SDI at Habitat III: Highlights from Quito

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45+ SDI delegates

14 affiliates from Africa, Asia, and Latin America

80+ speaking engagements

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Some highlights from SDI’s eventful week at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador:
Click here for the full report. 

  • Rose Molokoane, a national community leader from South Africa, SDI Coordinator and founding member of the SDI Network, was elected Chairperson of the World Urban Campaign.
  • Adorned with SDI’s new branding, SDI’s booth at the HIII Exhibition center was a lively space for discussion, and 360° slum experience. It served as a central point for discussions between federation leaders, partners, and key urban decision stakeholders.
  • SDI chaired a breakout session at the Women’s Assembly, producing a set of concrete commitments and requests from Member States towards effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
  • The SDI Board of Governors (BOG) met during the week in Quito, chaired by Minister of Human Settlements for South Africa, Lindiwe Sisulu. The meeting highlighted some of SDI’s achievements over the past year and teased out strategies for enhancing BOG support to SDI efforts to implement the NUA and SDGs.
  • In plenary meetings of the General Assembly of Partners (GAP), SDI urged members to support local stakeholder implementation and monitoring of the NUA – particularly urban poor communities in partnership with local authorities.
  • SDI launched the second phase of its expanded Know Your City campaign in partnership with Cities Alliance and UCLG-Africa. This coincided with the launch of SDI’s new KYC website, showcasing slum dweller surveys, stories, and films. This was followed by a Know Your City networking event where a detailed panel discussion took place on the KYC Campaign, including moving testimonies from slum dwellers from Ghana, Liberia, and Zambia about their work to profile and map all the settlements in their cities.
  • SDI, Cities Alliance, and GIZ screened the Ghana case study from CoLab for Change – a project of the Cities Alliance Joint Work Program for Habitat III. Two federation members and one government official featured in the film made presentations explaining the collaborative partnerships that have enabled their success and the process of training youth to document their stories as part of Know Your City TV.
  • Since 2007, SDI and Y-Care International (YCI) have worked together to support the growth of urban poor federations in Liberia, Togo, and Sierra Leone. On Monday 17th October, SDI and YCI launched a new MOU to scale up and deepen the collaboration region-wide.
  • Unlike many events that have gone before, grassroots leaders were given the opportunity to speak at plenary sessions in Quito. This achievement was made possible through SDI’s work over the past 20 years and its active participation in the GAP and WUC. Rose Molokoane used this platform to push forward the commitments of the grassroots constituency and call upon member states to uphold their commitments to partner with organized communities in implementation of the NUA and SDGs. She urged members that “the time for talking is over. It’s time toimplement!”
  • The SDI team was presented with many requests to expand the network into Latin America. With a strong team from Bolivia and Brazil taking the lead, SDI will follow up on all the many requests from Latin American countries.
  • Just prior to Habitat III, the Governor of Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode ordered an immediate eviction notice to all Lagos waterfront communities. Each and every federation member in Quito took copies of the Federation’s withdrawal demands to their events and raised the issue whenever the opportunity arose. High level meetings were arranged with various government officials from inside and outside Nigeria to build pressure on the Governor to withdraw his eviction notice, but also to highlight viable examples of alternatives to eviction within the SDI network and the desire of the network to support Nigeria to undertake inclusive upgrading inline with NUA commitments. Sani Mohammed, a federation member from Lagos, worked tirelessly to secure meetings with relevant authorities and donor partners. He was able to get an audience with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the ED of UN Habitat, ensuring the message reached the highest platforms.
  • Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and SDI launched a new film, ‘No One Left Behind’ in which slum dwellers call into question the effectiveness of militaristic responses to urban violence.

“Community monitoring of the NUA at the local level will be essential for transparent assessment of progress and ownership of the NUA” – Rose Molokoane

SDI Attends Launch of World Urban Campaign’s “The City We Need”


While cities are increasingly central to global development agendas, the precise strategies of city development remain contested. In almost all cities in Africa and Asia, the allocation of resources and political will towards provision of land, services, and shelter for the poor is woefully inadequate. Dominant methods of delivery through “public-private partnerships” and centrally planned strategies have made little impact on the lives of the poor. SDI has inserted a clear voice into this debate to build the voice of the poor to influence more inclusive city development processes. 

On 4 March 2014 at Ford Foundation’s headquarters in New York was the official launch of The City We Need, a key event leading up to the 7th World Urban Forum to be held in Medellin, Colombia this April. The City We Need is a multi-stakeholder, collective contribution to the urban agenda created by World Urban Campaign partners, which have been engaging the international community, public, private, and civil society actors.

Last year SDI officially joined the World Urban Campaign – a lobby and advocacy platform on sustainable urbanization coordinated by UN-Habitat. The World Urban Campaign brings together various urban development stakeholders in an advocacy and partnership platform to dialogue, learn, and share solutions to create a new urban agenda for the Habitat III conference. 

SDI President Jockin Arputham and Rose Molokoane, SDI Coordinator from South Africa, participated in the launch event and emphasized the importance of creating partnerships between government and the urban poor to find solutions to sustainable urban development. To create solutions, one must “Know Your City,” the name of the SDI campaign that aims to address the lack of data on informal settlements. There can be no inclusive or equitable development planning and investment, nor effective city governance if the majority of the residents of informal settlements remain unaccounted for. SDI has demonstrated that cities have to work with urban poor communities to collect baseline data and maps of all informal settlements in the city. Helping the poor to create a voice, a collective identity, and possibilities to participate in transformation and change is an integral aspect of what we all seek in the future of cities. 

