city fund Archives - SASDI Alliance

Co(mmunity)-finance facilities as a tool for local democratic space

By CORC, Publications No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

With the 2016 municipal elections around the corner, the relationship between elected representatives and local citizenries could not be more topical. For some, the relationship is a largely passive space, which has lead to mistrust between different groups. For others it is a space that requires the building of meaningful partnerships, participation, and an active citizenry. As a member of the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN), we have joined fellow civil society organisations in exploring these questions in the 2016 State of Local Governance Publication: (Re)claiming Local Democratic Space. 

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CORC’s contribution (on behalf of the SA Alliance) engages with the notable lack of community participation and in-situ practice in the national Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP). The paper is titled Co(mmunity) finance as a tool for local democratic space: The Cape Town City Fund and is based on robust experiences of community saving as a lever for co-finance and an enabler of inclusionary practice (See p.51-61). It suggests the need for an innovative co-finance instrument that enables a collaborative platform between urban poor communities, intermediary organisations and local governments to co-navigate in-situ informal settlement upgrading projects.

The GGLN is an initiative that brings together civil society organisations working in the field of local governance. Once a year the network produces the The State of Local Governance Publication which presents a civil society based assessment of the key challenges, debates and areas of progress with regard to governance and development at the local level in South Africa. 


Scaling Up Informal Settlement Upgrading: The CODI Model Thailand

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

While the value of in-situ informal settlement upgrading is increasingly recognised by national and global actors, its implementation as a co-productive approach rooted in meaningful community participation is inadequate. An exception, however, is the Community Organisations Development Institute (CODI), a finance facility of the Thai government that has facilitated community-led informal settlement upgrading in more than 250 cities and towns in Thailand, demonstrating how a national government not only engaged with ‘pro-poor’ development but also managed to institutionalise an approach and implement at scale.

Somsook Boonyabancha, Former Director of CODI

Somsook Boonyabancha, Former Director of CODI

In early May, the South African SDI Alliance together with Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) had the pleasure of hosting Somsook Boonyabancha, the founder and former director of CODI for a seminar in Johannesburg and Cape Town on ‘Scaling up informal settlement upgrading: The CODI model, Thailand’. ISN and FEDUP coordinators additionally used this opportunity to share current partnership and project implementation challenges with Somsook during a visit to Khayelitsha. Her visit to the Alliance occurred in the context of a broader meeting* with representatives of the South African National Treasury concerning CODI’s approach and its value for the South African context.

Jubilant welcome by FEDUP and ISN

Jubilant welcome by FEDUP and ISN

CORC director Bunita Kohler offers a warm welcome

CORC director Bunita Kohler offers a warm welcome

Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa

The upgrading context in South Africa is marked by a tension between policy and practice. Part three of the National Housing Code states that the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Program (the national policy and finance instrument for upgrading) set out to “facilitate the structured in situ upgrading of informal settlements as opposed to relocation(s)”. The aim: to achieve tenure security, deliver basic services and build ‘social capital’ in communities through participatory processes.

In practice, however, municipal application of UISP has been weak, especially in terms of community participation or alternative approaches to tenure security beyond freehold (See NUSP). Even after the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP) was introduced in 2010 to support municipalities in addressing these shortfalls, the lack of meaningful community engagement or in-situ upgrading of informal settlements persisted. This is largely due to inadequate municipal capacity for meaningful participation, a recurring preference of relocating shack dwellers to greenfields sites (the Joe Slovo judgement is a case in point) or repackaging reports on greenfield relocations as UISP projects (see State of Local Governance, p.64-65).

Community leader of TT Section, Site B Khayelitsha welcomes Somsook to her settlement

Community leader of TT Section, Site B Khayelitsha welcomes Somsook to her settlement

Where the SA SDI Alliance has implemented participatory upgrading projects in partnership with a local municipality (such as the City of Cape Town), these instances remain limited to a handful of settlements. Avenues for scaling up meaningful participatory practice in South Africa are rare, if not non-existent. In the experience of the Alliance, key challenges to scaling up relate to the disjuncture between lengthy bureaucratic processes and the pace of community preparation in informal settlements. For example, party political frictions may extend the time required to mobilise a community while lengthy municipal procurement processes regularly stretch project timeframes beyond the designated one year budget allocation period. When budget allocations are annulled or project dates postpoined, it is twice as difficult to restart and remobilise the community. Tools that intend to support community-led action (such as the UISP), can therefore have the opposite effect: they are often not flexible enough to adapt to project preparation and social facilitation processes in informal settlement communities.

