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How Mpumalanga Youth Create Change, Acquire Land and Income

By FEDUP No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

FEDUP's KwaNdebele youth group in Mpumalanga

FEDUP’s KwaNdebele youth group in Mpumalanga

For Sylvia Mduli South Africa’s Youth Day on 16 June 2014 was energising and inspiring. She recounts how the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) gathered seventy FEDUP youth coordinators from across the country for a workshop in Durban. Discussions focussed on the youth’s experiences on the ground, their challenges and how they could use FEDUP’s mobilisation tools to organise themselves, build partnerships and influence change in their lives and communities.

“When I went to the youth exchange in Durban I saw how active other youth groups were and how they ran their youth activities. So I wanted to start my own youth group. Since then we have grown a lot and our members are doing many activities including income generation. Our challenge is that we need land for a youth office so we can do our work. We asked the FEDUP mamas to help us organise a partnership meeting with the local chiefs and councillor so we could share our work and negotiate for land”.

(Sylvia Mduli, Mpumalanga Youth Coordinator)

Sylvia Mduli (far left) with fellow FEDUP youth coordinators

Sylvia Mduli (far left) with fellow FEDUP youth coordinators

The meeting took place in early December 2015 in KwaMhlangu and was supported by long-standing FEDUP coordinators Nomvula Mahlangu (Mpumalanga) and Rose Molokoane (National). The group introduced itself to the listeners present, speaking about membership, its momentum of gathering savings and their income generation initiatives. Sylvia explained that the group’s struggle for land was based on the aim of building their own houses. Their immediate priority, however, was acquiring land for a youth office that would be a space for gatherings and income generation activities such as beading or storing recyclables.

“In 2015 our group had 62 members – 40 women and 22 men. We saved a total of R 15 970. As a group we do daily savings and collect them from each member during door-to-door visits. We also do stokvel and birthday party savings. We meet every fortnight and exchange ideas. This is how we started recycling cans, bottles and boxes and selling them to the depot. We used our recycling income to organise an end-of-year party We also use our earnings for more income generation – some members have a hairsalon, utshisa nyama [street barbecue] or do beading.   We also have a small catering business with 22 chairs that we rent out. We bought them for R40 each and rent them out for R7 each. You know we are always fighting for the money. Its not easy but we are trying!”

(Sylvia Mduli, Mpumalanga Youth Coordinator)

Mpumalanga youth collect door to door savings

Mpumalanga youth collect door to door savings

Rose Molokoane (Left), Nomovula Mahlangu (Right)

Rose Molokoane (Left), Nomovula Mahlangu (Right)

Together with the chiefs and councillor the group inspected a large piece of land, a portion of which was promised to the youth in a prior meeting. Sylvia emphasised the success of the youth group’s meeting with the elders who agreed to sell a portion of land to them. They also supported a FEDUP by joining the FEDUP funeral scheme and requested that the youth group present their work to youth in the chiefs’ area. The councillor indicated his interest in engaging with the youth as a group that could mobilise the entire community.

“We now need to make a proposal to the chief and continue to save. It will be local elections soon so there will be a new councillor. This can be difficult but we will continue to talk to the new councillor. I have learnt that there are some organisations that you join and at the end you get nothing out of them. But with FEDUP it is “work for work”. “

(Sylvia Mduli, Mpumalanga Youth Coordinator)

Regional chief addresses the group.

Regional chief addresses the group.

In a country that has an “urbanising and youthful population” the priority of building South Africa’s youth is evident (see the National Development Plan (NDP)). While the youth-oriented lens of the NDP focuses on improvements in critical educational, social and economic indicators, the building of self-reliant youth movements is essential, especially in urban and rural poor contexts. FEDUP coordinator, Rose Molokoane underscores the point:

“We need an organised youth that is able to create an agenda of change in their lives. Our children grew up seeing their mothers create impact and opportunities for the poor in their communities. We are pulling the youth next to us to learn from us. To draw in the youth is to create the next level of leadership. There are so many service delivery protests in South Africa and it is heartbreaking to see the youth leading them. We need to groom new youth leaders that want to learn about new avenues to negotiate with the state. Because of unemployment we advise them not to sit down and wait for the work to come to them.”

Where to from here? Reflections on the Global and Local Urban Landscape

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, uTshani Fund No Comments

As 2015 draws to a close, we reflect on global and localised responses to rapid urbanisation, the mushrooming of informal settlements and the position and potential of the urban and rural poor within these realities. In particular we examine the response and strategy of the South African SDI Alliance as it builds community capacity and advocates for the building of inclusive cities with inclusionary decision-making structures.


The Global Landscape

The year 2015 marked a significant transition in the global development agenda. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set new and ambitious targets for global development practice. While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) introduced socially responsible goals in national and institutional budgets and resource allocation, they did little to affect institutional decision-making.

FEDUP Saver, Sophie Mofokeng at Savings Gathering in Mahikeng, North West Province

FEDUP Saver, Sophie Mofokeng at Savings Gathering in Mahikeng, North West Province

For the urban poor, therefore, a post-2015 framework that foregrounds the influential inclusion of the poor is crucial. The challenge is for governments to rethink development institutions so that poor people are included in decision-making on finance, program conception and project implementation.

SDI start a session at World Urban Forum 7 with Alliance anthem

SDI start a session at World Urban Forum 7 with Alliance anthem

The SDGs also need to be clear about what we actually mean by “inclusion” and “participation”. For the SDI network, the key is not to dictate specific policies and interventions for every country but to articulate specific principles of institutional inclusion and material outcomes:

  • Inclusive institution building. State institutions to be created to embed partnerships with community organisations, especially at the city level to drive decision-making about programs and financial allocations for development of urban infrastructure.
  • Inclusive land management. Well-located land made available to the urban poor. This should ensure zero forced evictions, and grant security of tenure so as to make investment in infrastructure viable for both local government and slum dweller communities.
  • Inclusive urban infrastructure. Water, sanitation, electricity, and transport infrastructure that services the poor so as to achieve zero-open defecation cities globally within 10 years, electricity for all, and 100% improvement in life-affirming job opportunities over 10 years.
  • Inclusive community development. Programmatic investment by national and local authorities in capacity building of community organisations so as to continue deepening the inclusive development agenda highlighted in the first three elements.

