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FEDUP launches livelihood programs: solar lights, funeral scheme & income generation

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Walter Monyela and Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)


Sarah Makgopela of Aganang savings scheme in Legonyane (North West province) has started a small business selling hats, water boilers, sweets and other small goods through the income generation program


If about 25% of South Africans are unemployed, this percentage is even higher for communities living in informal settlements – a reality that is no different for the members of the South African Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP). Since the early 1990s, FEDUP members have identified their own development needs especially around accessing well-located land, security of tenure, improved shelter, housing and basic services. Through the practice of daily savings and other community organisation tools, FEDUP has built partnerships with government on all tiers and has negotiated access to many of these needs. Yet the lack of income generation has posed continuous instability and hardship on a day-to-day basis.

Over the last years, therefore, FEDUP has identified the need to strengthen the income generation opportunities of its members and in 2014 launched several livelihood programs. While these programs assist members to start their own small businesses and the movement as a whole to generate its own income and build its own assets, they are at the same time initiatives that reinforce the importance of the rituals of Shack/ Slum Dwellers International, such as daily savings.

The livelihoods programs underway are

  • Total Solar Lamps by Awango
  • Funeral Policy known as South African FEDUP Funeral Scheme (SAFFS)
  • Loan Program known as the Federation Income Generation Program (FIGP)

Total Solar Lamps by Awango


A member of Aganang savings scheme in Legonyane (North West) reselling Awango solar lights by Total South Africa

Total South Africa (TSL) introduced solar lamps by Awango and entered a contractual partnership with uTshani Fund to provide FEDUP members with economic opportunities of buying Awango solar lights from uTshani Fund and selling them to potential buyers e.g informal settlement communities and businesses. Although the emphasis is on FEDUP members this opportunity is also open to non-FEDUP members who are keen to do sales. This year a total of 314 people (307 FEDUP members) in seven provinces were trained as resellers.

Training includes a presentation on the available products, how they operate, durability and logistical aspects of the business. After training each reseller ideally buys at least one of each type of solar light (3 in total). The solar lights business is aimed at members who already run an income generation initiative and are seeking to diversify their products – this would provide the financial platform for securing the first stock.

Amidst successes, the program experienced challenges in terms of sellers lacking sufficient start-up capital as well as insufficient sales experience. In response FEDUP members are devising strategies to support the growth of businesses and sellers’ capacities such as exposing sellers to more in-depth training in sales skills and exploring the potential of connecting with the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) around increased support for start-up loans.

Funeral Policy (SAFFS)

The South African FEDUP Funeral Scheme (SAFFS) grew out of a desire expressed by FEDUP to bury its members with dignity and honour. SAFFS started its full operations in March 2014 and operates as an understudy to Imbalenhle Burial Society (IBS). It is underwritten by TransAfrica Life Funeral Policies, who are registered with the Financial Services Board of South Africa (FSB).SAFFS currently works in association with IBS to learn how to administer a funeral scheme with the intention of going solo. FEDUP members sell the funeral scheme to own members as well as the public and have sold an estimated 600 schemes to date. Sellers are compensated per policy sold.

Loan Program (Federation Income Generation Program – FIGP)


“I have used the Federation Income Generation Program to sew graduation gowns as a business. This helps me support my family”


The loan program is a formalisation of the loans that FEDUP members access at individual savings scheme level. While this practice will continue, the FIGP is an initiative to expand the scope of these loans to support FEDUP members in income generation activities of their choice.

FEDUP has therefore registered with the relevant financial bodies (via uTshani Fund) and has started up a legal and formalised microfinance institution through which members can access group loans from their own Urban Poor Fund, instead of external financial institutions.The criteria for accessing a loan is:

  • Formal FEDUP membership (complete UPF payment)
  • Active member of a FEDUP savings scheme
  • Experience as small business entrepreneur for at least 6 months
  • Be part of a group of 5 to access a loan

These criteria ensure that members continue saving and support one another in the development of their respective businesses because individuals can only receive loans when they are in a group of five. The whole group must also make repayments as one overall sum. Therefore individual success depends on group success.

