The provision of services in cities requires a hybrid of approaches from communities, local authorities, private sector and non-governmental organisations. Working in isolation for solutions to urban problems has become a daunting task, and has often led to much time wasted pointing fingers at one another.
Co-owned approaches and experiences across Zimbabwean cities (such as Harare, Bulawayo, Kadoma and Masvingo to mention just a few), have provided better solutions to the urban problems of housing. Through operationalising the Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) amongst stakeholders a handful of interventions have culminated in solving service delivery challenges in Mucheke and Victoria Ranch in Masvingo.
To date, water and sanitation interventions and hostel upgrading has improved the dilapidated situation in the old hostels of Mambo and Tanaiwa hostels (Mudhadhadha). A total of 45 households at Mambo hostels, and 56 households at Tanaiwa hostels have improved water and sanitation units .
The production of these units was community-led throughout the process as community beneficiaries were involved during the design phase, procurement of construction materials and construction of the water and sanitation units.
The communities in these suburbs are not only recipients of the services but were actively involved before, during and after the implementation of the projects. Many of the community members were also employed as contract workers providing labour during the implementation of the project.
Throughout the project local authorities provided technical expertise and partners such as the Dialogue on Shelter Trust and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation have also been key in mobilising resources both human and financial through savings. This model of co-producing has been proved to work and results in the improvement of livelihoods and welfare within cities.
The co-production of the water and sanitation infrastructure in Mucheke (the old hostels) has allowed the initiatives to rekindle and discuss the topic of secure tenure with Masvingo Municipality. The upgrading at Tanaiwa and Mambo hostels have inspired the residents to visit Bulawayo to take a look at and learn about how they converted their council homes as water and sanitation are vital to take into account when converting council rental accommodation to homeownership.
Masvingo Municipality made a look-and-learn trip to Bulawayo, and as a result, Masvingo City adopted a resolution to convert Tanaiwa Hostels to homeownership, strengthening security of tenure
The relationship between Masvingo City Council and the residents of the Mucheke slum settlement was tense prior to the co-production of the water and sanitation facilities. However, the current jointly administered initiatives have strengthened ties with Masvingo Municipality as a result.
Communities from the slum settlements and representatives from the Masvingo Municipality alternately call meetings where workplans are discussed, settlement profiles are conducted jointly, and inter-city exchanges on slum upgrading experiences in other cities with other local authorities are taken part in. The social cohesiveness between the city and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) has enhanced as a result of this co-production.
As the world marks the third anniversary of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to come together and make sense of what happened and what we can learn from the experience.
SDI and Know Your City TV’s Youth Summit is bringing together youth and elders from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya and South Africa to create a federation song for the #DignifiedUrbanLife campaign, which is set to launch this Friday the 31st of March.
This campaign aims to be a powerful platform for change and progress, providing a unique opportunity for different generations to share knowledge, ideas and experiences.
SDI and Know Your City TV’s Youth Summit
The SDI and Know Your City TV‘s Youth Summit seeks to bring together youth and elders to create a federation song for the #DignifiedUrbanLife campaign. This campaign is a response to the immense challenges exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly for youth living in informal settlements. Through the summit, the aim is to mobilise groups of women and young people to create a federation song, utilising the age-old medium of song to transmit knowledge and values.
The federation song is a unique opportunity to bring together different generations to share knowledge, ideas and experiences. Through intergenerational dialogue, young people can learn from the wisdom and experience of the older generation, while the older generation can learn from the creativity and enthusiasm of youth. By combining the two perspectives, we aim to create a powerful platform for change and progress. The federation song is a unique opportunity for bringing together different generations to share knowledge, ideas and experiences. By coming together and collaborating, we can create a song that is both inspirational and motivating. It can be used to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people living in slums, while also providing a platform to inspire and empower them to come together and find sustainable solutions to the problems they face.
The #DignifiedUrbanLife campaign includes a step-by-step guide for community mobilisation and communications strategy. Our Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya and South Africa affiliates appointed youth groups with experience in music production to lead the campaign. The steps include intergenerational dialogue, choir recording, youth remix, international collaboration and coordination, distribution, and monitoring, evaluation and outreach.
International Collaboration and Coordination
A small team from each country join us in Cape Town at the SDI Secretariat, bringing audio stems and demo along with behind-the-scenes videos, archive video, images, and documentation for a one-week hack-a-thon. At the hack-a-Thon, they will develop a targeted audience campaign strategy, coordinated media products, a policy shift strategy and plan of action, and a monitoring and evaluation framework.
Once the song, media products, and policy strategy have been developed, the next step is to promote and distribute them. This includes launching social media campaigns, creating music videos or other visuals to accompany the song, and distributing materials to the target groups.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Outreach
The final step is to monitor and evaluate the success of the campaign. This wil include tracking the reach of the campaign, as well as measuring the impact it has had on the target groups. We aim to do this through surveys, interviews, or other methods.
The #DignifiedUrbanLife campaign is an inspiring example of the power of intergenerational dialogue and music production to fight inequality. It provides a platform for different generations to come together and share knowledge, ideas and experiences, while also creating a powerful platform for change and progress.
This Friday the 31st of March marks the launch of this exciting campaign, and it is sure to be an inspiring event.
Dialogue on Shelter, the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation (ZHPF) and the Zimbabwe Young People’s Federation ZYPF) are part of a consortium of non-governmental organisations implementing the Urban Social Assistance Programme in 3 Zimbabwean cities: Harare South, Epworth and Bulawayo. The Urban Social Assistance Programme has two complementary focus areas, namely the cash transfer (CBT) component and the urban resilience (UR) component. Since November 2019, the Zimbabwe SDI alliance has been implementing preliminary activities in order to roll out the urban resilience work with collectives in the targeted domains. The preliminary activities have centered on mobilizing and organising grassroots savings collectives which will spearhead vital community-led urban resilience interventions that are needed alongside cash transfers to improve food security.
