- Slum Dwellers International
Community networks and private sector both have serious contributions to make to create cities that work for all. Despite this, there have been few sustainable partnerships that engage these two stakeholders. The Human Cities Coalition (HCC), which began as an organization set up by major private sector players in the Netherlands, has tried to change this by seeking to engage government and civil society organizations in large infrastructure projects. Towards this end, HCC invited SDI to develop a strategy to facilitate engagement with the informal urban poor in Manila and Jakarta to begin a dialogue between government, private sector, and urban poor leadership as partners in the development.
The community-driven data collection process is the highlight of the first phase of this project and has been a critical contribution to facilitating dialogue and engagement with formal stakeholders that is based on the needs and priorities of the communities. This data is seen as the most valuable contribution to design and implementation of the next phase of this project to date.
In most cities, large infrastructure investments from the private sector are on their way. Historically, the majority of the urban poor settle in undisputed areas that have low risk of evictions, such as the coastline, along rivers, canals, roads, and railways. But these same areas are the targets for infrastructure development and displacement or relocation are invariably a part of these large infrastructure projects as it is seen as the only option by most governments. These governments lack adequate or accurate data about these communities and the communities are usually fragmented and without the necessary tools to enter into negotiations with local authorities.
The private sector can bring major investments and skills to the development sector. This is what SDI's partnership with the Human Cities Coalition has been about. It is through this joint work that we have come to believe in the need for the development sector to work together with the private sector to create innovative solutions to the challenges our cities face
In this project, SDI and the Human Cities Coalition, together with local government in Jakarta, Indonesia and Manila, Philippines – two of South Asia's largest cities – have used SDI's Know Your City data collection toolkit to build partnerships that challenge previous ideas about the possibilities of these sectors working together. Eventually, communities and governments will use community-collected slum data as a knowledge resource to provide basic services to the city's poor.
This work is setting precedents for future engagements with the private sector. This is a true demonstration of the power of a networked organization of organized urban poor communities to create new partnerships that can work to bring change in difficult areas.