In this way FEDUP broadens the scope of its livelihood programs, strengthens its membership base and positions itself toward financial sustainability within the next five years. The year 2015 will definitely mark FEDUP as another recognised, fully registered and compliant microfinance in South Africa. Through this initiative FEDUP will also be able to approach funders and private organisations to leverage further resources.


” I have used the FIGP to buy shwe shwe material and sew dresses” – Elizabeth Motaung, FEDUP members in Orange Farm Gauteng

At the heart of the matter

What lies behind these varying income generation initiatives? On the one hand, FEDUP’s step towards financial sustainability to ensure continued existence in the case of decreased donor-funding. On the other hand, and at the heart of the matter, lies savings, the engine of FEDUP that enables poor women to come together, share their experiences – struggles and triumphs – and find solutions.

Sarah Mulaudzi, North West co-ordinator for FEDUP recently shared that

“In our savings groups we have R300 000 worth of savings from our members who are doing income generation programs. Through the income generation program our savings are really growing!”

As the income generation programs require savings and start up capital they strengthen FEDUP’s savings practices. Strong savings in turn build a strong group and a strong community, which widens opportunities within the income generation programs themselves.

The small business of Sarah Makgopela and Elizabeth Moletese of Aganang savings scheme in Legonyane, North West province.

The small business of Sarah Makgopela and Elizabeth Moletese of Aganang savings scheme in Legonyane, North West province.




SA Alliance supports Swaziland to engage Government Around Upgrading Policy

By CORC, FEDUP, SDI No Comments

By Kwanele Sibanda (on behalf of CORC)

From 29 October – 2 November 2014 the South African Alliance travelled to Swaziland to support communities in their work with government around a national upgrading policy currently under review. The exchange aimed at looking into Swaziland’s draft policy on land allocations and procedure that is likely to cause evictions. The engagements were between municipality officials, Zone leaders and the local federation.

Group photo of Mayors, Councillors, SLIPO & FEDUP members

Group photo of Mayors, Councillors, SLIPO & FEDUP members

The Kingdom of Swaziland

The Kingdom of Swaziland is located in Southern Africa and is land locked . The Swazi Nation Land, which is communal, is held in trust by the King and parts of it are allocated by Chiefs to individual Swazi families for their use. Swaziland has four administrative regions which are further divided into 55 Tinkhundla Centres (Local Administration) these form the basic unit of political administration. Political parties were banned from the constitution promulgated on 13 October 1978.

The local federation

The federation of Swaziland is known as SLIPO (Swaziland Low Income People’s Organization). No local support NGO has been established as yet.The federation activities are currently being anchored by John Dlamini who has supported the federation from its revival in 2011.In 2008 an exchange was held to Zambia and it was attended by municipal officials and zone leaders. Upon their return, they established the federation with a lot of support from the municipality.An MOU was submitted to the national government in 2012; however no formal feedback was given back to the federation.Out of Swaziland’s total of four regions, the federation is in two regions namely: Manzini and Hhohho.The other two regions that have not yet been mobilized are Lubombo and Shiselweni.SLIPO’s membership is currently at 429 and they have R498 333.00 in savings.The federation is currently in the process of building a federation office that is being funded by SDI.

