CUFF Archives - SASDI Alliance

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.

Re-blocking Kuku Town Informal Settlement

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

View of Kuku Town in the process of re-blocking

Kuku Town informal settlement is located on a little triangle of open land opposite the railway line in Kensington, Cape Town. It is also home to about 50 people that make up 20 households.  The past week has been an eventful one as community members have seen the physical layout of their settlement transform day by day. They have taken down their old homes, structures made largely from pieces of old wood, plastic, cardboard and aluminium that were a safety risk, especially during fires.  Together with iKhayalami, an Alliance partner and support NGO the community cleared and levelled the ground as the more fire-resistant structures were erected.

3 years of preparation

Over the last three years Kuku Town prepared for upgrading by building up a relationship with the City of Cape Town, the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) and Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC). During this time the Alliance also established a partnership with Habitat for Humanity South Africa (HFHSA). In establishing its interaction with the City, the community partnered with the alliance to organise and mobilise itself. Community members were actively involved in modeling, planning and mapping the re-blocked layout as well as collecting savings to contribute to the re-blocked structures. They gathered knowledge and experience about upgrading in community exchanges and collected information about Kuku Town in community-run profile and enumeration surveys.

Re-blocking: an Alliance approach and a City policy


Community-drafted plan of Kuku Town before re-blocking

‘Re-blocking’ is a term used by the South African SDI Alliance to refer to the reconfiguration and repositioning of shacks in very dense informal settlements in accordance with a community-drafted spatial framework. Generally, re-blocking occurs in “clusters” identified by the community, which result in “courtyards”, ensure a safer environment and generally provide space for local government to install better services.

As Kuku Town is a small and dense settlement the re-blocked layout had to consider creative options. Together with CORCs technical team community designers erected the new structures along the sides of the neighbouring walls with a few re-blocked structures in the centre, opening up an L-shaped pathway throughout the settlement that enables public space and easy vehicle access in emergency situations. HFHSA stepped in at a crucial time to support the re-blocking process by sourcing G5 fill material to raise the new structures and mitigate potential flooding. As part of the community’s re-blocking proposal, the City agreed to install one-on-one water and sanitation services for every structure. This made a big difference to the 50 families who previously had to share 2 taps and 4 toilets.

The re-blocking of Kuku Town is also part of three pilot projects the City of Cape Town sought to support in the coming financial year after it adopted re-blocking as an official policy on 5 November 2013. The City thus indicated a long-term commitment of resources to re-blocking projects, to departmental alignment and to meaningful interventions in informal settlements.


Community designed re-blocking plan for Kuku Town









Mobilising the community, engaging the City

In 2006 Kuku Town first appeared on the City’s informal settlement database, after a community leader engaged local councilors around poor service delivery. Later, in mid-2011 after the City and ISN / CORC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the community joined the ISN network and clarified a way forward for collaborative partnership with the City.

ISN community leader, Nkokheli Ncambele explains that the interaction between ISN and Kuku Town began when the PFO (Principal Field Officer) of the City’s Informal Settlement Management Department introduced Kuku Town community leaders to other upgrading processes in the informal settlements of Burundi and Sheffield Road. These exchanges provided an opportunity to learn, ask questions and share experiences about informal settlement upgrading. Once community leaders had met with the city and ISN a big meeting took place in Kuku Town to explain upgrading to the community.


Mzwanele Zulu (ISN), City officials, Verona Joseph (Community leader)










After some initial resistance the community decided to opt for re-blocking. This meant that they needed to start saving toward contributing to their own structures.Verona Joseph, Kuku Town community leader, explains that

“over 3 years we managed to save R 15 000. Most people in our community are above 50 years. Only 3 are employed and 5 get a pension. But even the old people managed to save money”

64-year old Auntie Hana Olyn and her husband Piet Jordaan, remember how

“when we collected two bottles we would save the deposit from one bottle. We also collected tins, did the gardening or ironed people’s clothes. This is how we managed to save quickly. Most people could earn R 100 a day. Some of this they used for savings.”

Most community members chose 12m2 and 20m2 structures for which they respectively needed to save R740 and R1000.  The remaining cost of the structure was covered by the Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF). Savings are recorded in personal savings books and are deposited in a community savings account. Regular bank reconciliations are communicated to the group.



