people-led development Archives - SASDI Alliance

SDI and SA SDI Alliance meets Pope Francis at World Meeting of Popular Movements in Rome

By News, SDI No Comments

By Bunita Kohler (on behalf of SA SDI Alliance)

From 27 – 29 October 2014 the World Meeting of Popular Movements was held in Rome. It was initiated by the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace together with the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences along with a number of social movements.

The meeting was largely aimed at organisations and movements of excluded and marginalised communities. The event brought together over one hundred delegates from different backgrounds. Delegates represented precarious workers, temporary workers, migrant workers, the landless, homeless and people most at risk. Many bishops and other church workers also participated in the event.

WMPopular Movements Rome1

The theme of the meeting was defined as: Terra, Domus and Labor (Land, Housing and Labour). Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) was among those invited and was privileged to send ten delegates to the event.

The first day of the conference focused on popular movements sharing their realities, struggles and thoughts on the lack of decent work opportunities , decent shelter and adequate land. On Day 2 Pope Francis addressed the conference and thanked everyone for accepting the invitation to discuss serious social issues.  He described the meeting of popular movements as a positive sign, a sign that the poor are no longer satisfied with mere promises.

“The poor are no longer waiting, they are organized. They put solidarity into action. Solidarity is not just a few sporadic acts of generosity. It means struggling against the structural causes of inequality”.

”You smell of your neighbourhoods and you are a gale of hope for your communities.   Love of the poor is at the heart of the Gospel and the social teaching of the church. God entrusted land to humans to protect and cultivate the land. Land reform he said is not just a necessity but a moral obligation.  Every family should have a home. We must build neighbourhoods and live together with our neighbours.The lack of job opportunities is an outcome of a social option that considers profit more than human beings, a system that views people as disposable objects which demonstrates the worst form of exploitation and a “waste culture”.What we see today is a “Globalisation of indifference” – the world has become an orphan as God has been forgotten.”


The Pope called for a revolutionary programme and a social structure that once again put people at the centre.

Pope Francis was positive that Popular Movements could be the revolutionary force to create a new order and give new energies to society. Popular movements should encourage new forms of participation and leadership that would include rather than exclude. They should create leaders that are subservient and humble and that gives space to the youth, a leadership that is noble and gentle and leaders who are truthful and who will lead by example.

In his final remarks to the delegation the Pope committed to walk side by side with the Popular Movements.

“My wish”, he said, “Is to accompany you on your journey. We will make our way together”

In summary, day two was indeed a historic and emotional day for all the delegates. The Pope treated us like brothers and sisters, was cheerful and very clearly expressed his beliefs and views on the disorder that reigns in our world today. He expressed solidarity with the causes of TERRA, DOMUS and LABOR. He said that the poor needed to be the protagonists, not the “ones being helped”. The poor are able to help themselves when they defend their right to land, housing and jobs.

Day two was a day that spoke to the hearts and minds of us all, an emotional time in which the Pope entered into our “homes”.   We experienced the Pope speak from the heart and we witnessed his respect for human life and his deep love and respect for human beings.

The third and final day was devoted to concrete commitments for continued interaction among the popular movements and their collaboration with the church.  The discussions on day three focused on finding solutions and alternatives to ensure a house for everyone, land for everyone and a job for everyone.

For our movement, Shack Dwellers International, this was an opportune moment to build links, to create greater solidarity and to commit to on-going coordination with other landless, homeless and jobless movements in order to strengthen the voice of the poor internationally.

South African delegates attending mass at the Vatican. Left to Right: Wilma Adams (SDI), Rose Molokoane (SDI & FEDUP), Bunita Kohler (CORC)

South African delegates attending mass at the Vatican. Left to Right: Wilma Adams (SDI), Rose Molokoane (SDI & FEDUP), Bunita Kohler (CORC)


How Community Construction Management Teams (CCMT) can lead upgrading projects

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)


The venue : Makhaza Day Care Centre in Khayelitsha Cape Town

If designing and planning with communities are key aspects of people-led projects then people-led implementation and -construction are too. The SA Alliance – through the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) – has pioneered this people-led approach since 1994. By lobbying government, FEDUP strongly influenced low-income housing policy that came to be known as “the People’s Housing Process” (PHP), a special housing subsidy that allowed for much greater involvement of communities in the construction of their houses. Since then, FEDUP members have successfully implemented the construction of their houses through Community Construction Management Teams (CCMTs).