SLIPO Federation Office Near Completion

SLIPO Federation Office Near Completion

Challenges posed by Swaziland’s draft policy on upgrading

In 2008, residents of Mbabane were informed that the government is working on a policy around upgrading; however it is asserted that no further consultation was held with the respective communities. Without much knowledge about the implications of the policy; the communities remained relaxed. As SLIPO intensified its engagements with the state in 2014, it came to light that the policy had reached an advanced stage and if it is not attended; its implementation may come with more harm than good for the poor communities. To start off the process, the policy shall be implemented with an intention of upgrading 9 areas around Mbabane and that will affect Ward 1, 2, 3, part of 7, 11 and 12. Each Ward is divided into Zones.The Land Allocations Policy and Procedure went through council and passed. It was recommended that it be forwarded to the Minister and it is currently with him for approval before it is forwarded to cabinet. The first and direct negative implication of the policy especially to the poor is that; he who cannot afford a site estimated at R42 000 shall be required to seek a new place of residence (in a form that can be described as eviction). According to the state, the aim of selling the sites is that of raising funds for service installation. As SLIPO grows to another stage within the SDI alliance; it encountered a challenge that requested support; hence the request for the South African alliance to go and support. .

Day 1: Preparatory Meeting 

As SLIPO and South African delegates met in preparation for the meeting with the Mayor, they explained the background,origins and implications of the problematic draft policy to the South African visitors and requested them to focus their presentation on how the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) partnered with government and what they have achieved. SLIPO further explained that:

  • mobilizes and organises members in informal and formal wards because there is a great percentage that is struggling to pay rates and taxes and run at a risk of having their properties seized.
  • SLIPO would like to mobilise and organize communities, use SDI tools and be able to influence policies and the manner in which they are drafted
  • its challenge within the Municipality is a lack of proper handover of information

Meeting the Mayors and the councillors

Four councillors, seven SLIPO representatives and four SASDI alliance delegates attended the meeting. These included the Mayor of Mbabane, the Mayor of Manzini, the Representing Mayor of Ngwenya and the Mayor of Piggs Peak. SLIPO first presented its background, aims and objectives, member, savings UPF, loans, projects as well as areas covered. The SASDI alliance’s presentation gave an overview of SDI, tools, S.A partnerships with the state and other formal institutions as well as achievements. The various representatives explained how working closely with saving and organized communities results in meaningful development.

In his response, the Mayor indicated that he is impressed with the presentations and approach taken.He enlightened delegates about the differences between S.A and Swaziland: While South Africa has three spheres of government (national, provincial and local), Swaziland only has national and local. In addition to the above, the local municipalities rely on rates and taxes payment as funds for development; hence the need to sell plots and install infrastructure. The municipalities have a serious budget constraint because they do not get a budget allocation from national for service installation and maintenance. Funds received from national are for subsidizing service provision that is made to areas that do not pay rates and taxes.The Mayor furthermore emphasized that if there are such communities that are taking a stand in development; the state and SLIPO have to jointly have a model that clearly states how the process is going to be undertaken. Lastly, it was indicated that for SLIPO to be recognized as a national structure, it has to cover all the four regions of Swaziland.

Patrick Matsemela from North West FEDUP presenting to Zone leaders

Patrick Matsemela from North West FEDUP presenting to Zone leaders

Day 2: Meeting with Zone Leaders 

On day two of the exchange, a meeting was held between SLIPO saving scheme leaders, Zone leaders and the SASDI delegates. Zone leaders are equivalent to community leaders in the South African context. The aim of meeting them was that of: sharing the SDI concept with them, reporting on what SLIPO has been doing in form of saving schemes, share report back from meeting with the Mayors and Councillors and also requesting their support in establishing more saving schemes in their respective Zones.

The zone leaders were informed about the upgrading policy and also reminded that it is everyone’s challenge therefore a joint effort is required in finding a better solution. The estimated cost of each plot is around R42 000 and that will require at least a R600 contribution per member per month for at least five years. It was mentioned that the majority of residents are unemployed and for those that are employed they hardly earn R3 000 per month.

The leaders basically denounced the displacement of residents in the name of development and furthermore pledged to support SLIPO in mobilizing communities and engaging the government in a workable solution to the challenge.