How CODI Works

As an alternative, the CODI model offers relevant insights for the South African context. Formed in 2000 through the merging of the Urban Community Development Office and the Rural Development Fund, CODI is an independent public organisation under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. CODI functions as a revolving loan fund that enables direct access to grants for upgrading and loans for housing. As a national implementing agent, CODI manages the Thai government’s Community Development Fund that engages urban poor communities and networks who are organised in housing co-operatives and informally recognised community based savings schemes. CODI supports the building of community cooperatives, through sub-group clusters that manage community grants and wholesale loans. Such subgroups bring about collective action through group guarantee, helping eachother, and collective repayment. Read more about CODI here.

Somsook speaks about the CODI model in Thailand.

Somsook speaks about the CODI model in Thailand.

Thailand’s Upgrading Initiative: Baan Mankong

The Baan Mankong City-Wide Upgrading initiative is one of CODI’s most notable programs. Introduced in 2004, it focuses on poverty alleviation, community welfare, technical support and tenure security through promoting savings, credit, loans and planning support. Baan Mankong (which means “Secure Housing” in Thai) facilitates capital transactions through an infrastructure/upgrading grant from central government and a housing loan lent to borrowers organised in housing cooperatives. Since 2004, Baan Mankong has approved a total of 850 projects in 1660 communities and benefitted about 90 000 families. Geographically, its reach covers 286 cities in 71 of 77 provinces. The average housing loan per family amounts to US$ 5000 while the average upgrading subsidy grant averages about US$ 2500 per family. The total loans granted by CODI’s revolving fund (at 3% interest) amount to about US$ 185m with a repayment rate of 97.5% (Figures drawn from Somsook’s presentation).

In her presentation, Somsook highlighted the following as significant requirements for a city-wide, scaleable approach:

  • Active communities: support for urban poor communities as owners of projects
  • City-wide approach: changes at the real scale of the problem (i.e. that affect all poor communities in the city) will link scattered communities and their priorities to each other, contributing to a more systematised and sustainable approach
  • Building strong communities: through secure housing and integrated development that includes:
    • collective land ownership or lease
    • community savings and fund (acting as a community bank)
    • welfare activities
    • activating the link between community networks and city organisations in regular meetings
    • collective management
  • Building partnerships: between community networks, local authorities and other development actors that enable deliberation and negotiation
  • New finance system: active community savings and credit, City Development Funds
FEDUP and ISN engage with Somsook around CODI's approach

FEDUP and ISN engage with Somsook around CODI’s approach

Scaling Up in South Africa?

With more than eighty representatives from NGOs, media platforms and think tanks in the sector, academic partners in planning and architecture and the Head of Department of Human Settlements in the Western Cape, the closing session of the seminar offered an opportunity for discussion. How does CODI straddle the tension between private and collective land ownership? Is collective land ownership/lease possible in South Africa? Is there government appetite for alternative finance mechanisms? While engaging with these points, Somsook continually pointed to the value of collective action:

“The key thing is to bring all actors to work together. Community is important to support each individual for a certain period of time. And land is an important factor [so we need] collective land as a project. Poor people will be weak otherwise. Its insufficient to just do one or two projects here and there… Let poor people at a big scale be the key actors to make a big change”


Thando Mguli, HoD of Human Settlements in the Western Cape

Similarly to CODI, a co-finance facility in South Africa has the potential to locate poor people at the heart of upgrading interventions. Where urban poor communities shift from beneficiaries to activated citizens that identify, plan and implement development priorities, informal settlement upgrading can become more nuanced, responsive and participatory. For a co-finance approach, community saving is a valuable mobilising tool, an enabler for meaningful participation and an indicator of household buy-in at settlement level. A co-finance mechanism that is institutionalised in local government but not subject to its bureaucratic process can enable flexible time frames for project budget allocations that are not constrained by annual provincial or municipal allocations. In this sense, innovation and meaningful participation occur only when community members become significant actors in the upgrading process.

*The visit was supported by the World Bank

From left to right: Representatives from the World Bank, Cities Support Programme (Treasury), CORC, Somsook, Western Cape Human Settlements HoD and ISN Coordinator

From left to right: Representatives from the World Bank, Cities Support Programme (Treasury), CORC, Somsook, Western Cape Human Settlements HoD and ISN Coordinator

Urban Sector NGOs comment on Human Settlements Draft White Paper

By CORC, Press No Comments

By Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Development Action Group (DAG), Habitat for Humanity South Africa, Isandla Institute, People’s Environmental Planning (PEP), Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU)

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The National Department of Human Settlements is currently in the process of developing a new White Paper on Human Settlements. This process offers a unique opportunity to address the shortcomings of existing policy and to influence the future of human settlement development in South Africa.

