Shack/Slum Dwellers International

Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by

A transnational organization with global affiliates in thirty-four different countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Shack/Slum Dwellers International was founded in 1992 out of a series of exchanges and peer-learning experiences among Indian and South African slum and shack dwellers. SDI affiliates are comprised of urban poor, the majority of them women, and range in size from a few hundred members in Zambia to more than 1.5 million in India. They all share a common realization: government alone cannot solve poverty and underdevelopment. SDI is pioneering an alternative route by creating a set of tools to build more inclusive cities through redevelopment and upgrades and by engaging global agencies directly about equitable urbanization.

Horizontal exchange is SDI’s primary learning strategy. Groups from different countries visit each other to compare experiences and achievements, such as utilizing savings networks and SDI tools like community enumeration, mapping, settlement planning, housing design, and infrastructure upgrades. These exchanges have enabled the rapid dissemination of locally developed solutions. Promoting women’s participation and building local capacity and leadership are critical components of SDI’s strategy to help the poor build cohesion and confidence and create pivotal change in their own settlements.

An example of SDI’s reach is in the designing and building of community toilet blocks with improved lighting and ventilation; over 400 toilet blocks have been constructed in India. They are a part of training and envisioning exercises for all housing projects. The process of planning, constructing, and maintaining the blocks strengthens trust among residents, builds local skills, increases livelihood options, promotes women’s involvement, and expands the residents’ hopes to improve their surroundings and help the entire city.

Founders: Sheela Patel, Celine d’Cruz, Jockin Arputham, Joel Bolnick, Patrick Magebhula, Rose Molokoane. India and South Africa, 1992. 

Affiliates: Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, DRC, East Timor, Egypt, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe

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