Day 3: Meeting with Saving Scheme Leaders 

On day three the saving scheme leaders met to report back the previous days’ engagements, share savings reports, discuss mobilization and establish more saving schemes. Some of the outcomes were:

  • SLIPO would request monthly joint meetings to share its work and request participation from relevant officials
  • SLIPO saving scheme leaders to discuss and agree on a reasonable affordable amount of savings contributions
  • Leaders have a task of drafting an MOU directed to the Municipality of Mbabane as recommended

Some Lessons Learnt 

  • Swaziland has a different governing system (only national and local government)
  • SLIPO’s savings figures with limited support from the state and other institutions reflect a great commitment level
  • The lesson on the importance of savings as practiced in Swaziland can be of great use if taken seriously in South Africa. In Swaziland Saving scheme with as few members as 15 have more than 25 000 in savings and these are savings that started in 2011. The statistics show a great level of commitment.
  • SLIPO is a fairly new federation without much of projects or formal partnerships established, but the unity amongst members and moral is a great starting point for success.
Leaders of different saving schemes gather after meeting with  SASDI delegates

Leaders of different saving schemes gather after meeting with SASDI delegates

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)

“We Build Ourselves” – FEDUP Permaculture Exchange 2014

By CORC, FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Nozuko Fulani (on behalf of FEDUP)*

We are Siyazakha Savings Group. We are a group of 26 members and first started to meet in 2010 in Siyahlala informal settlement in Philippi, Cape Town, where I live. We decided to form the savings group when we got introduced to the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP). It was during a time that we were stuck on private land and did not know how to start organising ourselves. The savings group was a good way for us to improve conditions for ourselves and for our settlement. We chose the name ‘Siyazakha’ because it means ‘to build ourselves’. The name was my idea – it reminds us that we are the only ones who can build our families and ourselves. This is why we save.


Visiting permaculture gardens at Makhaza Day Care Centre


Nozuko Fulani

Over the years we have been saving towards different things. Some savings are long term and others are short term. This winter, for example, we are saving for paraffin heaters. Every member is going to save R150 from which we want to buy 3 heaters every month. We use long-term savings for things like school uniforms and groceries. This is a strong support because we don’t have to worry about taking loans. At the moment we have 15 active members and many new members joining, especially older mamas who are the most energetic.

As a savings group we also have a permaculture garden in my yard. I helped to develop this garden after I became a permaculture trainer in 2013 through uTshani Fund and FEDUP. At this time FEDUP and uTshani Fund introduced Project Permaculture as a new income generation and skills programme into the Alliance. Project Permaculture taught us the skills we need to grow fruit and vegetables. By growing our own food and reselling it, the permaculture gardens help us to make sure that we have enough food and can even make an income.  Many gardens are in crèches and day care centres. (Read this blog for more background on Project Permaculture.)


Mama Darkie from Makhaza hosts the first day of the exchange


Clearing the Grass


Preparing the Soil

Three of us from Siyazakha savings group decided to do a permaculture exchange at Masizame savings group in Makhaza (Cape Town) from 24-26 May 2014. We chose Masizame savings group because we heard that many members were no longer active.  Mama Jim, Thembiso and I went around door-to-door and managed to collect 5 women from Masizame savings group for the exchange.

On the first day we explained that permaculture is about using all available materials and that there is no need to use chemicals or to buy anything. Permaculture believes that before you start with the garden you must design it and check up on things like rainfall and wind direction. Permaculture also uses the idea of mixing the vegetables we plant. This means that we plant onions and garlic next to spinach – because these plants chase away insects. It is also important to alternate the seeds between plants that grow above and below the ground.

On day two we went straight to the vegetable gardens at Makhaza Day Care Centre. As we were gardening I showed the women how to prepare the soil by using old grass called mulch and layering it with water and old food. This makes the soil fertile. We also cleaned some vegetable beds and replanted seedlings. We learnt by using what we can see and touch.