We – a collective of six urban sector NGOs – have a vested interest in the outcomes of this process. We are thus committed to engaging critically with the discussion document developed by the National Department of Human Settlements, and to advocating for the adoption of a more progressive version that recognises the role of communities, and informal settlement upgrading in human settlements development.

On 4 February 2016, we shared an initial commentary on the discussion document at an engagement hosted by the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements. It summarises our collective position and is intended to serve as the foundation for a more in-depth submission:

Commentary on the discussion document ‘Towards a policy foundation for the development of human settlements legislation’

1. The document ‘Towards a policy foundation for the development of human settlements legislation’ seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to the complexities of human settlement development and planning, based on a detailed analysis of the achievements and limitations of current HS programmes.

Positive features of the document are, amongst others, the acknowledgement that by and large, communities and civil society organisations haven’t been meaningfully involved in processes of human settlement development to date. This admission brings attention to the need for well-designed participatory processes and partnership approaches. The explicit reference made to spatial planning, and its roles in the creation of sustainable and integrated human settlements, is also appreciated. The recognition of the importance of monitoring and evaluation as a strategy for tracking government’s progression towards the realisation of its goals is also considered to be a positive step towards a more grounded and accountable practice.


2. However, in our considered view, the proposed solutions to address the shortcomings identified are not dynamic enough and are insufficiently rooted in local practice around human settlement development. The document also does not reflect the depth of inequality or the seriousness of the current fiscal realities, and what these factors are likely to mean for the human settlement sector. Instead of the ‘business as usual’ approach, we expect the new policy to reflect more deeply what a ‘business unusual’ scenario means for human settlements policy and practice.

3. Our main concern is with the state-centric orientation of the document and the centralising tendencies that the document reflects (implicitly and explicitly). While we appreciate that a public policy document will be inherently biased towards the roles and responsibilities of the state, other stakeholders (including local communities, NGOs and the private sector) are an integral part of human settlement development processes. The document fails to adequately reflect what a partnership approach entails for human settlements policy and practice.

Even in its state-centric orientation, the document reflects a predisposition towards national government (and particularly the department of human settlements) as the critical actor in transforming human settlement realities. National government undoubtedly has an important role to play in determining human settlement outcomes, providing policy guidance, developing coherent programmes, providing effective fiscal instruments, addressing institutional blockages, and monitoring progress, amongst others. However, it is primarily at the local sphere where the complexities of human settlement development need to be navigated.

4. We believe that the primary objective of a policy on human settlements needs to be local enablement – enabling local actors (municipalities, communities, civil society organisations, private sector, etc.) to choose the institutional arrangements and programmatic responses that best suit local conditions, and enabling other spheres of government to offer the necessary oversight and support in this regard. Municipalities are not merely implementation agents of national human settlements programmes; they need to assemble the requisite partnerships and processes to effectively manage the challenges, trade-offs and contestation inherent to human settlement development, and to do this in an accountable and transparent manner.

Co-planning and preparing for informal settlement upgrading plans

Co-planning and preparing for informal settlement upgrading plans

5. The role of communities in determining the development agenda, implementing development strategies, and monitoring development interventions must be reflected in the policy vision and intent. The document is disproportionately concerned with the ‘culture of entitlement’, implying that (poor) citizens lack a sense of responsibility about their own development. This individualised notion of citizens as ‘responsible consumers/end-users of public services is problematic, particularly as it is not complemented with a recognition of the agency of civic actors and local communities in human settlements processes (including planning, implementation, maintenance, co-financing and self-help options, and monitoring and evaluation).

Instead, the new policy should work towards enabling communities to participate as active citizens, and to co-create – in partnership with government and other stakeholders – sustainable, integrated and resilient human settlements.

6. As organisations with a particular interest in informal settlement upgrading, we are especially concerned with the weak articulation of informal settlement upgrading as a core human settlements strategy. The suggestion that only those settlements located close to job opportunities will be considered  for upgrading is both exclusionary and short sighted. Economic opportunities are not static and over time may show movement across a city or town. Moreover, instead of focusing exclusively on job opportunities it would be more helpful to develop proactive approaches in support of local livelihood strategies.

