In the coming weeks, SDI will share the case studies from our 2017 Annual Report titled ‘The Road to Resilience’ here on our blog. 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 – recognizing 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.
As of 2017, the Homeless People’s Federation of the Philippines Inc. (HPFPI) has organized 360 groups in 20 cities and towns. In partnership with SDI and the Human Cities Coalition (HCC), the federation is currently exploring strategies for influencing private sector urban infrastructure investments. In the capital city of Manila, a major port-linked investment plan was commissioned to guide trillion-dollar investments. This scale of investment is essential for reducing risk in this extraordinarily dense city. However, far greater attention needs to be given to the impact of such investment during the tendering process – both by the issuing government offices and the companies awarded the tender. Unless this is enshrined in procurement and tendering protocols guiding investment we will continue to see the forced eviction and thoughtless relocation of thousands of slum dweller families and overall city resilience will be undermined. So how can the urban poor become part of the dialogue and protocols for planning such investments? As is often said in SDI, unless you’re organized you won’t count. The federation has commenced profiling and mapping of selected settlements in Malabon City, Manila Metro. Community members were trained to map and profile their communities and analyze the data on settlement demographics, land status, basic service vulnerabilities, location hazards, challenges, and priorities.
In 2017, the community presented their information to the Mayor of Malabon City and other city officials to initiate a dialogue on priority issues. The administration acknowledged that they did not have comparably detailed data on informal settlements and requested the federation expand their efforts to profile all informal settlements in the City of Malabon. This is a critical first step in efforts to convince government that investment protocols should be developed that take impact on the poor into account. The SDI affiliates in Philippines and India are working closely on this engagement with HCC, understanding that working only at the local level is insufficient for achieving inclusive megacities. Powerful global forces shape development in the megacities of these countries and the federations are being forced to rapidly expand the scope of their partner engagement.
The lessons from this initiative in the Philippines are being watched closely by the SDI network. If HCC and SDI can influence procurement and tendering protocols to demand high quality, community-driven data on informality, and the involvement of urban poor communities in the planning and execution of infrastructure projects, it will radically advance the influence of local knowledge and the impact of SDI’s Know Your City campaign. These measures can ensure that infrastructure is designed to enhance city resilience rather than undermine it. An added benefit of this engagement with private sector investors is a better understanding of how to de-risk private sector infrastructure investments in informal settlements. Given that the lion’s share of the urban built environment is financed by the private sector, SDI understands that shaping the investment decisions of this sector and ensuring they do not abdicate their responsibility will be critical to inclusive and transformative development.
The Philippines slum dweller federation efforts are improving city resilience as a result of proactive multi-stakeholder collaboration, organizing actively engaged citizens, and creating protocols for consultative urban planning and investment.