Un tiers voire la moitié des urbains asiatiques et africains vivent dans des bidonvilles, privés des services de base (électricité, eau, assainissement) mais aussi de leurs droits humains fondamentaux (santé, éducation, citoyenneté). Si les politiques publiques et les interventions extérieures se sont essoufflées, l'espoir réside aujourd'hui dans les associations d'habitants qui se fédèrent au niveau national et proposent de vraies alternatives.
Half of the world's population lives in urban areas, mostly in low- and middle-income countries where at least 900 million people live in slums and shantytowns. In most cities in Africa and Asia, one-third to one-half of the entire population lives in such settlements. Living in a slum or shantytown means overcrowding (often three or more persons to each room) and inadequate water, sanitation, schools and health care. It usually means facing constant discrimination because of where you live - being looked down upon, ignored, exploited. It also means your home will be bulldozed when some government agency wants the land on which you live, or the land has become sufficiently valuable for real estate interests to press for its "redevelopment." It usually means no electricity - or electricity supplies that are illegal and often unsafe. Most such settlements are on dangerous or inconvenient sites, more at risk for accidental fires and floods. There are no emergency services in the event of such disasters, or with acute illness or injury, and no insurance for homes and possessions lost or damaged. The lack of a legal address may also mean no access to government schools and health care centres, and no possibility of a bank account. In some places, no address means no way to get onto the voters' register.
The last forty years have brought little success in reducing such urban poverty, which most international aid agencies have shown little or no interest in addressing. One of the most significant changes tin urban poverty reduction has been the emergence of grassroots organizations among "slum" or shack dwellers who form their own national federations. They are developing real alternatives to slums and shantytowns. Where governments and international agencies support these federations, the scale and scope of what they can achieve increases greatly.
Savings and credit groups formed by slum or shack dwellers are the foundation for all these federations. All of the federations address their members' needs for better-quality, more secure housing and good water, sanitation and drainage. Women make up the majority in all the federations and have key leadership roles. Their strength and tenacity, and their active role in finding land and building housing, allows them to negotiate roles that approach equality with men, whilst ensuring that women's needs and priorities are addressed. The savings groups form city-wide and then nation-wide federations to learn from each other, to pool some of their savings, and to develop their capacities to address housing issues and negotiate with government agencies. There are currently seventeen nations with such federations (see Table 1) and many other nations where federations are emerging as savings groups expand. Many of these federations have set up their own Urban Poor Fund to help manage their savings and fund their initiatives. For instance, the Mchenga Fund in Malawi has supported a range of initiatives related to land acquisition, house building and livelihoods, with over 3,000 households securing land in the last five years (Manda 2007). The Gungano Fund in Zimbabwe, despite political and economic difficulties, has carried on lending for land development and infrastructure, and has recently secured 4,800 plots. In the Philippines, the regionalization of the Fund has enabled thousands of members to negotiate for land in the fourteen cities where the Homeless People's Federation Philippines is active. In Cambodia, the Homeless People's Federation was awarded the prestigious International Year of Shelter for the Homeless Memorial Prize 2009 by the Japan Housing Association (Phonphakdee et al. 2009).
In many nations, savings groups have designed and built hundreds of new housing units; in some nations, they have managed the construction of tens of thousands of new units. In Thailand, local savings groups-led initiatives have built or upgraded homes and neighbourhoods for over 400,000 low-income people since 2003 (Boonyabancha 2005 and 2009). The South African Federation of the Urban Poor has built over 20,000 homes and is developing new ways to upgrade existing shantytowns. Many other federations in Africa also have large new house building programmes, including the federations in Kenya, Malawi and Namibia (Mitlin 2008; Mitlin and Muller 2004; Manda 2007). In India, the National Slum Dwellers Federation and Mahila Milan (the federation of women slum- and pavement-dwellers' savings groups) have built thousands of homes, along with building and managing community toilets and washing facilities that serve hundreds of thousands of slum dwellers (Burra et al. 2003).
Mass Movements That Want to Work With Governments
The grassroots federations are unusual because while they are mass movements, they do not form simply to protest and to make demands, but rather to offer governments their knowledge, skills and capacities in partnership. They also demonstrate to governments what the latter could achieve, since the federations build better quality housing more cheaply and quickly than government agencies or contractors. They also show how much the scale and effectiveness of their work increases if governments work with them. This helps change politicians' and civil servants' views of the urban poor, and their organizations and informal settlements, as those who create solutions, not as "the problem."
Nations where federation-government partnerships operate include South Africa, Namibia, Malawi and Kenya; they are also developing in Zambia and Tanzania. Such partnerships are also active in India, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, and many other Asian nations. A strong federation has developed in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and is generating interest among the urban poor in other South American cities and nations.
Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI)
The federations and the local NGOs that work with them have set up their own umbrella organization, Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI). SDI negotiates with international funding agencies on behalf of the federations, helps manage external funding and supports knowledge-sharing between the different federations. It also sets up visits from the federations in nations where urban poor groups want to learn how to achieve similar successes.
Exemples de programmes d'épargne et de prêts des fédérations