The SA SDI Alliance engages a wide array of strategic partners in building more inclusive and pro-poor cities. The agendas in these diverse partnerships are primarily defined along the broad lines of building pro-poor and inclusive cities. Organised communities are best positioned to design and plan development solutions that have greater impact, scale and sustainability compared to conventional interventions.
Building an international voice of the poor
Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) is a network of community-based organisations of the urban poor in 33 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It was launched in 1996 when federations of the urban poor in countries such as India and South Africa agreed that a global platform could help their local initiatives develop alternatives to evictions while also impacting on the global agenda for urban development.
South African Government
FEDUP has established itself as an international pioneer in the field of tenure security and people’s housing since 1991. uTshani Fund and the Federation have always been committed to engagement and negotiation, especially with the National Department of Human Settlements. The Alliance recognises that the urban poor have much more to gain from dialogue than confrontation. FEDUP practices were instrumental in the drafting of the People’s Housing Process (and subsequent amendments), a subsidy instrument that intends to put people at the centre of the development process.
The ISN is leading community based planning approaches to informal settlement upgrading; an approach to providing tenure and services at scale. Through Outcome 8 and Chapter 8 of the National Development Plan (or Vision 2030), national government has acknowledged the central role communities play in eradicating urban poverty and reforming spatial inequalities. ISN is working closely with the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP) and the Ministerial Sanitation Task Team (MSTT) to find synergies between government support programmes and community processes. Mr. Patrick Magebhula, president of the ISN, has been appointed as special advisor to the minister of Human Settlements Mr. Tokyo Sexwale
Despite the imperatives at the national and provincial levels, the majority of working relationships are established at the local level. ISN works to build pragmatic partnerships with local municipalities to advance the central participation of poor communities in planning processes.
International development partners
Over the years, the Alliance has built a reputable working relationship with major international development agencies and donors. These include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (“Aligning communities and government”), Ford Foundation (“Promoting Transparent Effective and Accountable Government”), Charles Steward Mott Foundation (“General Purposes” and “Learning through Practice”), Comic Relief (iKhayalethu Grant, South Africa and Africa) and Misereor.
When professionals drive solutions to urban poverty, communities are often excluded from decision making, which means that they do not actually own or take account for their development. For this reason, a “co-production” strategy is adopted in engaging formal development actors and academic institutions, who are key partners in finding collaborative options for scalable and high impact solutions. The Alliance have built strong ties with the Planning, Architecture and Engineering schools of the University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg, University of the Witwatersrand, and Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
We also have a strong bond with a number of research institutes such as the Sustainability Institute, the African Centre for Cities, and the Insandla Institute. With these partners, the Alliance have developed innovative solutions for Community Construction Management Teams (FEDUP and SI), multi-disciplinary “city-labs” (ISN and ACC) and hosted numerous dialogues and policy analysis (CORC and ISN, and Isandla).
Learning and policy networks
The Alliance is committed to advancing the agenda of pro-poor and inclusive cities at all levels. Communities often demonstrate accurate knowledge of their settlements, and the external factors that impact on these. In these formal learning spaces, the poor are often the primary contributors to understanding the complex social systems cities represent. The main networks the Alliance engages with are the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN) and the Association of African Planning Schools (AAPS).