Informal Settlement Upgrading

Informal Settlement Upgrading

7. Signatories to this commentary will make a collective effort to develop a more robust submission that deals with the following issues:

  • Deeper understanding of the role of communities and institutional arrangements required to support meaningful community participation and co-creation approaches to human settlement planning and development
  • Financing mechanisms, such as community savings schemes, and self-build approaches that enable communities to participate in the housing market
  • Strategies for releasing and managing well-located public land for human settlements development
  • Partnership modalities for human settlement development, including the roles and responsibilities of government and other stakeholders
  • Outcome-driven monitoring and evaluation strategies that shift emphasis from compliance to the achievement of progressive goals

8. In the meantime, we call on the national department of human settlements to publicise what its ‘extensive consultative process’ (as noted in the preamble) entails, to commit to further and deeper engagement with all relevant stakeholders (including civil society organisations and community groups) in the finalisation of policy and legislation on human settlements, and to be transparent and accountable in how it deals with comments received during the course of the policy development process.

What is Area-Based Upgrading? A look at UT Wetland Area, Khayelitsha

By CORC, ISN No Comments

By Yolande Hendler & Moegsien Hendricks (on behalf of CORC)

Over the last ten years South Africa’s human settlement’s sector has seen significant shifts in government approach and policy toward rapid urbanisation and the resulting proliferation of informal settlements. Initially informal settlement policy concentrated on clearing housing backlogs through government subsidised houses in the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP). With the introduction of “Breaking New Ground” (BNG), government’s Comprehensive Plan for the Development of Sustainable Human Settlements in 2004, the in-situ upgrading of informal settlements was introduced. BNG’s accompanying Upgrading Informal Settlement’s Program (UISP) “recognises the value of informal settlement upgrading as a viable strategy for addressing inequality” (Reference).

A view on to UT Wetland

A view on to UT Wetland

While the implementation of UISP is varied and not without its shortcomings (read more here), informal settlement upgrading is establishing an increasing mark on governmental approach. Notably, national policies related to upgrading are not geared towards area-based or city-wide upgrading programs. Given that previous blogs have shared much of the Alliance’s work on informal settlement upgrading, this blog turns to the question of area-wide upgrading. In so doing, it looks at the SA SDI Alliance’s experiences in the upgrading of UT Wetlands area in Site B, Khayelitsha.

What is Area-Wide Upgrading ?

Area based-upgrading of informal settlements is about understanding how the informal settlement functions within the broader local area, city wide and even national context.  The purpose of the area-based approach is to recognise informal settlements as part of the broader urban neighbourhood and not isolated islands which are spatially and socially disconnected.

The work that the SA SDI Alliance is doing through reblocking, includes projects with an area based approach such as the UT Wetland. This project focuses on upgrading the wetland to a park facility,  a community hall, landscaping and improved access pathways. It impacts four settlements that directly benefit from this intervention.  It also provides the foundation for the incremental upgrade of these settlements, building on the connectivity and integration provided by the shared facility.

Initial community site analysis and first phase planning for upgrading UT Wetlands (2014)

Initial community site analysis and first phase planning for upgrading UT Wetlands (2014)

A look at UT Wetland as area-wide upgrade

Four settlements surround the wetland in UT section: UT Gardens, UT Litha Park, TT Section and TB Section. Thamara Hela, a community leader of UT Gardens, explains the leadership structure: each settlement is organised by a steering committee of 15 members, a total of 60 community leaders for the area. Through engaging with the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), each settlement conducted an enumeration, enabling each community to gather accurate data that it can use for community organisation and development purposes.


The wetland is not only integral to the landscape but also to community life: regularly used municipal toilets and taps surround its borders, as well as a network of main pedestrian paths.  Due to structure density in the surrounding settlements, the wetland is often used as a meeting area, particularly by UT Gardens community.

In its current usage, however, the wetland also poses a threat to residents. Thamara speaks about the danger it poses for school children who use its surrounding paths to walk to school. Due to high reeds, visibility is poor so that children and pedestrians become easy targets of crime. The wetland also poses a health hazard: with many mosquitoes and large rats in the near vicinity (if not in structures themselves) cause illnesses. Many residents suffer from eczema and skin irritations.

Poor drainage and municipal toilets on border of Wetland

Poor drainage and municipal toilets on border of Wetland

Due to inadequate meeting space, UT Gardens identified the need for a large community hall, potentially situated on the wetlands. Through its affiliation to ISN the community used the tools of the SA SDI Alliance to organise itself. Supported by CORC’s technical team the steering committee therefore developed a community-centred site analysis and plans for a potential hall in February 2014. Over the next months the steering committee shared these with its surrounding neighbours, Litha Park, TT and TB sections – sparking a discussion on community access and ownership of the land.