On the last day the women said that they were very excited because permaculture gardening is a method that they know from home. Through the permaculture exchange they could see how alive a savings group can be. If you see that something is happening and that a group is active, it is very motivating. The ladies were so excited that they collected some money to buy spinach, cabbage and herb seedlings for their own garden. They decided that now they wanted to meet as a savings group every Tuesday to catch up on the meetings they had missed.

*Photos taken by Nozuko Fulani, blog compiled by Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)


Day Care Centre in Makhaza


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


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.

SDI President Jockin Arputham in Cape Town

By FEDUP, ISN, News, SDI No Comments

Jockin Arputham, president of Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) received a warm welcome from the South African Alliance in Cape Town yesterday on the last of his four-day visit. As a long-standing, much-valued friend of the Alliance he spent the day with community leaders in Khayelitsha and with representatives of the City of Cape Town and Western Cape Province.  Jockin spoke about the power of savings and the Indian Alliance’s partnership with the Municipality of Greater Mumbai. In this context, Jockin was accompanied by Rajiv Jalota, the Additional Municipal Commissioner for Projects in Greater Mumbai Municipality.

SDI President Jockin Arputham (Right) & Rajiv Jalota (Additional Municipal Commissioner for Greater Mumbai Municipality)

SDI President Jockin Arputham (Right) & Rajiv Jalota (Additional Municipal Commissioner for Greater Mumbai Municipality)

The Informal Settlement Network (ISN) has mobilised and profiled several settlements in Khayelitsha that are set to proceed on water, sanitation, drainage, re-blocking and community facility projects.  Jockin’s visit linked Khayelitsha’s community leaders – many of whom are fairly new to ISN and SDI processes – to the broader context of the South African Alliance and SDI as a global network.

Community Leaders greet Jockin

Community leaders welcome Jockin

Word of welcome by Tamara Hela, Community Leader from UT Gardens Khayelitsha

An official word of welcome by Tamara Hela, Community Leader from UT Gardens Khayelitsha

National coordinators of the South African Alliance’s two social movements, Patrick Maghebhula (ISN) and Rose Molokoane (FEDUP) welcomed Jockin by speaking about the Alliance’s history with the Indian Alliance. They referred to the South African slogan – Amandla Imali Nolwazi: Power is Money and Knowledge – and its roots in the relationship with India.

“This slogan started influencing me after we went to India (in 1991). We shared ideas around democracy with the Indians. We saw that after 40 years of democracy millions of people in India were extremely poor. We realized that if you sit around and wait for democracy it will come…but it will come with its own laws that might not cater for you. We need to do something to translate these laws to our own life. And so we learnt the experience of self-reliance from the Indians. We need to drive our own lives – and we do that with savings. This is how relationships with government were formed in India. Our savings and our information give us power to influence laws. We know, that yes, we may be poor, but we are not hopeless“

(Rose Molokoane, National FEDUP co-ordinator)

Rose Molokoane (National FEDUP co-ordinator)

Rose Molokoane (National FEDUP co-ordinator)


In the keynote address, Jockin emphasised that

“Savings are a life line. We talk about savings the whole time because money is what speaks.  But when you collect money – door to door – you also collect information. When you have information you can plan action and if you act, something will happen. This is why money and information guarantee us power.  We need to think about how to support ourselves”

As 40 – 50 % of Mumbai’s population – 19 million people – lives in slums, many millions do not have access to toilets. In fact, the ratio translates to about 1 toilet for every 800 people.  The NSDF has therefore been working together with Mr Jalota and the Municipality to construct community planned and -owned toilet facilities. This experience, Mr Jalota explained, would help to develop more policies for Greater Mumbai.

Jockin founded the National Slum Dwellers Federation of India (NSDF) in the 1970s. Often referred to as the “grandfather” of the global slum dwellers movement, Jockin was educated by the slums, living on the streets for much of his childhood with no formal education. For more than 30 years, Jockin has worked in slums and shantytowns throughout India and around the world. After working as a carpenter in Mumbai, he became involved in organising the community where he lived and worked (Reference). He helped found SDI and has been awarded many prestigious global awards, most recently the Skoll Foundation award for social entrepreneurship. On behalf of SDI Jockin has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jockin Arputham, SDI President

Jockin Arputham, SDI President

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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.