What is urban resilience for the Zimbabwe SDI alliance?
Inadequate sources of income may lead to urban food insecurity, but urban poverty cannot easily be addressed by raising income levels. Limited access to safe and secure housing and services directly contributes to malnutrition and food insecurity. Meanwhile, poor tenure can further impair access to basic services and decent housing. The residents of low income and informal settlements are often overlooked by government. These communities often rely on collective organisation and brokered co-production partnerships to secure political visibility and voice to negotiate longer term structural solutions to their problems, for example, the regularisation of their informal neighbourhoods and/or access to affordable services. As a result of inadequate access to services and low incomes, those living in low-income neighbourhoods suffer from increased exposure and sensitivity to the environmental risks including those related to climate change. All these factors affect the ability to build resilience to a range of shocks and stresses. Effective practical responses and strategic policies are needed to address urban food insecurity in both its income and non-income dimensions. the Zimbabwe SDI alliance’s response to these challenges is to promote incremental and participatory slum/informal settlement upgrading through the following activities:
- Building women-centred savings collectives
- Community-led data collection processes
- Emphasising participatory informal settlement upgrading
- Promoting horizontal learning processes for capacity-building
- Co-production of knowledge for policy-influencing and advocacy
- Establishing co-created/co-governed settlement/city level urban poor funds
- Promoting community-led livelihoods interventions
Complementing cash transfers with community action in urban areas
Whether in rural or urban areas, the focus of social protection efforts by both international and national organisations has been primarily on cash transfers to individual households. Where targeting has been used, there have been concerns that this selectivity reduces solidarity between households in any given neighbourhood and therefore leads to less collective action, whether to do with political pressure or to provide essential goods, rights and entitlements and/or to provide basic services through self-help. Hence, there is a tension between collective action and individual support. While this is not an exclusively urban problem, this tension is exacerbated in urban informal settlements because of the need to negotiate with the state for regularisation and improved access to services.
More generally it is recognised that there is also a need to build collective social and political capital in order to enhance the resilience of communities in the long run. It is clear that no one financing mechanism can deliver resilient communities. Different social protection and finance mechanisms will continue to serve different purposes. Local savings collectives often provide a space for low income urban communities to save and borrow money, the revolving nature of these funds means that resources can go further. More effective approaches to poverty reduction including food security can be developed by converging and harmonising institutions (local gov, civil society, private sector and humanitarian agencies) to ensure coherent planning and to develop local alliances to enhance local resilience and well as improved development options
Layering urban resilience and cash-based transfer interventions
Under the urban resilience component, the Zimbabwe SDI alliance is implementing a set of activities which are aimed to building resilience amongst the targeted domains. Below, a summary of the activities is provided;
- Establishment and strengthening of savings collectives – this activity entails the setting up of community-level institutional structures for facilitating savings and loan activities for supporting livelihoods and building resilience. The collectives are constituted on average by 20 households per group with members meeting regularly to save and discuss priorities for the membership. The savings and loan groups will, therefore, be geared towards building a pool of financial resources through which the groups will then, in turn, give out loans to members to meet household requirements such procuring food, meeting medical expenses and school fees. The savings collectives are also meant to contribute towards building the much-needed social cohesion for groups to better engage decision-makers regarding accessing improved urban services.
- Community networking and exchanges – under this activity, the targeted communities undertake peer-to-peer exchange visits. The exchange visits include on average 5 people from a selected settlement visiting another settlement. The horizontal exchanges seek to provide learning opportunities for communities with similar conditions of vulnerability enabling them to learn how their counterparts are dealing with similar urban shocks. The exchanges, therefore, act as a capacity building and strengthening tool through sharing of experiences around, for instance, resilience-building activities implemented in other geographical parts of the project.
- Participatory data collection processes – these constituted participatory data collection processes meant to generate information on socio-economic and spatial attributes of the targeted settlements. In particular, the assessments are meant to document urban shocks and community responses. For instance, the recent outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the need to understand its impacts as an urban shock. The findings from these participatory assessments were in the form of impacts, community responses and settlement development priorities that will help inform and sharpen the resilience building activities. It is also expected that the findings will help in defining a clear agenda on existing infrastructure needs during the engagement processes between the communities and decision-makers thereby enabling the access to improved urban services.
Urban resilience interventions should build on the on-going CBT activities in the targeted domains. Directly layering the urban resilience activities onto the same household that receive CBT proves to be challenging, given the different targeting methodologies associated with urban resilience and CBT activities. For instance, participation in savings collectives is voluntary under the urban resilience pillar, it is not a guarantee that everyone on CBT will join the savings collectives, and there may be some members who have not received CBT but are willing to join the savings collectives under urban resilience. However, given the settlement-wide focus of collective urban resilience interventions, the urban resilience activities have indirectly benefited households that have not been the subject of CBT interventions.
This article was originally published by ICCCAD. Click here for the original post.
In Hatcliffe extension, an informal settlement located in the northern part of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, a group of young people are leading the fight against the pandemic. They are building awareness, adapting their businesses to promote hygiene and encouraging fellow young people to contribute to community well-being. Artwell Nyirenda reports.
