on; from health, social issues and mapping. The lawsuit form the Rupert family brought about the presentation of the needs analysis of the community to the municipality. With the enumeration we focus on building up people so they can build communities. Through the enumeration a working team was created, 16 families were relocated within the settlement. The communities have taken the ownership of their own development and the municipality added value; the current projects in the settlements are the outcome of a needs analysis. Community members are encouraged to make small contributions to get access to development. The important outcome of the enumeration was that it helped the team get the numbers to request for development in the area; especially the grey water runaway passages build by the community. As the enumeration provided a clear view of the people in the area that are affected by different issues, support groups have been formed for health issues. The washroom facility was one of the main outcomes from the project, the community members are assisting in the construction and small contributions will have to be made by the members for the sustaining and usage of the facility. The mapping will also assist the community in the re-blocking process.”
There was also a short introductory meeting with the Stellenbosch Municipality to give an overview of the relationship that has developed between the community and the municipality.
Mshini Wam settlement, Cape Town
The community facilitators from the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) showed the delegation around, explaining the process of re-blocking and the benefits it brought and will bring in the future. Since the structures have been re-arranged there are clear pathways for the community members to easily move around the settlement. The creation of space between the clusters formed provides space for the municipality to be able to bring services in the future as you can see in the photo below. The clusters have been set up in such a way that all the households, doors and windows are facing each other, so as to provide security among the households from possible intruders. Within clusters there are small gardens.
Lessons learnt on the exchange:
- Municipality’s role in the delivery of services through the use of surveys and partnership.
- Projects initiated by the community through enumerations. The norm for Namibia is that communities complete the enumerations, present it to the local authorities with the hope their development needs will be made a priority in planning. Through the exchange we learned that we could push for our own programs in the community, such as the establishment of support groups and the community contribution to facilities.
- There is a need to have agreements signed with the local authorities in order to have a greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities when it comes to involving the community in upgrading.
- The budgeting system of the Stellenbosch municipality provided a clear picture on how to prioritize funds for communities involved in upgrading
- Communities pushing the local authority for an upgrading plan to be jointly developed.
The relationships developed on the exchange are important as now the different local authorities have an in-depth understanding of the possible outcomes of enumerations. The federation members and the local authority officials interacted on the exchange thus creating an opportunity to foster an “open door approach” with local government which could lead to important meetings around enumerations and settlement upgrading.
Impacts of the exchange on projects and relationships in Namibia:
- The federation members will start working on programs with the community to promote upgrading options. This will change the normal procedure of always waiting for the municipality to deliver on upgrading. Communities will start working on programs to support each other.
- Planning the layout with the Gobabis municipality to re-block Freedom square (Damara block) informal settlement
- Municipality of Grootfontein to find an approach to involving the community in settlement development programs and signing an agreement with the NHAG and SDFN
- The Community development officer from Keetmanshoop to use the community approach to managing the new reception area in the town.
- Keetmanshoop municipality to strengthen relationship with the community. Work together on finding solutions to the communities housing and service issues in informal settlements.
- Strengthening of collaboration and cooperation on enumerations
- Possible inclusion of the community in the Targeted Intervention Program for Employment Creation and Economic Growth (TIPEEG).
Namibian Delegation. from left; Community Development Officer Gobabis, Councilor Keetmanshoop, SDFN member Keetmanshoop , Community Development Keetmanshoop, Councilor Gobabis. Back; Municipal CEO Grootfontein
SDI delegates take part in a reflection on the Land, Services and Citizenship Project hosted by Cities Alliance at Africities
By George Masimba, Dialogue on Shelter, Zimbabwe
The recent Afri-Cities conference was held in Dakar, Senegal and took place under the theme – ‘Building Africa from its territories: which challenges for local governments’. About 5 000 delegates from African cities and beyond converged in the coastal city of Dakar to deliberate issues confronting modern African cities. The concept of territory in the theme referred to, among other things, exploring the role of Africa’s institutions and resources as major components for catalyzing the growth of the continent. In particular, the focus was centered on the local government sphere as a critical institutional space for mediating development processes. This year, Slum Dwellers International (SDI) was able to send a delegation consisting of five countries (South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) accompanied by Mayors from cities where affiliates have established strong links. Through their presentations, the five country affiliates highlighted how they had escalated their engagement with their respective to the brokering of meaningful agreements and equal partnerships.
