SDI Collaboration

In November 2010, representatives of AAPS and Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding designed to promote collaboration between these two networks and their affiliated institutions. SDI is a network of community-based organizations of the urban poor that operates in 33 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding followed the highly acclaimed success of the AAPS 2010 conference in Dar es Salaam. Several SDI representatives attended and provided invaluable input to that conference. Furthermore, conference proceedings featured a presentation by Jane Weru and Lamech Nyariki (both representing SDI affiliates) that highlighted the practical and experiential benefits enabled by a collaborative agreement previously forged between the Kenyan SDI affiliate and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Nairobi. At the Dar es Salaam conference, AAPS member schools decided to investigate the willingness of SDI to forge a partnership with AAPS and its members.

The following extract from the Memorandum of Understanding document outlines the purpose of the agreement and partnership:

To promote the collaboration of SDI and SDI country-based affiliates with members of the AAPS in order to promote initiatives, plans and policies which encourage pro-poor and inclusive cities and towns in Africa. The Partnership recognizes that planners play an important role in either facilitating or hindering the inclusion and improvement of informal settlements and slums, and that the education of planners has a fundamental impact on both their values and understanding, responses and practices, in relation to urban informality. The Partnership recognizes that one of the most effective ways to change the mindsets of student planners is to offer them direct experiential exposure to, and interaction with, the conditions and residents of informal settlements and slums.

As part of the agreement, the AAPS undertook to encourage its member schools to establish collaborative relationships with SDI affiliates active in their respective countries. Such relationships could potentially include the arrangement of student internships with SDI affiliates, inviting SDI staff to give inputs and lectures to planning students, as well as the conduction of research and/or teaching projects (particularly in informal settlements) in partnership with SDI affiliates.

The AAPS-SDI Memorandum of Understanding has laid down an important foundation for devising institutional partnerships capable of fostering collaboration and learning between practitioners, educators, researchers, studentsand informal community members.

Collaborative studio projects

From 2011 to 2014 AAPS and SDI jointly implemented a series of six month-long teaching studios at various African planning schools, to promote hands-on experiential learning of African urban issues and practical responses. These studios took place in Kampala (Uganda), Blantyre (Malawi), Mzuzu (Malawi), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Windhoek (Namibia) and Nairobi (Kenya). The outcomes and lessons of these projects have been documented in an overall report produced by the AAPS secretariat.

In early 2015 funding was secured from the Cities Alliance Catalytic Fund to enable four additional AAPS-SDI teaching studios to take place in Kitui (Kenya), Lusaka (Zambia), Gobabis (Namibia) and Kampala (Uganda). In this series of projects one of the primary objectives is to upscale community engagements and informal settlement upgrading initiatives to the city scale. This offers a major opportunity to contribute to future planning practice in Africa, as many urban upgrading and mobilization initiatives tend to remain localised in scale, and often fail to generate lasting impacts on urban management and planning. The intention is that these studios will help to catalyse news ways of thinking about and responding to urban informality in African cities.

Click on the links below to learn more about these studio projects:

  • SDI blog post on the Blantyre and Mzuzu studios, dated 6 August 2012
  • SDI report on the Blantyre and Mzuzu studios
  • SDI blog post on discussions surrounding studio teaching at the AAPS 2012 conference in Nairobi, dated 26 October 2012
  • Online article on the Dar es Salaam studio, dated 20 May 2013
  • Blog post on the Windhoek studio hosted on the website of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia, dated 19 September 2013
  • SDI blog post on the Lusaka studio, dated 2 May 2014
  • Online article on the Nairobi studio, dated 26 May 2014

Partnership news

SDI internship experiences

As indicated above, one of the objectives of the AAPS-SDI partnership is to encourage planning students to undertake internships with SDI affiliates. Click on the links below to view a short reflective account written by a planning student on their internship experience:

  • [Belinda Wood], second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student at the University of Cape Town (2011)
  • [Margaret Lombe], Master of City and Regional Planning graduate from the University of Cape Town (2011)
  • Gilbert Siame, first-year Master of City and Regional Planning student at the University of Cape Town (2012)

Other downloads and resources

AAPS-SDI memorandum signingProf Peter Ngau signs the AAPS-SDI Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of SDI