As a fundamental right, adequate housing for every citizen is the bare minimum a population can ask of their government. With the current rates of urban growth, cities have been unable to meet the housing needs of their people, leading families no option but to construct informal housing using whatever materials are available. Built upon one another and sprawling around and within cities, these informal homes become the defining element of slums. 

Despite governments’ attempts to meet the consistently growing demand for housing, the poorest of the poor are often left to fend for themselves. Faced with this fundamental challenge, urban poor federations work to profile, map and capture the reality of housing in their communities. With a better vision of each structure and its location in the settlement, slum dwellers are better able to decide and plan how to address the housing situation in the community that meets the needs of each member of the population. These community-designed initiatives have resulted in re-blocking initiatives, incremental building and innovative housing designs that not only follow strict building restrictions and laws upheld by many city governments but also provide better living conditions for urban poor families living in slums. 

With over 60,000 houses built and 3,000 dwelling units improved, slum dweller federations across the SDI network are actively addressing the housing problems of the urban poor and the problems of densification in slum settlements which their governments have struggled to address for years. These achievements have not gone unnoticed by individuals in the formal sector, and have facilitated the opening of dialogues between federations, their local authorities and other key stakeholders around the inclusion of community-run approaches to housing, city planning, urban development policy.


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