SDI hosted its Annual Board Meeting and Secretariat sessions

SDI Board and Secretariat hosted a collection of meetings from 19-23 April 2022 at the SDI Secretariat in Cape Town.  

In attendance, SDI hosted its Board of Directors, which is chaired by Joseph Muturi, national leader of Muungano wa Wanavijiji, the Kenyan Slum Dweller Federation. The majority of Board members are slum dweller leaders, augmented by SDI-affiliated and independent professionals with expertise in key priority areas. 

[caption id="attachment_13468" align="aligncenter" width="660"] SDI’s Board and Secretariat hosted a series of sessions to reflect on the previous Strategic Period and the way forward. (BACK ROW) Charlton Ziervogel, Cher Petersen, David Sheridan, Ariana Karamallis, William Cobbett, Theresa Rodriguez, Austen Nenguke, James Tayler. (MIDDLE ROW) Martha Sibanda, Beth Chitekwe-Biti, Esperance Ayinkamiye, Tamara Merrill, Skye Dobson. (FRONT ROW) Anna Muller, Margaret Bayoh, Emily Mohohlo, Joseph Muturi, Mikkel Aagaard Harder, Xola Mteto. (PHOTO: James Tayler)[/caption]

Get to know our Board of Directors here. 

The introductory sessions spanned two days and served as an opportunity for the Board and Secretariat to reflect on SDI’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, the State of SDI today, how we got here, and our key priority areas moving forward. 

The sessions took a reflective and introspective look at the management of SDI’s Secretariat from 2018 to date and the tremendous progress made since the 2019 systems audit by Sida, one of SDI’s funding partners, highlighted major shortcomings in our internal controls and governance practices. As outlined previously, SDI immediately identified and took a number of critical actions and has spent the subsequent two years engaging in a process of comprehensive organisational turnaround to reactivate, rebuild and strengthen SDI’s Secretariat and governance structures. This week of meetings marked a critical juncture in this process as the first in-person meeting of the newly established SDI Board of Directors and the first meeting between the new board and its Secretariat. 

SDI’s Programmatic Work

The Board and Secretariat also reflected on the network’s programmatic work over the past two years and the Secretariat’s role in supporting affiliates in this regard. SDI affiliates presented impressive work on climate adaptation and resilience, Covid-19 recovery and response, youth inclusion, human settlements and slum upgrading. Additionally, the Secretariat presented a number of key pieces of work, including a comprehensive Communications Strategy, the development of a Youth Inclusion Framework and activities in a variety of global spaces including the Gobeshona Conference on Locally Led Adaptations (27 March – 1 April), COP26, and more. 

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Additional pieces of work presented during the week include efforts towards the development of a comprehensive Business Development Strategy prioritising the hiring of a business development manager, rebuilding funder relationships and diversifying the funder base, and plans for a participatory review of our 2018-22 Strategic Plan and development of a strategy for the 2023-27 period. We aim to conclude the review by the start of the fourth quarter of 2022, with the new plan adopted by the Board and Council in the first quarter of 2023. 

The week concluded with a Donor and Partners Meeting where SDI’s institutional strengthening and programmatic work over the past year was presented to our donors and partners by SDI Board members, Secretariat staff, and federation leaders. While most of the donors, partners and affiliates joined the meeting virtually, it still provided a critical opportunity for the SDI network and many of its key supporters to gather together to review the work done to date and chart a way forward to future support. This offered a critical moment for SDI in our efforts to continue building the trust of our donors and partners.   

To request more information of the minutes of these meetings, please email 

Kenyan Federation Undertakes Strategic Planning

**Cross-posted from the Muungano blog.**

By Alice Slverdik and Shadrack Mbaka

Muungano wa Wanavijiji, the Kenyan federation, began a pioneering Strategic Planning process last November, with leaders from across Kenya sharing their personal histories with the federation and developing a shared vision for the future. At a 3-day workshop in Nakuru, participants discussed how to continue strengthening Muungano and how to achieve improved shelter, services, and visibility for the urban poor. This is the first time that Muungano has spearheaded its own 5-year Strategic Plan, and the process will expand next year with broader participation from members nationwide.

Rashid Mutua, Muungano was Wanavijiji National Chairman said, “We seek this forum to enable the federation to draft a strategic plan to support fellow slum dwellers to re-work their vision and mission in the urban development sphere and we look forward to having healthy reflections and an inclusive participation process.”

