Savings Symposium: Strong Savings Make Us Alive

Na-eema Swartz, Symposium co-organiser, counts savings collection taken on the first day. 

**Cross posted from the South African SDI Alliance blog.**

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

From 23-29 November 2014 the SA SDI Alliance and SDI affiliates from Malawi, Zambia & Zimbabwe gathered for a weeklong savings symposium in Cape Town to strengthen the Alliance’s savings practices. The group of 80 community and youth leaders discussed the power of savings for organising communities, leveraging municipal resources and opening a space to address individual, group and community needs.

Discussions assessed the Alliance’s current savings patterns, locally and nationally. They clarified what roles and responsibilities exist within savings groups, identified existing challenges and developed solutions for these. Visiting affiliates shared their savings practices, systems and strategies, supporting the SA alliance through the exchange of alternatives ideas and opportunities.

Throughout the week the group based these discussions on field visits to savings groups and upgraded informal settlement communities like Flamingo Crescent, who contributed 20% of the cost of each upgraded structure. These visits enabled a hands-on space for the symposium members to accompany local treasurers and collectors and learn how to complete saving record forms during door-to-door savings collections in Khayelitsha, Philippi and Samora. During other visits symposium members supported network meetings in Samora and Mfuleni in Cape Town, where four or five savings groups in a particular area regularly report back to each other on a network level.

Field visit to Flamingo informal settlement. 

Understanding savings in the SA Alliance

FEDUP national co-ordinators, Rose Molokoane and Marlene Don, opened the savings symposium by exploring the purpose for the gathering, revisiting the history of savings in the SA Alliance and its significance as a core methodology of the broader SDI network. Rose therefore reminded the gathering of the SA alliance’s history as rooted in its first exchange in the early 1990s with urban poor federations in India who were practicing daily savings.

Rose and Marlene revisited the main aims of FEDUP and ISN, namely

  • Encourage self reliance
  • Organising communities
  • Use savings and other methodologies as a tool to leverage external resources

These are underpinned by FEDUP and ISN’s 5 core principles:

  • Love
  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Commitment

Examining Alliance savings and looking forward

The purpose of the symposium was therefore to retrospect and understand the foundation on which the Alliance has built its savings, examine current savings patterns and look forward in terms of how these can be strengthened and developed. Based on impressions from the field, symposium members split into six groups, discussing questions, documenting suggestions and opinions in order to reach tangible outcomes. The questions under discussion were:

  1. What is a saver?
  2. Who is a collector?
  3. Who is a treasurer?
  4. What kind of savings do we have?
  5. Which kind is best for our organisation?
  6. How do we collect savings?
  7. How often do we collect savings?
  8. How do we record?
  9. How do we do reconciliation & savings?
  10. How & when do we do audits of our savings?
  11. How did you become a collector / treasurer?
  12. How do we run savings meetings?
  13. How should we deal with inconsistencies?

Each group presented its responses to the larger gathering, thereby mapping out a foundation on which to continue building the SA Alliance’s savings. The responses and group discussions will be used to develop a guiding framework for savings patterns in the Alliance. Communities thereby use savings not only as a tool to meet identified needs but to enable constructive negotiation with governmental tiers for resources and participatory development which includes the urban poor.

As members of each province reflected on the experiences gained during the week, it became evident that it was indeed a rich time of learning, exchange and building strong savings patterns.

“I learnt how to record in savings books, and I learnt the strength of being part of a group like this. I realised we can do it together. You made me feel so welcome” (Wendy, FEDUP Youth, Free State)

“I learnt the purpose of savings and how to motivate my community to save when I return home” (Sifiso, KwaZulu-Natal)

“Our federation belongs to us and we are the ones who will make it alive through strong savings!” (Rose Molokoane, FEDUP National Co-ordinator)

Presenting group responses. 