Although CCMTs have for the most part been linked to housing projects in the Alliance, setting them up is just as relevant to the Alliance’s more recent involvement in informal settlement upgrading. During this week’s three day CCMT workshop, experienced CCMT members introduced Cape Town community leaders to the CCMT model of community-led construction and explored how it could function in informal settlement upgrading.

The Exchange

Over three days Hasane Khoza (Abi) and Maureen Skepu from Gauteng shared their experiences in community construction with about 30 leaders from 6 settlements in Cape Town. With a background in construction management, Abi has helped to train and set up CCMTs and monitor housing projects. Maureen has a rich experience in CCMTs – she became a member of FEDUP in the early 2000s, accepted a volunteer position with a local CCMT five years later, and in 2011, moved into her own CCMT constructed house in Orange Farm, Gauteng. Read more about Maureen’s story here.


Day 1 of exchange: background and formation of CCMTs

During the exchange, Abi and Maureen provided some background on the formation and strcuture of CCMTs, roles and responsibilities of each CCMT member and how to introduce the model of CCMTs to informal settlement upgrading.

The group also spent an afternoon in Flamingo informal settlement, which is currently upgrading and re-blocking. The visit offered an ideal opportunity for Flamingo’s steering committee to explain the way in which they have organised themselves so far and to explore the potential for them to form a CCMT to further streamline and ease the overall management of re-blocking. For the other communities present the site visit offered a first hand impression of what to consider for managing an upgrading project.

Terence Johnson, who has been involved in Flamingo from the outset on behalf of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) explained,

“There are so many challenges and things you need to consider during upgrading. Some people don’t want to be moved, the rain causes flooding and leakages…. but we need to see these things not as a problem but as a challenge. And we can overcome challenges, especially if we work in a group like a CCMT. ”

Flamingo steering committee putting during on-site construction

Flamingo steering committee putting during on-site construction

How CCMTs work

On the first day Maureen explained,

 “The idea behind CCMTs is that communities oversee and implement projects themselves. In this way the community can make sure that the job is done properly. Because of this you need dedicated and thorough people on the team. The benefit of CCMTs compared to general steering committees are that each member has clear roles and responsibilities”

(Maureen Skepu, FEDUP housing project coordinator, Gauteng)

Within FEDUP, the CCMT process includes all the stages of house building: from drawing plans (which are formalised by qualified architects and engineers) to the construction process, which is contracted out to community members. The construction team consists of five members who each have a specific task: the technical officer requests specific items and provides quality control, the bookkeeper sources the best and cheapest materials, the storekeeper controls the inflow and outflow of stock, the loan and savings officer looks after the community’s finances, and the project manager oversees the whole process. And, unlike in the private and public building sector, most of the construction team’s members are women.

“The idea is to capacitate a community to move from being just employed in a project to driving the project themselves. Project management is a skill that can be learnt. Everyone can be taught and everything we know we have learnt. Managing a project leads to empowering a community.”

(Abi / Hasane Khoza, CCMT Construction Manager)


Abi answering questions about CCMTs

Community Questions, Discussions and Insights

The workshop was a space of many questions and lively discussions. These were about how to break down the budget at community level so each person knows exact quantities and costs of materials to expect, at what stage in a project process a CCMT could be formed, or that women’s strength, resilience and thoroughness are good qualities for CCMT members. The communities present also liked the idea that CCMTs share the overall responsibility of an upgrading project – a shift from one person to a team of people.

In reflecting on the three days that passed, the community members expressed their value for exploring how the CCMT process can work in informal settings and upgrading projects. The suggested next steps are to establish guiding templates for establishing CCMTs as well as monitoring and documenting project processes on the ground, so that these can be shared with others as well.

“What we can learn from the CCMT workshop is that we need to continue learning, especially from the mistakes we make. Let’s not only make a habit of learning but actually do something with what we learn”

(Lindiwe Ralarala, Masilunge community leader)

Discussing the role of slopes and gradients on the upgrading site.

A discussion on the role of slopes and gradients on the upgrading site.