The session titled ‘Strategies for people’s participation and citizenship’ saw Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe sharing experiences from their countries on the topic. The Zimbabwean delegation presented the Harare Slum Upgrading Project that is being jointly implemented with the City of Harare as an example of how a partnership had evolved out of a precedent-setting slum improvement project. The presenters narrated how the relationship had evolved first through land allocations that supported community participation to more equal relationships grounded and firmed up with memorandums of agreements. In Harare, it was noted that the slum upgrading project had not only improved slum conditions but more significantly had provided a site to test alternative solutions to the challenges that slum dwellers face in slums. Construction of ecological sanitation units (ecosan toilets) under the project, for instance, was one such alternative that the partners were able to pilot in the Dzivarasekwa Extension settlement where previously families had to rely on pit-latrines.
Besides testing practical solutions, the Harare Slum Upgrading Project has also enabled the City of Harare and the alliance of Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter to develop a slum upgrading strategy for the city, undertake a review of the building regulations and explore the establishment of a city-wide pro-poor slum upgrading finance facility. The upgrading strategy now acts as a protocol detailing a set of procedures for dealing with slums. Additionally, the city-wide slum upgrading fund initiative was an important step in innovating joint funding mechanisms that combine city and communities resources. These activities were reported as significant milestones in addressing the systemic causes underlying the emergence of slums in the city.
Mayor of Harare officially launching a book at the Cities Alliance booth at the Africities Conference in Dakar, Senegal
In Ghana, the presenters from the alliance of Ghana Federation and People’s Dialogue related their interaction with local government indicating how this had birthed very strong partnerships. The Ghana experience centered on the Land, Services and Citizenship (LSC) program, a 3-year project targeting mobilization of savings groups, community infrastructure, profiling, mapping and organization of city-wide forums. Under the first phase of LSC 18 slum settlements have been mapped and profiled in two cities and a memorandum of understanding signed with Ashaiman Municipal Assembly. A Project Implementation Team (PIT) has been set to jointly oversee the implementation of project activities. Municipal Assembly staff provides technical assistance to anchor the profiling and mapping activities while local councilors support Federation groups around community mobilization efforts. It is through such projects that interactions with city governments have been changed from undertaking once-off projects were communities simply participate to carrying out partnership projects with enduring results that alter relations and increase the scope for going to scale.
The SDI delegation from Uganda was supported by the Mayor of Mbale, the Presidential Advisor on Poverty Alleviation and the Commissioner of Urban Development from the local government ministry. In Uganda, central government, local governments and urban poor communities have been brought together around the ‘Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda (TSUPU) project. Like its Ghanaian counterpart, TSUPU is also supported by Cities Alliance and aims to: establish urban forums at various tiers of government, develop city development strategies, undertake mapping and enumeration of slums and set up community upgrading funds.
The Ugandan presentation centered on the TSUPU project, which is being undertaken in the cities of Mbale, Jinja, Arua, Mbarara and Kabale. In three of these cities, (Mbale, Jinja and Arua) MOUs have been signed with urban forums having been set up. These forums are community-wide development platforms that rally together all urban stakeholders. During the session, the Mayor of Mbale commended the Ugandan Alliance’s achievements and committed continued support to the Federation.
