**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.
SDI affiliates continued to work closely with academic institutions to co-produce knowledge through undertaking collective planning studios. SDI’s position is that these types of engagements expose students and academics to informal knowledge and conditions that call into question existing presumptions, planning frameworks, infrastructure standards and laws. Through this experience the capacity and knowledge of slum dwellers as capable actors in developing upgrading plans and precedents for their own communities is illustrated. Collective studios are the first step in training the next generation of planners who will one day become officials shaping the development and inclusivity of cities. If practical collaborative studios (between planners and the urban poor) become embedded in University curricula, inclusive planning practices can become the norm rather then the exception.
“In communities we know the number of settlements, services and origins of the people. We know how they spend their money and how they would like to develop their areas. You cannot plan from the office but if you go to the ground and speak to people and learn from them it can help you plan better.” – Katana Goretti, Ugandan Federation
Reforming the manner in which planning students are educated is one step towards shifting planning paradigms in Africa. On this basis SDI entered into a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Assosiation of African Planning Schools (AAPS) in 2010, promoting co-operation between country affiliates and local planning schools. The MoU recognizes that the most effective way to change the mindsets of student planners is to offer direct experiential exposure to, and interaction with the conditions and residents of slums. In this manner students will be exposed to the value of informal knowledge and community participation in planning for settlement upgrading. During this period SDI affiliates and AAPS have conducted six collaborative planning studios in which students, staff, and urban poor communities engage directly in data collection, analysis, and the development of upgrading plans. Studios have taken place in Uganda, Malawi (two), South Africa, Kenya, and Namibia. In many cases local government officials have been invited to witness studio outputs and participate.
In Kampala, Uganda a studio with Makerere University planning students led to detailed reports reflecting informal challenges and upgrading plans that were submitted to local governments. During the studio the Ugandan Federation referred to themselves as “community professors.” Two concurrent studios took place in Blantyre and Mzuzu, Malawi. In Nancholi, Blantyre Federation members worked closed with the University of Malawi-Polytechnic to identify upgrading priorities and develop plans for improved circulation and drainage. In Salisbury Lines, Mzuzu, poor drainage and groundwater pollution were key priorities around which collective planning took place. In South Africa, students spent six months developing upgrading plans in conjunction with residents of Langrug informal settlement in Stellenbosch. In Gobabis, Namibia, students from the Polytechnic of Namibia undertook a site analysis of the Freedom Square informal settlement. Loraine, a community member from Block 5 in Freedom Square noted:
“The site analysis brought to light to how I see my surroundings. I learned how to use a GPS as we were doing the mapping. I also got to see which areas are suitable to build my house on and which aren’t, in order to avoid flooding, during the rainy season.”
It is important that studios become part of annual university curriculums, entrenching new approaches to planning over a sustained period and encouraging the participation of city governments. In all the aforementioned countries commitments have been made to replicate the studio process. Across the SDI network affiliates are exploring these types of engagements. For example a further studio recently took place between the Zambian affiliate and the University of Zambia in Lusaka. The municipality is looking at the possibility of implementing some of the proposals that emerged and has pledged to quicken the process of declaring the targeted settlement a legal residential area, as it is currently an illegal settlement under the 1975 Town and Country Planning Act.
In February 2013 a further planning studio was organised between the South African communities of Mshini Wam, Shukushukuma, and Ruo Emoh and architecture and planning students from the University of Melbourne to investigate new solutions for informal settlement upgrading and housing development. In Shukushukuma, plot sized placeholders were cut to scale and laid out on an aerial photograph. The location of visible infrastructure was mapped, such as electricity poles, toilet blocks, and water taps. The Mshini Wam group looked at alternative typologies for densification and formalisation after re-blocking projects. A visual fly through model was created, building on the new layout of re-blocked settlement.
During the year a German Agency for International Co-operation (GIZ) sponsored initiative was also undertaken to investigate the conditions for successful projects and partnerships between local government and urban poor communities. The report produced drew on experiences in Harare (Zimbabwe), Pune (India) and Kampala (Uganda) – locations that were visited by the investigating team. The team consisted of David Satterthwaite from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Celine D’Cruz, an SDI Coordinator and co-founder of SPARC, and Sonia Fadrigo, a Core Monitoring Team member.
