«Mentoring on Upgrading Informal Settlements» joins the “I’m a City Changer” Campaign

The Initiative «Mentoring on Upgrading Informal Settlements» is associating to the “I’m a City Changer” global movement of the World Urban Campaign promoted by UN-Habitat, the city agency of the United Nations. The campaign is a global movement to share and spread individual, corporate, and public initiatives around the world. This movement recognizes projects that improve the quality of life of cities and their citizens. This particular Initiative promotes social inclusion in urban life and joins the awareness-raising campaign promoted by the platform.

The Initiative «Mentoring on Upgrading Informal Settlements» led by Durban, São Paulo, and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) has been established in 2011 and launched as a “Metropolis Initiative” in 2012. The mentoring approach has been developed through the Committee on urban strategic planning in UCLG, thanks to the “Cityfuture programme” supported by Cities Alliance and the government of Norway.

This particular partnership has been settled in a UCLG and Metropolis Peer learning event, where the city teams exposed to each other´s realities. It applies practical experiences from São Paulo housing policies to Durban, as the two cities have been exposed to accelerated urban growth which has led to informal settlements.

Up to now, the city teams held two extensive working sessions, where action plans, concrete solutions and way forward were designed. The initiative is applied “on the ground” as Durban/eThekwini  has designated a settlement in the periphery to be worked in the new modality, influenced by the ” Sao Paulo way” and channeled an investment of 20  million rand (2 mio Euro).

The most important lesson so far seems that social work and more careful consideration of the relation of the community and the territory are possible. It deepens the perspective of housing from a merely infrastructure towards a social service.

It also offers lessons for African cities aiming to move from a delivery approach to integrated solutions. The project builds on the two cities’ strong commitment and is expected to serve as a pilot experience for the current reform process of South African and African housing policies. The local government Association Salga is committed to support this process by disseminating and promoting the lessons to members and intergovernmental dialogues.

Adequate housing is considered crucial for poverty reduction, but only integrated responses that include social services, local economic development, and empowerment can be sustainable.  Many African cities are on time to apply the lessons of this partnership. First insights of this as well as other peer learning experiences of UCLG members will be presented at AFRICITIES in Dakar.

Metropolis Initiatives build a network of metropolitan governments and their collaborating partners to promote projects in partnership for urban sustainability, understood simultaneously in its environmental, economic, social and cultural aspects. Eight projects were promoted in January 2012 which are the bases of the Metropolis Action Plan and which have a global reach.

+ www.cities-localgovernments.org

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