Zimbabwe and South Africa Support Botswana Federation

By Kwanele Sibanda, CORC, South Africa



The Republic of Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. It is a mid-sized country of just over two million people. Environmentally, Botswana faces two major problems: drought and desertification. Despite its middle-income status, Botswana continues to grapple with significant social challenges including unequal distribution of wealth, high levels of poverty, unemployment and HIV/AIDS prevalence. On health issues, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS was estimated at 24% for adults in 2006. In the fight against the disease the government of Botswana solicited outside help in fighting HIV/AIDS and received early support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


The federation of Botswana was mobilized by the Zimbabwean federation and established in 2011 in Francistown and it has since expanded to Gaborone, Selibe, Maun and Phikwe. The NGO; Trust for Community Initiatives (TFCI) was registered on the 31st of May 2012 as a trust. There are currently 3 board members and two staff members working for the NGO.


In June 2014 the federation of Botswana was selected by the Francistown City Council as a community based organization that has one of the best practices in fighting poverty. The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (Peter L. Siele) therefore made a proposal of visiting the federation in Francistown on the 17th of October 2014. Since the Botswana federation is still at its early stages of development, it therefore requested the support of the Zimbabwean and the South African federations.


A four day schedule was set for the exchange and that was between the 16th and 19th of October 2014. The 16th and 19th were set as days of arrival and departure respectively. On the morning of the 17th, prior to the commencement of the meeting with the Honourable Minister, a brief planning session was held with the hosts to look into the program and also strategize on key objectives intended to be achieved from the exchange. During the planning session the Zimbabwean and South African delegates were encouraged to focus their presentation more on savings, partnerships and projects. The 17th was scheduled as following:

  • Presentation to the Minister by the Botswana local federation
  • Zimbabwean presentation that covered where and what the SDI alliance does and then a more focused presentation on the Zimbabwean federation.
  • South African presentation.
  • Response from the Minister
  • Site visits with the Minister
  • End of day one

On day two of the exchange, there were no government officials and the federations had the chance to engage around internal alliance issues of interest. The Botswana federation felt that they needed a lot of support around understanding what the Urban Poor Fund is all about.  The programme was set for a full day discussion around UPF and then ending with an evaluation of the exchange.  The day was therefore structured as indicated below:

  • Botswana federation members – individual expression of UPF understanding.
  • Formation of three groups (Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa). For group discussions Zimbabwe and South Africa were requested to write key points that relate to UPF in their respective countries. Botswana was on the other hand requested to list what they have so far been using as principles around UPF.
  • Presentation per country followed by questions and answers
  • Advise for Botswana on guidelines that they should agree upon as principles around UPF.
  • Exchange evaluation
  • Closure



Federation of Botswana – Francistown, Maun, Gaborone, Selibe and Phikwe

Trust for Community Initiatives (Botswana support NGO) – Goitsemang B. Maano and Mark

Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation– Sekai Catherine Chiremba, Sazini Ndlovu, R. Ncube.

Dialogue on Shelter (Zimbabwe support NGO) – Beth Chitekwe and Givemore Nyamaponda

South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) – Maureen, Sophy and Sarah

CORC (South African support NGO) – Kwanele Sibanda 

Officials: Minister of Local Government and Rural Development – Peter L. Siele, Town Clerk – L. Israel, Office of the District Commissioner – Opelo, Head of Community Development – Mrs Phama, Deputy Mayor of Francistown – Mrs Phama 

The meeting was chaired by Dambe, a representative of the Botswana federation. A welcome note was made. While introductions were made individually for the officials, South African and Zimbabwean delegates; the Botswana federation was introduced according to saving schemes. The programme was announced as indicated above. 


