Mapping Archives - SASDI Alliance

Putting K2 and Green Park on the Map – Mapping Exchange in Cape Town

By FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Julia Stricker (on behalf of SDI Secretariat)

***Cross-posted from SDI Blog***

During a very successful learning exchange focused around settlement level data visualisation and mapping, community members from K2 and Green Park, two informal settlements in Cape Town, created digital maps of their neighbourhoods. 


Siyaunya puts his head over the GPS device and enters the code for water tap, WT 001. Next he records the geographic coordinates of the location: -34.0289, 18.6731. He and his team repeat this process for every water tap and toilet in K2, the informal settlement in Khayelitsha that Siyaunya calls home. Different codes are used for each type of facility and with regards to their functional status. A broken toilet, for example, gets an N added to its code. These codes together with the coordinates form the raw data for the maps. Apart from the team mapping the basic services there are two other teams on the go to map the settlement boundaries and other interesting features like shops, taverns, and restaurants. Each of the three teams consists of community members, Informal Settlement Network (ISN) and Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) members from across South Africa, and SDI federation members from India, Uganda and Ghana. The latter travelled to Cape Town to support the South African SDI Alliance in refining their digital mapping skills – skills that will help take SDI’s community mapping process to another level, making it easier and quicker, and increasing impact.

Through a hands-on, learning-by-doing approach Siyaunya and his fellow community members, most holding a GPS device for the first time that day, used these devices with confidence by the end of the day. They also understand that the need to stand next to the service or feature you are mapping is about more than getting an accurate reading on the GPS device. It is about the process of gaining intimate knowledge and understanding of one’s settlement and being able to share this knowledge with authority.


A geographic profile of the settlement consisting of the boundaries and the basic services, at a minimum, is a crucial part of the standardised profile. It is not enough to know the number of toilets – one also has to know their spatial distribution. If all the toilets of a settlement are located on one corner, the numbers alone are a bad indicator for the reality a woman from the other end of the settlement experiences when going to the toilet at night. The spatial dimension adds value to the data and is highly relevant for planning upgrading projects. To put it in a nutshell: Numbers are good – but maps make the numbers come alive. In addition to that John Samuel, from NSDF/SPARC India and part of the data team at SDI, points out that maps are more intuitive to understand than plain numbers and respond better to the variable literacy level of slum dwellers.

There is no perfect map and there never will be one. Maps are by nature abstractions and only a limited inventory of the reality on the ground, a complement of both objectively observable phenomena, as well as the subjective relationships to these. Bearing this in mind they remain highly important as a means to communicate our location in the world and our view on the world. The data used to generate maps of informal settlements must therefore be gathered by the slum dwellers themselves. Maps generated from community-collected data naturally put the emphasis on issues that matter to the community. This in turn is critical for the successful planning and implementation of slum upgrading projects


When speaking about Know Your City, Sumaya, a young delegate from the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) puts it like this:

“First you have to know what you have, then you can decide what you need, and only then you can tell somebody what you want. This is what Know(ing) Your City is all about.”

She was part of the team that profiled and mapped 62 settlements in the city of Kampala. The comprehensive report with the maps generated was handed over to the Kampala City Authority in September this year and is a good example how the data can be used to drive communities’ dialogues with government for slum upgrading and development at the city-wide scale. The profiling and mapping of settlements is a powerful tool for promoting active citizenship in communities of the urban poor.

SDI’s focus for the coming years will be to routinize and consolidate the learning around city-wide profiling and mapping for the cities it works with. Concretely, the idea of going city-wide is to push the federations to think beyond their existing network so as to include the voices of other settlements in the city, meet new leaders and together create concrete alternative plans with which they can begin to talk to their cities. Community mobilisation and mobilising city-wide federations are then also among the first goals Celine D’Cruz, SDI co-ordinator anchoring and supporting the data collection process for the SDI network, mentions when she talks about the Know Your City process. It is about the creation of a momentum of inclusion and of identity making for the community of the urban poor. Furthermore, the data collected supports the development of alternative participatory plans for slum upgrading strategies based on prioritised needs; it offers federations and communities at large the ability to monitor their own settlements and, last but not least, grounded and consolidated data at the local level, once aggregated, opens up the space for advocacy at the national and global level.

The maps of K2 and Green Park were visualised the same weekend and brought back to the respective settlements. They are as different as the settlements themselves are. Spread out Green Park contrasts with dense K2. In the latter, all the toilets are located on one site, leading to a situation mentioned above, where a map paints a clearer picture of reality then just numbers.