Urban Poverty and South Africa 

Queuing for social grants in Bethal Mpumalanga

Queuing for social grants in Bethal Mpumalanga

South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030 (NDP, Chapter 8) emphasises the need to address spatial divides that have been perpetuated by post-1994 policies, placing low-income housing on the periphery of cities. Recommendation include the upgrading of all informal settlements on suitable, well located land by 2030, ensuring better quality public transport, ensuring that people live closer to their places of work and more jobs in or close to dense, urban townships. 

Government’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) for the electoral period 2014-2019 sets out to implement the NDPs vision with a focus on radical economic transformation and improved service delivery. Outcome 8 outlines the situation for human settlements: despite the delivery of 3.8million subsidised houses since 1994, 2700 informal settlements accommodate a further 1.2million households with 713 000 more households living in backyard shacks. The Department’s broad vision is to see “adequate housing and improved quality living environments with 1.5 million more households living in new or improved housing conditions by 2019” (MTSF Outcome 8, p.26). A prominent aspect includes the upgrading of 750 000 households and ensuring basic services and infrastructure in 2200 informal settlements through the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP).

FEDUP income generation initiative in Limpopo

FEDUP income generation initiative in Limpopo

However, the Department’s rapid appraisal of Outcome 8 (Oct. 2014) notes that UISP has not been applied as easily as was intended: the UISP grant has been used to fund alternative housing programs and has been characterised by a lack of deep community engagement. Similarly, the People’s Housing Process (PHP) was not generally “considered a programme for delivering at scale because of the community engagement element and the manner in which people are involved in building their own shelters” (Rapid Appraisal Outcome 8, p. 27). In response, a core recommendation relates to “an attitudinal shift amongst provinces and local government staff in terms of how they approach informality. A positive attitude is desirable “ (p.39).

Joint Planning in Khayelitsha Cape Town

Joint Planning in Khayelitsha Cape Town

The capacity and the will for building inclusive cities with inclusionary decision-making, project preparation and project implementation structures is low. The role of urban poor participation in building “integrated” human settlements seems to be marginal. The strategy of the SA SDI Alliance in response? Supporting shack dwellers with tools that enable them to know their communities and their cities in order to implement precedent-setting projects that leverage participatory and inclusive partnerships with government. Amandla Imali Nolwazi. Power is Money and Knowledge. Know Your Community, Know Your City to build inclusive cities.

CORC Annual Report 2014/15 – Know Your Community, Know Your City

By CORC, Publications No Comments

With great pleasure we share this year’s annual report with you. Know Your Community. Know Your City: the theme reflects the power of community-led process to mobilise the urban poor.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 8.22.09 PM

It also echoes the current focus of Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) on the Know Your City Campaign. Know Your City demonstrates the value of citywide data collection on informal settlements as the basis for powerful negotiations by the urban poor. Pressing concerns relate to  issues of vulnerability, land, insecurity, basic amenities, public spaces and livelihoods.

When settlement-specific data is aggregated with settlement-data on a citywide scale, it has incredible value for bottom-up policy formulation and agenda setting. Knowing your community and your city are crucial for building an inclusive city – and community voice. The Community Voice sections throughout the report will link you to the insights and lived experiences of FEDUP and ISN members.

In particular,  this report tracks progress in our key activity areas from April 2014 – March 2015:

  • Community organisation (women-led savings, data-collection, exchanges)
  • Informal settlement upgrading and housing strategies
  • Income generation initiatives
  • Partnerships with government, academia and civil society
  • Innovations in community-based finance facilities
[spiderpowa-pdf src=”https://sasdialliance.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/CORC-Annual-Report-201415.pdf”]

CORC Annual Report 2014:15

SDI, WIEGO & Avina: Growing a Global Coalition of the Urban Poor

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Piesang River – the home of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), a meeting place filled with sounds of Portuguese, isiZulu, Spanish and English,  a place filled with expectations of what a four-day learning exchange might hold for its participants – representatives of urban poor networks from across Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and South Africa. Are there joint mobilisation strategies? How does each movement build partnerships? And what does advocacy from the perspective of community leaders look like? These questions shaped the purpose of the four-day learning exchange from 21-24 September in South Africa’s east coast port city, Durban.


The participants included community leaders and supporting organisations from

  • the Brazilian Alliance of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI)
  • the Ecuadorian Waste Picker Network
  • the Ecuadorian Network for Fair, Democratic & Sustainable Cities
  • the Association of Recyclers in Bogota, Colombia (Asociación de Recicladores de Bogota)
  • Fundacion Avina in Peru & Ecuador
  • Women In Informal Employment : Globalising & Organising (WIEGO)
  • Asiye eTafuleni in Durban (AeT, network of informal workers)
  • The South African SDI Alliance as hosts: Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), Informal Settlement Network (ISN) and Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC)

What brought together representatives from such different locations? Their affiliation to SDI (Brazil & South Africa), WIEGO (Colombia & Asiye eTafuleni, South Africa) and Fundacion Avina (Ecuador). All three are global movements of the urban poor. Although their approaches may differ, SDI, WIEGO and Avina share the vision of building equitable, just and inclusive cities. The learning exchange was convened by Cities Alliance, of which WIEGO and SDI are both members. Envisioned as a two-part exchange, the first was hosted by SDI in South Africa, while the second will be hosted by WIEGO in Colombia.

The exchange focussed on exposing the visitors to the South African Alliance’s approaches to- and outcomes of community organising. This included a visit to housing and informal settlement upgrading projects, a savings scheme, conducting practical data collection, a partnership meeting with government and getting to know the context of informal workers.

A People’s Approach to Housing and Upgrading

Visiting a people driven housing project at Namibia

Visiting a people driven housing project at Namibia Stop 8 settlements

While each movement shared its main focal areas and organisational approaches in presentations on the first day, a real sense of getting to know each other occurred through questions and anecdotes that opened windows into personal and collective experiences:

“In Colombia waste-pickers have been organising for more than 30 years – recycling is an option for poor people who are old or don’t have access to jobs. I was displaced during the war. My husband was killed by guerrilla fighters. Through recycling I was able to support my family” (Ana Elizabeth Cuervo Alba, Colombia)

“As waste pickers in Ecuador we lobbied the government to a point where we now have a national agreement that pays waste pickers for recycling” (Elvia Pisuña, Ecuador)

“Urban informal workers usually face extreme challenges with people resisting their presence in public spaces .We called ourselves, Asiye eTafuleni because it means – come to the table. Let us negotiate for the inclusive future of the working urban poor. “ (Richard Dobson, Asiye eTafuleni, Durban)

Incidentally, Piesang River also displays the fruits of FEDUP’s militant negotiation with national government around housing delivery. FEDUP leaders explained that the vast housing settlements in Piesang River and Namibia Stop 8 (a further area visited that afternoon) are a result of their success in convincing government to grant members direct access to their housing subsidy. This enabled them to self-build larger houses, culminating in the adoption of the People’s Housing Process (PHP) policy. Although it has not been without its challenges, PHP represents a breakthrough in altered approach from “delivery” to “collaboration”.

