Ugandan Slum Dwellers Celebrate Ten Years of Mobilisation

The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda celebrated its tenth anniversary this past December with celebrations and mobilisation activities that showed why the Federation has become one of the most successful in Africa.

The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) celebrated its tenth anniversary on 12 December 2012 with celebrations and mobilisation activities that showed why the Federation has become one of the most successful in Africa.

It has been an extraordinary decade of growth for the Federation, which has expanded from a few savings groups in Kisenyi to a major organisation that comprises more than 38,000 slum dwellers and 500 savings groups throughout Uganda. NSDFU is a member of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI).

The NSDFU’s approach to mobilising and empowering slum dwellers is one of the key components of the Cities Alliance’s Country Programme in Uganda, and its support NGO, ACTogether, is one of the major partners in the programme.

NSDFU and ACTogether, marked the milestone anniversary with a major celebration in Kampala that featured a free concert by famous Ugandan artist Bobi Wine, generating considerable publicity for the Federation and its work. Activities also included a savers’ convention, displays of housing and sanitation models, and the launch of a book marking the Federation’s first ten years.

In addition to the celebrations, the anniversary was also a time for mobilisation. In response to requests by Federation groups to provide access to markets for their goods, organisers held a huge income-generating activity market for slum dwellers, providing space for livelihood projects that included candles, liquid soap, clothes, beads, bags, briquettes, shoes jewelry and baskets. Many of these vendors were women, who make up approximately 70 percent of all NSDFU members. The successful, lively market highlighted the incredible array of skills found among NDSFU members and the power of collective action toward livelihood improvement.

Sometimes municipal council representatives—and even members—don’t really believe the federation has so many members and does so much work, but at the event they really saw.”
--Federation Member Sarah Kiyimba, on the anniversary gathering

In addition, it featured a major sensitisation effort for Uganda’s Urban Poor Fund (SUUBI), which extends loans for housing, sanitation units, and livelihood projects to Federation groups throughout the country. There was a competition for SUUBI savings, with the winner receiving a 10 million shilling (US$ 3,710) loan for a community slum upgrading project.

The district of Arua won the competition, and its members decided to use the loan to construct a sanitation unit—a project prioritised following community enumerations. Federation members have already negotiated for land in Arua Municipality for the project.

Notably, the event also highlighted the developing partnerships between slum dweller federations and local governments, who were able to get a sense of the breadth of the NSDFU’s activities. Many federation members travelled to the celebrations with their municipal council partners; for example, Mbale municipality came with the mayor, and Arua brought its Community Development Officer. (Both Mbale and Arua are participating in the TSUPU programme.)

For more about the NSDFU’s anniversary, please see the article by Skye Dobson of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI).

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