After a lengthy engagement with various municipal departments, the wetland was declared a Category Z, indicating that it could not be rehabilitated. With growing disillusionment among community members, the four leadership committees met in April 2015 and developed a joint plan for a “UT Wetlands Park”. This plan was developed with the technical support of the Alliance’s Community Organisation Resource Centre and conceptualised as an area wide development initiative. The plan incorporates reduced flooding in the area, ensuring a play area for children (including a soccer area), partial reblocking, and improved health and quality of life due to drainage and engineering services. All four settlements elected a UT Wetlands Steering Committee, consisting of 17 members, 4 representatives from each settlement and one member on behalf of ISN liaison and communication.

UT Gardens measures shack sizes in preparation.

UT Gardens community members measure shack sizes in preparation.

Profiling & Enumeration in UT Gardens Khayelitsha, June 2013

Profiling & Enumeration in UT Gardens Khayelitsha






With the go-ahead concerning zoning and land use, the Wetlands steering committee and Alliance engaged numerous stakeholders between April and August 2015. This included presenting the plan to UT’s four communities and assessing their willingness for participation. It also included engaging municipal actors, Councillors and relevant line departments such as City Parks and ensuring the source of funding.

Taking stock: Experiences, Challenges, Successes

At present a sizeable amount of groundwork has been covered: in August 2015 the wetland steering committee developed detailed plans with ISN, CORC, Jakupa architects and City Parks. Long consultation delays and uncertainty regarding required permits presented a core challenge in project preparation. Scale is a further factor: working in large informal settlements can be challenging. Through carefully considered social processes, these challenges can be dealt with effectively when communities in the settlements are actively part of the process. In this sense spatial integration afforded by the area-wide upgrading approach in UT wetlands is also facilitating social integration through the collaboration of all four settlements.


In addition, partnerships with local municipalities are an important success factor. In the wetland project, the City of Cape Town (CoCT) and in particular the City Parks Department played a critical role: the land is owned by the CoCT and they will take responsibility in partnership with the community to manage this facility.  The Alliance Memorandum of Understanding with the CoCT provided the context for a successful partnership at a local level with the City Parks Department. The lesson is that partnerships with municipalities are required at both a strategic political level and official / project implementation level.

The next steps include appointing an environmental engineer, landscape architect and obtaining an official permit from City Parks for implementation.

Launch of Upgrading at Flamingo Crescent with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille

By CORC, FEDUP, iKhayalami, ISN, Press No Comments

Authored by CORC

“People said Flamingo Crescent [Upgrading] will never happen. But today is here and this is the proof that it has happened – one cannot do it alone we need to work as a collective!”

Melanie Manuel, Informal Settlement Network (ISN) Co-ordinator

Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, with Flamingo Crescent Community Members, SA SDI Alliance, PFO's and City Officials

Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, with Flamingo Crescent Community Members, SA SDI Alliance, PFO’s and City Officials

Last week’s upgrading launch at Flamingo Crescent informal settlement celebrated the completion of re-blocking, installation of water, sanitation and electricity services for each of Flamingo’s 104 households, the unveiling of Flamingo’s first formal street names and opening of the settlement’s own crèche, Little Paradise. Moreover it marked a milestone in an ongoing upgrading process, showcasing what is possible when communities, intermediaries, governments and stakeholders form partnerships.

Delegates from community organisations and networks, the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, delegates from various government departments, ward and sub-council politicians, NGOs and support organisations gathered in the Lansdowne Civic Centre from 11:00 on Monday 10 February.

The re-blocking project is lauded as a successful demonstration of community-led, participatory planning, collaborative implementation and improvement of informal settlements. The uniqueness of the project was that despite the settlement’s density no one was displaced and grossly inconvenienced during the implementation of upgrading 104 structures.

ISN & FEDUP welcome the Mayor to the launch at Lansdowne Civic Centre

ISN & FEDUP welcome the Mayor to the launch at Lansdowne Civic Centre

First engagements around Flamingo Crescent 

First engagements began in 2012 after the City of Cape Town signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the SA SDI Alliance around joint community-led upgrading of 22 informal settlements, of which Flamingo Crescent is the third, having built on the experiences of Mtshini Wam and Kuku Town. It differs from the previous two in the severity of its socio-economic challenges – high levels of crime, unemployment, violence and poverty. Given these circumstances the Alliance’s Informal Settlement Network (ISN) facilitated implementation and engagement between the City and the community.