  • Due to challenges they face on a daily basis, they established savings groups to support one another.
    • The federation started in April 2011 in Francistown and has since expanded to Selibe, Phikwe, Gaborone and Maun.
    • Key focus has been on mobilization since they have just started and savings as well.
    • The groups practice daily savings and they have a good recording system for accountability.
    • They hold weekly meeting were they share knowledge, account for savings, recruit new members, discuss projects, and show each other love and unity.
    • There are 42 saving schemes and the total number of active members is 1126 (1036 females and 90 males)
    • Their total daily savings to date is P257 807.91 and their Urban Poor Fund is P20 834.85.
    • Women are at the forefront of the process because they are the most affected by the day to day challenges.
    • As opposed to being beggars, they are resourceful members who have united to assist one another in using resources at their disposal.
    • The health component is one of their priorities.
    • They have conducted development projects such as installation of water taps, electricity and flush toilets.
    • They also have income generating projects such as poultry and catering.
    • Indicated that councillors and chiefs in their respective places of residence understand what they are doing and give them support were they can.
    • To scale up the work that they have started, they requested a formal working relationship with the government starting with the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
    • They acknowledged support that they have been receiving from the Francistown City Council especially around transport to undertake their activities.


  • SDI breakdown – 8 countries in the Southern African HUB
  • Active in 34 countries
  • Showed a lot of appreciation of the Minister’s act of coming closer to the people.
  • They have organized themselves, saved and conducted enumerations so that they engage their government with facts.
  • They approached their government, proved to them that they have good poverty alleviation tools, agreed on a partnership and established a City Fund in five cities.
  • Emphasized that it is crucial for the Minister to consider working closely with such organized groups who do not approach the government empty handed.
  • Spoke about the Urban Poor Fund and indicated how they had used it to undertake projects of their interest.
  • Went on to request the Minister to give a pledge that will support that will add onto and support the Urban Poor Fund of the Botswana federation.
  • Elaborated that they use their Urban Poor Fund in a sustainable way that enables many people to benefit and that is done by making it a revolving fund that is replaced once used.
  • Concluded by inviting the Minister to an SDI exchange which he shall be informed of in the near future.


  • When we mobilize community members our main aim is to change the mind-set of the people from dependency to self-sustenance.
  • Savings and enumerations are a priority for us. When we engage with the officials we present information that reflects high level of commitment for a better life.
  • To enhance our work so as to support more communities, we create partnerships with government at different level for example we have an MOU with the Department of Human Settlement and with that; we have been able to build over 30 000 quality houses by ourselves for ourselves as poor people of South Africa. In working with the government we always emphasize that the Batho Pele (People First) principle must be applied.
  • The processed that we undertake ensure that we empower each other.
  • We work closely with our NGOs that act as finance administrators and also offer technical assistance in the various projects.
  • We believe and practise a continuous process of learning and sharing knowledge. Our presence as South African and Zimbabwean federation in Botswana is one of our ways of sharing knowledge as experience with the local federation and government officials.
  • The South African federation is in eight regions, has a membership of 26 490 members, R2 424 376.25 and R245 512.09.


  • The Minister described the Zimbabwean and the South African federation members as real neighbours that are concerned about the well-being of others.
  • He likes the concept of Batho Pele (People First) as described by South African federation and furthermore indicated that the government of Botswana also has a television and radio program that enhances the dissemination of community initiatives and government programs and it is called Batho Pele.
  • What the federation of Botswana is working on is actually fulfilling what the President of Botswana said about strategies of poverty eradication.
  • Communities should strive for partnerships in line with what they are doing.
    • The minister assisted the Botswana federation by outlining some of the programs that different government departments are offering in line with what the federation is doing.
    • He furthermore encouraged them to take advantage of funds such as those offered by the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs (MLHA). The Women’s Affairs Department is mandated to facilitate mainstreaming of Gender Issues in the development process. As a way of empowering women’s CBOs, the Government of Botswana allocates funds to the Women’s Affairs Department annually in order to assist the organisations.


  • The Minister witnessed three projects that the federation members do: traditional attires and baskets, poultry and a cool drink making business. The minister and his team were taken around while the project leaders explained how the businesses are conducted.

DAY TWO OF EXCHANGE     18/10/2014

Attendees: Botswana, Zimbabwean and South African federations as well as their support NGOs

The focus on day two was that of discussion UPF related issues. The programme started off with Botswana federation members being given the opportunity to express their knowledge and how they have been dealing with UPF issues. Points made were noted as indicated below:

  • We are savings for land, to build houses as well as other projects.
  • We are contributing UPF so that we can give each other loans
  • We had an incident were some group members contributed towards UPF, but the treasure did not deposit the money.
  • It is difficult for me to distinguish between daily savings and UPF
  • We started the UPF contributions after an exchange to Gwanda in Zimbabwe; however after report back and starting not many members understood the concept.

