New Partnership Aims to Bring the Poor into Urban Planning in African Cities

A new partnership between SDI and UCLG-A seeks to connect slum dwellers in African cities with the urbanisation process and promote inclusive urban planning.
A new partnership between Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and United Cities and Local Governments in Africa (UCLG-A) seeks to connect slum dwellers in African cities with the urbanisation process and promote inclusive urban planning.
In cities throughout Africa, mayors and policy makers frequently lack basic information about their cities – how many people actually live there, how poor they are, where they live and what they are doing.
This is particularly true for informal settlements; if available, information is often outdated and incomplete. As a result, policies are designed that exclude the residents of informal settlements, driving them further into poverty and increasing mistrust between residents and local authorities.
As part of their agreement, SDI and UCLG-A will undertake city-wide profiling of informal settlements by communities. The goal is to mobilise members of both networks – urban poor communities and mayors of African cities, respectively – towards a partnership-based approach to dealing with the growth of informal settlements.
Supported by the Cities Alliance Secretariat, the partnership will begin with a campaign to enumerate informal settlements titled “Know Your City”, in which urban poor communities will work jointly with local authorities to collect information about their neighbourhoods.
“For the first time, you can start having a debate about the future of the city with some facts about who is in the city.”
 William Cobbett, Cities Alliance Manager
This involves training community enumerators, conducting household surveys and documenting the responses, and geo-referencing the data collected so that it will be linked to maps.
The findings of the enumeration activities will be documented in a report, which will provide local authorities with much-needed information about their cities so that they can better integrate the urban poor into broader city development plans.
SDI will also design and establish social investment funds in the communities, a process is expected to strengthen the capacity of urban poor communities to engage with local officials.
UCLG-A is the umbrella organisation and united representative of local governments in Africa, representing some 350 million African citizens. It is part of the United Cities and Local Governments world organisation.
SDI is a network of community-based organisations of the urban poor. It has a range of well-developed and tested tools that support communities from informal settlements to form community organisations, build the capacity of urban poor communities to enter a constructive dialogue with local authorities, and collect information about the informal settlements and their development needs.