Melanie Manuel (Flamingo Crescent ISN facilitator) shared,

“When we started the partnership with the City of Cape Town in 2011 in Vygieskraal it was a day of celebration and no one knew the hardships that would lie ahead. As time went on we realised we fundamentally believe in community participation, a bottom up approach because we know communities understand their settlements best.”

Read more background here.

Flamingo Before Upgrading

Flamingo Before Upgrading

The Launch: Messages on Upgrading and Inclusion in Services

At the launch, the first speaker, Councillor Anthea Green shared,

“Since 2012 I have said that we need to upgrade Flamingo Crescent, despite resistance from the rate payers and residents’ groups. We were committed to work with the community, and now this is a transformed settlement”.

Informal settlements not only face substandard basic services like water, sanitation and electricity but are also cut off from functions of city administration such as receiving a residential address. The re-blocking project allowed the City and the Post Office to give Flamingo Crescent street names and addresses, after the community made this requirement upfront in their development plan.

Gerald Blankenberg, regional director of the Post Office, said that the Post Office Act and other regulations require the post office to expand addresses to underserviced communities.

“Informal communities are often times socially and economically disconnected from basic administrative functions, and therefore a residential address will give the Post Office an opportunity to serve the community with dignity”, he said.

In the keynote address, Mayor Patricia de Lille emphasised the significant role of Flamingo community’s steering committee, the Alliance’s ISN and Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) in the success of the project. She, however, expressed concern about the slow pace of project implementation, emphasizing the need to boost municipal and community capacity to ensure the roll out of more projects in the City’s 200 informal settlements.

“The aim of re-blocking is the improvement of informal settlements while people wait for a housing opportunity”, she observed.

In closing of the ceremony, the Mayor handed over certificates of tenure to community members, ensuring formal recognition of residence and tenure security.

Mayor, Patricia de Lille with Flamingo Community Leader, Maria Matthews

Mayor, Patricia de Lille with Flamingo Community Leader, Maria Matthews

The Impact of Upgrading : Before and After

Before re-blocking, the community of 405 residents had access to only 14 chemical toilets (of which 7 were serviced) and 2 water taps. There was no electricity so that contained fires in tin drums dotted the settlement’s dusty pathways. The community was especially concerned about the safety of its children playing in the busy street.

Re-blocking restructured space in the settlement, opening courtyard areas and clearly designated access roads, enabling the City of Cape Town to install individual water, sanitation and electricity services per household. What sets Flamingo apart from previous projects are its paved pathways, with official road names as well as the construction of a crèche.

The community contributed 20% to the cost of its structures through community-based daily savings. During the implementation phase, 20 jobs were created through the Expanded Public Works Programme.

Before upgrading

Before upgrading

After upgrading

After upgrading

Into the Future: Community voices on Partnership and City Fund

“Since 2010 we have been thinking about improvements in our settlement. This is when we got in touch with ISN, who introduced us to CORC, and we then made a partnership with the City [of Cape Town] We explained what we wanted from the city – our own taps, toilets and electricity. But we needed to come together and draft our own plans”.

(Maria Matthews, Flamingo Community Leader)

Through the SA SDI Alliance the community additionally partnered with several organisations. iKhayalami supported the community, ISN/FEDUP and CORC around training community members and top structure construction. The community established the re-blocked layout and community-based maps in partnership with students from Cape Peninsula University of Technology and support staff from CORC. With the support of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI, USA) the community drew up plans for the crèche. Habitat for Humanity South Africa contributed to construction by supplying the roof sheets and windows. The Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD) donated funds to build the crèche. CECD will also support around the training and registration of the crèche.

From Melanie’s speech it was clear,

“This project is successful because of the methodologies we use. We allow communities to do their own designs. The community also made a [financial] contribution [in a settlement] where 95% of community members were unemployed. How do we change the mind-sets of people who are still waiting for adequate housing? Let’s change the way we are living now while we are waiting for housing to come.”

(Melanie Manuel, ISN Facilitator)

Melanie Manuel, ISN Co-ordinator in Flamingo

Melanie Manuel, ISN Co-ordinator in Flamingo

As important as settlement improvement is in itself, the methodology is just as significant. Moreover, Flamingo Crescent serves as a precedent for informal settlement upgrading on a larger scale. The day ended with the community leading the Mayor through their settlement, unveiling Flamingo’s new street names and officially opening the Little Paradise crèche together. It is Melanie Manuel’s closing words that speak of the future:

 “We need to look at a holistic plan for the metro. Let’s look at how we can reach basic services much quicker and how we can scale up. The Alliance projects do not only focus on reblocking but on basic services in every form. The Alliance has designed a City Fund with which communities can directly access money for upgrading in Cape Town. In Flamingo the Aliance’s Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) helped us match the 20% that each community member contributed to their structure. This kind of facility on a city-level will go a long way – we challenge the City to continue partnering with us and match our contributions in the City Fund!”