Hatcliffe extension was once a holding camp for urban migrants coming from different parts of Harare. Young people between the age of 15 and 30 constitute a higher percentage of the community’s population. Social and economic challenges are prevalent in the area, as the young often get involved in illegal activities for survival. The majority of Hatcliffe’s residents work in construction and informal trading, and few are formally employed.
Continuous expansion of the area has further exacerbated the challenges in accessing services, particularly water and sanitation. Communal boreholes are the only source of water, as tap water is not available. The community is struggling to meet the growing demand for water with a limited number of boreholes, many of which are dysfunctional, resulting in long queues for water collection.
News of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent safety protocols has added to the community’s existing fragilities. Waiting in a queue to collect water at communal boreholes is a daily reality for the residents of the Hatcliffe extension – increasing the risk of virus transmission. Until now, no positive cases have been found in the area. However, soon after hearing about COVID-19, everyone has been terrified to risk their lives while scrambling for scarce water. With the onset of the lockdown, naturally the demand for water has significantly increased and large crowds have gathered near the boreholes.
In Hatcliffe extension, the youth have always been at the forefront when it came to crisis management. Lonica Kenneth is a young female resident in the area, and a member of the Zimbabwe Young Peoples’ Federation (ZYPF), and its sub-group, Metro Focus Detergents Filming Group. ZYPF mobilises young people to influence positive change in their communities through documenting and sharing their lived experiences with relevant local authorities and other stakeholders.
The Metro Focus Detergents Filming Group is under the Safe and Inclusive Cities project, a youth-led project funded by Plan International, and consists of 20 members, including Lonica. Saving is encouraged within the group, and the members have been practising saving 10 bond notes (approximately USD 0.10) per week. They also make and sell liquid soaps, detergents, liquid gas and different arts and crafts. “The Safe and Inclusive Cities project has been an eye opener, as I have been made aware of opportunities to generate income, and participate in my community. I have realised I can make detergents that will help my family and community,” shares Lonica.
With her own savings, Lonica began a detergent business in June 2019, producing and distributing liquid soap within her community. However, the lockdown has caused her business to suffer and Lonica has had to redesign her production strategy. “My business has declined since the lockdown as I was unable to purchase raw materials for production. But I also realised that there is a growing demand for soaps and sanitisers during this pandemic, and I really wanted to help my community members during this crucial time” says Lonica.
Along with the other members, Lonica identified an opportunity to boost their businesses and support their community during the crisis. She approached Safe and Inclusive Cities to finance her business. “Thanks to their support, I was able to produce sufficient liquid soaps. They helped me to buy the raw materials required for production,” Lonica adds. With increased sales, she is now saving 20 bond notes per week. Because of the high levels of poverty in her community, she sold the products at a very low price so that people can afford them. “We are also distributing hand washing buckets, sanitisers and soaps to community members who are most impacted,” Lonica further points out.
In addition to their businesses, Lonica and her group has also been involved in raising awareness of COVID-19 preventative measures . “My group has managed to distribute hand washing soaps near community boreholes to promote hygiene. We also influenced community leaders to regularly disinfect and monitor the water points to ensure safety. These public spaces have improved. Chaos is avoided as people adhere to protocols set by the leadership” she argues. The community youth members have also asked relevant government ministries for further training so they can disseminate information more accurately.
Hatcliffe extension residents are fully cooperating in monitoring the water points and advocating for increased youth engagement. “First thing in the morning before anyone comes, I set out the drum, and the bucket with water and soap. Everyone must wash their hands before using the borehole handle. I also use sanitiser to disinfect the borehole handle, to ensure it is clean for everyone to use,” says Steven Nyamapfeka, a local leader in Hatcliffe.
“We are requesting outreach programmes on COVID-19 issues, as we don’t have enough information. If the virus spreads in this community, we will struggle to survive because we are not practising social distancing. More youth can be engaged to disseminate vital information,” shares Phillip Matamande, a member of the community. Residents have highlighted the need for masks and other protective gear, and the implementation of social distancing. They have also requested the Ministry of Health to increase the supply of chlorinated water.
Despite numerous hurdles, Lonica is hopeful that if the youth continue to work together, they will be able to overcome the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. “I am happy that I am able to play a role during this difficult time, and inspire young girls to lead initiatives for the betterment of our community. Together we can tackle the COVID-19 pandemic!” says Lonika.
As we are witnessing during COVID-19, young people from around the world are being innovative and leading initiatives within their communities to tackle the global crisis. Lonica, and others like her, are taking steps to support their communities through active participation. They have been influencing and communicating with leaders in understanding the dynamics of their communities. It is important that the youth realise their potential and the crucial roles they can play within their communities and lead the way for a better, brighter future.
About the interviewer
Artwell Nyirenda is a program officer at Dialogue on Shelter for the Homeless People in Zimbabwe. He is working with young people in slum settlements in documenting the daily experiences in their communities for advocacy purposes.
About the interviewees
Lonica Kenneth lives in Hatcliffe extension and actively participates in community development platforms and programs. Through her work, she has inspired many young people who have joined her in transforming their communities.
Steven Nyamapfeka, is a local elderly man living in the Hatcliff extension for several years. He is also the Secretary of the Water Committee of Hatcliff.
Phillip Matamande is a local community leader and vice chairperson of the Water Committee of Hatcliffe.
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 Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat
HUB meetings are gatherings that bring affiliates together to collectively set the agenda for the region. They are used as a mechanism to share collective learning, devise targeted support strategies (e.g. exchanges) for individual countries and concretize planning, on a regional scale, for the next period. The Southern African HUB recently took place in Lusaka, Zambia. Delegations from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Botswana and Malawi attended the 3-day meeting. A team from Uganda, who had recently hosted the East African HUB, participated in order to promote continuity. Ghana was also invited as the West African HUB has been indefinitely postponed due to the Ebola outbreak.
