SDI at WUF11

Join SDI at WUF11! Slum Dwellers International is excited to be attending this year’s World Urban Forum (WUF) for its eleventh session.

We are hosting an event entitled, ‘Recovery and Resilience: Community-led Strategies to Build Back Better in Informal Settlements’ and participating in a number of other events. Join SDI at WUF11!

This year’s theme is Transforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future. It is set to provide greater insights and clarity on the future of cities based on existing trends, challenges and opportunities. WUF aims to create a space for the sharing of ideas and insights to craft solutions and ways in which cities can be better prepared to address future pandemics and an array of other shocks. 

WUF examines one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanisation and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies. 

SDI Events at #WUF11

SDI is set to host a session entitled: ‘Recovery and Resilience: Community-led Strategies to Build Back Better in Informal Settlements

[caption id="attachment_13515" align="aligncenter" width="660"] SDI is hosting a session entitled: ‘Recovery and Resilience: Community-led Strategies to Build Back Better in Informal Settlements’[/caption]

When: Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Time: 16:30-18:00

Where: Multifunction Hall Room 17

Speakers: Beth Chitekwe-Biti, Joseph Kimani, Joseph Muturi, Melanie Chirwa, Michael Chanda, Rosę Molokoane, Sheila Magara, Theresa Carmpatana

Partner speakers: Louise Meincke – Plan International & Arne Janssen – Cities Alliance

SDI’s networking event at the upcoming WUF11 will showcase the innovative strategies implemented by SDI affiliates in 17 countries in responding to and recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, building on and creating meaningful partnerships between organised communities of the urban poor and other stakeholders that champion and institutionalise slum-friendly policy and practice for resilient cities.

Through a partnership supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Cities Alliance, SDI affiliates were supported to use their tools and methodologies to effectively and urgently respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic and pandemic responses such as government lockdowns highlighted and exacerbated the many chronic stresses urban poor communities live with and struggle against daily. As such, the strategies implemented by SDI’s urban poor federations are about more than Covid-19 response and recovery: they are about sustainable, inclusive, and pro-poor urban development that provides communities with meaningful opportunities to work with government and other stakeholders to address issues such as food security, access to livelihood opportunities, skills training, and basic services like water and sanitation, as well as the need for accurate slum data to drive government responses in times of crisis and beyond.

Speakers from SDI and key partner organisations will exchange approaches, strategies and outcomes achieved in order to highlight best practices that can guide future developments while demonstrating the power of meaningful partnerships with organised communities of the urban poor to address recovery from Covid-19 and the building of resilient communities and cities.

The session will also demonstrate that to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build inclusive and resilient cities; urban planners and policymakers must learn from innovative strategies employed by the urban poor to find lasting solutions.

Learn more about the session here.

Other SDI at WUF11 events

[caption id="attachment_13516" align="aligncenter" width="288"]WUF11 Logo This year’s World Urban Forum is set to be hosted in Katowice, Poland.[/caption]

Monday 27 June 2022

Want to build a Cities4Children Alliance in your city or country? Come find out how.

Time: 13:30 – 15:00 CET

Where: Multifunction Hall: Rm 19

Visioning platform for a Global Action Plan to tackle the Slum Challenge

Time: 13:30 – 15:00 CET

Where: Multifunction Hall: Rm 17

SDI representatives speaking: Joseph Muturi

Tuesday 28 June 2022

Reshaping Communities through Art

Time: 12:30 – 14:00 CET

Where: Room A (Voices for Cities event)

SDI Representatives speaking: James Tayler

Strengthening the resilience of urban communities: Our way forward

Time: 16:30 – 18:00 CET

Where: Multifunction Hall: Rm 4

SDI Representatives speaking: Christine Mutuku

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Claiming and producing housing rights: cross-regional experiences from grassroots organisations and international networks. Part 1

Time: 09:00 – 10:00 CET

Where: UrbaMonde Exhibition stand

SDI Representative speaking: James Tayler

Leave no one and no place behind: Addressing inequalities within and between cities through SDG localisation

Time: 10:45 – 12:15 CET

Where: Room A (Voices from Cities event)

SDI Representative speaking: Joseph Muturi

Dialogue w UCLG: Democratising global reporting processes: Lessons from a partnership for equality.