In 2013 SDI affiliates continue to consolidate partnerships with academic institutions with the goal of cementing collaborative efforts (e.g. planning studios) within university curriculums. SDI’s strategic medium term goals recognise the value of producing citywide data about informal settlements. Data can be used both to engage government and to assist in implementing projects that move beyond single settlements and tackle poverty at scale. Urban planners, architects, surveyors, and managers can, and must, play a vital role in critically engaging with this data. By accepting the validity of such data (and assisting in its co-production) academia can add both political and practical value increasing impact and scale.
To read more about SDI’s partnerships with academic institutions, check out our Annual Report.
Accessible and inclusive cities demand systems and policies that provide the poor with equal access to the social, economic, and service benefits of the formal city. Relocation to the periphery (or even worse eviction) severs social bonds, increases urban sprawl, and aggravates spatial inequalities. In situ upgrading of informal settlements presents an opportunity to build denser, more climate friendly and equitable cities. Citywide data collection processes through profiles and enumerations form the baseline to plan for in situ upgrading.
SDI therefore understands in situ upgrading as a key part of integrating the excluded and informal poor populations into the city as a whole, providing meaningful access to the social and economic benefits of living in a city. An array of interventions have been developed by SDI’s affiliates to prepare communities for in situ upgrading projects and subsequently implement infrastructure and housing upgrades.
In Harare, Zimbabwe the Zimbabwean Homeless People’s Federation (ZHPF) and their support NGO, Dialogue on Shelter, have supported the incremental upgrading of Dzivarasekwa (DZ) extension in partnership with the City of Harare. To date almost 500 families have built incremental housing and accessed water and sanitation services. Surrounding informal communities have become interested in taking up these upgrading interventions and the Zimbabwean Alliance has plans to significantly scale up sanitation provision in DZ extension. Other city governments and communities (e.g. in Chinhoyi, Bulawayo, Kariba, and Kadoma) have been exposed to the projects and steps are being taken to replicate upgrading interventions. The partnership and pilots in Harare have influenced government (locally and nationally) to accept dry sanitation options (ecosan) and adopt incremental upgrading practices in the new National Housing Policy.
In Kampala the Ugandan Alliance has focused on pilot sanitation and market upgrading projects. In terms of sanitation the Federation has piloted a number of different toilet prototypes in Kinawataka, Kisenyi, and Kalimali and other municipalities outside of Kampala. The pilot projects have enabled the Federation to: a) engage local government substantively on the issue of sanitation discussing policy, regulations, and management strategies; b) change perceptions on what “public toilets” are from dirty, smelly, single-purpose units to units than can serve multiple functions – such as community halls, income generating spaces etc. and c) test different technologies – from solar lighting, to rainwater harvesting, to low-cost building materials in an effort to find the most efficient combinations for sanitation facilities. The Federation is now seen as a critical actor in the sanitation sector and has increased its networking with other actors in the field for enhanced learning. As a result of these pilots, the Federation was able to leverage significant resources from Comic Relief to continue its sanitation work over the next five years.
The vast majority of Kampala’s slum dwellers work in the informal sector – many in the city’s informal markets. As the city plans to upgrade these markets from cramped, muddy, and poorly ventilated and serviced to something more formal (and taxable) there is a danger the existing vendors will be pushed out due to affordability concerns.
The Federation is working on a pilot market upgrade in Kinawataka, Nakawa which will combine low-cost stalls and more formal “lock ups” to cater to the different needs of city dwellers. Many market upgrading projects in the city have been stalled for years due to the wrangles of market vendors, local politicians, and landlords. The Federation is working with the Kampala Capital City Authority and the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development to try to demonstrate an alternative community-driven approach that may minimize these roadblocks to successful market upgrading.