The next session in which SDI participated centred around the Know Your City Project (KYC), also supported by Cities Alliance. The panelists for this session were from the Zambian SDI Alliance, Lusaka City Council’s Director of Planning, the Mayor of Kitwe, the Mayor of Ndola, the Mayor of Harare and the representatives from Burkina Faso. The Zambian presentation commenced with the Lusaka City Council outlining the background and context of slums in Lusaka. It was indicated that the Improvement Areas Act is a piece of legislation that provides the necessary legal ingredients for upgrading, setting out the procedures for undertaking upgrading. Therefore, armed with such legislation, communities and local authorities joined hands in Zambia’s two major cities under the Know Your City Campaign to collect and document information that would feed into slum upgrading.
An MOU had been signed between Lusaka City Council, Zambia Homeless People’s Federation and People’s Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia earlier in 2012, which has helped to define the roles and vision of the partnership. The Zambian Federation reported that with support from Lusaka City Council they had been able to conduct profiling, enumerations and mapping in slum areas such as George Compound. A National Housing Forum was convened to discuss the findings from these information gathering exercises and government declared three slums improvement areas. It is through joint execution of these project activities that these partnerships have engendered trust and confidence amongst the partners. Through this co-operation, urban communities from these slums have been given a chance to offer solutions to their challenges and design sustainable strategies together with local government.
These SDI sessions were capped with a presentation from Rose Molokoane during a political session on Africa’s Integration where she presented alongside the former presidents of Benin and Cape Verde. Rose stressed that SDI has shifted gears from participation to partnerships with local governments. She also emphasized that urban poor communities have a great deal of information which cities can use to transform slum settlements. Whilst African leaders have established the African Union, slum dwellers had also rallied together around their own African Union of the Urban Poor through the SDI network.
An artist’s impression of the devastation of informal spaces under apartheid planning.
**Cross-posted from the SA SDI Alliance Blog**
By Jhono Bennett and Walter Fieuw, CORC South Africa
Post-apartheid urban and housing policies have underscored the necessity of progressively integrating the poor as a means of restructuring spatially fragmented cities and eradicating asset-based poverty. Post–apartheid urban policies had to redress apartheid fragmentation and segregation and the subject of transformation in democratic South Africa has been the historically constructed uneven development of ‘islands of spatial affluence’ in a ‘sea of geographic misery’.
With the relaxing of influx controls during the late 1980s, South African cities have been subject to rapid urbanization and resultant growth of informal settlements in inner-city and peripheral areas. The growth of informal settlements in the past two decades have by far exceeded government’s efforts to deliver better services, provide adequate housing and mitigate against disasters and vulnerability. Despite the government’s efforts to deliver more than 2.5 million housing units since 1994, the housing backlog have remained at 15-17% of the urban population (2.1 million units outstanding). Today there are more than 2,600 informal settlements, and continue to grow between 5-7% across different regions. This is a stark increase from 300 informal settlements in 1994. Urban vulnerability has increased, juxtaposed with worsening human development indices, service delivery constraints, insecure tenure, and safety and security concerns.
Since 2004, with the introduction of Breaking New Ground, and through consecutive National Housing Codes (2004, 2007, 2009), the Department of Human Settlements have introduced the concept of “upgrading informal settlements”, which aims to progressively integrate informal settlement into the broader urban fabric, deliver better services, and incrementally secure tenure. To this effect, a performance agreement was signed between the Presidency and National Minister of Human Settlements, Mr. Tokyo Sexwale. Output 1 of the Presidency’s Outcome 8 (Sustainable Human Settlements and improved quality of household life) aims to upgrade 400,000 households in-situ by 2014. Moreover, such interventions are also spotlighted by Chapter 8 of the National Development Plan (also called “Vision 2030”) which calls for the integration of informal settlement into the urban fabric through upgrading, incremental security of tenure, and better service delivery.