Below find my reflections on the meeting. I hope that they provide some insights not only into SDI processes at a regional level but also the “nuts and bolts” of which this process is comprised. This is hence not an exhaustive description of the meeting but aims to give the reader a “practical flavor” of SDI’s work as it plays out in the interactions between slum dwellers, support professionals and government.
Day 1: Engagement with Ministry of Local Government, field visit to Garden Park community under threat of eviction (only some delegates) and meeting at Lusaka City Council (LCC).
The Zambians were clear that the first day’s agenda was about taking their process forward, especially in terms of achieving tangible outputs from government. South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Malawi and Ghana all stressed the actual outputs of their relationship with government to both the Ministry of Local Government and LCC. As was noted, “ An M.o.U with government is just a piece of paper unless it has actual tangible outputs attached”.
Making the first day about taking the Zambian process really orientated us within local challenges and used the HUB as an instrument to open space with government for the Zambians (which they are now following up on). The Southern African HUB has previously been very “talk” orientated and not substantively relevant to the local process so this shift was refreshing to see. A trick that we missed out on was not inviting government officials from the countries attending as the Zambians felt that this would have deepened the impact in these engagements with government. As a federation member noted “governments like to talk to other governments”.
Through the site visit to Garden Park, evictions were placed on the table as a key issue with the HUB committing (on the final day) that each federation will draft guidelines on evictions sharing their experiences and strategies used (this emerged out of a separate federation only session)
Women from Garden Park meet to discuss eviction threat
Day 2: New Secretariat systems (L,M&E, New Secretariat structures)
Day 2 was spent at the Zambian federation’s resource center in George compound with significant participation from the Zambian federation. Mara (from the SDI Secretariat) and Muturi (from the Core Team) did a fantastic job in taking everyone through some of the new systems developed by The Secretariat including the L, M &E worksheet and call for support. There was a vibrant discussion about these new systems and some very important suggestions made as to how they could be refined (e.g. definitions of certain terms such as “secure tenure” need to be clarified). These issues were noted and will be shared with the secretariat team.
A very critical issue was raised around the learning center and its role within the HUB, a number of people felt that the HUB itself was serving as the learning center. We need to think carefully about how the learning center fits into the HUB-especially in the case of Southern Africa were conditions and experiences in Cape Town are quite different to the rest of the countries. People felt strongly that different countries had different strengths (e.g. Namibia and Zimbabwe around collection of their savings number & indicators).
Day 3: HUB Business
The day was focused on collecting country reports that were compiled previously by each country. These will be used to aggregate a set of Southern African HUB figures that can be taken to the Board & Council (B&C) meeting. Each country handed in their reports but then spoke about the “burning issues” and what support was needed. This led to suggestions for further exchanges that have been noted. The HUB also discussed progress made on exchanges decided at the B&C. In general this approach was well received as countries did not use up time providing long lists of figures but rather focused on the key issues that they wished to raise. The exact role and nature of the CORE team was also explained at length.
Throughout the meeting the participation of members from Kenya, Uganda and Ghana was extremely helpful. Their insights were valuable and contributed to the discussions with government. The continuity between the East African HUB and this HUB was definitely beneficial and something that we could take forward.
An issue that emerged from some was how we can include more “voices” in the HUB and encourage everyone to participate and speak more fully. It seemed that when we broke into country teams it allowed for more even discussion and participation as opposed to just a few people speaking in the bigger forum.
A HUB report is currently being drafted by Zambia and will be shared shortly.
“Carrying” water home in Chazanga, Lusaka
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.
By Mara Forbes, Ariana MacPherson, and Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat
Flows of finance and the systems that perpetuate resource distribution are inherently weighted against inclusion of the poor. The inequality of rapid urban development in developing countries is a clear demonstration of this phenomenon. Banks do not supply loans on terms affordable to slum dwellers, cities sink budgets into formal taxpaying areas rather than informal settlements while policies, rules and regulations prop up a grossly uneven distribution of wealth. Traditional market finance does not work for the poor on a city scale – slums continue to grow, as does the gap between rich and poor.
Finance for the poor demands flexibility. It demands understanding how poor people save money, how piecemeal incomes fluctuate, what interest rates and loan amounts are really affordable and what investments make sense locally. It also means understanding how to incorporate community-based financial systems, in addition to those pitched at individuals and households.
Flexible citywide urban poor funds need to change existing systems of exclusionary finance. Local government is a change vector that cannot be dismissed and their inclusion in these funds has the potential to create citywide political impact. Organized communities, who can clearly articulate their demands and the rationale for their financial decisions, can negotiate this space ensuring that funds remain relevant to the poor.
Community-based urban poor federation members and support professionals from South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Bolivia came together in late 2013 to discuss citywide models for urban finance. They drew on extensive experience in managing urban poor funds in their various contexts to explore the design, political impact and practical slum upgrading benefits of flexible pro-poor finance facilities.
The context in South Africa is one of at a subsidy-based development state, where many urban poor communities’ – and governments’ – mindset is one of state delivery. This, despite the fact that evidence shows that government is incapable of delivering housing or infrastructure services at the scale necessary. This challenge is central to the experience of informal settlement upgrading, both at the level of the community and in relating to government around new practices and policies that are seen to undermine the government’s responsibility to provide subsidized housing and basic services to the country’s informal population. Despite the available subsidies, much of South Africa’s population continues to live in insecure conditions without access to basic services, secure shelter or economic opportunity. To date, there have been few alternative solutions to informal settlement upgrading in the South African context, but it is clear that new political and financial systems are necessary for the nation’s urban poor to become active participants in the development of inclusive, equitable cities. Central to this is the need for an alternative financing strategy – one that is sensitive to the needs and daily realities of the urban poor.