Recycling Exchange

Informal Settlement Upgrading Plans at Mathambo














In contrast, community leaders of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) elaborated on their difficulty in achieving breakthrough in municipal support for informal settlement upgrading. With over 2700 informal settlements in the country and an increasing housing backlog, the ISN supports communities with tools and plans for negotiating with local government around service delivery through incremental upgrading. During a visit to Mathambo settlement, community leader and regional ISN coordinator, Ndodeni Dengo explained that despite the settlement’s relatively small size, existing structures were located in high density to each other, with most not larger than 9m2 – and a deficit of water, sanitation and electricity services. The community had collected data about its settlement through a detailed household level enumeration that helped them negotiate upgrading plans with the local municipality. By using wooden boxes for planning a new layout that would enable service installation, the community established their ideal design for the upgraded settlement.

How do urban poor communities organise?

Over the next two days the visitors were introduced to the driving force behind FEDUP and ISN’s housing and upgrading projects: the practice of daily savings and data collection as tools for community organisation.

Explaining savings Kwa Bester

Explaining savings Kwa Bester

At Kwa Bestar savings group, the visitors saw that saving is not primarily about collecting money, but about collecting people. Savings groups are a space where trust is nurtured through daily saving, sharing needs and identifying common solutions. At present, the group of 39 active members has saved US$ 2800. It is also engaged in forming smaller saving units to access loans by generating income through small businesses. The keen involvement of young people aged 8 – 25 in the savings process was a special highlight. Once more it became evident that savings is about growing and enabling people, showcased by the rich dance, drama and music performances by the youth.

Youth savings group shares dance performance

Youth savings group shares dance performance

Where savings builds self reliance, data collection builds knowledge: upon arrival at Zikhali, a small, rural settlement in the northern sugar cane fields of Durban, Rose Molokoane, National Coordinator of FEDUP and SDI deputy president, explained:

“When a community knows clearly who they are, which are their problems, it is much easier to negotiate with municipal officials”

This is how data collection through settlement profiles (of a settlement’s history, infrastructure, conditions) and enumerations (detailed household level surveys) enables partnership with local government officials. When walking around the area, the group mapped the settlement boundaries and landmarks such as water and sanitation points on GPS devices while others spoke to residents, collecting household data by using the Alliance’s enumeration form.

GIS mapping in Zikhali settlement

GIS mapping in Zikhali settlement


Household Enumeration in Zikhali

Household Enumeration in Zikhali

Approaches to building partnerships with government

It is through savings and data-collection that SDI’s urban poor federations leverage partnerships: saving contributions show self-reliance and community will; settlement-wide data powers a community’s negotiation capacity. On day three the visitors accompanied the Durban Alliance to a meeting with the local municipality, province and a representative from national government, discussing the progress of housing and upgrading projects.

The South Americans perceived

  • A strong relationship with government officials
  • A measure of trust and flexibility in receiving visitors at the meeting
  • Political willingness to listen and debate

Insights from the South African participants

  • The perceived trust and partnership with Municipal Government was “built by doing”, demonstrating results and inviting the municipality to be part of the social process
  • Despite the working group and formally conducted meetings, the municipality often does not give prompt answers to the most urgent needs of communities

The visit to Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) added rich insight to the experience of informal workers and an added dimension to partnership building with local authorities. The group was introduced to AeT’s work in developing inclusive spaces that support sustainable livelihoods for informal workers. The shared realities of informal settlement dwellers and informal workers became particularly evident on a walk-about through the bustling Warwick market in Durban’s inner-city. For AeT and the SA SDI Alliance the encounter highlighted similarities and differences in approach but most of all established a platform for increased collaboration in the future.

Government Partnership Meeting

Government Partnership Meeting

View on to a section of Warwick market

View on to a section of Warwick market


Walkabout in Warwick Junction

Walkabout in Warwick Junction
















Reflecting, Learning and Joint Advocacy

With a rich collection of experiences and impressions, the group gathered on the last morning to reflect and share on the ….

  • Non-monetary value of savings. Savings are about collecting money and people (building social capital, trust, self-reliance)
  • Power of information: data collection is crucial for building self-reliance, identifying common goals and establishing negotiating power
  • Key role of women as cultivating transparency and accountability
  • Cultural factors present in South Africa: welcoming, joyful people, ability to join efforts and to coordinate
  • Youth work: value of young people generating and managing their own savings to use in initiatives of their choice (e.g. creative arts)
  • Global similarities in poor people’s struggles
  • Recycling as Income Generation: value in using opportunities around you (e.g. waste = recycling opportunity = income generation)
  • Increased awareness of interface between shack dwellers and informal workers

… and on strategies for the road ahead:

  • Mobilisation Strategies: Gain understanding of waste picker movements in South America
  • Building Partnerships: Plan further exchanges with local (i.e. national) counterparts of global movements
  • Prepare for Joint Lobbying at Global Events such as Habitat III.

As the global development community gears up for Habitat III, global movements of the urban poor are establishing a firm coalition. This learning exchange forms an integral part of that process, “allowing networks organised around livelihood and habitat to come together, share their experiences and strengthen their capacity to organise and advocate in favour of the urban poor” (Cities Alliance, Exchange convener). When speaking with a united voice, advocacy has the potential to influence policy discussions on increased collaboration between communities and governments.

“By referring to our connection with one another, WIEGO, SDI & Avina can make a strong case for a pro-poor agenda. Only if we come together as poor people we can show our governments that we are influencing their policies to meet the needs of the people. “ (Rose Molokoane, FEDUP Coordinator & SDI vice president)

Growing Partnerships with Local Government: Bulawayo visits Cape Town Learning Centre

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Andiswa Meke (on behalf of CORC)

Recently, the Zimbabwe SDI Alliance spent four days on a learning exchange to the South African SDI Alliance in Cape Town (14-17 September). In the SDI network, Cape Town is one of four global learning centres for urban poor communities due to the capacity of FEDUP and ISN to operate at city scale and demonstrate productive partnerships with government. The team from Bulawayo included community, city and university representatives (from the National University of Science & Technology (NUST)) who are exploring the possibility of building a partnership between the Zimbabwean urban poor Federation and the City of Bulawayo. The Alliance introduced the group to a variety of its activities, foregrounding the value and approach of partnerships that place poor people at the centre of their own development.