In Cape Town, the South African Alliance has piloted three in situ upgrading projects. Over the last year Mshini Wam has been re-blocked, opening up space for safer and more dignified communities, as well as for infrastructure. Through the growing partnership with the City of Cape Town, water and sewerage pipes have been installed for the 250 households (497 people) in the settlement. Road surfacing is under discussion and during the next financial year electrification is planned. Nokwezi Klaas, a community leader from Mshini Wam, describes how re-blocking has changed the settlement: “Prior to re-blocking, the settlement was very dense. There were no passageways and when there were fires it was virtually impossible to get into the settlement. All the toilets were on the outskirts and there were only three water taps for over 200 households in the settlement.”
In Kukutown, a far smaller settlement, re-blocking has taken place and one-on-one services (water, sanitation, and electricity) have been installed. In Flamingo Crescent the re-blocking process is currently underway. In Stellenbosch a community managed WASH facility has been constructed in the Langrug informal settlement. Mshini Wam, Kukutown, and Flamingo Crescent have been used to show the possibilities for in situ upgrading in Cape Town and to catalyse other interventions at a city scale.
Their impact has been significant with the City of Cape Town drafting a re-blocking policy which could potentially be rolled out to other settlements across the city and aligned with municipal development plans, frameworks, and budget lines. During this period several consultation meetings have been held with the City to expedite and refine this process, addressing challenges and delays that have emerged.
In situ upgrading projects based on solid community data present a viable alternative to relocation and eviction. The variety of pilots and interventions trialed throughout the network highlight alternative visions for the city that include the poor, rather then relegate them to the periphery. The methods deployed represent a “tool-kit” which is contingent on local contexts especially the nature of relationships with local governments. What will become increasingly vital in the next year is how SDI federations are now in a position to scale up informal settlement upgrading interventions that form part of a coherent, affordable, and scalable citywide plan.
Check out SDI’s 2013 – 2014 Annual Report for more on in situ upgrading.
By Skye Dobson, ACTogether Uganda
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? , TS Eliot
The time for nonsense as a source of popularity is over , Tony Owana
This year, SDI launched an initiative called, Know Your City in partnership with the Cities Alliance and United Cities and Local Governments Africa (UCLGA). The initiative has generated a lot of attention, particularly following its launch at the World Urban Forum in Colombia. But what does it mean to Know Your City? In this, the second blog reflection from the Kampala Learning Center, I will examine this question in light of the recent launch of the Kampala Slum Profiles by the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) and its support NGO ACTogether Uganda.
At workshops, conferences, and seminars across Uganda and internationally, it seems there is no need for any additional effort to know anything. It seems the confident presenters with their big words, fancy Power Points, and compelling statistics already know everything that could possibly be known. I’m sure I’m not the only one intimidated by these folks. Glossy reports reemphasize how much various donors, governments, and NGOs understand about the cities in which they operate. So why, in this sea of data and information, is SDI calling for a campaign to Know Your City?
To explain, we can reflect on an observation by Walter Lippmann: “a boy can take you into the open at night and show you the stars; he might tell you no end of things about them, conceivably all that an astronomer could teach. But until and unless he feels the vast indifference of the universe to his own fate, and has placed himself in the perspective of cold and illimitable space, he has not looked maturely at the heavens. Until he has felt this, and unless he can endure this, he remains a child, and in his childishness, he will resent the heavens when they are not accommodating. He will demand sunshine when he wishes to play, and rain when the ground is dry, and he will look upon storms as anger directed at him, and the thunder as a personal threat.”
It appears that, despite there being no shortage of people who can teach us about “stars”, many still predict we are destined to be a Planet of Slums. It seems that informality, unless felt, will continue to be resented by city authorities for not cooperating with the fantasized growth and modernization of our cities. The Know Your City initiative aims to bridge this gap between information and knowledge and set a path toward collective wisdom as the foundation for greater inclusivity and creativity in urban development. It envisions data and information becoming part of the collective discussion, moving out of the reports, databases and Power Points of professionals and into the every day discussion and reflection of communities and local governments.