These issues were addressed at length during the South African delegation’s discussions of the formation of a citywide upgrading fund in Cape Town. Although the South African SDI Alliance has adopted the Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF), it has faced challenges in rolling it out as tool for informal settlement upgrading at scale and with support (financial and political) from local government. CUFF was created with the aim of providing a platform for informal communities to “engage government more actively around collaborative upgrading & livelihood projects” (CUFF Project Report 2013). The Fund does this by providing seed capital for settlement improvement projects that are proposed by communities. At the same time, communities must provide a 20% contribution to the total cost of the project, demonstrating their willingness to take ownership and participate in the co-production of their settlement’s upgrading and development.
During the recent exchange in Cape Town, the South African SDI Alliance had an opportunity to reflect on the implementation of CUFF to date. The Alliance emphasized that CUFF is not just about implementing projects, but about influencing policy. The Alliance stressed the significant value of community-based finance facilities like CUFF as learning instruments designed to change the mindsets of communities and governments – to change the mindset of communities away from dependency on the state, and to chance the mindset of government towards considering that communities may be able to offer in-situ solutions to their infrastructure and housing needs.
CUFF in its current incarnation is not set up as a citywide fund to which a broad base of stakeholders, including local government, other community-based organizations and non-government organizations contribute and access resources. The inclusion of a wider base of stakeholders is critical in order to moves from a fund that is only for federation members to a collective fund that allows for loans for entire settlements. This critical point motivated the South African delegation to discuss how to move CUFF into a position where citywide scaling up becomes a real possibility.
The situation in Uganda contrasts sharply with South Africa, leading to a different thinking and organization around finance facilities. There are no government subsidies so the poor have had to find alternative ways to finance upgrading initiatives.
Uganda has set up a national urban poor fund and used lessons learned to think through and design potential citywide funds. The goal of the fund to is to provide capital in the form of loans to members of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU). The decision to only provide group loans from the fund is deliberate. These funds are intended to benefit the larger community through group upgrading projects that set precedents for community urban development projects. Loans are given out for housing, sanitation, and group livelihood projects. To date the fund has extended loans for 44 projects in Kampala. The fund is designed as a sustainable revolving basket fund. It receives funds from a variety of sources, including contributions from NSDFU and community saving groups, fundraising activities, government contributions, donations from local and international institutions, subscriptions fees, and UPFI loans. Particular to note about Uganda’s fund is that loans are not available to individual members, but to savings groups for community upgrading projects.
Although the fund provides alternative financing solutions to the poor in Uganda, it has a larger purpose and vision. The federation uses the fund to build precedent-setting pilot projects that will attract government and other urban development stakeholders. It is not just about urban poor participation and decision-making but about using the fund as a tool to push an urban poor agenda, with sanitation being the key issue advocated in the Ugandan context. The community is able to demonstrate they are able to contribute savings to grow the fund which allows them to access a group loan to build a community sanitation unit. This process demonstrates the community’s ability to prioritize, contribute, and implement slum-upgrading projects. This work has altered the city government’s outlook on sanitation, the first step to effecting policy change.
The Ugandan federation has been able to use the urban poor fund not only to pilot community projects but also to shift the mindset of local government to eventually bring change in city policies. They have connected the role and strength of women-led savings schemes to each level of the fund.
Why is a city fund needed if a working national urban poor fund is in place? These were some of the questions examined during the exchange. Delegates were convinced that a citywide fund moves from a fund that is only for federation members to a collective fund that allows loans for entire settlements. This would allow local governments and other urban development stakeholders to channel money directly to communities to support infrastructure and upgrading projects that benefit whole communities and cities.
The Zimbabwean context is one in which the state has practically no internal resources available for the urban poor. Donor funds are channeled through departments at the local government level, but this is not a sustainable means of income. Despite acute resource scarcity the Zimbabwean federation has forged deep and meaningful partnerships with local government, changing attitudes towards evictions, introducing new sanitation technologies and leveraging technical and political support.
A dearth of government finance motivated urban poor communities to organize their own savings, not just for daily needs but also nationally through the Guungano Urban Poor Fund. The fund not only provides low interest rates on loans for the upgrading needs of poor communities but also has a political agenda that opens space for negotiation with local governments. Ideally the fund would like to attract government finance, but this has not yet been the case. The overly bureaucratic and politicized nature of government institutions undoubtedly contributes to the difficulties associated with accessing government funds.
Based on their experiences of administering an urban poor fund at the national level, the Zimbabwean federation decided to decentralize the fund to regional (Bulawayo & Matabeleland South) and citywide scale (Kariba and Masvingo). This speaks to the differences between national funds and citywide funds at a larger scale – a strategic move that is beginning to play out across the SDI network in divergent contexts.
In Harare, the Zimbabwean federation is in the advanced stages of negotiating a fund with city authorities. The lessons learnt through the administration of the Guungano fund both nationally and in its newer regional structure come to bear on these negotiations. The fund will become part of the implementation strategy of the cities new slum upgrading policy. The federation will contribute $25,000, the UPFI $50,000 and the City $125,000. The fund will not be housed in either the federation or the City Council and will focus on slum upgrading (incremental housing, water & sanitation and other infrastructure). Projects will be determined through community profiles and enumerations and loans will revolve. The city pushed for the fund to be registered as a microfinance institution, however the community was adamant that this would lead to systems that excluded the poor. The city has now agreed to register the fund as a trust.