Introduction to policy Questions

After a warm welcoming of the group by FEDUP members on the first day, the first presentation started by the Informal settlement Network (ISN) with the context of the SA SDI alliance and the work of Informal Settlement Network (ISN) from 2009 until 2015. The presentation showed delegates the work of ISN in In-situ upgrading, water and sanitation, area-wide upgrading, multipurpose centres and other activities that they have done so far. After the presentation the delegates from Zimbabwe were given an opportunity to ask questions:

“At what stage does the city get involved in re-blocking? What is the planning process and who does it? What is the participation between communities and the city?”

(George Masimbanyana, support NGO to Zimbabwe Federation of the Homeless and Poor)

After clarification by members of ISN and support NGO, Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) the Zimbabweans had an understanding of the particulars of re-blocking (including its adoption as policy by the City of Cape Town in 2012) and indicated they would consider adopting it as a process that they can also try. The Bulawayo group then gave a presentation about the work they have done to date. The presentation gave an insight into the Zimbabwean Federation’s total savings, income and expenditures, total number of houses they have built and what their projects look like. The Zimbabwean Federation has also signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the City of Bulawayo. The group expressed the challenge of a lack of implementation and practical partnership, despite the presence of a formal agreement. The next days allowed the visitors to explore this topic further. They experienced how FEDUP and ISN formed practical partnerships and implemented projects with two municipalities.

Partnership around Upgrading: Stellenbosch Municipality

On day two, the group travelled to Langrug informal settlement near Franschoek to meet with the local Municipality of Stellenbosch. Langrug community leader and regional ISN coordinator, Trevor Masiy shared the successes and challenges the community faced with regards to being recognized as an informal settlement in that area. Lester van Schalkwyk, a municipality official, spoke of the difficulty the Municipality experienced in engaging with informal settlement communities. This is when officials realized the value of social and technical intermediaries like ISN & CORC to support and speed-up implementation of community – government partnerships. In Langrug this partnership translated into the first ever MoU between a local government and community, which enabled direct access to municipal funds for upgrading and implementation of re-blocking, drainage and a water & sanitation facility.


Municipality  official sharing challenges they encountered  with Langrug Informal settlement

Partnerships around Upgrading: City of Cape Town

The third day was an upgrading site visit to Flamingo Heights in Lansdowne, Cape Town, a settlement that was recently re-blocked through a partnership between the community, SA SDI Alliance, City of Cape Town, and other actors such as the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Maria Matthews, community leader in Flamingo welcomed the guests and gave a brief history about the settlement and how they partnered with the city of Cape Town and the Alliance. She also gave insight about the challenges that they faced before upgrading where she noted that the community faced a high rate of crime because of the densification of their structures before re-blocking. She also cited that through the project the community managed to minimise the crime and now are safe. During an opportunity to ask questions, a Bulawayo official asked who owned the land that is now Flamingo Heights. ISN facilitator, Melanie Manuel, explained that the land belonged to an industrial company whom the City of Cape Town bought the land from. Maria Matthews, concluded,

“[Community] savings [contributions] are the core reason why we are here [in an upgraded settlement] today. We took the little we had and placed towards better living conditions.”

Community Savings as Negotiation Tool

The group then commenced to the FEDUP linked income generation group in Samora Machel. The visitors were welcomed with great hospitality and were given an overview of FEDUP`s income generation program. The visit highlighted the connection between regular saving and the ability to repay loans. This in turn enables access to further loan installments to expand a small business. In this sense, the power of individual and community saving became evident. In response to a question by the NUST representative on failed loan repayments, the loan facilitator explained:

“Saving group members are not given money that they don’t have in their savings balance, so if they fail to pay back the loan the money it is then subtracted from their saving balance.”

community leader sharing Flamingo Heights History

community leader sharing Flamingo Heights History

Area-Wide Upgrading as a result of negotiation

At UT Gardens settlement in Khayelitsha, the community came all out to support their leadership committee to welcome the visitors from Bulawayo. The Alliance shared the challenges and breakthroughs around upgrading the nearby wetland as a communal space. After giving a project overview, ISN & CORC members explained how they convinced the City to give them approval to use the land. A community leader, Thamara Hela, gave an overview of the recreational activities they envision for the upgraded wetland-park: a football ground, a gym facility and a park for the children to play where they could be safe. Read more here.

Meeting the Partners: City of Cape Town & Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Having visited a number of upgrading projects in Cape Town, the visitors met with the City of Cape Town to gain more insight into the process of partnership formation from a City perspective. The city explained how their department fits in the broader Human Settlements Sector, shared an overview of their partnership with the SA SDI Alliance, their role as service provider for ground works, engineering, topographical surveys and the Alliance’s role as technical and social support facilitator. The City shared the importance of an inter-departmental approach, which increases effective communication between various actors involved in ISU: the departments of solid waste, human settlements, water & sanitation. There was also an opportunity to observe direct engagement between communities and officials. Masilunge informal settlement leader, Lindiwe Ralarala presented the current ISU project process in her settlement, in particular the challenges of flooding, water & sanitation that the community would like to see the City address.

During lunch time the exchange moved to the architecture building at CPUT, where the group was briefed about the partnership the Alliance has with the university. It enables students to engage with the reality of planning with ‘informality’, and results in alternative practice and conceptual approaches in town planning and architecture. The lecturers explained how they want to see town-planning link with urbanization:

“Urbanization is not about building houses, it’s about human beings. We want our students to understand that they are not just planning houses but planning better living condition for the people who they work with.”

Through project modules or internships with the SA SDI Alliance students support the alliance with their technical skills in town planning or architecture. The meeting showed the visitors that strong partnerships with multiple actors can achieve more. Read more about academic partnerships here.