In Uganda, the NSDFU began city-wide profiling in 2009 as part of the Cities Alliance-funded Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda (TSUPU) program. Five secondary cities were profiled, catalyzing a new era of community organization in Uganda. Not only had such data never been collected on slum settlements before, but also the nature of data collection methods was such that knowledge was produced collectively and in real time by the urban poor and local government as they gathered and interpreted the information for themselves. This year, with support from Comic Relief and SDI, the NSDFU took on the challenge of profiling and mapping the capital, Kampala. As is the case with profiling throughout the SDI network, the federation in Kampala first mobilized to identify all the slum settlements in the city (62 were identified at first) and then formulated and administered a questionnaire on topics ranging from to demographics, to land tenure, to service access etc. In addition the federation members are trained to use GPS devices to map the boundaries of their settlements.
Map of Kampala’s Slums
The first step in the conversion of data to information takes place at the settlement level where the federation and its partners reflect upon and verify settlement profile information in community meetings. It is here that the data begins to serve as a reference point for community thinking and planning. The next step is for the support NGO to assist with the compilation of profile reports and maps using satellite imagery for refined aggregation and presentation to a wider audience. An example of the information presented is shown below.
Land Tenure in Kampala Slums
This month, the profile reports were officially launched and handed over to the KCCA at the launch of the Kampala City Forum – another initiative of the federation in partnership with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). Municipal forums were also piloted under the TSUPU project and the federation championed their expansion to Kampala and an additional 9 municipalities this year. In order to build collective wisdom this sharing of information is essential. As the federation always says, “Information is Power” and in the first ever Kampala City Forum this month it was clear that the urban poor wield tremendous power as a result of this knowledge generation. The reports were presented by the federation to a representative of the Executive Director, to the Director of Gender, Community Services and Production and to the Mayors and Town Clerks of each of Kampala’ 5 divisions.
The forum moderator, renowned Ugandan journalist and political commentator, Tony Owana, remarked that, “The time for nonsense as a source of popularity is over.” This comment, a clear indictment of much government politicking was also a call to action for the urban poor: you have this information, this knowledge, now demand more from your city.
And indeed, this is the essence of the Know Your City initiative. City-wide profiling is about much more than gathering data and information on cities. This is in and of itself extremely valuable, but it is not enough for transformative change. To Know Your City means taking that data and information and creating knowledge in communities of the urban poor, in the halls of city council, and in the donor community. Only then can we create the collective wisdom required to appreciate that the storms and thunder of informality are not merely a threat to our play. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” and SDI is banking on the Know Your City initiative reaping large dividends for the residents of developing cities.
*Cross-posted from The Age of Zinc*
Age of Zinc is proud to present the final instalment in a memoir from the slums of Kampala, Uganda. Check back soon for our next memoir!
I was always thinking that if I get married I have to get a man who will always take care of me and that is also what I tell my daughter. She is just 18 so she is still innocent and I thank god for that because it is hard.
My first daughter is targeting right and has some things she wants. I promised her, I’d work nail and tooth to see that she achieves whatever she wants. I told her, “You are not going to get married tomorrow before you have your own job. You have to be working and then you can get a man. If you want to get married before you have a job, you’re going to end up suffering. And when you start suffering, don’t think of me suffering for you, that is your own problem. But I’m ready to support you until you get what you want.” I don’t have to baby feed her. She is a good girl. When she returns from school you give her wax and tell her that this is your capital. I tell her she can make some candles and sell them and then she shows me the sales. I tell her that you have to work for this money so when you go back to school you will have some money with you. She will never sit still. She spares some time for her books and does housework and then goes to work on the project.
I think each child should at least show what they are able to do to. You need to know your children: who is ready to work, who doesn’t want to work, and who is trust worthy. If you are open with them you know what they are thinking and know if they are going in a certain direction.
Some others maybe think that they will be supported, but I grew up knowing that I need to support myself. I don’t think I need someone to wake me up because if I know what I want, I have to do it myself. Why wait for someone? Let me fail and someone can come in.
To Slum Dwellers International of thinking to mobilize women and empower them to a higher level of leadership which gives them strength to face their challenges and target development. Today we have empowered slum dweller women for development.
To note Kiberu Hasan (Uganda), Rose Molokoane (South Africa), Joseph Muturi (Kenya), Jockin Arputham (India), Abasi (Uganda), and the ACTogether staff.