While negotiations continue it is clear that an organized community who can clearly articulate the rationale (the why) behind a city fund can have significant traction in shaping its structure and mechanisms. If these regulations are entrenched in a constitution the potential for a new type of financial instrument is created.
Despite attempts by Bolivia’s central government over the past decades to implement a social housing policy that addresses the country’s growing housing deficit, little progress has actually been made in providing a housing and infrastructure finance system that is accessible to the country’s urban poor population. It is estimated that about one third of the housing constructed each year in Bolivia is informal and largely illegal, with urban poor families occupying self-constructed, insecure structures with little or no access to basic services like water, electricity and sanitation.
In light of this it becomes clear that an alternative solution is necessary to begin to meet the growing demand for affordable housing finance and informal settlement upgrading at a scale that can adequately address these needs in light of Bolivia’s rapid urbanization.
At the exchange the Bolivian delegation spoke about their own solution to some of the housing and basic service challenges faced by Bolivia’s urban poor. The Fondo Para Vivienda Popular (Popular Housing Fund) was created in 2011 with a small donation of only USD 160 to be used for loans to assist with the costs associated with regularization of shelters in informal settlements in Cochabamba, Oruro and Santa Cruz. After about a year of operating as a national fund it was decided to split the fund into three localized city funds. Now, only two years later, the fund has grown to USD 10,000 through a combination of community savings and donations from individuals, the private sector and donor agencies. The objective of the Fund is to serve as a tool for the federation of women’s savings groups, Tejiendo Ciudades (Weaving Together Cities), to provide low-interest loans for the needs and demands of savings group members. These include: housing repairs, regularization papers, water, electricity, sanitation, furniture and appliances.
In 2012, the Federation disbursed twenty individual loans and one collective loan. In 2013, these numbers rose to thirty individual loans and two collective loans with all loans in both years having been repaid in full. While the Fund is off to a steady and impressive start, there is a need to involve a wider network of stakeholders, including local government, in providing capital for the fund, if it is going to become a scalable solution to housing and basic service finance in Bolivia’s urban sector.
The Zambian federation has two funds, an urban poor fund and a city fund. The urban poor fund currently operates regionally and is controlled and managed by the federation. The urban poor fund has been working at a larger community level with both federation and non-federation members.
The city fund emerged from a need that was generated by profiling and enumeration in Lusaka. A potential commitment from the Lusaka City Council to contribute 35% to the fund has been tabled.
One of the crucial learning’s from the Zambian federation is the need for a citywide fund to be accessible and benefit not just federation members, but all of the urban poor. The fund can also then be used as an advocacy tool that introduces communities to savings culture and rituals of the federation. In order for a citywide fund to go to scale alignments and partnerships with other actors, such as local government, must be made. The Lusaka city fund has demonstrated how federation rituals (profiling and enumerations) can be used to get the local governments attention and bring them into the process. The Zambian example demonstrates how a fund was used to change the way government relates to and includes the poor.
The Malawian context is one in which government has made limited investment in slum upgrading. Foreign NGO’s and donors have invested in the various facets of the development sector but foreign aid is not a long term and sustainable solution, and the donor community is beginning to pull out of Malawi as well, further highlighting the need for a sustainable source of funds for slum upgrading projects.
Daily savings for basic needs is the core strength of the Malawian federation. At a larger scale, the Mchenga urban poor fund has allowed community members to take out loans to build eco-san toilets and water connections. A community contribution of 10% is required and all community members, not just the federation, can access loans. Loan repayments are revolved back into the fund and used to provide further loans and attain maximum scale.
More recently citywide funds, and the challenges that they can present, have come into focus in Lilongwe. Donor finance was used as seed capital for a citywide fund for slum upgrading activities. The fund was envisioned as one in which the city and communities would collectively plan for slum infrastructure improvements. However the communities found it difficult to engage the city and access the funds – or even have a significant role in decision making around their distribution. The city only began to include communities in decision-making processes when the donor threatened to take the money back. The fund has since been used to construct markets, install water points, improve drainage, install water tanks and build roads and bridges. Funds were distributed as grants and not loans, prompting the question, “If communities don’t have to repay the funds, how do they influence government to use funds to their advantage?”
The introduction to this report stresses that new types of finance are needed to make affordable capital available to the poor. A concomitant political shift at the local government level has the possibility to entrench these new modes of financial distribution at a city scale. However this can be a double-edged sword, with government retaining de-facto control of city funds and communities relegated to the role of passive beneficiaries. Strong and organized communities are able to negotiate the terms of funds clearly articulating structures and rules that make sense on the ground. Thus while citywide funds need local government participation to reach scale, they often do not need the traditional systems through which state funds are distributed and managed.
 According to the 2001 census, approximately 2 million households live in informal housing across South Africa, the majority of those in urban informal settlements. South Africa: Informal settlements status, The Housing Development Agency, 2012.
 The SA SDI Alliance is made up of two community-based organizations, the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), and three support NGOs, the Community Organization Resource Centre (CORC), uTshani Fund and iKhayalami. To learn more, visit: www.sasdialliance.org.za.
 “Over half of Bolivia’s poor (2.9 million) and 43% of the extreme poor (1.4 million) were living in urban areas in 2002, up from one third (1.8 million) and one fourth (800 thousand) in 1997, respectively.” Housing Finance Mechanisms in Bolivia, UN Habitat, 2008, p.25.