City of Cape Town partnership meeting

City of Cape Town partnership meeting

Ideas for Partnership Formation in Bulawayo

The exchange concluded on a high note. The support between community members from Bulawayo and Cape Town was clearly evident in their common desire to see a practical and community centered-partnership emerge in Bulawayo. As the details need to be fleshed out and implemented in Bulawayo, the South African and Zimbabwe SDI Alliance leaders will keep supporting and holding each other accountable on the path of establishing inclusive partnerships that are key to community-centered solutions. We conclude by sharing reflection points of exchange participants:

 City Reponses

  • There is great value of strategic community organisation: “We need partnerships to really engage & resolve community problems in a manner that satisfies the community adequately. “ (Bulawayo City Official)
  • Value of Reblocking & Forward Planning: “the way to tackle the problem of regrouping people is beautiful: the communities are involved and they have a say in the way forward” (Bulawayo City Official)

Zimbabwe Federation Responses

  • Community Data Collection: “I realise we need to review our settlement profiles & use our data in a useful [strategic] way.”
  • Implement MoUs: “This exchange provided us with a way to figure out how to operationalize the MoU’s”
  • Joint funding for ISU: “We need to sit with the City and establish how we can use reblocking to deal with the issues in our country. Joint funding for ISU provides huge opportunities for countries like ours which are economically challenged”
  • Accountability: “ Let’s keep each other accountable on our progress with reports, and share our knowledge and skills”

 SA SDI Alliance Responses:

  • Learning Centre: We find that as a learning centre we end up learning from you too”
  • Exchanges as Mobilisation: Exchanges are a mobilizing tool: wherever we take visitors, we gain trust from the communities. While the visitors learn, our communities learn as well.”

Group photo during the exchange

Sharing Knowledge from the Bottom-Up: SDI visits Cape Town Learning Center

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Horizontal learning exchanges form a significant pillar of bottom-up knowledge sharing and a mobilisation tool used by informal settlement dwellers across the Shack/ Slum Dwellers International network. Exchanges are a development tool, which

“help people deal with the root issues of poverty and homelessness and work out their own means to participate in decision-making which affects their lives, locally, nationally & globally. In exchange people are not being trained to do things. They decide themselves what to pick up and what to discard, by visiting others in the same boat. It’s learning without an agenda…on-site, direct from the source, unfiltered”

(Tom Kerr, SDI Secretariat)

In recent years the SDI network has streamlined learning and experience sharing from open ended exchange interaction to a city-level focus in which learning, capacity-building and monitoring is concentrated on four city-level centers of learning. These (Cape Town and Kampala, Mumbai and Accra) were identified due to their capacity to operate at the city scale and demonstrate productive partnerships with government. This blog focuses on a recent visit by the SDI management committee to the Cape Town learning centre, and engages with questions raised by community members around the nature of learning and knowledge sharing in the SDI network.


Joseph Muturi, from the Kenyan SDI Alliance poses a question to FEDUP / ISN leadership.

The first morning saw national community leaders from the SDI Alliances of Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe join the South African Alliance , SDI President, Jockin Arputham, and deputy president, Rose Molokoane, in exploring the approach of community-driven process in South Africa. The South African community movements, FEDUP and ISN, spoke about their involvements in respective community projects relating to land access and negotiation, People’s Housing Process (PHP), security of tenure, ensuring access to basic services, informal settlement upgrading, and income generation projects.

When asked what FEDUP and ISN see as particular achievements, FEDUP’s regional leader in the Western Cape Province, Thozama Nomnga, spoke of the Federation’s Income Generation Program (FIGP), which is funded through a revolving loan fund established through FEDUP’s national savings. As much as the FIGP funds are drawn from savings, the program also grows FEDUP’s membership and strengthens savings practice as personal savings are a prerequisite to accessing a loan.


Visiting a savings group and learning about FIGP in Samora Machel.

During the morning, the group visited a savings scheme in Samora Machel township in Cape Town as well as FEDUP’s Vusi Ntsuntsha group. After a warm welcome at Samora Machel, the savings group facilitator, treasurers and collectors spoke about the FIGP, how loan groups are formed, how loans are allocated and the respective finances are calculated. Savings group members showcased their small businesses – ranging from tailored shwe-shwe Dresses, to tuck-shop goods, beaded jewellery and crafts, fat-cakes and chicken. From Samora Machel the visitors travelled to Vusi Ntsuntsha group, hearing about the group’s successful negotiation for land, and the challenges ahead in terms of securing tenure and housing sites. Hassan Kiberu, from the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) motivated the group to keep unity and hope:

“By unity we win. When you give up you won’t win. We joined the Federation in Uganda because we have so many problems. Like you, there are many that we haven’t tackled yet. It is important that you are firm, don’t lose hope and keep on saving.”

Income Generation businesses by the Samora Macheal savings scheme

FIGP businesses in Samora Macheal.

The remainder of the day was spent in a packed community structure in Khayelitsha where representatives from more than 5 communities had gathered to share their experiences in informal settlement upgrading, community generated data collection, design, mapping, planning and negotiation with local government. The visitors were introduced to an area-wide upgrading approach around a wetland and the accompanying lengthy negotiations with local government. They also heard about a completed reblocking upgrade in Flamingo Crescent informal settlement and the process of planning for reblocking in three additional settlements.

In conversations and questions posed throughout the day – a recurring interest occurred among community participants concerning the nature of ‘learning’, the necessity for transparent sharing during  community exchanges and what it means to be an “SDI learning centre”. Joseph Muturi from the Kenyan Alliance’s Federation, Muungano Wa Wanavijiji, raised the value of sharing challenges as freely and as frequently as successes.

“How can we learn from each other if we don’t share our challenges? We know that we can learn from every SDI country. In learning centres there is something specific we can learn. But we don’t expect them to be perfect –there will always be challenges, and we need to learn from them.”

Community gathering in Khayelitsha on informal settlement upgrading.

Community gathering in Khayelitsha on informal settlement upgrading.

On this note, ISN shared the difficulties of navigating tensions between steering committees and communities, the rivalry between different civic organisations, varying levels of co-operation from Councillors and long delays by city councils that cause disillusionment in communities. Kenyan representatives spoke about their ability to secure tenure for 10 000 informal settlement dwellers through bio-metric data collection, using mobile phones – learnt from the interaction between Ugandan Federation members and their City officials. In reflecting on the exchange, Nkokheli Ncambele, provincial ISN coordinator, echoes the value of bottom-up knowledge generation in exchanges:

“It was very beneficial to be exposed to savings and the FIGP businesses – we managed to send a successful message to community leaders in Khayelitsha about upgrading and savings. We learnt how other countries use their profiling data to engage with the City. We need to do the same”.

FEDUP wins national Govan Mbeki award

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

It is a pleasure to announce FEDUP’s award for best enhanced People’s Housing Process (ePHP) project at this year’s national Govan Mbeki Awards ceremony hosted by the Department of Human Settlements in Cape Town. FEDUP national coordinator, Rose Molokoane, received the award for the Mafikeng 200 housing project on behalf of FEDUP North West on 13 August 2015.

