Natalia Ojewska – Ghana’s Old Fadama Slum: “We Want to Live in Dignity”  August 7, 2013. “On the outskirts of Accra, alongside the Odaw River and the Korle Lagoon, lies the slum of Old Fadama. Pejoratively referred to by many Ghanaians as a modern day “Sodom and Gomorrah”, Old Fadama is said to be home to around  people, making it Ghana’s biggest slum.

Life here can be precarious and opportunities for social mobility are few and far between. Made up of a bustling, roughshod tessellation of closely built wooden structures, up to twenty people sleep on the floors of its individual ‘kiosks’ – each one an average of 3-4m2. Social amenities such as sanitation, running water, medical care and waste collection are hard to come by.

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Moladi – Imagination For People – Social Innovation For The Bottom Of The Pyramid

maslow_hierarchy-copy1designmind. August 2013. About the project
The aim of empowering people at the Bottom of the Pyramid is to identify appropriate technical solutions in order to tackle basic needs in developing countries. But what are basic needs exactly?
In 1943, Abraham Maslow presented his well-known “hierarchy of needs”. According to his theory, people need food, water, sleep and warmth the most. These are considered to be basic needs and it is only when these basic physical requirements are met that individuals can progress to the next level, that of safety and security. Once these needs are fulfilled, interpersonal needs such as love and friendship, as well as the need for self-esteem and respect from others, can gain importance. Self-fulfilment and the realization of one’s own potential represent the top of the hierarchy.

What does Maslow tell us? Food, sanitation and shelter are not only mandatory preconditions for survival – they also lay the foundations for the personal development of an individual. People can only grow and develop if they don’t suffer from basic supply problems: Children in school simply cannot learn on an empty stomach and the social and economic development of communities depends on access to safe water and sanitation services.

Today, the basic needs approach has become an integral part of theories about human motivation, social and economic development, particularly in the context of development in low income countries. It has become one of the major approaches to the measurement of what is believed to be an eradicable level of poverty and it also forms the center of people-focused development strategies. The “basic needs strategy in development planning” by the ILO (1976), for instance, calls for giving priority to meeting minimum human needs, providing certain essential public services, and also stresses the importance of citizen participation in the determination and tackling of needs. Citizen participation, economic growth, globalization and technology are all intertwined in these development approaches.
The definition of basic needs within the framework of empowering people therefore also encompasses food, water, shelter (moladi), sanitation, education and healthcare. The use of technology in concert with social entrepreneurship to improve the quality of life and social structures.

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Leon Kaye – Social Enterprise In Indian Slums August, 5, 2013. Slums in India have grabbed the attention of activists, journalists and humanitarians for decades. And as urbanisation in India surges, living conditions in these poor areas within megacities have become increasingly dire. New slums have emerged on the outer rings of older ones, resulting in situations like the one in Mumbai’s Dharavi where its one million people now sit on what many Indian leaders regard as prime real estate.

Having spent time in some of the slums of Mumbai and Delhi earlier this year, I found it was easy to focus on the jarring first impressions: the overcrowding, filth and poverty. But peel back the harsh veneer and one sees the budding social enterprises that thrive in Mumbai’s M Ward and Delhi’s Holumbi Khurd. New business models from large and small firms alike that foster jobs, conserve resources and inspire innovation thrive within these neighbourhoods. The scarcity of resources like water and energy force residents to become creative, thrifty and share with their neighbours.

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Kim Verbrugghe – The Rise Of Our Shadow Cities – Innovation In The Slums August 2, 2013. In Mesopotamia, the Nile would go out of its boundaries and kilometres of land would be swiped away with water. There were long periods of draught and the water of the Nile would leave fertile sediment on the fields. About 1800 BCE, the Egyptians used a natural lake as a reservoir during dry periods. They also invented ‘flood irrigation’ and used the flooding of the Nile to distribute the water via channels across fields.

I recently listened to a TED talk about the future of our cities. Scientists believe that our future cities won’t be the metropoles we have today but the micro communities that have established themselves over the course of the years. We see these translated in similar ways across the world. The slums in India. Favelas in South America.

Cities present the best hope for a sustainable future. Family size and carbon footprint fall as density rises. You can see this best in the areas where urbanisation happens most rapidly: the slums. The working slums help create prosperity. They are valuable as a group.

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Robert Brand, Mike Cohen – Where The Heart Is: South Africa’s Post-Apartheid Housing Failure August 2, 2013.  Cecily Ghall speaks with pride about the neat, whitewashed two-room shack she built in an acquaintance’s backyard using scrap wooden planks and asbestos plates. It’s warm and – important in the midst of a wet winter – dry, she says. But it isn’t hers.

Ghall (47) has waited for a government-provided home since 2008, when she and her daughter Deonie, then 13, moved to Kurland Village, a predominantly coloured settlement of about 2 000 residents. Less than 16 kilometres away is Plettenberg Bay, a seaside resort where homes selling for more than R15-million are common.

“I don’t know how they decide who gets a house,” said Ghall, who works part-time as a domestic servant. “I’ve been on the waiting list all this time, but I never hear anything. In the meantime, I have to live in someone’s backyard and I can get kicked out at any time.”

Substandard housing remains a legacy of apartheid almost two decades after former President Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress came to power in the nation’s first multiracial vote. Since then, 3.3-million low-cost homes have been built, yet informal settlements have mushroomed around cities as the state programme failed to keep pace with population growth. The housing backlog of about 1.5-million in 1994 has burgeoned to 2.1-million as the population has grown by 13-million to 53-million, according to government data.

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Rachel Rose Jackson – Contagion: The Epidemic Of Slum Growth In African Cities And The Implications Thereof For Sustainable Urban Development August, 2, 2013.  The world has undergone a demographic metamorphosis that has never before occurred in the history of mankind. Whereas before the 21st century the majority of people lived in rural settings, now more than half the world’s population lives in cities.In addition, the number of cities in the world has more than quadrupled since 1950. This trend is particularly relevant for Africa, a continent that is experiencing an annual urbanisation rate of 5% – urbanising faster than any other continent. Although urbanisation does present various opportunities, cities in Africa must develop sustainably in a manner that can maintain and support urban health and environmental wellbeing, or they stand to crumble.

Of particular concern is the overwhelming establishment and growth of urban slums throughout African cities. Today, nearly three quarters of Sub-Saharan African city dwellers call the slums home. It is partly due to this rapid continent-wide expansion of urban slums that Africa stands to be the only continent where poverty continues to worsen over the next decades if sustainable growth is not promoted. The ‘slum sickness’ is spreading across African cities with a contagious fervour. Without understanding its causes and exacerbating factors, this contagion is likely to spread at an unparalleled pace. Therefore, it is critical that policymakers at the community, city, national, and international level understand the unique characteristics of this demographic shift and the implications it has for urban policy design.

This CAI discussion paper summarises the characteristics and causes of the unprecedented growth and expansion of urban slums within the urban centres of Africa. After reviewing these trends, the paper discusses what implications these findings have with regard to sustainable urban design and policy of the African city.

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