SDI will be participating in the World Urban Campaign Special Session at the World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia on Wednesday, 9 April at 2:00pm. This event will bring members of the World Urban Campaign together to discuss the new urban paradigm following the theme: The Future We Want, The City We Need. This event constitutes an opportunity to focus new partners around a common objective in order to create concrete goals for the achievement of sustainable urbanization and to mobilize in preparation for Habitat III.

Click here to read the full report of The City We Need launch event.


SDI Joins World Urban Campaign

SDI Signs MOU with UN Habitat

**Cross-posted from MuST Blog**

By Shaddy Mbaka, Muungano Support Trust (Kenya)

NAIROBI, 18 APRIL 2013 | SDI has officially joined the World Urban Campaign, a lobby and advocacy platform on sustainable urbanization for “Better City, Better Life,” coordinated by UN-HABITAT.

The World Urban Campaign brings together partners from across sectors. It is designed to facilitate international cooperation, and acts as platform to converge organizations in order to collaborate on solutions and build consensus towards a new urban agenda for the Habitat III conference that is expected to take place in 2016.

SDI Joins World Urban Campaign

SDI, now a partner in the World Urban Campaign, will help engage cities around the world through the I’m a City Changer campaign, aimed at raising awareness on urban issues and to include the voice of the people to propose positive solutions to urban challenges.

SDI will also have an opportunity to represent the voices and interests of the poor, and thereby engage slum dwellers as city changers, while working closely with key World Urban Campaign partners around the world to ensure improved cities and to integrate poor communities in the management and development of their cities.

UN-HABITAT runs a series of strategic programmes designed to help make cities safer, to bring relief in countries suffering the aftermath of war or natural disasters, and to promote sustainable cities and good governance. Under the Urban Management Programme, an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN-HABITAT, the World Bank and various bilateral donors, the agency fosters urban management in the fields of participatory urban governance, urban poverty alleviation, environmental management, and the dissemination of this information at the local, national and regional levels.

UN-HABITAT also develops indicators of good urban governance with two principle aims. The first aim is to help cities identify urban governance priorities and assess their progress towards the quality of city-life and the second aim is to develop a global Good Urban Governance Index. The agency has a Training and Capacity Building Branch which works at national and local levels in various countries to strengthen capacity building through high-level policy dialogues seminars, consultations and expert workshops.

The SDI team, led by Jockin Arputhum, Sheela Patel, Rose Malokoane and Joel Bolnick, expressed enthusiasm for continuing to collaborate with UN-HABITAT and use the campaign platform to work with other organizations in order to improve urban life for all.

In her speech to the press, Rose Molokoane one of the SDI Coordinators said;

“We feel really honored for the recognition by UN-HABITAT as a partner in World Urban Campaign. It is the basics of engaging the communities that has brought us this far, through savings and placing the women at the centre of collective community leadership, has created engagements with governments and local authorities. This has set precedent for government and other stakeholders that organized communities can bring about transformation.

Slum dwellers know how settlements can be planned. This can only happen by involving the poor in the planning process, deal with slums not slum dwellers. The urban poor are the only ones who can open up cities for development; therefore they should be seen as partners who are well able to change the cities, to achieve this, governments should give the urban poor security of tenure to witness urban development”.

SDI Chairperson Sheela Patel acknowledged that it was indeed a special moment for SDI. She said that change requires transformation, and through the Memorandum signed between UN-HABITAT and SDI, the urban poor global network can seek to demonstrate the potential for transformation especially from below.  This kind of partnership has been waiting to happen for a long time, we have tried to engage in the past, some have been successful while some unsuccessful, either way we hope to change how stakeholders view the urban poor,” said Ms. Patel.

On his part as the SDI President, Jockin thanked the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, for agreeing to sign an MOU with Slum Dwellers International, for it has opened a new chapter. ”SDI is privileged to partner with UN-Habitat on the urban transformative agenda. Being part of the decision making process, this partnership will bring change through the involvement of the poor, and we take it as a challenge in helping to realize the Millennium Development Goals. The issue of lack of proper sanitation infrastructure is a major impediment to development. We  are going to work together and show the world how we are going to change, we have the information and we know how to plan”, said Jockin.

Dr. Joan Clos, UN-HABITAT Executive Director expressed appreciation for the work that SDI has done and continues to do, and for SDI’s unique makeup and tireless efforts to create inclusive cities and to promote participatory processes beginning at community level to city wide transformation.

“SDI has become a force in favor of the poor by demanding the recognition of the poor as far as the urban agenda is concerned. Slums are a source of innovation (citing Mumbai), therefore there will be no bulldozing of livelihoods of the people living in these settlements, any transformation in urban poor settlements need be in participatory of slum dwellers because these communities are well organized, something governments are yet to do,” said Clos.

He also noted the importance of this collaboration in bringing the urban poor to the forefront of shaping the global urban agenda, and the important role SDI has continued to play in building inclusive cities.