After the individual contributions it became apparent that there is need for continuous support around UPF.

Three groups were formed according to countries. For group discussions Zimbabwe and South Africa were requested to write key points that relate to UPF in their respective countries. Botswana was on the other hand requested to list what they have so far been using as principles around UPF.



  • Each member is required to make a contribution of R750 and it is contributed at a pace based on each member’s ability.
  • The contribution is regarded as a membership fee that gives the respective member the privileges offered by the alliance.
  • R5 contribution per month or R60 per year is required from each member as a way of sustaining their main fund.
  • We pre-finance some of our housing projects using our UPF
  • We give loans for income generating projects.
  • Our fund is managed by our local NGO (Utshani Fund); however our daily savings are kept in our respective saving scheme accounts.
  • For accountability purposes, recording books are used during collections at a saving scheme level and Utshani Fund is required to produce a bank statement on a monthly basis.
  • UPF has its own structure. (Saving scheme, regional and national representative).
  • We also use our UPF to attract other funds.



The Zimbabwean UPF is called Gungano


  • Federating saving schemes in the country.
  • Demonstrates federation capacity and capabilities to the government, donors and other partners.
  • Leverage financial resources as well as other in kind contribution from Government and donors.
  • Give out loans for big projects to federation saving schemes.


  • One dollar per month in perpetuity.

Type of loans:

  • Land purchase
  • Infrastructure/water, sanitation, plumbing
  • Housing/building material/labour/drawing of plans
  • Business projects

Terms and conditions

  • Loans are given to saving schemes and not individuals
  • Saving scheme should be in good standing
  • Currently the interest is at 12% p a
  • Time frame depends on type of loan (Business: 6 months; Housing infrastructure: 2 years)

The agreement made was that individuals can access loan from their respective saving schemes while the savings schemes access loans from Gungano.


–       Beth from Dialogue on Shelter mentioned that what is being presented are ways in which the two named countries are using their UPF. She further emphasized that principles around Botswana UPF have to be tailor made for the needs of the Botswana UPF beneficiaries. She concluded by saying that “if you have your own resources and manage them well, it becomes easy to be assisted”.

–        As a way forward it was agreed that a final decision of principles around UPF cannot be taken in the particular meeting because consultation first has to be made from a savings scheme level; however an agreement was reached on what the respective saving schemes have to input towards a final national UPF policy.

–       Below are the guidelines:

  • Name to be given to the UPF
  • What is the purpose of the fund?
  • How much should be the monthly contribution per member towards the total amount?
  • How much should be the total amount?
  • How manages the fund?
  • How much should we have before giving out loans or making any other form of use of the fund?
  • How much interest should be charged in the event of a decision of giving out loans?
  • What recording system should be put in place?
  • How often should saving schemes have access to the bank statement?


–       The evaluation of the exchange took two forms.

  1. Open platform for federation members to express their views.
  2. NGO group evaluation

–       Below are points made by the various federation members:

  • I am so grateful for the exchange has enlightened me on many federation issues especially the Urban Poor Fund.
  • We feel motivated by the presentations made by the federations that have been doing the work for many years and we are inspired to grow our federation the same way.
  • We are proud of what we are doing and for the fact that our Minister has come to us makes us even happier.
  • What we are doing is well recognised and that it why day one of our activity was broadcast on national radio.
  • As South African this is so important for us and that is why we say ‘Funduzufe’ (Learn until you die).
  • We as Zimbabweans see a bright future ahead of you and this is based on the cooperation we have noticed from your Minister, Chiefs and Local Municipality. It is now up to you to continue with the good work.