*Cross posted from the Age of Zinc*
Age of Zinc is proud to present the thirteenth instalment in a new memoir from the slums of Kampala, Uganda. Check back every week to catch the next part of the story!
When we work as a team we are able to get many things. We can’t sit back and say: “I’m poor, I can’t do anything.” No, you have to start small and then you can grow.
The federation saved my life. I was almost gone and had a lot of stress. I had three children at that time. I was finding life hard with these children because I was not working much and the money was not supporting us. I had my shop but we still couldn’t save money. All the expenditures were going to pay off the loans and trying to survive. When I went to Owino I was able to start a new business and then with the federation I was new person. I was free.
With the federation women we are thinking big – we want businesses. We are also planning – we can buy a piece of land and we can acquire a loan. We can become a society and do things for ourselves. We do not have to sit and wait or beg.
We focus on improving our lives and changing the image of the slums. Instead of thinking that slums are places of useless people, we want the government to think that slums are part of development. This is what they have to focus on how we develop. Slums have always been around and are growing everyday. They need to understand how we can find a solution – together with the slum dwellers.
Today people are informed. Even if I’m gone there are thousands of other people who know what they want and they can get it. So for me, I’m satisfied that I’ve at least worked. I’ve done something. So even if I leave now, tomorrow my children who are still slum dwellers will find the movement moving on.
**Cross-posted from The Age of Zinc**
Age of Zinc is proud to present the twelfth installment in a new memoir from the slums of Kampala, Uganda. Check back every week to catch the next part of the story!
The first time I left Uganda was in 2010. I went to Nairobi for a savings meeting. It was my first time to go on a plane. Eh, it was not easy! My child was one month old so I had to move with him. When I reached the airport with the team I was told I needed documents for the child. It was time for the plane to leave, so the team told me that we are going and you will come by yourself once you get the documents. I said, “I can!” They said, “Will you come?” And I said, “I will come and I CAN!”
I went to the office where I was told to go for the documents and they directed me on what I had to do. I went to the nearby area to get photos of my child taken and then I filled out and submitted all the forms. I did everything quickly and I made it in time for the next flight! I went andI reached there by myself! Yes I did it! When I reached, I found the team and they were all surprised. They thought that maybe I couldn’t do it.
This had been my second chance. My first chance I was supposed to go to India but my passport was not ready. I said to myself it is not my time. My time was coming and now this was my time! When it came it had challenges, but I said, “No, today I can do this!”
The next trip was for federation strengthening in Ghana. We went to see how the Ghana federation was working – the structure, the projects, the saving groups, and the community. It was a good exchange. We learned a lot from Ghana and it helped us with our federation.At that time our structure was still new so the leaders went to see what they were doing in Ghana. We saw the Ashaiman housing project where the federation negotiated with the chiefs, whom had been on an exposure exchange to India, which learned how the Indian federation worked with its government to get land. We also took a tour in Old Fadama, a big settlement, and saw how the slums are set up and how they managed the eviction threat. All of this was to strengthen the leaders, because in Uganda we never had that structure before. We wanted to see what the role of the leaders is and how do they work.
From Ghana we went to Malawi. That exchange was also about federation leadership. We went to see the different projects and we visited different groups to learn what they were doing. We learned how their saving schemes operate and how their projects work. With these projects they would agree that when they made clothes (it was a tailoring group) one person would take them to the market and sell and then bring back all sales. They were doing it to revolve funds. Everyone would go to the market and report. Another team sold vegetables. They would all agree and sell them as a team in the market. Their work was really teamwork in the saving schemes and their savings were always good. After selling they would each get some money and everyone could save. After that we came back to Uganda and had learned what to do to.
**Cross-posted from The Age of Zinc**
My husband happened to be in one meeting and saw what I was doing. I didn’t know he was there because I was really busy, moving up and down, coordinating this and that. When I saw him later, he said, “Ah! That’s why you have become very tired. You are working so hard, now I understand.” Now when I go back home I will find that he has prepared food and he does not complain. If I tell him that I didn’t eat lunch or don’t have money for transport, he will give me something. Then tomorrow when I get money I show him what I made and we plan together. We agreed to share and know show much we are spending and what we have left. That is the only way it will change us. Initially, he would get his money from his houses and I wouldn’t even know how he was spending it. But after joining the federation we are like twins. We are one. We think the same and we work together. We even share the same challenges. If I’m hurt he feels that I’m hurt because he knows that we have the same responsibilities.