Sharing experiences on building City Funds

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, News, uTshani Fund No Comments


By Walter Fieuw (on behalf of CORC)

African cities are characterised by informality, as the rapid urbanisation from rural areas are transforming cities. Within informal settlements, residents are investing incrementally in their households, despite the lack of tenure security in many cases. A large gap exists between household investment and government spending on infrastructure and social support. Government expenditure is often times locked into medium term budgets which might or might not be adjusted on an annual basis, and procurement of goods and services follow time consuming processes. There are also various interests competing for government spending, and low income groups’ influence over the direction of spending is often times weak. Slum dwellers often times do not have access to loans from financial institutions, even considering the popular held belief of an emerging African middle class, which is still highly speculative. Hence new instruments are needed to build on and support the incremental upgrading of informal settlements and support for livelihoods and small income generating loans.

Shack / Slum Dwellers International supports the notion of creating local “city funds” which acts as a mechanism for building city-wide agglomerations and networks of the poor, creates partnerships between organisations of the poor and city governments, and gives voice and power to the urban poor. Following a meeting of country Federations on various experiences in building city funds in January 2014, SDI reported that,

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.

Between 1 and 3 September 2014, the Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) and support organisation Actogether hosted a meeting on city funds bringing together three African cities: Kampala (Uganda), Lusaka (Zambia) and Cape Town (South Africa). These cities have in common grant funding agreements with British donor Comic Relief, part of the “People Living in Urban Slums Programme”, which is also supported by the DFiD AidMatch initiative. Freetown (Sierra Leone) is forth city in the Comic Relief initiative, but were unable to travel due to the Ebola epidemic.

Comic Relief’s funding strategy of bringing together organisations and communities in city-wide partnerships have been lauded by participating grantees. In this way, according to Triple Line Consulting, who has been supporting Comic Relief in developing responsive city-level Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) frameworks, the impact of the grants could possible achieve: a) a deeper understanding of the context than it might normally have b) a complementary portfolio of grants across the city c) improved collaboration between the grantees within a city d) a city level monitoring and evaluation framework and e) identified areas of learning across the 4 cities that can be shared with the broader sector.


Katana Goretti, a Federation leader, demonstrates the construction phases of the eco-san toilet being constructed in Kampala

Reporting on country experiences to date:

Kampala, Uganda

The joint work to which NSDFU and Actogether are a part of is called KASTI, Kampala Slum Transformation Initiative. The Ugandan Federation will be actively engaging local government counterparts in five districts of Kampala, with dedicated settlement forums which feed into municipal forums, and ultimately city forums, to which the guests were exposed to on 3 September (more on this later). Such forums have proved tremendously useful in the past, as this blog article indicates. The Federation’s primary data collection of “settlement profiles”, which are captured on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), will be used to collaborative design a slum upgrading strategy. Comparisons with existing data from Kampala Capital City Authority and the National Water Department has revealed many informal settlements that were not on government’s databases. This is where the city fund becomes important, and seed finances both capital projects, especially innovations in sanitation, and livelihoods projects.


On 3 September, NSDFU and Actogether hosted the first City Forum with Kampala Capital City Authority, which was lauded as a success

Lusaka, Zambia

In Lusaka there are 30 slums known as Improvement Areas, home to about 70% of the population. In 1996 the Government’s Housing Code allows for participatory approaches to slum upgrading, and the Housing Statutory Bill gives the minister power to declare and upgrade slums. However, there is a policy disjuncture in the sense that the Urban and Regional Planning Act does not have the right policies and instruments to recognise and upgrade slums. Tiyende Pamodzi, which means “working together” in local vanacular Nyanja, is the working title of the Comic Relief funded initiative in Lusaka, of which the Zambian Homeless People’s Federation and support organisation People’s Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia are a part of. According to PPHPZ, Tiyende Pamodzi’s

main aim of the project is to gather accurate and reliable information of all the slums in Lusaka in order to inform participatory slum upgrading strategies which will see the regularization of slums and improved service delivery. Lusaka City Council (LCC) as the responsible authority for slum upgrading in the city cannot go it alone and as such will bank on the strength of the federation to mobilize their fellow slum dwellers to enumerate and map their settlements and use this as a basis for planning for the upgrading.