Community organisations of the poor have been systematically sidelined through the governments supply-sided approach to urban restructuring and housing delivery. The rally call of social movements in South Africa has been that of greater inclusion in decision making processes and meaningful engagement around settlement improvement. The Informal Settlement Network (ISN) has emerged as an alternative social movement that prioritises pragmatic engagement with government around collaborative approaches to upgrading of informal settlements. However, in Gauteng, communities have been systematically disregarded, which lead to the mobilization of thousands of informal settlement dwellers to march on the office of the premier.
In the wake of the Asihambe solidarity march on the 11th September, and in response to the growing demand from communities to start small scale and autonomous improvement projects, the Johannesburg CORC office has begun a renewed effort through the CUFF project process of engaging and supporting the informal settlement communities in Gauteng around a range of projects.
The Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) is an initiative of the South African Alliance. The fund is capitalized by CORC, uTshani Fund and contributions from SDI. The Fund’s board—made up of 60% shack dwellers and 40% support NGO professionals—receives proposals for upgrading projects, but the community is ultimately responsible for writing up the project description, get quotes from suppliers, and implement the project (with support from ISN, CORC and uTshani Fund).
The CUFF projects are one of several tools CORC uses to support the ISN/FEDUP in mobilising organised communities towards development. The CUFF projects work synergistically with the Savings,Enumeration, and Community based planning methodologies alongside partnership formalisation with local government, and call for the identification of a key developmental item needed by a community. The leadership and community members then work with ISN/FEDUP and CORC technical members to design, quantify and cost the project. In order to proceed, the community members are required to collect and save a fraction of the project cost towards the contribution of the overall costs that, once approved by the CUFF community/NGO board, will be implemented in the community. The objectives of the CUFF projects are to set precedents for Govenment and Community partnerships in informal settlement upgrading by providing technical assistance and seed capital for pilot projects. This process should ideally create systems, procedures and structures that enable communities to work in collaboration with government institutions.
In order to meet these growing demands, the Johannesburg CORC office has employed the help of several new interns from the 1:1 Student League Network, having gained experience in this network through the University design/build projects, they are open minded and ready to engage with the difficulties involved in the socio-technical support of community driven development processes. These interns are working under the supervision and guidance of the ISN/FEDUP’s technical community groups and the various leadership structures in the settlements.
New intern Sumaya described her experience in working directly with the community
We met with leadership at the community hall to initiate community mapping process where we mapped out key areas and “problem” areas, as described by the Magandaganda community. Members expressed a desire to have their own yards as they are experiencing disputes regarding unclear tenure. A few members of the leadership also showed some hostility and hesitation as they felt that their concerns are not being taken further fast enough. They also expressed concern regarding the risk of crossing the rail-line that borders the settlement.
The CUFF teams are working on several projects in the City of Johannesburg and Ekurheleni such as Marathon, Delport, Peter Mokaba, Innesfree and Magandaganda. These projects vary from the installation of communal taps to the allocation of plots in denser settlements.
Mohau Melani, regional ISN coordinator, explained the process of engaging the communities as follows,
The enumeration will provide the settlement committee with total knowledge of everybody who is the settlement. This will also assist the community in dealing with and control of allocation into sites once their measured into a layout … The community has promised to provide us with the background history of the settlement when the community meets with ISN and CORC technical teams. ISN delegates assist the community with the measurement and costing of the pipes in order to increase a number of taps in the settlement.
The collaboration between community organisations and committees that drive local development agendas, networking at the regional level via ISN, and receive technical support from CORC and ISN is proving to be an indispensable model for community driven development.
Simultaneously the CUFF project teams are profiling and collecting critical data to prepare identified settlements for larger development processes through the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP).
 http://www.info.gov.za/issues/outcomes/index.html. Other outputs of Outcome 8 is to improve the access to basic services (Output 2 includes the following improvements: Water – from 92% to 100%; Sanitation – from 69% to 100%; Refuse removal – from 64% to 75%; Electricity – from 81% to 92%), facilitate the provision of 600,000 accommodation units in the gap market (earning between R3,500 and R12,800), and mobilisation of well located public land for low income and affordable housing.