One of the things I learned from the federation was to understand how to manage my home and my husband. I had almost lost him before I joined the federation, because we were not moving in the same line. After I joined the federation, he was the one looking for me then. I was not around. I was so busy and I would go back home occupied thinking about more things. I was thinking about what we were going to do next. I was not thinking about him leaving me or doing whatever – I was busy, I got another husband, the federation! He was even scared that I found another man. I told him the federation is my husband and I’m going to be with them for the rest of my life! He asked me who this federation was and I told him it’s the savings that we had started – that is the federation. He was also scared because I never complained and was always satisfied with what I had. I knew that what I had was what I needed to fit into my life and I didn’t have to look for anything else then.
I’m used to not eating money, so I could never eat it. Whatever money I was given I was saving it. Our house was in a swamp area and whenever it rained water was always coming in our house. I thought two of my children were going to die in the house because of the weather – it was so cold. The first money I saved was for improving the house. I told my husband that I have saved this amount of money and I beg you to add in more money. So we improved the house. We had to buy cement and sand to lift the house up because it was sinking. When it rains in the swamps people have to pile up more soil to bring the level up. When you bring the soil level up though the houses go down more. So we had to bring the house up too. You change one part today and another tomorrow – that’s how you fix it. So it wasn’t breaking down the house. We had two rooms. After finishing one room, we did the other room, and then we did the floor. It was perfect! It changed our lives. It took time for the children to get well but today they are well. I also suffered from asthma with the weather; it was very tough for me. But I succeeded in changing it! Even women were wondering how I managed, but I did. And now my husband was also talking and telling people that when your woman joins that federation it changes them, they start thinking. He was the one then mobilising the men. He also joined and was saving. He knew that what I was targeting was big so he had to work with me. I was also helping him to plan. He used to get money and just spend it like that – on pleasure and going out alone. I grew up without those luxuries so I didn’t mind them, all I want to be alive and make sure my children are alive. That’s what I want.
By Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat & Diana Mitlin, International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED)
SDI Federations in Southern Africa face acute sanitation needs. Recent surveys in informal settlements in four cities highlight the problems. In one of Kitwe’s (Zambia), informal settlements 77 per cent of the population was using unimproved pit latrines. In a similar area in Blantyre (Malawi), 91 per cent of residents used unimproved pit latrines and 26 per cent did not have access to a toilet. In Chinhoyi (Zimbabwe) in one peripheral settlement 39 per cent of residents used the bush and 56 per cent used pit latrines. And in Dar-es-Salaam, a survey in six informal settlements found that 65 per cent of residents were using traditional pit latrines. Federation members have been innovating wherever possible, seeking affordable solutions that have a chance of addressing such acute needs. The difficulties of sanitation provision are exacerbated by erratic piped water supplies and/or costly water sold through private kiosks. Further difficulties are created by the significance of rented accommodation with tenants making up between 34 and 70 per cent of residents.
Faced with these constraints, Federation members have been investing in eco-sanitation. The chosen model in three out of the four cities mentioned is a sky-loo with the raised toilet being more practical in areas of a high water table. In Dar es Salaam the preferred model is an improved pit latrine. The unit cost varies but is generally between USD 350 and USD 500 for a double chamber unit with a small area for bathing in addition to the toilet. Scarce and expensive water supplies make the eco-san unit even more attractive; and over time residents have found uses for the compost, either putting it on their own crops or selling it locally.
There are multiple pressures that make these individual private sanitation choices attractive. The technologies are now understood and easily replicated. Local builders have developed the skills needed and Federation members have even been confident enough to use eco-sanitation technologies in market toilet blocks in Malawi. While local government was initially skeptical about the merits of eco-sanitation (especially in Zimbabwe), over time the Federation has demonstrated the functionality of this solution. Tenants have been able to pressure their landlords and in at least some cases they have responded with a willingness to make the investments. Such toilets can be accommodated within the existing layouts. This mean that there is no need to identify additional land for public toilet blocks, nor is there a need to re-block the settlement to enable sewers to be laid. In a context in which state investment has been at best very limited and at worst non-existent, federations are being forced to treat sanitation as a private good.