1. Overview 2

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


Re-blocking Kuku Town Informal Settlement

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

View of Kuku Town in the process of re-blocking

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

3 years of preparation

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

Re-blocking: an Alliance approach and a City policy


Community-drafted plan of Kuku Town before re-blocking

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

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

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


Community designed re-blocking plan for Kuku Town









Mobilising the community, engaging the City

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

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


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










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

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

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

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

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



Verona and Auntie Hana Olyn in her new home









Community savings records









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

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

 “As a community we are more comfortable now”

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

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








FEDUP’s Gogo Mohale saved up for “the house of her dreams”

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Patrick Matsemela (on behalf of FEDUP)

2013 was a special year for Gogo Mmapule Mohale.  After she saved for 14 years, we began building her house in Maboloka in North West Province. She started saving with the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP)  in 1999. FEDUP is a women-led social movement that empowers communities to start community saving schemes. It is also one of two social movements that forms the South African Shack Dwellers Alliance. At meetings Gogo Mmapule Mohale would always tell other members,

“I am not in a hurry. I know that I will have the house of my dreams. What needs to happen is that we must negotiate with government for more support”

Now, Gogo Mohale is 87 years old and received her house.


Gogo Mohale in front of her old house




Gogo Mohale’s new house









FEDUP – North West Network

In the North West, the FEDUP network is formed by four to six savings groups. We have six local facilitators and one regional facilitator. Federation network members meet once a month, where they bring different reports from different savings groups. They also share information on their different groups and compile a report for the regional meeting. The report also requests support on issues raised in network meetings.

Through FEDUP saving schemes, communities can develop their own knowledge and capacities, build houses and acquire land. In South Africa FEDUP has about 1500 savings and credit groups which range from a minimum of 15 to a maximum 500 members. If communities save small amounts of money, collect information and use this to negotiate with government they have a better chance of securing entitlements, strengthening themselves and leading their own development plans. FEDUP has used its collective power to lobby government and access the housing subsidy programme. In this way it strongly influenced the governments’s low-income housing policy, the People’s Housing Process (PHP) and later, the enhanced People’s Housing Process (ePHP). uTshani Fund is FEDUPs own housing finance facility and account administrator.

A FEDUP member calculates our her savings at our network meeting in Mafikeng (North West Province)


The North West / FEDUP Pledge

Gogo’s house was one of 200 hundred houses that were pledged to be built in Maboloka. The Maboloka project was part of several housing projects in Mafikeng Municipality in North West Province which was part of a national housing pledge signed in 2006 between uTshani Fund and the National Department of Housing and then minister, Lindiwe Sisulu. The pledge was for 1000 subsidies with which to build houses throughout South Africa. The other projects in North West Province were in Lethabong, Jericho&Legonyane, Oukasie Lethabile, Mafikeng and Madinyane.

Lethabong, for example, would receive 96 subsidy houses. As FEDUP we managed to build 89 houses. For this we won the runner up to the North West award for best enhanced People’s Housing Process (ePHP).  For us as FEDUP the PHP needs to be focused on the community. The most important thing about this project was that it was led by the community. We want them to lead the construction, administration and project management. This happens through the Community Construction Management Team (CCMT) which is formed by community members who hold the positions of project manager, procurement officer, bookkeeper, administrator and community liaison officer.  The houses that FEDUP members receive are bigger (54m²) than RDP houses (36m² or 40m²).

We are happy that after so many years of saving together, Gogo Mohale now has her own house. For other FEDUP savings groups to achieve what Gogo Mohale did, we still need more support from government.



The CCMT team manages construction