Time: 12:30 – 13:30 CET

Where: UCLG Booth

SDI Representative speaking: Beth Chitekwe-Biti, Joseph Muturi, James Tayler and others.

Leaving no one in cities behind: Addressing inequalities through resilient infrastructure

Time: 14:30 – 16:00 CET

Where: Multifunction Hall: Rm 18

SDI Representative speaking: Theresa Carampatana

Intergenerational dialogue on urban fragility and resilience

Time: 14:30 – 16:00 CET

Where: Multifunction Hall: Rm 2

SDI Representative speaking: James Tayler


Multi-Level action for equitable and sustainable cities

Time: 16:30 – 18:00 CET

Where: Multifunction Hall: Rm 1

SDI Representative speaking: Rose Molokoane


Thursday 30 June 2022

Claiming and producing housing rights: cross-regional experiences from grassroots organisations and international networks. Part 2

Time: 9:30 – 10:30 CET

Where: UrbaMonde Exhibition stand

SDI Representative Speaking: James Tayler

Dialogue: Transforming cities through innovative solutions and technologies

Time: 10:00 – 12:00 CET

Where: TBC

SDI Representative Speaking: Joseph Kimani

Civil Society and Grassroots Roundtable

Time: 13:30 – 15:30 CET

Where: Roundtable Room 1

SDI Representative Speaking: Melanie Chirwa, Christine Mutuku, Beth Chitekwe Biti, Joseph Kimani, Sheila Magara

Dialogue: Greener Urban Futures

Time: 10:00 – 12:00 CET

Where: Auditorium

SDI Representative Speaking: Rose Mo​​lokoane

Join SDI at WUF11! Visit WUF11 for the full programme and to register for the event virtually.

Harare Mayor Celebrates UN Habitat Award with Slum Dwellers

Mayor of Harare

By the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation & Dialogue on Shelter

Unlike the previous global urban meetings, WUF6 will be remembered with a difference by the Zimbabweans. At this year’s World Urban Forum, the Mayor of Harare was awarded the UN Habitat Scroll of Honour – a prestigious global recognition given to an individual or organization for outstanding contribution to human settlements. The award is an acknowledgement of the role that Mayor Masunda has played in the local government sphere in general. In particular, the award recognizes the work done in partnership with the alliance of the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and its technical partner Dialogue on Shelter under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Harare Slum Upgrading Project.

Today, the Harare Mayor invited the slum dwellers to his official residence in Harare to join him in celebrating this prestigious award. Mayor Masunda noted how the relationship with the alliance of the Federation and Dialogue has assisted the City of Harare to accomplish work that ordinarily would have been impossible without this partnership arrangement. The Federation’s power to organize and engage on critical developmental issues was one asset that the City had benefited from in dealing with the alliance. The Mayor explained how the partnership with the alliance, through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), has managed to create opportunities for leveraging resources to support slum upgrading. The slum upgrading project in Dzivarasekwa Extension was pointed out as a unique pilot that has put Harare on the global human settlements map. In particular, new innovations around achieving densification, affordability and the testing of alternative infrastructure technologies under the project were cited as the key aspects of the project that have helped to build a strong case for Harare as a model.

Through slum upgrading, the Mayor of Harare and indeed the entire City of Harare was demonstrating that engaging the urban poor through meaningful partnerships remains a sustainable solution to informality instead of confronting slums using bulldozers. It is thus through championing these new shifts in urban development practice that work by Mayor Masunda has not only put Harare on the map but also Zimbabwe in general. It is a reflection of the fact that the slum agenda has now become the city agenda. For Harare, therefore the slum issue is no longer an imaginary problem that the city can insulate itself from but rather a challenge that should be acknowledged and addressed through constructive engagement with the urban poor.



SDI at World Urban Forum 6: Making Space for the Urban Poor


By Ariana K. MacPherson, SDI Secretariat

In early September a large delegation from SDI attended the World Urban Forum in Naples, Italy. The weeklong event was attended by virtually all major players in the urban development field and was host to a wide variety of sessions focusing on everything from water and sanitation to evictions to optimized public transit and green spaces.