Rose Molokoane (left) with Bukiwe Matakane (CORC Savings Support) and Thozama Nomga (Western Cape FEDUP Coordinator)

Rose Molokoane (left) with Bukiwe Matakane (CORC Savings Support) and Thozama Nomga (Western Cape FEDUP Coordinator)

Govan Mbeki Awards

The annual award ceremony (established in 2006) aims “to promote and inculcate a culture of excellence within the human settlement sector in the delivery of quality human settlements and dignity to South Africans” (Reference). It acknowledges excellent achievements on a Provincial and National level in order to showcase the department’s work at both tiers and to promote best practice. (Read more here.)

FEDUPs partnership with Human Settlements

This is FEDUP’s fourth consecutive Govan Mbeki Award since 2012 and its first national award for ePHP, following provincial Govan Mbeki awards for housing projects in the North West (2012 & 2013), Kwa-Zulu Natal (2012), Gauteng (2013), and Patrick Magebhula Hunsley’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2014). The string of awards is testament to the partnership FEDUP has been building with various tiers of Human Settlements since democratic transition. Particular milestones in FEDUP’s advocacy with government are marked by government’s adoption of the People’s Housing Process (later ePHP) as a policy approach in 1998 and the Department’s long-term subsidy pledge to FEDUP in 2006. FEDUP, uTshani Fund and then national minister of housing, Lindiwe Sisulu, signed the pledge for 1000 housing subsidies per province in South Africa.

Mafikeng 200 Govan Mbeki Award

Mafikeng 200 Govan Mbeki Award

FEDUP’s partnership has thus been key in instituting an alternative approach to housing provision: the ePHP is community-centred and community–driven, activating communities as central role players. It outperforms developer-built subsidised housing in size, cost and quality, generates employment and construction skills and elevates the voice of the urban poor. Read more here. The remainder of this blog will detail FEDUP’s Mafikeng 200 housing project and explore what a continuing future partnership with the Department could like.

Mafikeng 200 project in North West

The Mafikeng housing project is a result of FEDUP’s 2006 pledge agreement with the national department. Within the pledge, the North West provincial department had allocated 1000 housing subsidies to FEDUP of which the movement decided to use 200 in various settlements in Mafikeng. FEDUP entered negotiations with the provincial government, preparing a contract, business plans and geo-technical investigation. At first, the geo-technical report deemed the ground in one of the Mafikeng settlements as too dolomitic for house construction. After FEDUP members engaged in further negotiations construction was approved. Molokoane recounts,

“Although we had challenges with the Department, our partnership is strong, especially with the regional manager who helped us bridge challenges, guiding us and giving us relevant people to correct our mistakes. We are not saying that we are perfect in building houses. But the good thing is that it empowers our communities, gives confidence and grows trust between communities and government”

Mafikeng Network Meeting in March 2015

Mafikeng Network Meeting in March 2015

At the core of the project and the strong partnership with the provincial department are daily savings – a tool that brings communities together, enabling individuals to identify and share challenges as well as find solutions. This was particularly the case in the North West where FEDUP members used their community savings (housed in FEDUP’s Urban Poor Fund), to attract more members, to leverage government support and create a sense of ownership.

“When we talk of a community owning a project we are referring to Mafikeng. Mafikeng members have now formed seven savings groups, and spend their own savings on monthly gatherings: hiring transport, equipment and cooking food.”

(Rose Molokoane, national FEDUP coordinator)

Savings report back to more than 150 savers gathered in Mafikeng.

Savings report back to more than 150 savers gathered in Mafikeng.

Using their own savings, Mafikeng group members prepare a meal for all members at the Network meeting

Using their own savings, Mafikeng group members prepare a meal for all members at the Network meeting










Future Partnership on Upgrading

For Molokoane, the Mafikeng 200 project won the Govan Mbeki Award due the partnerships FEDUP had established with Mafikeng Municipality, the North West and National Department of Human Settlements.

“The partnership between these four stakeholders illustrates that working together, we can do better. The Department realised Mafikeng is a good example of PHP and ePHP because people are doing it for themselves. National government supports this because with some there is still a dependency syndrome that obliges government to provide. Through FEDUP we try and change this mind set: government should do it with us, not for us.”

In looking ahead, Molokoane speaks about the significant alliance between FEDUP and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) as well as the necessity for all tiers of government to recognise informal settlement upgrading in its own right and as clearly distinct from housing projects.

“People have the right to basic services over and above getting a house. Government needs to recognise the need for security of tenure and basic services for communities in informal settlements. If they give us [the SA SDI Alliance] the space to do this [informal settlement upgrading], people can change their conditions and the face of their communities. We have a long way to go with government, so we need to join hands as poor people. Our vision is basic services, security of tenure, providing an opportunity to build, then people should organise themselves to build their own houses.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 2.35.14 PM

Unemployed but Making Money: Income Generation in Port Elizabeth

By News No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Bulelwa Msila & her mother sell vegetables in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth

Bulelwa Msila & her mother sell vegetables in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth

As Bulelwa Msila arranges vegetables on a small vending stand on New Brighton’s busy Ferguson Road, a chilly gust of wind ushers passers-by into nearby homes. Due to Port Elizabeth’s winter weather, her mother is not braaiing (grilling) fish that day:

“Actually my mom sells fish but today it’s too cold. This is just a small business that I started with my mom, just to survive. I buy the vegetables from the fresh produce market. There is a lot of junk food that people eat, so we decided to sell vegetables because they are affordable and healthy. People buy from us because we are cheaper than supermarkets. Many come at the end of the month [after pay-day]. I also have another job but this one helps us to earn more. We use the money for our day-to-day expenses like electricity and school fees for my daughter.”

(Bulelwa Msila, Federation Income Generation Program)

Linda Mpako, who oversees FEDUPs income generation program (FIGP) in Port Elizabeth, explains that the program provides tangible access to financial assistance through small-scale loans. In particular it supports people who are not formally employed nor earn a regular income.

FEDUP’s Income Generation Program in Port Elizabeth

FEDUP has registered the FIGP as a micro-finance institution that draws its loans from FEDUPs National Urban Poor Fund (UPF). The UPF is built up through the payment of a once-off membership fee of R750 that is asked of each new FEDUP savings group member. In order to access loans in consecutive tranches, an individual needs to become part of a loan group (of 5 members), be an active saver and member of a savings group. Each province is guided by a FEDUP appointed loan facilitator like Linda, who provides support around loan group formation, loan disbursements, repayment cycles and other needs.  Read more background here.