However, as the scale of such private investments increases, SDI affiliates are asking themselves if this really makes sense. Consider the scale of need in a city like Kitwe, Zambia where approximately 60,000 families lack adequate sanitation. If each household has to invest in an eco-sanitation unit at a cost of USD 500, then the total cost is USD 30 million. It is not clear that this is going to be an effective use of resources, even irrespective of the difficulties of using on-site sanitation as settlements density increases with urbanization.
Solutions such as household eco-san are popular with federations (especially considering the lack of water in many areas) because they are realizable in the face of substantive state neglect. The relatively high costs of capital investment are repaid by loans from the Federation’s loan funds. Landowners recoup the costs by passing them onto their tenants. In many of these cases, tenants are pressing for such investments as they are very keen to have access to improved facilities. But with limited incomes some tenants cannot afford to pay the cost of potential rent increases.
Moreover, private on-site sanitation does not remind city authorities to fulfill their responsibilities in providing the necessary infrastructure to transport and treat waste. While on-site sanitation may be appropriate in low-density residential developments, the health risks are considerable as densities increase. Extraordinary as it sounds, the proportion of urban households with access to improved sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa did not change between 1990 and 2010 – remaining at 43 per cent. Even more extraordinary is that this definition of “improved” takes no account of the suitability of various types of sanitation for high-density populations.
Faced with such myopia and indifference on the part of the authorities, it is perhaps not surprising that federations have not taken on the immense tasks of altering the institutional arrangements for sanitation provision at the city scale. Furthermore if lack of sanitation provision is understood as a city governance failure the onus for provision to the poor should not be largely born by the poor themselves. There is an urgent need for new policies and programmes that begin to experiment with sanitation solutions that can be rolled out across the city, affordable to and appropriate for high-density low-income urban populations.
In the high-density settlements of Mumbai (India), alternatives have developed. Through a sustained period of negotiation and action, totaling approximately 15 years, the Indian federation has been able to access government subsidies for the construction and management of communal facilities. Affordable subscription fees are charged and cover the management and maintenance costs of facilities. These systems have been refined through a sustained learning and reflection process over more then a decade. Mistakes have been made, new options and technologies trialed and collective reflection and learning consistently supported. Systems have evolved over time.
As African federations begin to consider new sanitation solutions more appropriate to use densities, exchanges play a vital role. The above Indian example of communal toilets with an affordable monthly fee for neighborhood residents of USD $ 1-2 per household, and the scale achieved in Mumbai, has been visited by a number of African federations who wish to explore communal options. While Indian densities differ significantly from many African cities, the community driven procurement, construction and management systems all offer valuable lessons; one of which is implementing systems that balance individual gain with a system for collective good. For example female federation contractors win the tenders for toilet construction but are blacklisted if standards are not maintained or the facility comes in over budget. The Indian example has been taken up by Uganda, Malawi and Zimbabwe who have piloted a variety of market sanitation facilities that aim to provide an affordable service and recover costs. However this type of system has yet to be successfully trialed in a low-income high-density residential area. The critical difference is that the provision of capital subsidies for toilet block construction in Mumbai makes universal sanitation access affordable. Without such subsidies, African federations face a considerable innovation challenge.
In a context in which both governments and development agencies are emphasizing the potential of on-site sanitation in African cities, thinking outside of existing paradigms holds the greatest promise for African federations anxious to address the need for universal access. The existing success with eco-sanitation, and an ability to negotiate for regulatory reforms that have legitimated this solution can be used as the “groundwork” for more ambitious investments. The paucity of practical examples of urban sanitation systems that offer universal access in African contexts is a key challenge that can be taken up by federations. Bold steps and new ideas should continue to be trialed and success measured not just in the ability to deliver functional facilities but also by introducing options that enable low-income households to access sanitation at a citywide scale. In summary, generating solutions for Africa’s urban sanitation crisis will require a focus on the organizations and relationships that enable communities and local governments alike to learn about technical alternatives.