SDI’s presence at WUF6, whose overall theme was “The Urban Future”, was marked by a sharp realization during the planning phase that the future WUF6 proposed seemed remarkably devoid of the issues facing the millions of urban poor across the developing world, not to mention their participation in the construction of said future.

In response, SDI leadership decided to host a series of panels at the SDI exhibition stand in addition to participation in official WUF6 events, launching the first annual World Urban Poor Forum (WUPF).

During the WUPF launch in which slum dwellers from across Africa and Asia raised their voices in song across the exhibition area, Jockin Arputham, a slum dweller from Mumbai, India and president of SDI, spoke of the importance of bringing the voice of the urban poor to global events like WUF, and the reason for organizing a WUPF alongside the official WUF: “This is the World Urban Forum of the Poor, not the rich. This is the forum for the people who have nothing!” and, “We have to believe that change will come from the poor.”

The three WUPF events focused on themes central to SDI’s core methodologies, and to the lives of slum dwellers across the global south: community-driven sanitation, the importance of partnerships with government, and participatory slum upgrading.  Experiences from Uganda, South Africa and India were the focus, with slum dweller leaders and government officials speaking on their joint efforts towards people-driven processes in these three countries. The WUPF events were well attended by slum dwellers, government officials, donor partners, academics and civil society alike. 

In addition to these WUPF events, SDI participated in a number of official networking events, and organized a session on another critical issue for the urban future: developing alternatives to evictions. The session, held on the first day of WUF6, was incredibly well attended, with standing room only and people packed into the back of the room and spilling out the doorways. Slum dweller leaders and government officials from Cape Town, South Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe and Iloilo City, Philippines shared their experiences working together to develop locally appropriate alternatives to evictions.

Sonia Fadrigo, a slum dweller leader from the Philippines, spoke about evictions she experienced before the Philippines Homeless People’s Federation developed their relationship with local government, “The demolition team came. I had two kids, ages 10 and 12, they were trembling because they were scared of the bulldozer.”

It was only through developing a relationship with the local government, a relationship that the Mayor of Iloilo City, Mr. Jed Patrick Mabilog, described as being characterized by the policy of “No evictions without decent, affordable housing,” that Sonia and her community were able to rest their fears of evictions. As Sonia said, this was achieved through going to government offices – through demanding alternatives. 

Similarly, the Mayor of Harare, Mr. Muchadei Masunda, emphasized his commitment to working with the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation to prevent evictions in Harare. Davious Muvindi, leader of the Federation in Zimbabwe, confirmed this, beginning his commentary saying that the Federation and government in Zimbabwe had moved from “fights to engagement.”

Lastly, the South African SDI Alliance was joined by Ernest Sonnenberg from the local government of Cape Town to speak about their experiences in developing alternatives to evictions. This presentation was particularly poignant as Alina Mofokeng and Rose Molokoane, two slum dweller leaders from Gauteng province, spoke about the recent evictions in Johannesburg’s Marlboro Industrial Area. Since early August, over 300 families have been forcibly evicted, often in the middle of the night, from vacant factory buildings, which were then razed to the ground. Alina and Rose were able to utilize this space on the global stage to highlight their local struggles in the hopes that their government officials, seated in the audience, would feel responsible to rise to the occasion. 

Whether or not these global events impact local processes is an important question, for if they don’t – if they serve only as a platform for more empty promises – then what is their use? In the past, SDI has used spaces such as WUF to lay the foundation for successful and productive relationships with donor partners and governments. This year, meetings took place between numerous slum dweller federations and their government officials (i.e. Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia). Depending on what happens in the coming months, affiliates will be able to determine whether these meetings will bear meaningful fruit on the ground.

One of the key themes that emerged throughout the week was the lack of representation of the urban poor in the majority of WUF events. Indeed, SDI President Jockin Arputham was the only urban poor representative to participate in any of the official WUF Dialogue Events, where he challenged his fellow panelists saying that “Since 1975 when this discussion began…What have we all done since then to make what we discuss actualized in practice? We keep coming to these events, and we ask each other these questions, and then we go away only to ask the same questions again.” 