–       Below are various points made as an evaluation and support for the local NGO:

  •     Need to follow-up on processes for example the UPF task left with the communities.
  •     Consider setting up a website and update work done for more publicity.
  •     Identification of government programmes that are in line with federation activities and find means of taping into local resources.
  •     Establish community documentation teams to write stories about their activities.
  •     Follow up on issues put forward by the Minister. Write a letter thanking the Minister and also outlining what the federation requests are.


Community Savings for Urban Change: Building a Women’s Leadership for Slum Upgrading

Harare, Zimbabwe

Savings groups form the basis of collective action in urban poor communities. The establishment of community savings is a core ritual of the urban poor federation building process, and the central participation of women in community savings significantly improves the quality of the process and the probability of sustainable change. Community savings schemes help meet the needs of low-income urban dwellers and create the foundation for building urban poor federations that provide their savers with more influence and scope for action.

By being members of small daily savings groups, women with the lowest and least stable incomes are able to create a consolidated voice to help bring about the changes they seek in their city. They also realize their capacity to influence and change the nature of leadership from individual to collective, within and between communities, and thus effect even greater change. This is the essence of the federation-building model in SDI: it is by addressing the needs and aspirations of the city’s poorest women that the rest of the community begins to see meaning in coming together. 

Sheila Magare of the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation recounts the effects of community savings in her life and her community:

“…I started getting small loans as well from the group to improve my vending business and I repaid the loans. I then joined other members of the group and got a big loan and we started a collective business of buying and selling snacks from our vegetable markets. This was a huge success and we never looked back. The profits from the business we used to buy building materials for houses even though we were landless. We used our savings booklets as evidence of the capacity of the poor to save and to collectively build their own houses. Armed with our savings records we engaged the City of Harare to allocate us land to build houses. The officials were surprised by how much we had saved. We earned their respect. In turn they changed their conditions for registering on the Municipal waiting list for accommodation… Even though it took us 5 years the City eventually allocated us land to build houses.

Using the same method we started talking to national government ministers as well. Our message was simple – that we were slum dwellers but we were not hopeless. We wanted government to change the policies that make it difficult for the poor to live decently in towns. We wanted the government to give us money to add to our savings. That way more poor people can have decent homes and safe water to drink and proper toilets. Mayors and government ministers in Zimbabwe now know me by name because, with other federation leaders we never get tired of fighting for other poor families.” 

In addition to community savings, members of many savings groups also save towards a national fund. This is a fund that is used to leverage the savings of the urban poor to support larger investments in slum upgrading. As savings groups come together (or “federate”) at the settlement, city and national level, they begin to look beyond the needs of their savings group alone to the needs of the federation and the urban poor at large. In the same way, committees found at the level of the local savings group are replicated at network, regional, and national levels. This enables the generation of a self-governing national movement that is rooted in the hopes, aspirations, and challenges of its members.   

Both functions reinforce each other. The savings and loans systems at the group level prepare communities for much bigger loans and project management demands when upgrading is undertaken. Federation savings groups see savings as uniting the community and building collective capacity to address larger issues with a wider impact beyond a particular group. Traditional savings associations work to the benefit of the members of the group. Within the federations, however, savings groups serve as building blocks for community institutions that in turn enable them to address and invest resources in issues that affect the entire community or city, stretching beyond those of livelihoods alone. 

The development of the city-level federation is inextricably linked to the federating of the savings groups. The city-level federation grows out of the networking and institutional structures that arise from the coming together of savings groups in the same settlement or network, regional, and national level. In Uganda, this process started in Kampala and Jinja regions, and then spread to other areas through community learning exchanges.

Leaders groomed at the saving group level that demonstrate their capacity and dedication have the opportunity to rise to positions of leadership at higher levels, where they can provide mentoring to the citywide agenda that is firmly rooted in the ideals of the savings groups. In this way, the voices of the poor are taken from savings group level meetings to network-level meetings, and from there are able to inform the city agenda. Thus, the city federation is driven from the bottom, not the top. Network, regional and national level meetings are critical to maintaining this bottom-driven process. These, rather than projects, are what make the savings groups feel part of a larger process, a larger agenda, a movement. 