The Federation and PPHPZ has a strong working partnership with the University of Zambia, and in the programme will develop GIS courses to improve spatial mapping and profiling data as a basis. The city fund has not yet been defined, and the Federation and PPHPZ with the University as partner is still looking for the appropriate partners to serve on the board and advisory committee.

Cape Town, South Africa

In Cape Town, CORC secured a donor funding arrangement with Comic Relief, with community partners ISN and FEDUP. At the heart of the proposal is the setting up of a city fund, which is currently still being developed and constituted. The initiative is called Khayalethu, and joins the Alliance with Isandla Institute and Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU). At the Kampala meeting, community leaders Thozama, Tamara and Nozuko reflected on the current work in Khayelitsha, where Khayalethu is focused. In the first year, communities have profiled 47 settlements, enumerated 7 settlements, and developed community capacity to plan projects. However, challenges have been experienced in getting project approvals for community-identified settlement upgrading projects from the City of Cape Town. Livelihoods is also a primary focus, and experiences were shared around issuing short term loans for livelihoods development.

The South African delegation to Uganda (left to right): Thozama, Tamara, Walter Fieuw (CORC), Nozuko, Michael Krause (VPUU - Comic Relief partner)

The South African delegation to Uganda (left to right): Thozama Nomnga, Tamara Hela (both FEDUP/ISN), Walter Fieuw (CORC), Nozuko Fulani (FEDUP/ISN), Michael Krause (VPUU – Comic Relief partner)

The common experiences, opportunities and challenges experienced by the three cities in the first year of the Comic Relief funded initiative is instructive in developing locally responsive and appropriate city funds, which can enable and support communities in united networks to design, manage and upgrade their settlements. Moreover, building financial partnerships between city government, organisations of the urban poor and other stakeholders can lead demonstrating that people-centred urban planning and development, based on flexible finance, is vital to the creation of inclusive, pro-poor cities.

South Africa SDI visits CODI, Thailand

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Walter Fieuw (on behalf of CORC and uTshani Fund) and Melanie Manuel (ISN and FEDUP)

Between 9 – 13 June, the South African SDI Alliance visited a public organisation in the Thai government called the Community Organisations Development Institute (CODI) under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. The purpose of the exchange was to learn about the CODI experience in the institutionalisation of development finance and the creation of autonomous but recognised community organisations with the view of incorporating the lessons presented in this report in the development of a Cape Town city fund, with generous funding support from Comic Relief. We acknowledge with gratitude the guidance and organisation of the exchange by the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights.

Download the Exchange Report to learn more about the visit and its implications for institution building in South Africa.


When CODI was established in 2000, a survey report noted 63,796 community organizations nation-wide. Over the years, 42,199 organizations have cooperated with CODI along with 2,798 networks. Today over 4.6 million members participate directly and indirectly with CODI’s programmes (www.codi.co.th). Between 2003 and 2011, CODI’s slum upgrading programme Baan Mankong has delivered 874 projects at a value of US$147 million (average US$185,392 cost per project), benefitting 91,805 families previously living in slum conditions. 286 cities in 71 of the 77 provinces in Thailand are involved in this extensive urban and rural programme. The average repayment of these projects are 15 years, at an average of US$30 per month (depending on a number of variables). Communities have organised in independent cooperatives and savings schemes and the 2012 balance of these decentralised city fund accounts were US$7.8 million.

CODI employs more than 300 staff, of which more than 70% are field workers, working from eleven regional offices (up from five offices just one year ago) of 20 staff each serving 6-8 provinces per office. The headquarters in Bangkok, which employs 100 staff, consisting of a large financial accounting department, research and policy development, and technical support such as engineers, architects, surveyors, urban planners, and other built environment professionals.


This learning exchange was centred around Baan Mankong projects in urban areas. ‘Baan Mankong Program’ (BMK) was launched in 2003 with an aim to solve problems of settlements and human security for poor communities countrywide. The program requires cooperation among concerned parties including local communities, government agencies, and private organizations with CODI acting as program facilitator and budget administrator.

The Baan Mankong Program (meaning “Secure housing” in Thai) puts Thailand’s slum communities (and their community networks) at the center of a process of developing long-term, comprehensive solutions to problems of land and housing in Thai cities. CODI expressly attributes its ability to scale up to the networking that has been spurred between communities: “Baan Mankong has only been possible with the commitment by the central government to allow people to be the core actors and to decentralize the solution-finding process to cities and communities.” (www.codi.co.th).

Read more about the learning exchange by downloading the Exchange Report (5MB)