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Reflections on the Southern African HUB Meeting: Lusaka, Zambia

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

**Cross-posted from the SDI blog**

By Noah Schermbrucker (on behalf of SDI Secretariat)

SDI Southern African Hub Countries

SDI Southern African Hub Countries

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 from 12-14 September 2014. 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

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).

"Carrying" water home in Chazanga, Lusaka

“Carrying” water home in Chazanga, Lusaka

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.

Sharing experiences on building City Funds

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

National Community Exchange – Durban to Cape Town (Part 2)

By CORC, iKhayalami, ISN No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

A four-day community exchange was underway from 29 April to 2 May 2014, during which community leaders from Durban visited informal settlements in and around Cape Town.  This blog continues to trace the experiences and reflections collected on the exchange, the first two days of which have been recorded here.

Day 3 in Langrug informal settlement – Sanitation, Drainage and ‘Greening’

View of Langrug informal settlement, Franschoek

View of Langrug informal settlement, Franschoek

Located in the affluent wine-farming area of Franschoek, Langrug informal settlement, home to about 4500 people, is characterised by extreme poverty, poor housing and sanitation. In the face of these challenges the community signed a precedent-setting Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the locally presiding Stellenbosch Municipality that channelled government funds to community-based upgrading initiatives. This translated into relocating 16 families, the construction of a second access road, the construction of grey-water and drainage channels and a community designed, multi-purpose Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) Facility. The facility includes a communal homework area for children, a hair salon, benches and laundry basins. Click here for a comprehensive profile of Langrug. Currently, Langrug is involved in the second phase of upgrading: ‘greening’ the existing WaSH facility with vertical vegetable gardens and developing a dry sanitation facility in Zwelitsha, an ‘informal’ section of Langrug without taps and toilets.

Existing WaSH Facility after 'greening'

Existing WaSH Facility after ‘greening’

KZN visitors taste Langrug's spinach

KZN visitors taste Langrug’s spinach

The exchange visitors were introduced to all these aspects on a detailed walk-about. Langrug community member, Alfred Ratana, indicated the differences in depth and purpose of the drainage and grey water channels and explained the processes accompanying relocation. He emphasised the uniqueness of Langrug in that it was a municipality-driven project which was not community financed.

“Langrug shows that municipalities can have a different approach to communities. Our experience shows that municipalities can include us in their plans and construct with us – not for us”

(Alfred Ratana, Langrug community member)

Langrug community member, Alfred Ratana, speaks about Langrug's grey water drainage

Langrug community member, Alfred Ratana, speaks about Langrug’s grey water drainage

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Viewing a community-constructed drainage channel

Langrug community members also explained the breakthrough presented by Zwelitsha’s dry sanitation facility: due to its location on a steep mountain slope it has been impossible to provide water and sanitation services to around 600 families. The dry sanitation facility, however, is a step towards changing this. The vertical vegetable gardens in Langrug’s existing WaSH facility (developed in partnership with Touching the Earth Lightly) showed the visitors how the community secures food and generates income. By selling the spinach it grows, the community intends to generate income to sustain daily running costs of the facility.

The visitors were also impressed by a crèche facility that had been established between external partners and mothers in Langrug who wanted to provide an alternative, more affordable option for their children. The teachers of the crèche explained that,

“getting something started is not about presenting an idea to social services. You just need to start. Once the idea is happening, you can take the outcome to social services and get it registered”.

Once back at the WaSH facility Langrug’s steering committee shared details around the developments in their settlement. The group was also joined by Diana Mitlin and visiting colleagues from Manchester University. Read about their impressions here.

Sharing impressions after the walkabout

Sharing impressions after the walkabout

Langrug's steering committee explains the steps it took in the upgrading process

Langrug’s steering committee explains the steps it took in the upgrading process

 

Day 4 in Mtshini Wam – Reflections on how to continue

The final visit to Mtshini Wam showed the visitors what a large-scale re-blocking project could look like. During upgrading, the settlement also received one on one services, some in-structure toilets and public water points. More details on Mtshini Wam’s re-blocking are documented here.

Over four days the group had seen much, listened intently, exchanged questions and pondered how to take these impressions back home. Some key points:

  • Visiting Langrug presented a highlight for the visitors from Durban as the topography and accompanying challenges (steep inclines, drainage and flooding) are similar to the conditions in their own settlements.
  • Langrug’s drainage and sanitation facilities therefore presented relevant options for the Durban visitors
  • The visitors were inspired by the initiative and commitment they encountered in their fellow community leaders, something they wanted to take back in responding to circumstances in their own settlements
  • The exchange highlighted the importance of partnerships and the ever-present opportunity to form partnerships as a foundation for wielding large scale change
A street view of Mtshini Wam after re-blocking

A street view of Mtshini Wam after re-blocking

KZN leaders in conversation about securing service provision

KZN leaders in conversation about securing service provision

Durban’s Kenville and Foreman Road settlements will share their experiences of the exchange in mass meetings with their communities this weekend (16-18 May). Their next steps are to enumerate their settlements and establish a relationship with their councillors.

As the visitors embarked on the journey home, ISN community leader, Nkokheli Ncambele, reminded them that

“it is important not to impose everything you have seen on this exchange on your communities at home. Rather take what you have learnt and present it to the community as a suggestion. Then you can decide together what you want and how to make it work in your own settlement”

Exchanges certainly are the most important learning vehicle in the South African Alliance. They facilitate the direct exchange of information, experience and skills, thereby building a horizontal platform for learning between urban poor communities. Through sharing successes and failures in projects, giving and receiving advice on engaging government, sharing in work and life experiences and exchanging tactics and plans communities become central actors.

