Transforming slums in Africa

According to Dallas Campbell on the BBC’s Supersized Earth, you could fit all the World’s urban areas into half of Australia.

That’s fairly extraordinary when you consider that recently the number of people living in urban areas exceeded those living in rural areas for the first time.  And that the World’s cities are growing by 200,000 new inhabitants a day. Cities account for some 70 per cent of global GDP.

Around one billion people live in urban slums, about one in seven of us. The figure is projected to rise to 1.4 billion by 2020. Many are built on marginal land next to rivers railways roads and rubbish dumps. Poor quality and overcrowded housing in slums has a significant impact on people’s lives: diseases spread more easily, disasters like flooding are amplified, and people are denied both privacy and safety. Basic services are often absent. The threat of eviction is often ever present.

Yet slums are not always what they seem: many are economically vibrant and some become transformed into permanent settlements.

For millions of people, gaining secure tenure of safe land is the first step towards building a permanent home and accessing other opportunities.

Since 1987, when it was set up by British housing activists, Homeless International has been the main UK charity that supports slum dwellers to improve their lives and find lasting solutions to urban poverty. Homeless International’s vision is ‘a world in which all people can exercise their right to land, basic services and shelter’. They help communities transform slums by supporting them to work together to secure land, build homes, access safe water and sanitation, and negotiate with governments – ensuring that they have a voice that gets heard.

They work by supporting the development of local organisations in Africa and Asia that have their roots in poor communities. These organisations often grow from small social movements into self-reliant organisations that are able provide shelter and basic services solutions that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Homeless International believes that sustainable solutions to homelessness can be created if people have access to land, finance, information, organisation and technology – and if they have an opportunity to play a lead role in designing solutions that work for them.

A small amount of resources is used to help a lot of people and HI deserves the support of the whole housing movement in the UK. You can find ways to get involved and to support their work on their website. Photos from Homeless International website.

Support social enterprise in Africa this Xmas!

And if you’re looking for a Xmas present that will support social enterprise in Africa, John Lewis are selling Alive and Kicking’s footballs.  If you buy a ball, A&K donate another ball to a school in Kenya – and you can track online where your donated ball has gone.

A&K are the only people making footballs in the whole continent of Africa, and there is great potential for a social enterprise to create jobs and sustain communities.

Many of the workers in the Kenyan factory live in Africa’s second largest slum, Kibera in Nairobi.

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