Linda Mpako, FIGP Loan Facilitator Eastern Cape

Linda Mpako, FIGP Loan Facilitator Eastern Cape

In the Eastern Cape, the FIGP has mostly attracted people who are not yet members of FEDUP-based savings schemes.

“People are interested to find out about us because most people already have businesses but they don’t have finances to sustain them. The FIGP interest is very low – we are the best on the ground. We don’t just issue money to anyone. People need to become part of a savings scheme. The repayment is manageable when over four months you are paying back R 276,67 per month”

(Linda Mpako, Eastern Cape, Loan Facilitator)

Motherwell: Income and Strong Savings go hand in hand

Further outside Port Elizabeth, Vivian Gulwa welcomes Linda into her home in Motherwell.  She is on her third loan cycle, making a success of her beading business.

“I usually buy coffee mugs [ traditional metal mugs] in a pack of 6, decorate them with beads and sell them for R150. You will find that most people love to put them into their display units. Many of us make necklaces and traditional artwork so I had to shift and make something different. As long as you start with a small thing and have the spirit to grow, you can think of anything. I thank God for what I learnt from FEDUP: in savings groups we buy groceries in bulk. We will never go hungry in this programme, we are building each other and encouraging each other”.

(Vivian Gulwa, FEDUP member in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth)

FEDUP members showcasing the work they do under FIGP.

Vivian Gulwa (far right) showcases her beading work financed through the FIGP together with members of her savings group.

Nomsa Dyalom and Busisiwe Tekane are very recent FEDUP members.  Both are seamstresses using FIGP to become more independent in running their business:

“We are a group of 5 women in Motherwell community who make beadwork and sew clothes. We have been working in this field for 5-6 years but only came together as a loan group recently when we heard about FIGP. We are not yet members of FEDUP but we are in the pipeline. The loan group will assist us in getting additional money to make our business more successful – especially since some of us are pensioners. The loan will help us spend our money independently – we will no longer quarrel with our husbands to convince them that we want to use some of the pension money for our business.”


Nomsa Dyalom and Busisiwe Tekane

Building business strategy to build long term livelihood

In terms of business strategy Linda advises that new loan groups should use the example of people from outside South Africa. Through working together, it becomes possible to buy products and stock the spaza shop [corner shop] more cheaply. Unsurprisingly, one of the main challenges is competition: if potatoes are in season, you will find people selling potatoes in the same street – or sweets and fat cakes. Linda expresses the necessity for training so that people start checking with their community what people need. Overall, she shares:

“In my experience the FIGP is delivering what people need. It helps with unemployment and growing the FEDUP membership. We are seeing how families that have never worked can make money. Because of savings and small business, FIGP is like a survival skill. It shows when poor people use their own skills they can make money without being employed.”

(Linda Mpako, FIGP Loan Facilitator, Port Elizabeth)

Mama Nobom's small business

Mama Nobom’s small business

Mama Nobom sells handmade crafts

Mama Nobom sells handmade crafts

SA Alliance in Botswana: Building a strong urban poor Federation

By CORC, FEDUP, SDI No Comments

By Kwanele Sibanda (on behalf of CORC)

For the Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network, horizontal exchanges between savings groups and communities present an opportunity for bottom-up learning and mutual support. While each SDI affiliate shares the same tools and practices for community organisation and people-centred development, the use of these tools is shaped by local socio-economic and political contexts. Exchanges, therefore, also explore how new-found insights can be adapted to realities “back home”.

As an SDI learning centre, the SA SDI Alliance and FEDUP in particular have supported the growth of the Botswana SDI Alliance, the Botswana Homeless and Poor People’s Federation and support NGO. This blog reflects the workings of an international exchange, strategies for partnership building, and the necessities of rooting the strength of a Federation in daily saving, strong trust and cohesiveness on the ground.

Gointse (Trust for Community Initiatives) explains partnership with Stanbic

Gointse (Trust for Community Initiatives) explains partnership with Stanbic

Background of the Exchange

The SDI exchange to Botswana by the South African delegates was originally aimed at supporting the federation of Botswana in making a presentation to the new Minister of Local Government and Rural Affairs. In spite of efforts made by the Minister to meet the federation, the set meeting coincided with an emergency that he described as critical and could not be postponed.

From the previous visit of the South African delegates dated 16 – 19 October 2014, the Botswana federation has shown growth and determination to work with resources at their disposal. The federation of Francistown has been very influential in the growth of the federation, nationally. The Francistown Federation started off by influencing their local City Council especially the Town Clerk who in turn is now taking a lead in introducing the federation to officials in other cities as well as different government departments. The attempt to meet the Minister was through the efforts of the Francistown Town Clerk and the local supporting NGO (Trust for Community Initiatives).

As the meeting with the Minister was postponed at the 11th hour, the federation members from Francistown and the SA SDI Alliance used the opportunity to visit a fairly new local saving scheme (Boiteko Saving Scheme).


Boiteko saving scheme meeting took place in Gaborone . A message of appreciation was given to the saving scheme members for attending the meeting even though it was scheduled within a short period of time. Amongst the issues discussed, the following was the most pressing for the saving scheme in Botswana as a whole.

  • Botswana has a law that disregards the nature/circumstances under which a group is established and wishes to have financial transactions that it be registered as a company. This act poses a challenge to the federation because of tax related burdens, registration process and other financial burdens that may be required by the law.
  • The groups have since resorted to opening bank accounts using one member of the group under conditions that include a letter to the bank stipulating that he is termed account holder and merely represents the group and can only undertake financial transactions authorised by two named signatories of the group’s choice. Boiteko Saving Scheme is no exception to the challenge.
Group photo after meeting with Boiteko Saving Scheme members