One example of this is in Jinja, Uganda, where there are 42 savings groups across the city. These savings groups come together as six networks, each network having eight program facilitators – 60% of whom are women. The program facilitators (for issue-based committees on evictions, health, loaning, auditing, etc.) come together to form the regional council. The regional council provides a space where representatives of the savings groups are able to come together to plan and strategize. Facilitators are chosen for the capacity and accountability they have demonstrated in their savings groups. Five representatives from the Regional Council – three of whom are women – sit on the National Executive Council – the space for national planning rooted in the struggles and ideals of the savings groups. 


Check out SDI’s 2012 / 2013 Annual Report to read more about how community savings impacts urban change through organized communities and strong women leadership. 

In Uganda, Savings and Upgrading Go Hand-in-Hand

Video source: ICMAvideos 

The International City Managemement Association (ICMA) has partnered with Cities Alliance, the Government of Uganda and the Uganda SDI alliance on a project that seeks to transform informal settlements starting from mobilization of urban poor women around savings schemes, the backbone of SDI’s methodology. In the following interview, Sarah Nandudu, a national leader of the Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation, explains how the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor (TSUPU) project in Uganda supports efforts to improve water and sanitation by using these core methodologies. As noted on the ICMA website, “part of ICMA’s role in the project is to work with local governments to engage citizens of slums to improve public service delivery, especially water and sanitation.” 

For more information on the TSUPU project, click here


SDI Invited to Explore Links in Lima, Peru

By Anaclaudia Rossbach (Rede Interecao, Brasil), Celine D´Cruz (SDI Coordinator) and Maria E. Torrico (Red Interaccion, Bolivia)

Participants: (i) from Secretariat, Celine D´Cruz; (ii) from Bolivia, Maria Eugenia Torrico and Elizabeth Bustos; (iii) from Brazil, Eli Sandra Santana and Anacláudia Rossbach.

Municipalities visited: within Lima metropolitan area – Puente Piedra, San Juan de Miraflores and San Juan de Lurigancho

Institutions visited: Public Health projects lead by Joe Zunt and Silvia Montano and NGO KalLpa.

Context: This visit [06 – 09 September 2011] was the outcome of an invitation to Celine/SDI after she was invited to share SDI’s experience at Washington University, Seattle to a joint team of Neurologist and the School of architecture. This team of health, architectural professionals and students have been working on a joint project with communities in Lima. They invited Celine/SDI to explore the possibility of working with the mothers groups in Peru. What attracted the team was the idea that within SDI savings groups were more than just micro savings and extended to other parts of the communities life.

Meetings held:

Day 01

  • Celine´s presentation for multidisciplinary students from Washington University was facilitated by Joe Zunt Neurologist affiliated to Washington University and Silvia Montano a local Neurologist in Lima. This was followed by a Visit to Pitagoras School, local partners for environment and public health projects by Washington University, Joe Zunt and Silvia Monano.
  • Meeting with mothers from parents students association (APAFA) to present SDI methodologies and identify interests for a next day follow up, they are residents of a broader neighborhood called Lomas de Zapallal, constituted by several smaller settelements, located at Puente Piedra Municipality. Present: 12 mothers and APAFA President.
  • Internal meeting in the evening with exchange team and hosts Joe Zunt and Silvia Montano. Introduction to Jose Vinoles who will be the local anchor for the rest of the week program, that should include follow up visits at Lomas de Zapallal and to KalLpa NGO, including eventual visits to communities were they operate projects related to public health, youth, income generation and improve of urban environment.