Jockin’s frustration with too much talk and not enough walk was felt by a number of people involved in fighting urban poverty. As David Satterthwaite wrote in his recent reflection on WUF6: “Why weren’t representatives of urban poor organizations, federations and network on the committees organizing this and previous World Urban Forums? Why are the powerful global institutions so reluctant to engage the urban poor directly?” Until these questions are answered through concrete actions towards the contrary (i.e. involving the urban poor directly), it seems these events will continue to do little to make louder the voice of the urban poor, without the unfortunate reality of developing a separate event for that voice. The reality is that, in our pursuit of “inclusive cities” – a phrase heard time and again both at WUF and in urban development circles – we should not be furthering the divide between the urban poor, the informal, and the formal urban development world. Instead, the issues, agenda, and voice of the urban poor should be prioritized at these events, as it is the voice of those whose urban future stands on the most uncertain ground. 


SDI President Jockin Arputham Reports on World Urban Forum 6


By Jockin Arputham, SDI President

A large team from SDI attended the World Urban Forum in Naples, Italy in the first week of September. The delegation from India included Celine d’Cruz (SPARC/SDI), Jockin Arputham, John Samuel (NSDF), Parveen and Savita (Mahila Milan). There were leaders from several other countries from Asia and Africa in the delegation as well. 

SDI had many events which were held at their exhibition stand, and participated in several networking sessions in which they showcased the work of SDI and its affiliates. In addition, many SDI representatives participated in the events of UN-Habitat in the official program as well as networking programs of other organizations. Over the weeks since WUF, various members have begun to report their reflections on their presentations, views and activities.

Jockin at the Panel of “What Needs to Change?”

In one of the main Dialogue Events, the question asked to all panelists was, “What can you needs to change to make cities work for all?” 

Jockin challenged the person who asked the question and also the audience saying: “Since 1975 when this discussion began in the first UN Habitat event in Vancouver, what have we all done since then to make what we discuss actualize in practice? We keep coming to these events, and we ask each other these questions, and then we go away only to ask the same questions again.” 


Jockin on a Networking Panel on Challenges of Sanitation 

In a networking event on sanitation, Jockin challenges all the others in the panel and audience: “Have you constructed even one toilet – in someone’s home, or a toilet shared by several families, or a community toilet in a slum?” 

His perspective was that the actual DOING demonstrates the real challenges that stop universal sanitation from taking place. 

Of all the MDGs that are critical for the urban poor, this one is very tough because it’s the lack of practice and learning and evolving solutions that has stagnated this development investment – not money, not technology and policy. 

Action on the ground: Day 1 at the WUF

By Louise Cobbett and Jack Makau, SDI secretariat

The first day of the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, began with SDI making a grand – and visual – entrance. The 67 delegates broke the traditional monotony of the gray suit brigade. It was a fitting visual representation of SDI’s way of saying that it’s what happens in the communities, and not the meetings, which counts.

The forum’s opening ceremony featured a very well choreographed dance production. But the message that the toned dancers were trying to get across, was somewhat lost on the 3, 500 strong crowd. Perhaps it is the best analogy of the fear that SDI has about the conference.

It gave deeper meaning to Jockin’s advice the previous day, which was to make full use of the opportunities to get governments to make firm commitments on land and services.

For example, on the first day the Tanzania, Ghanaian and Zimbabwean federations organized meetings with their respective governments.

Highlights of the first day were SDI’s networking event, called “Protocols for large informal settlement upgrading.” It was probably the only session that started and ended with a song. The session featured 5 case studies and of struggles for secure tenure and fights against eviction. There was Mzwanele Zulu from Joe Slovo in Cape Town; Jack Makau from SDI spoke about Kibera in Nairobi; Philip Kumah spoke about the process of upgrading Old Fadama in Accra; Claudius Pereira of URBEL (Urbanisation Company of Bele Horizonte) and Marcos Landa, the coordinator of the Brazilian movement talked about Osasco, which is a settlement in Sao Paulo and finally Jockin, the president of SDI and the National Slum Dweller’s Federation of India gave his views on the experiences of Dharavi in India.

Jack Makau’s impression of the event was it was a session about things that people have done, rather than a session about hypothetical situations and new thinking. And there are very few sessions like that. The examples of concrete achievement largely consist of answers coming out of communities, which is exactly what SDI is here to showcase and build upon.