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Recovery and Resilience: Community-led Strategies to Build Back Better in Informal Settlements

Ariana Karamallis


date June 28, 2022 | 17:30 - 19:00
Multifunction Hall Room 17
Slum Dwellers International
South Africa
Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures
NE 97


In 2020, as Covid-19 spread rapidly across the cities where SDI is active, SDI’s urban poor federations recognised the need for both urgent responses to the acute humanitarian crises facing their communities and longer-term strategies to engage with government and other stakeholders to address the prolonged effects of this global crisis. Through a partnership supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Cities Alliance, SDI affiliates in 17 countries were able to respond effectively to the ongoing acute and chronic crises sparked by Covid-19. The Covid-19 pandemic and pandemic responses such as government lockdowns highlighted and exacerbated the many chronic stresses urban poor communities live with and struggle against daily. As such, the strategies implemented by SDI’s urban poor federations are about more than Covid-19 response and recovery: they are about sustainable, inclusive, and pro-poor urban development that provides communities with meaningful opportunities to work with government and other stakeholders to address issues such as food security, access to livelihood opportunities, skills training, and basic services like water and sanitation, as well as the need for accurate slum data to drive government responses in times of crisis and beyond. SDI’s urban poor federations have shown that they have the social networks and systems in place to respond efficiently and effectively to disasters and chronic stressors. They have demonstrated their critical role to governments and development partners as reliable actors at the forefront of provision of information on and services to the most vulnerable. Indeed, with lockdowns and government restrictions, many external organisations were unable to access the vulnerable communities where SDI federations live and work, highlighting the immense value of working directly with these communities. This session will showcase examples of the above from across the SDI network. Community members, development partners, and local government representatives will highlight how organised urban poor communities have the information, knowledge, and skills to work with government and other stakeholders to implement effective, scalable solutions to chronic and acute urban challenges. The event will also speak to the ongoing work facing cities as they attempt to “build back better” – examining what that means in the context of informal settlements that struggled to access so many basic needs prior to Covid-19. This session will serve as a call to action to government and other stakeholders, drawing attention to the urgent need to work with organised urban poor communities to address basic needs and services such as secure tenure, housing, food security, water and sanitation, if cities hope to build the kind of resilience necessary to withstand future natural and manmade shocks and stressors.


The key objectives of this networking event include: • To nurture and build the relationships necessary to create active partnerships between organized communities of the urban poor and their governments, development agencies, and other partners that champion and institutionalize slum-friendly policy and practice for resilient cities; • Exchange approaches, strategies, and outcomes achieved to identify best practices that can guide further developments; • Demonstrate the power of meaningful partnerships with organised communities of the urban poor to address recovery from Covid-19; • Demonstrate that, in order to achieve the SDGs and build inclusive and resilient cities, urban planners and policymakers must learn from the innovative strategies employed by the urban poor to find lasting solutions.

Session speakers

Ms. Beth Chitekwe Biti
Mr. Joseph Muturi
Mr. Federico Silva
Cities Alliance
Ms. Sheela Patel