National Community Exchange – Durban to Cape Town (Part 1)

By CORC, iKhayalami, ISN No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Informal settlement leaders from Kenville and Foreman Road in Durban are mobilising their communities to upgrade their settlements with better services and improved spatial layouts. Last week’s exchange to Cape Town (29 April – 2 May 2014) therefore presented a first-hand opportunity for them to draw insights from fellow community leaders.

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Group picture in Kuku Town: Durban and Cape Town communities on exchange

Over the week the Durban visitors were hosted by Kuku Town, Flamingo Crescent, Langrug & Mtshini Wam communities in and around Cape Town. Each day was dedicated to an in-depth visit of each settlement. This included a detailed site visit, discussions on  collecting savings, enumerating and profiling settlements and contributing to planning and mapping. Besides bringing leaders together on a national level, the exchange also connected communities locally: for leaders from Kuku Town, Flamingo and Langrug the exchange comprised a first time visit to the other settlements. Exchanges are thus the most important learning vehicle in the South African Alliance, facilitating the direct exchange of information, experience and skills between urban poor communities.

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Introductions and briefing on the week ahead at CORC office in Mowbray

Day one in Kuku Town: Upgrading & Savings 

Community leaders met in Kuku Town, a small settlement that recently completed re-blocking and in the process secured one-on-one water and sanitation services from the City of Cape Town. Read more about Kuku Town and re-blocking here. In the discussion community leaders took the visitors through a step-by-step picture of Kuku Town’s experiences. ISN representative, Melanie Manuel, explained that

“What we do in ISN is not only to beautify our settlements but to actually change the way we live. Savings and partnerships – like we had with Habitat for Humanity and the municipality – are an important part of this.”

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Community leaders share their experiences around organising and upgrading in Kuku Town community hall

Yet, before partnerships can be formed, a community needs to know its settlement in terms of the number of (un)emloyed people, the number of structures and families and details on service provision (electricity, sanitation and water). This information is collected in enumerations. Kuku Town community used its enumeration data to plan its re-blocked layout and to negotiate the provision of one-on-one services and short-term employment opportunities through the City’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).  Community leaders explained that they organised themselves in clusters to be able to navigate the logistics around communication and construction during re-blocking.

Among a variety of questions, the visitors took special interest in understanding the connection between savings and upgrading, especially the role of community contributions. Melanie explained that

“Savings contributions enable us as communities to take ownership and responsibility of the changes and upgrading in our settlements. We want to move away from a ‘free for all mindset’ and restore dignity and pride to our communities”

Melanie Manuel, ISN representative

Melanie Manuel, ISN representative

But collecting savings poses a continuous challenge. How to go about motivating communities and responding to accusations? Flamingo Crescent’s community leader, Auntie Marie, shared her experience:

“Getting the community’s commitment for daily savings is difficult. People only want to act when they see that things are happening. You’ve got to be tough. If you’re not tough you won’t get anything right”

For Kuku Town community leader, Verona Joseph, the partnership with the City and its support in this regard, was crucial.  This became evident at Kuku Town’s official handover that afternoon which was attended by the ward councillor and City officials.  The handover and a site visit completed the first day of the exchange, demonstrating what a tangible community-government partnership can look like.

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Exchange communities join Kuku Town handover ceremony

Inspecting the water and sanitation services provided by the City

Kuku Town site visit: inspecting water and sanitation services provided by the City

Day two in Flamingo Crescent: Re-blocking and Partnerships

Flamingo Crescent is about to begin re-blocking and – in partnership with the City of Cape Town – is set to receive one-on-one services. On a walkabout through the smoke and dust-filled pathways community leaders received a thorough impression of the settlement’s layout. Most structures – consisting of old cardboard, zinc, timber and plastic pieces – are situated around a broad, u-shaped pathway that is intersected by smaller, narrow footpaths. Flamingo’s population of about 450 people resides in 104 structures. The entire settlement makes use of only 2 taps and 14 chemical toilets that are emptied three times a week. The absence of electricity means that fire is used as a central source for cooking and warmth.

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Flamingo – view from above

Site visit in Flamingo

Site visit in Flamingo

In a nearby community hall, Flamingo’s steering committee explained its relationship with ISN and the challenge of collecting savings contributions due to its high unemployment rate (50%). Flamingo’s enumeration acted as a powerful entry point to negotiating an improved layout and service provision with the City of Cape Town. Together with students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (USA) the community designed the re-blocked layout and conceptualised plans for a crèche and a play park.  Later, the visitors joined the steering committee’s meeting with a Cape Town City official who provided an update on the City’s contribution to upgrading.  For the visitors this was of particular value as it emphasised the crucial role of partnerships and the number of actors involved in a given project. The question at the forefront of many minds was: how can we do this in our communities at home?

For Auntie Marie, Flamingo community leader, it is evident that

“If it wasn’t for ISN, I don’t know where we would be. Through ISN we were introduced to the City and we got a partnership. We started thinking, ‘Now something is going to happen’. Flamingo is going to be re-blocked!”

Continue reading Part 2 of the exchange here.

(Flamingo steering committee presents its partnerships

Flamingo steering committee presents its partnerships

Auntie Marie, Leader of Flamingo Community and Steering Committee

Auntie Marie, Leader of Flamingo Community and Steering Committee

Report back to Flamingo Community

Report back to Flamingo Community