Day 02

  • Team meeting on LA Hub coordinated by Celine D´Cruz. Issues discussed: (i) exchange Brazil – Bolivia to take place on the first week of October. This exchange will have two objectives: a) A team led by Fernanda Lima and leaders from Brazil will support Bolivia on their internal planning process and setting up of goals and targets for short and medium term and b) to explore more about the savings instruments from Bolivian groups. (ii) Exchange to Philippines. Discussion on composition of the exchange teams and a subsequent stop over in Brazil for a small exchange of 2/3 days to consolidate planning and a broader discussion with Brazilian savers on savings schemes instruments adopted in Bolivia. The idea is to strengthen savings schemes capacity in Brazil. (iii) On LA hub expansion. We discussed open possibilities in Ecuador (M. Eugenia contacts) through a local social movement and Colombia through Architect Alejandro Echeverri (Sheela Patel contact). The approach will be narrowing the long distance relationship and evaluate after a couple of months the feasibility of exchanges. The idea of having more countries (poor) attached to Brazil, like Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, could represent a window of opportunity to leverage international funds for the hub.
  • Follow up meeting at Pitagoras Schooll with mothers from Lomas de Zapallal. The mothers from the previous day meeting weren’t present, but Jose Viñoles facilitated a meeting with other new mothers and just one of them was interested on a further visit at her small settlement. Her name is Sarita Garcia from the settlement called Eliseo Collazos Verde and a visit was scheduled for the following days.

Day 03

  • Meeting with KalLpa President Alejandrina Zamora Pariona and team to exchange institutional information. KalLpa basicly operates in 4 regions in Peru: Ayacucho, Cuzco, Ichitos and Lima on community based projects related to urban environment, public health, youth and income generation (see more at HYPERLINK They invited us to visit one youth center on income generation and one community at San Juan de Miraflores. This community, called Minas 2000, would also be visited by a theater group, supported by Canyon Ranch Institute (US) and Jose Viñoles. We also had conversations with Canyon Ranch Evaluation and Program Manager Maura Pereira, present on the exchange.
  • Visit to Youth Center at San Juan de Miraflores. Presentation of mutual programs and brief discussion of possible synergies between SDI methodologies and the purpose of the center located within the municipal offices of San Juan de Miraflores, it is a partnership between NGO, local and central governments.
  • Visit to community Minas 2000 at municipality San Juan de Miraflores. Discussion about community issues like lack of water, infrastructure, risk areas, it is a very poor community with shacks in a private property (owner uwilling to sell and exploring rent). The settlement has a total of 200 families. After the presentation by Brazilian and Bolivian community leaders, the local women immediately reacted positively on incorporating SDI methodologies and 2 savings schemes were set. (i) group with 7 members, treasurers Hermila, Monica and Milagros; (ii) group with 20 members, treasurers Ester, Elva and Rosa.

Day 04

  • Visit to community 24 de Diciembre at the Municipality of San Juan de Luricancho. Based on the success of previous day, KalLpa invited us for a meeting with another community, called 24 de Diciembre (estimated number of 200 families) located at the Municipality of San Juan de Luricancho. In the meeting we had the presence of about 8 women and 1 man, the “official community leader”. Besides the presence of the community leader we managed to set up a savings group with the 8 women present, 2 treasurers, Marta and Wilma.
  • Conclusion meeting with KalLpa team. We agreed on a synergy between both programs, SDI and KalLpa and to stay together following up the savings groups located in their communities. For an initial follow up by KalLpa we will send material (savings books) and information, and Jose Vinoles and Stelita (from KalLpa team) will be our local anchors. A follow up exchange is planned by the beginning of December to set up broader institutional arrangements.
  • Afternoon, meeting with Sarita Garcia and community women at Eliseo Collazos Verde (Lomas de Zapallal, Puente Piedra) to present SDI methodologies and discuss community issues. Also a very precarious settlement (90 families), with water, but no infrastructure, poor transport connections and shacks. They are located on public area and are already requesting land titling, what is very easy to get in Peru, even in precarious settlements. A savings group was set with 18 members, treasures: Sarita, Emilia y Mariluz. 

Next steps:

  • Consolidation of Peruvian savings schemes under supervision of Jose Viñoles/KalLpa NGO.
  • Follow up visit coordinate by the Brazilian team on December/2011 to: (i) institutionalize local partnerships; (ii) follow up of savings groups; and (iii) planning exercise with the communities for a long term vision with professional support form Brazilian team (in Peru there is no integrated slum upgrading project, the idea of this exercise is to engage communities on a common dream/goal).

 See more photos from the exchange to Peru on the Peru Flickr page.