Earlier this month, SDI launched a landmark publication: “Know Your City: Slum Dwellers Count,” showcasing the extraordinary contribution of the Know Your City (KYC) campaign to understanding and taking action to reduce urban poverty and exclusion. Over the next weeks, we will post a chapter from the book to our blog weekly and related material on our social media platforms every day. Enjoy!
Download the full publication here: http://bit.ly/2seRc0x
By Rose Molokoane, Vice President of SDI and National Coordinator of the South African Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP)
When I told people at the launch of our Know Your City campaign at Habitat III that SDI would profile 100 cities before World Urban Forum 9 (WUF), people thought I was making empty promises like everyone else. I told people that SDI was done with all the talking. Yes, it was good to talk and get the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in place, but now the talking should end and the work should begin.
Sometimes when I’m in the community, I gossip about the Member States arguing about commas and which words to put in their documents. While they argue, we’re in the informal settlements counting toilets, negotiating with mayors, and building our own houses. I tell the community that we were the ones who put words into the New Urban Agenda about participation and community knowledge, and that now we have to show everyone how it’s done in practice.
If you want to know what it means to Know Your City, I want you to talk to one of the SDI federation members. You’ll find them in more than 30 countries. They’re easy to spot. Usually they’re singing and making a lot of noise. I want them to tell you about measuring shacks that are so close together you need to climb up on roofs to see what’s what; about mapping settlement boundaries and trying not to fall in drainage channels lined with garbage; about going house to house and hearing stories that make you want to cry; and about being chased by dogs and even by people with weapons as you administer enumerations. SDI members will tell you why they go to all that trouble and why they’re always screaming, “Information Is Power!”
After you ask them, then you can read this report. Some of you don’t believe things until they’re in a report with some big words and big numbers. That’s why we did this. We have too many stories, but if we made the report too big it would cost too much money, and we need that money to keep doing our work.
As communities, we know we can’t do everything alone. But we want the global community to understand just how much we’re doing to try to improve our settlements and cities and fulfill the goals we set together. While we’re trying so hard, some governments are still bulldozing our communities and setting them on fire because they want our land. This is one of the things that makes me so angry and disappointed.
In South Africa, our government is trying to understand. Our national government is trying to support Know Your City. Our local governments, through the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-Africa), are also trying. The problem is that government normally promises to bring resources, and then they don’t. If the slum dwellers can bring their resources, why can’t governments? Governments have already committed to these goals. If we really have a partnership, then each side needs to bring something to the table.
Know Your City is about understanding our problems together and then working, practically, to fix them. It’s not a “project,” this thing we call Know Your City. We have been doing it for decades, and we’re going to keep doing it until our cities change. SDG 11 calls for inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities. Look at our information, our knowledge, and our efforts, and think about how it will support all of us to implement these commitments.
Last week New York City was buzzing with events surrounding the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit for the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were formally adopted on the first day of the summit. SDI’s Rose Molokoane and Beth Chitekwe-Biti were in New York City for the week and participated in a number of events, many of which focused on how actors in the development sector – particularly urban development – can effectively work together to implement the SDGs.
Rose Molokoane was invited to speak at a high level plenary and workshop on “the implementation pathway for the post 2015 development agenda and its SDG on cities and human settlements” hosted by the UrbanSDG Campaign. In her talk, Rose addressed the importance of productive, effective partnerships between organised communities of the urban poor and local and national governments in the planning and implementation of development priorities. She emphasised the frustration that is building in communities after more than twenty years of global conferences and forums with little change on the ground:
“…It is really creating an issue of depression to us as the people at the community because we are very happy to listen to you when you say community participation. What kind of participation are we talking about? Is it participation of coming here, sitting here, listen to Rose Molokoane making noise then after that Rose goes back to South Africa and nothing happens? Or is it participation of saying let’s create the forums that will continue to happen even after the SDGs and the Habitat 3s; where we go back locally and sit together and say ‘What did we learn from Habitat 3?What is it that we can do together?’ and the important part is planning, information, and recognition of what it is the people are doing on the ground and then institutionalising the forums we are talking about.”
Listen to Rose’s entire address below:[audio m4a="https://sdinet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Rose-at-Ford-meeting-.m4a"][/audio]
SDI and the South African SDI Alliance were informed last week that Rose Molokoane, national coordinator of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and Deputy President of SDI, has been appointed to the Council of the South African Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) by Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu. The mission and vision of the SHRA is to regulate and invest in the development of affordable rental homes in integrated urban environments through sustainable institutions.
SDI is hopeful that Rose’s appointment to the SHRA board is a signal that this important body will begin to scale up social housing in South Africa.
Rose Molokoaneis a coordinator of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), and a coordinator of SDI. She is a resident and member of the Oukasie savings scheme in a slum settlement outside Pretoria, South Africa.
A veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, she is one of the most internationally recognized grassroots activists involved in land tenure and housing issues. FEDUP has helped more than 150,000 squatters, the vast majority of whom are women, to pool their savings. This has won them sufficient standing to negotiate with government for a progressive housing policy that has already produced 15,000 new homes and secured more than 1,000 hectares of government land for development.
Molokoane has initiated federations of savings schemes throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. She was awarded the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor in 2005 for her struggle to bring land and homes to the poor.
**Cross-posted from MuST Blog**
By Shaddy Mbaka, Muungano Support Trust (Kenya)
NAIROBI, 18 APRIL 2013 | SDI has officially joined the World Urban Campaign, a lobby and advocacy platform on sustainable urbanization for “Better City, Better Life,” coordinated by UN-HABITAT.
The World Urban Campaign brings together partners from across sectors. It is designed to facilitate international cooperation, and acts as platform to converge organizations in order to collaborate on solutions and build consensus towards a new urban agenda for the Habitat III conference that is expected to take place in 2016.
SDI, now a partner in the World Urban Campaign, will help engage cities around the world through the I’m a City Changer campaign, aimed at raising awareness on urban issues and to include the voice of the people to propose positive solutions to urban challenges.
SDI will also have an opportunity to represent the voices and interests of the poor, and thereby engage slum dwellers as city changers, while working closely with key World Urban Campaign partners around the world to ensure improved cities and to integrate poor communities in the management and development of their cities.
UN-HABITAT runs a series of strategic programmes designed to help make cities safer, to bring relief in countries suffering the aftermath of war or natural disasters, and to promote sustainable cities and good governance. Under the Urban Management Programme, an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN-HABITAT, the World Bank and various bilateral donors, the agency fosters urban management in the fields of participatory urban governance, urban poverty alleviation, environmental management, and the dissemination of this information at the local, national and regional levels.
UN-HABITAT also develops indicators of good urban governance with two principle aims. The first aim is to help cities identify urban governance priorities and assess their progress towards the quality of city-life and the second aim is to develop a global Good Urban Governance Index. The agency has a Training and Capacity Building Branch which works at national and local levels in various countries to strengthen capacity building through high-level policy dialogues seminars, consultations and expert workshops.
The SDI team, led by Jockin Arputhum, Sheela Patel, Rose Malokoane and Joel Bolnick, expressed enthusiasm for continuing to collaborate with UN-HABITAT and use the campaign platform to work with other organizations in order to improve urban life for all.
In her speech to the press, Rose Molokoane one of the SDI Coordinators said;
“We feel really honored for the recognition by UN-HABITAT as a partner in World Urban Campaign. It is the basics of engaging the communities that has brought us this far, through savings and placing the women at the centre of collective community leadership, has created engagements with governments and local authorities. This has set precedent for government and other stakeholders that organized communities can bring about transformation.
Slum dwellers know how settlements can be planned. This can only happen by involving the poor in the planning process, deal with slums not slum dwellers. The urban poor are the only ones who can open up cities for development; therefore they should be seen as partners who are well able to change the cities, to achieve this, governments should give the urban poor security of tenure to witness urban development”.
SDI Chairperson Sheela Patel acknowledged that it was indeed a special moment for SDI. She said that change requires transformation, and through the Memorandum signed between UN-HABITAT and SDI, the urban poor global network can seek to demonstrate the potential for transformation especially from below. “ This kind of partnership has been waiting to happen for a long time, we have tried to engage in the past, some have been successful while some unsuccessful, either way we hope to change how stakeholders view the urban poor,” said Ms. Patel.
On his part as the SDI President, Jockin thanked the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, for agreeing to sign an MOU with Slum Dwellers International, for it has opened a new chapter. ”SDI is privileged to partner with UN-Habitat on the urban transformative agenda. Being part of the decision making process, this partnership will bring change through the involvement of the poor, and we take it as a challenge in helping to realize the Millennium Development Goals. The issue of lack of proper sanitation infrastructure is a major impediment to development. We are going to work together and show the world how we are going to change, we have the information and we know how to plan”, said Jockin.
Dr. Joan Clos, UN-HABITAT Executive Director expressed appreciation for the work that SDI has done and continues to do, and for SDI’s unique makeup and tireless efforts to create inclusive cities and to promote participatory processes beginning at community level to city wide transformation.
“SDI has become a force in favor of the poor by demanding the recognition of the poor as far as the urban agenda is concerned. Slums are a source of innovation (citing Mumbai), therefore there will be no bulldozing of livelihoods of the people living in these settlements, any transformation in urban poor settlements need be in participatory of slum dwellers because these communities are well organized, something governments are yet to do,” said Clos.
He also noted the importance of this collaboration in bringing the urban poor to the forefront of shaping the global urban agenda, and the important role SDI has continued to play in building inclusive cities.