 Basic service coverage remains highly unequal in Bolivia, with coverage sitting at 93% (water) and 80% (sanitation) for the richest income quintile, but only 38% (water) and 14% (sanitation) for the poorest quintile (in 2003). Ibid, p. 28.
 Between 1976 and 2001, the urban population increased 168%. In 2001, the urban growth rate in three of the main urban areas (La Paz, El Alto & Santa Cruz) reached beyond 5%. Ibid, p. 24.
 Interest rates are .5% per month for a period of up to 6 months.
By Anni Beukes, SDI Secretariat
“We are able to appreciate that we need to have a more holistic view of the cities where we are working” (Frederick Mugisa, Uganda, SDI Alliance).
“…now we are planning the profiling in the settlements we are working and also see city wide settlement profiling to help in planning of the city with the slum dwellers” (Shekar and John Samuel, NSDF/SPARC, India, SDI Alliance)
While focus on the local remains the core concern of SDI federations, the question, increasingly pertinent is, how does the global network of the urban poor make itself globally visible and relevant on the global urban development agenda? Peer exchanges have long served SDI federations as a learning space to share experiences of everyday life. They serve as a platform from which urban poor communities can share local concerns, challenges and successes. Like SDI enumerations and settlement profiles they too have traditionally been centred on particular contexts and the particular concerns of local slum dwellers.
SDI and Santa Fe Institute’s (SFI) global slum profiling project aims to aggregate and analyse the around 7,000 federation profiles collected over the past twenty years in more than 15 countries across the global south. The objective is to yield a “science of slums” powerful enough to leverage city wide and global sustainable developmental appeal for ‘slum data’. With renewed vigour the network is looking towards two of its most powerful tools (exchanges and enumerations) as learning and innovation spaces to foster this goal.
Making slum communities visible to their local authorities has been the driving force behind local actions to stave off evictions and leverage land, basic services and upgrading of slums. Mugisa, Shekar and Samuel’s appreciation of the value of the June learning exchange around the SDI and SFI Partnership, during the SDI-SFI Field Visit Cape Town June 2013, echoes the hope expressed by Sheela Patel, director of Indian NGO SPARC and SDI Board Member, that “communities of the urban poor living in informal settlements [will come] to believe that aggregating information about settlement and households is a valuable tool towards improving their lives” (Patel in Fieuw 2013 and elsewhere ).
Over the course of ten days in and around Cape Town’s UT Section, Khayelitsha, federation members along with NGO support staff from Malawi, Kenya, India, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa and Namibia were able to test the new tools (including a questionnaire, geo-tagging smart phone application, etc.) developed through the SDI-SFI collaboration to improve and standardise the data capturing processes of the network. Rosey Mashimbye of FEDUP, South Africa, commented that the use of these new technologies is certainly an improvement from manual capturing. While there remain some concerns among federation members that the new standardised questionnaire may not speak to all their local concerns, according to the Namibian alliance’s report, “standardised rituals and practices [may have] the possibility to incorporate local concerns/issues” (Harris, Namibia Alliance).
Informal settlement communities have come a long way in showing that their settlements and communities are not just spaces of perceived and real deprivation, but rather innovation and resourcefulness. They have consistently shown that slum dwellers themselves are the most capable of showing local authorities, who they are, how they live, make their livelihoods and contribute to the economies of the cities from which they are so often excluded. By standardising profiling and enumerations and marrying our techniques to cutting edge technology and analysis through the learning space of peer-exchanges, we are well on our way to leverage on of the most powerful tools of the federations of the urban poor in creating sustainable and resilient inclusive cities.
For more on SDI enumerations and profiling see pages 46-52 in our latest Annual Report.
SDI signs an MOU with Cities Alliance and United Cities & Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA).
The experience of federations of the urban poor that make up the SDI network underlines the interconnections of actions that impact both locally and globally. Every time a foreign corporation, government, or other type of organization expresses interest in land or development in a city or in a country, it impacts the everyday lives of the poor. The people who live in cities, and their governments, face constant external pressures regarding the choices that determine whether ordinary poor people have access to land, services, shelter, and economic opportunity.
The challenge, then, is to build organizations and alliances able to balance the influence of powerful global processes with local needs to make urbanization work for all. The lesson here is that local actors, especially in city government, through exploring the potential of working and supporting citywide federations of the urban poor, become more effective in managing these processes.
At the global level, SDI is increasingly serving as a platform for allowing representatives of organized urban poor constituencies to speak directly with decision-makers in major international organizations and forums. The aim and impact of these interactions is to strengthen the local processes through which federations form and build citywide alliances. How do they do it?
First, by building new mechanisms for accessing and managing the financial resources required for an inclusive vision of development. The global financial flows that drive city development comprise a juggernaut in comparison to the amounts of money the federations of savings schemes collect. However, these savings serve as the basis for creating citywide funds to finance informal settlement upgrading projects and employment generation projects. Savings also builds financial literacy and management skills amongst the organizations of the poor in order to take up projects to upgrade and improve their settlements with the city
Even more promising is the spread of citywide funds that are joint endeavors between city governments and city federations. These institutions have begun to get formalized in different forms in cities in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. They provide the space for city governments and federations to work together to leverage resources within government, within communities, as well as from external institutions in the private sector. These are quintessential examples of the ways in which urban poor federations are a mechanism through which city governments can get a handle on flows of finance that impact urbanization.
Harare Citywide Slum Upgrading Fund
In Zimbabwe, Dialogue on Shelter, an NGO affiliated with Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) is in the final stages of negotiating the terms of a citywide fund with the City of Harare. The fund is a practical financial instrument reflective of the partnership between the Zimbabwean SDI alliance and the city, creating shared political and financial responsibility for slum upgrading.