**Cross posted from The Age of Zinc**
Age of Zinc is proud to present the tenth instalment in a new memoir from the slums of Kampala, Uganda. Check back every week to catch the next part of the story!
In 2005 I started working in Owino Market. I worked there for two years. In 2007 I joined the federation. When I joined the federation I lost the time to be in the market. I would move around in the communities in the evening for the federation and I also had to work in the market evenings. So I had to sacrifice some time and also cover the other side of being in the market.
When I was unable to go for the daily collections the women started loosing. So I said to myself that I couldn’t let this die because I felt it like it was part of me. I liked it and had mobilized over 300 people who were saving. I could move door to door and they were saving. After I had mobilize all these people I requested to get someone to assist me because I could not be moving around as much; I was losing my job at Owino. But the federation agreed that instead of getting another person to help me, they would pay me a little so I could continue. It was a challenge because they could not pay me what I was making in the market. Because they trusted me, I chose to continue. Trust is something you can’t just get. If people trust you that means you are an asset to them and you can’t lose. So I agreed and continued it for four consecutive months – I collected the savings. We then were able to start loaning.
Some people from ACTogether (the local support NGO) came to Kamwoyka and called a big meeting for all leaders in Kamwoyka settlement. I went because I was a local leader. At this meeting they introduced us to the savings culture and informed us what was involved. Afterwards, some of the leaders said, “No, these ones will eat your money!” Because a Dutch team and about three other organizations had come before and done something similar but had just eaten our money. But I stood up and said “Me, I’ll try this!” But my chairman said no and I told him “I will mobilize the women and they will come, I have them.” So we set up another meeting and I got thirteen women to come on the first day. These thirteen women started saving that day! We saved 13,000 shillings total. Each one saved 1,000 shillings. Those women also nominated me to be their collector at the beginning. So I was the secretary for the group and then they also asked me to be the collector. They had other leaders as well: the chairperson of the group, the treasurer, and the mobiliser. Committees were formed and each one of us had a role.
After that, we started mobilising. We mobilised our community and then our community mobilised another community. After we mobilising our community that’s when I started to go to different areas because I now knew what I was doing. I knew the challenges and the achievements. I could talk about something that I’m a part of and understood. Some of the challenges we faced were that when you started mobilizing the community some leaders would think you want to overtake them – we were a threat to them. They thought if this thing is successful, people would think that this is the person doing good work and when the elections come they will nominate this person instead. But after people see the benefits of their savings it’s up to them to decide. With us, we did not forced them to save. It is your own will and you were free to withdraw. We would also advise people that it is better to save for something big, not for daily food. If you’re saving for daily food you cannot save because you have to withdraw money everyday. It worked well and we were successful.
Soon after we started going for big meetings at the regional level. At that time we were still just in Kampala Central. We would go for meetings and that is where they recognized that I could maybe be put in a leadership position. They formed a profiling team and I was part of that team. In 2009 we moved into new areas. We visited Mbale to meet the municipality. At these meetings it was my job to record the minutes. This gave me a lot of strength because I had a lot of information and knew everything that was going on. It was during that period that the National Slum Dwellers decided that we needed a leadership structure. We set up a lot of meetings to discuss leadership structure and it took us almost two years to agree on the type of structure.
Once we had agreed on the structure we decided to have a meeting with all the different cities. By then we had mobilised the five regions of Kampala and the five secondary cities of Mbale, Arua, Jinja, Kabale, and Mbarara and each city was given the chance to elect one leader to the national team. Each city decided the person who they thought was good. For example, if we are looking at savings and Kampala Central was good at savings we would have Kampala Central give us someone who can oversee the savings committee. Jinja was very good at reports and auditing, so we looked for someone from Jinja who was doing audits to be on the national leadership team. This was the process we used for all the cities.
We agreed that we should have another national council meeting in a different area to inform all the leaders of the new executive team. All the regional leaders needed to be there to agree with the committee that had been nominated. In this meeting we agreed that we all would work with the team that has been nominated. This was 2011.