Group photo after meeting with Boiteko Saving Scheme members

  • The saving scheme was established in February 2015 with 27 members at its highest. Without seeking information internally, new members went to various government departments to find out if the poor people’s movement was registered. Upon realization of the other, word spread, dispute ensued, and sixteen members shunned the group leaving unity of the remaining on the canvas. The group currently stands at 11 members  and has a total of  P2 000 in savings up to date.
  •  In July 2015 the federation allegedly made a presentation at a Public Service Event where different Ministers were present. The presentation was broadcast on national television (BTV) and was seen by members that had forsaken the group. It is believed that the publication of the presentation somehow proved the authenticity of the organization as opposed to unfounded, simmering rumors.
  • The groups are being supported by the local NGO in opening bank accounts. The members of the new group expressed their need for support as they are not yet well versed of the other components in the alliance other than savings.
  • Savings Report
Total Number of saving schemes 55
Women 1 191
Men 122
Total Savings P276, 136.23
Total UPF P31, 473.94
Funds used to start income generating projects P260, 926.66
      Inputs made by the SA SDI alliance and Francistown delegates
  • Within groups, it is always ideal to have manageable numbers; however it is wise to be aware that numbers matter in influencing policies such as that currently affecting them on opening of bank accounts.
  • In making presentations, follow all levels of influential structures starting with the local chiefs so that your process is well understood and no one feels undermined.
  • Make daily collections a norm so as to bond as savings members and generally improve your savings.
  • Use the small projects  you are already doing to demonstrate to  government and other institutions your interest and how you wish to scale it up.Make use of  government resources like the ‘Poverty eradication programme’.
  • Start programmes for supporting other savings schemes because you tend to learn more when you share more.
  •  Choose honest people  to handle your finances to avoid jeopardizing the organisations name
  • Avoid making long meetings that will discourage attendance.
  • Members need to understand the power of working collectively.
  • Save with a goal and make good use of the savings . It is normally pointless to be endowed with savings that remain untapped when challenges prevail or opportunities present themselves.
Far Right - Sarah Mulaudzi (FEDUP) sharing her savings experience

Far Right – Sarah Mulaudzi (FEDUP) sharing her savings experience


  • The federation of Botswana has to draft a programme were it will be supported in areas that include mobilization, savings recording system and explaining the different components in the alliance.
  • Once the meeting is confirmed with the Minister, leaders should prepare themselves for a presentation and should include in the agenda the policy requiring them to register in order to open bank accounts.
  • Each region has to start writing stories about the different projects and activities that they are doing.

Alliance and Community Architects Network plan inclusive cities in Philippines

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Andiswa Meke (on behalf of CORC)

From 16-23 June 2015, the SA SDI Alliance joined community designers and architects for the third regional workshop of the Community Architects Network (CAN) in Metro Manila, Philippines. The Alliance team consisted of 3 FEDUP and ISN community members who are involved in managing community construction as well as two of CORC’s community architects. The workshop was hosted by CAN’s Philippine Alliance organisations of HPFI (Homeless People’s Federation Philippines Inc.), TAMPEI (technical Assistance Movemnet for People and Environment Inc.) and PACSII (Philippine Action for Community-led Shelter Initiatives, Inc.),


The theme of the 2015 workshop was “Together we CAN! People Planning for future inclusive cities”, emphasizing that strong partnership can yield excellent achievements. There was an estimate of one hundred attendees from different countries (representatives from public institutions, academia, CBOs and NGOs). The workshop spanned eight days and involved several activities: getting to know the Philippine context, sharing various country experiences updates on approaches and experiences of community architecture, reflection sessions and exhibits.

The group split to do community fieldwork in two locations in Metro Manila, the heritage site Intramuros and Muntinlupa City. The SA SDI Alliance members had the honor to work on more than two groups and with different communities. The Alliance sent five members to attend with the aim of exposing them to the programme and gaining knowledge to apply in South African community upgrading. The alliance looked to build and strengthen partnerships and lobby potential stakeholders.

CAN 13

CAN Background

CAN is a regional network of community architects that focuses on improving the living conditions of poor communities in Asian countries through community-based projects under the Coalition of Community Action Program (ACCA) regarding people housing, city-wide upgrading and recovery from disaster . CAN has opened opportunities for interested young professionals, academic institutes NGOs, CBO`s to come and engage with design skills to support communities in finding solutions to their own needs.


In 2013, a workshop of the same nature took place under the theme “People CAN make change and progress”, where communities were introduced to bringing about change through acquiring tools, skills and information. Communities were taught different skills from mapping and savings to profiling. After the ten day workshop, the community members and architects came up with solutions that would push local government towards building avenues that would represent the people as well as a building plan that would be community driven and understood. The network strongly believes that the role of community architects is to build the capability of people through participatory design and planning so that people themselves become the solution.

CAN 2015 workshop: TOGETHER WE CAN

On the opening day, the host city Intramuros held a number of talks that gave an overview of Philippines informal settlements and introduced city-wide development approaches in Asian cities. The delegates were split into groups and sent to different cities around the Philippines. The purpose was for delegates to identify and resolve issues and share knowledge around the communities.

A public forum took place on the eighth day, where all groups presented their findings and suggestions and were given the opportunity to select the best plan for each community and share their experiences surrounding their visit.

CAN 53

CAN 45

Challenges for the re-blocking group in informal settlement Sitio Pagkakaisa, Manila

  • Community members who don’t want re-blocking.
  • Critical challenge was the materials the houses were built in, which would not be easy to remove. In some informal settlements people have already secured land tenure with their subsidy money and their savings, they now fear that they will be unable to build houses once the re-blocking takes place

Challenges for the Intramuros, Manila

  • Finding a solution to better the high density of the settlements
  • The most challenging part was designing an upgrading plan that would address the needs and embrace the heritage of the Intramorous communities
  • Issue of land tenure and people living in private land deemed as a major challenge in upgrading –related processes.

CAN 33

Learning points

  • A community’s knowledge of its settlement is essential for drafting development plans and interacting with government officials about pressing issues in informal settlements. The community seemed informed of the development plan and where they are lacking in terms of services.
  • The partnership between local officials and the community is vital. It is kept strong to an extent that the municipality is willing to communicate and engage with communities regarding housing and informal settlement upgrading.
  • When community leaders have a good relationship with community members, they make informed decision together.
  • Savings is the pillar of creating communal consistency in the informal settlement
  • SA SDI Alliance members learnt how to engage with problem solving in the context of a different country, how to use existing SDI tools in a completely different setting and an approach to building communities with a strong heritage value who showcase this in their planning.
SA SDI Alliance Team

SA SDI Alliance Team

Outcomes of the exchange

  • Intramuros: Suggestions for sustainable and participatory options for informal settlements in Intramuros heritage site, in context of its revitalization plan.
  • Muntinlupa: Suggestions for holistic solutions for informal settlements located in high risk zones with insecurity of tenure
  • CAN delegates managed to advocacy for interaction between Muntinlupa City and its Barangays.
  • New CAN attendees were exposed to the practical implementation of SDI rituals
  • CAN delegates gained membership of the CAN