Facilitated by staff from Uganda’s support NGO ACTogether, the workshop provided the opportunity to learn from the Ugandan experiences and to reflect upon Muungano’s diverse paths. Both new and old leaders shared their journeys with Muungano, which helped reveal the federation’s multiple changes over time. Leaders differed widely in their initial experiences with Muungano: some emphasized land and housing, others sought to improve services or markets, and still others focused on advocacy. Shifting from anti-eviction campaigns in the 1990s to a broader, long-term vision, Muungano has constantly evolved and emerged as a confident movement that is eager to tackle ever greater challenges.

Jack Makau of Slum Dwellers International, who also doubled up as a process facilitator, expressed a positive course for the federation, “This has been a dream for the federation. This strategic planning process offers a platform for the federation to discuss its intended plans and indeed it is a blessing that we are seated together to have a voice of reason. Settlements have dynamics; donors may have varied opinions of informal settlements based on their augmented priorities. But in my own opinion, settlements are amazing, especially in their manifestations. The urban poor are housing half of cities’ populations. The urban dwellers are the problems and also the solution. This opportunity has presented itself for the federation to be the solution seekers”.

Participants take a gallery walk of some of the priority objectives that participants have proposed for the federation to consider in its strategic plan.

During the workshop, leaders engaged in vigorous debates over Muungano’s future and began developing a range of innovative strategies. Participants discussed key policy priorities, how to mentor new Muungano leaders, and the need for engaging with county governments (including leveraging funds via ongoing devolution reforms). Additionally, the leaders helped draft new vision and mission statements for Muungano, reflecting thoughtfully on core values and affirming their commitment to inclusive urban development. During future sessions, Muungano members will refine these statements and craft specific milestones, work-plans, and strategies for the next 5 years.

More than just a priority-setting exercise, the session also helped reinvigorate the federation’s spirit and uncovered vital new ideas. Participants gained useful lessons from Uganda, such as the importance of creating innovative organizational structures and documenting community processes. The planning process itself was also deeply affirming and inspiring for all who participated. ”The process was so captivating, so inclusive, I value it as a precious thing that we will be able to safeguard and protect for the rest of our lives,” said Erickson Sunday of Kisumu. With its path-breaking Strategic Plan, Muungano will create additional opportunities for shared reflection and growth as this dynamic movement continually redefines its future.


Institutional & Policy Review: SDI Evaluation 2013

In the recent months SDI, in partnership with external consultants, has been involved in an institutional and policy oriented evaluation. The purpose was to take stock of major changes in the SDI network over the past five years, as well as to focus on major strategic choices that the network faces in its future growth.

As a result of the evaluation, a number of strategic choices have been identified, many of which have been under consideration internally for some time. Such decisions are not between right and wrong, but between priorities and how to allocate scarce resources in terms of both time and funds. Notably, the evaluation states, in its final conclusions and recommendations, that “SDI has been quite successful so far in its trajectory, keeping a relative balance in its network between different demands, interests and opportunities.” With regard to the challenges currently facing the organisation, the evaluation goes on to affirm that “…new challenges are apparent in the evolution of SDI that are essentially the consequences of its growth and age. Therefore, rather than being the expression of a crisis, they are signs of success and evolution. Even so, they must be properly addressed; as to some extent they imply choices that might affect the very nature of SDI itself.” Some of the strategic choices put forward in the evaluation include:

• Whether to stick to the local-level role as a “model builder,” “catalyst” and policy influencer or embrace further the role as operator for upscaling.

• How to find the balance between being an informal network / movement and a formal / effective organisation.

• How to create stronger links between grassroots leaders and professionals, based on shared values and understanding of people-driven development.

• The need to clarify roles and responsibilities of NGOs versus Federations and broaden the leadership base to best serve Federations.

• How to better define SDI’s relationship with governments, and to identify under what conditions SDI may need to be more vocal and/or contentious.

• How to build more active and systematic fundraising at the national and international level.

• How to improve feedback about benefits of proper information handling in order to lessen resistance to adoption of data collection instruments.

SDI is committed to building a voice of, by, and for the urban poor, through a dedication to principles of transparency. As such, we are pleased to share this external evaluation with the public. To read the full report, click here.

To read the full report, click here.