Engaging with the urban poor and their organizations for poverty reduction and urban governance
This paper is about a very important poverty reduction process in urban areas that is rarely noticed by international agencies and hardly ever documented – the successes of particular urban poor groups in what they do and in how they negotiate change in their relationship with local government agencies. This paper describes the great range of poverty reduction initiatives taking place on the ground, mostly by grassroots organizations. These include the work of the growing number of national federations of slum/shack dwellers or homeless people and the savings groups that are at their foundation. The paper discusses the different ways in which grassroots organizations and federations organize, map and enumerate their settlements, undertake precedent-setting projects and negotiate with local governments. It also describes some of the networks that grassroots organizations have formed (including the waste picker associations and federations) and some international funds that have learned how to support them. In the longer term, these organizations and federations also have importance in driving the changes needed in local governance – increasing the capacity and accountability of local governments, as these learn to work with and not against the urban poor in their jurisdiction.