The fund will comprise of financial contributions from SDI, the City of Harare and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation. Other donors have also expressed an interest in contributing to the fund, making it a possible conduit for finances to flow from donors to the urban poor. Not only does this blending of finance create an attractive mechanism to which various parties can contribute but it is a manner in which the participating parties can hold each other accountable.
The negotiations about the fund’s financial structure reflect a concrete manner in which groups of the urban poor can influence financial flows that directly affect their lives. Opening this political space for communities to articulate their needs at a citywide decision-making level is core to SDI’s role, and in the case of Zimbabwe, reflective of long-term partnership building. The Zimbabwean federation argued for the fund to focus on incremental settlement upgrading as opposed to only housing, forwarded loan provision and repayment strategies based on their experiences of daily savings, addressed issues of affordability and planned to extend loans to non-federation members.
This is a clear example of how a voice of the urban poor can negotiate changes that have the potential for citywide impact in a manner beneficial to the poor and more contextualized in “on the ground” circumstances.
The calculation shifts. No longer is it a struggle of poor people to self-finance improvements to their settlements amidst national and global processes that often increase the vulnerability of the poor. Rather, poor people’s organizations and city governments are now working together to generate internal and external financial power to achieve the kinds of infrastructure improvements that reduce vulnerability and increase opportunity.
SDI’s global reach then allows for these experiences to add up through exchanges amongst cities, and exposure of agencies and corporations in both the private and public sectors. Now, globalized flows of finance are beginning to contend with the alternative approaches that SDI federations are enabling at the local level.
Second, the dearth of information about informal settlements persists, even amidst global trends of “big data,” “city sensing,” etc. With over 9000 city profiles and 4000 enumerations, SDI federations are becoming world leaders in generating data about informal life in cities. In partnership with the Santa Fe Institute, with a focus on uncovering complex processes of development, SDI federations are finding new ways to use their data to show the hidden side of vulnerability and survival that is the daily experience of the urban poor. Instead of being invisible, or having their homes and livelihoods thought of merely as hotbeds of crime and disease, urban poor federations are making the case, through hard data, that informal settlements have the potential to be the engines for more inclusive strategies of city development.
Enumeration Data Leads to Slum Upgrading in Uganda
In Uganda, the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDFU) acknowledges that “Knowledge is Power” and that this power is something that slum dwellers on the ground can wield if they are organized. To this end, NSDFU has completed five citywide slum enumerations in the secondary cities of Jinja, Arua, Mbale, Mbarara, and Kabale. The Federation understands that this information, gathered by communities, is trusted and more accurate because of the participatory approach employed. In each of these five municipalities the information collected has been used to plan slum upgrading projects and prioritize future projects. The information has also been central in negotiations with local authorities and has been used in Municipal Development Forums to lobby for upgrading funds and improved services. In addition, the data has been used by municipal planning and budgeting committees, helping federation members to gain seats on these committees. The information is also used internally by the federation to guide project planning, highlighting communities’ needs. For example, in Mbale the federation’s data collection skills resulted in the municipality employing federation members and using their tools to help collect informal household and informal market data which will be used to inform city wide development plans by communities and local authorities.
Bit by bit, this information is showing policy-makers and global decision-makers that development that is equitable and sustainable is impossible without addressing the needs and vulnerabilities of the poor. This is particularly so with respect to prioritizing basic infrastructure and shelter. Likewise, this requires prioritizing economic development approaches that finally recognize the strategies that people in informal settlements use to survive and, sometimes, thrive.
Jockin Arputham speaks on a panel at a plenary session at World Urban Forum 6 in Naples, Italy.
Third and finally, urban poor federations in the SDI network are not letting the data and the experts do the talking for them. Instead, they attend global forums and present their own understanding of the power of relationships of learning, and share its impact on their long-standing approaches to negotiation and exchange. Through peer exchanges, the strategies of learning and negotiations undertaken in one country are shared across SDI. As these practices demonstrate their application in different countries and in different contexts they can be presented externally as possible strategies for governments and development agencies to explore.
SDI federations have a long tradition of taking their partners in city governments with them as they travel to other cities and countries. In this way, federations in countries such as India, Kenya, Malawi, Philippines, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, have utilized international forums and exchange programs to help build more inclusive and participatory institutions at the national and city level for making decisions about developmental priorities and programs.
Changing the Approach to Upgrading: Expanding Learning in Southern Africa
In South Africa, the local SDI Alliance, in partnership with the City of Cape Town, is engaged in pilot upgrading projects in 22 settlements across the city. The Alliance’s work in one of these settlements, Mtshini Wam, which has included re-blocking and upgrading of shacks, has drawn local, national and international attention and has contributed to the drafting of a re-blocking policy for slum upgrading in Cape Town. In addition, technical teams from support NGOs iKhayalami and CORC have expanded training workshops for the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), and local communities beyond Cape Town and Stellenbosch to settlements in the provinces of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. As a result, communities have begun working with government to develop settlement plans that involve upgraded services and homes.
These skills and learning are being transferred to other affiliates through international learning exchanges. In March 2013, a delegation from the Namibian SDI affiliate, accompanied by a delegation from the Gobabis local municipality, traveled to Stellenbosch, South Africa to learn about the impact of linking enumerations to slum upgrading. Following this interaction, the Gobabis municipality resolved to work with the local community on the re-blocking of settlements in their municipality.
To read more on how starting from the bottom up and connecting on-the-ground activities to global urban development processes leads to effective change, read our 2012 / 2013 Annual Report.