Verona and Auntie Hana Olyn in her new home









Community savings records









In April 2012 community members also led an enumeration in Kuku Town through which they gathered relevant, verifiable, and specific data that was used to build models and draft the re-blocking plans. For Verona, the enumeration brought about another success:

“Before the enumeration we had people from different families staying in one structure. Only some of them were registered with the council. I wanted to push for every family to get their own structure. The problem was that some people did not qualify because they were not registered with the council. But with the enumeration we re-counted everyone and got them re-registered.  This was the most important thing! The council then agreed that every family could have its own structure.”

 “As a community we are more comfortable now”

Lydia and Verona, both on the leadership committee, agree that this is one of the biggest changes.

 “We don’t have rats any more and when it rains we won’t lose our clothes. But people’s way of life is also changing. It was a struggle to convince them, but now they have other things to focus on – they are fixing things in their homes. With the new structures everyone’s lives will pick up because this is a very upgraded informal settlement now”.








2012 / 2013 CORC Annual Report

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With great pleasure CORC ‘s annual report looks back on an event-filled 2012-2013 which set the scene for community mobilisations, beginning and continuing partnerships with government, valuable developments on urban sustainability and our documentation strategies. However, the past year was also marked by the effects of the global financial crisis which were acutely felt by urban poor communities in the form of rapid urbanisation and a continuing lack of government service delivery.  By supporting urban poor informal settlements CORC supports communities in building a “platform of the urban poor”.

In this report outlines an overview of CORC’s general activities and supportive role to its alliance partners, the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) and the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) both of which are social movements involved in community-led upgrading processes. You will get an impression of dynamics around community savings, community mobilisations, enumerations, international events and exchanges. Please note that detailed project reports can be found in the separate publication, Masikhase: Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF).

In addition to comments from our regional offices and a financial overview, the report also contains updated developments on our existing partnerships and new working relationships with government. Partnerships with local governments include the City of Cape Town, Stellenbosch Municipality (mature partnerships), City of Joburg Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Midvaal Municipality (partnerships in progress), Breedevalley and Drakenstein Municipalities (signs of potential working relationships).

“We know that when the poor are not involved in development decisions they will care less about their surroundings or even use their initiative to resist paying for their services. our new approach means we will build partnerships with communities, and to give them ‘voice and choice’ in the design and construction of settlements that build sustainable livelihoods and can fulfil their needs” Deputy minister of Human Settlements, Ms. Zoe Kota-Fredericks”

As CORC supports communities making meaningful alternatives to change the structural causes of informality we aim to shift the focus of service delivery from government to partnerships and collaborative relationships.  This year, our work with organised communities, academic and non-governmental partners therefore centred on realising issues of urban sustainability. Some of these include the Solid Waste Network, partnering with Habitat for Humanity South Africa in establishing a city fund or introducing solar electrification in informal settlements.

The report outlines some of the successes and challenges of building coalitions of the urban poor in the contexts of landlessness, homelessness and urban poverty. We wish to congratulate our community partners for the number of awards and nominations for projects delivered, the hard work of collecting data and the patience of building partnerships.

CORC wishes to thank international donor organisations for believing in the vision and supporting the work of the SA SDI Alliance. These donors include:

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: (“Aligning communities and government”)
  • Ford Foundation (“Promoting Transparent Effective and Accountable Government”)
  • Charles Steward Mott Foundation (“General Purposes” and “Learning through Practice”)
  • Comic Relief (Ikhayalethu grant)
  • Misereor (“Building partnerships between communities and local authorities”)

CUFF Project Report 2013

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By Thandeka Tshabalala (on behalf of CORC)

We live in the urban age where, for the first time the majority of the world population lives in cities.  Despite the overwhelming challenges encountered by the urban poor, the aspiration towards altering state-civil society relations, inclusive and integrated pro poor cities lies on the roles of networks organizations and agencies of the poor in bringing about social and political change. The national department of Human settlements aims to upgrade 400,000 well located households in-situ by 2014 and the National Development Plan “vision 2030” calls on government to stop building houses on poorly located land and shift more resources to upgrading informal settlements, provided that the areas are in great proximity to jobs.

 This publication articulates the spaces created by communities and local government to make decisions and work together towards the incremental improvement of informal settlements.  These new participatory spaces often create conditions for informal settlement upgrading to be more effective and sustainable.The Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) –Masikase- aims to enhance the agencies and practices of the organized poor by providing a platform and institutional support for communities to engage government more effectively around collaborative upgrading and livelihood projects.