The learning exchange made clear that settlement profiling and mapping is an essential tool to leverage upgrading, monitor settlements and for regional and global advocacy. The young leaders from K2 and Green Park definitely seemed eager to continue the work and make the realities and needs of the city’s urban poor majority visible through maps.



FEDUP and ISN Leadership Retreat 2014

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Leadership Retreat in KZN, Durban

Leadership Retreat in KZN, Durban

From 20 – 25 June 2014 national leaders from both FEDUP and ISN met in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal, for a leadership retreat. The aim of the retreat was to open up a space for leaders to reflect and reassess the different methods and tools they have been using to mobilise their communities.

These tools – mobilization and savings, exchanges, enumerations, mapping, and community-led implementation – are a shared set of rituals that all federations affiliated to Shack / Sum Dwellers International (SDI) practice. The retreat was not only a time of reflection, reorientation and discussion. It was also one of practical learning, especially in mapping, enumeration and savings practices, in which leaders refocused on the strength of these tools to mobilise new informal settlements and savings schemes.

The retreat

At the beginning of the retreat, Rose Molokoane, national co-ordinator of FEDUP explained,

“The last time we were here in Durban was for the march [to eThewkini Municipality] on 24 March 2014. We realized then that we need to continue building our leadership to make our work and these kind of events successful because an organisation is not a project, but a process. This is when the idea developed to call most if not all our leaders to a retreat”

This went hand in hand with developing and discussing a joint focus for the retreat. In thinking about the nature of a retreat, the group responded that it viewed the retreat as a time of reflection, co-operation, re-affirming vision, working together and a reminder of the Alliance’s current position. The group also highlighted that it wanted to achieve this focus by better understanding the Alliance’s vision and background as well as getting practically involved in community activities.

Rose Molokoane facilitates a discussion at the Leadership Retreat

Rose Molokoane facilitates a discussion at the Leadership Retreat

While the first day of the retreat looked back at the history and foundation of the Alliance, the other days focused on building the capacity of Alliance leaders for current and future activities. On the first day therefore the group focused on the Alliance’s founding gathering at Broederstroom and reminded each other of five pillars: love, availability, transparency, trust and commitment.

On the remaining four days Alliance leaders split into teams to do enumeration and mapping exercises in Boxwood and Johanna Road settlements in Kenville and to collect savings in Kwa Bestar. This meant that FEDUP and ISN members, some for the first time, became actively involved in one another’s tools of enumeration and savings.

These days also included training with the CORC enumeration team and workshops on the organisational roles and structure of the SA Alliance (ISN, FEDUP, CORC & uTshani Fund).

Rose Molokoane (National Co-ordinator of FEDUP) and Charlton Ziervogel (CORC Programme Officer)

Rose Molokoane (National Co-ordinator of FEDUP) and Charlton Ziervogel (CORC Programme Officer)

Enumerations and mapping

The enumeration activities in Boxwood and Johanna Rd introduced FEDUP members to the practice of numbering, shack measuring, data collection and capturing, and settlement mapping. For Rose, it was clear that celebrating information is vital. This is why enumerations are so powerful – the socio-demographic questionnaires collect valuable information that communities can use to better organize themselves and lobby local government. Ma Mkhabela, from FEDUP KZN agreed that,

“It’s important that leaders are present at enumerations so that they can be in touch with community issues. Enumerations help to give people a space to relate to each other”

(Ma Mkhabela, FEDUP KZN)

Similarly, mapping and measuring give community members a further tool for planning and lobbying. By knowing the number of pathways in one’s settlement, or the incline of gradients, communities can contribute to developing a plan for their settlement.

Right: MaMkhabela (FEDUP KZN)

Right: MaMkhabela (FEDUP KZN)


During the savings collection in Durban’s Kwa Bestar, ISN members received a direct insight to the power of savings. They saw how savings can strongly connect communities through regular savings collection visits that also offer a personal opportunity to enquire about the welfare of a fellow savings scheme member.

Ndodeni Dengo ,Durban’s ISN co-ordinator, reflected,

“It was my first time collecting door-to-door savings. We need to take this back to our communities”

ISN National Co-ordinators Front: Ndodeni Dengo

ISN National Co-ordinators Front: Ndodeni Dengo

Looking back and moving forward

During the feedback session many groups expressed the value they saw in working together as a team and emphasized the need to continue sharing ideas and establishing a good working relationship between ISN & FEDUP.

“This retreat has revived me. I’m now able to remember things I had forgotten. I learned how things should be done in our organisation. Our pillars are there to grow the organisation. In our region, we now also know about the power or enumerations”

(Rosina Mufumadi, FEDUP Limpopo)

Rosina Mufamadi (FEDUP Limpopo)

Rosina Mufumadi (FEDUP Limpopo)