(Grant) A Wlee Akpeh: For Collaborative Slum Upgrading in Greater Monrovia - SDI

Project

At-a-Glance

Approval Date
Proposal Focus
1471
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type
Liberia

Detail

Summary
? What is the context of the project? Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, has a unique history in Africa. The city was founded in 1822 by freed slaves from the United States of America and was named after the US president James Monroe. It is located on a hilly peninsular between the Mesurado river and the Atlantic ocean on the West Coast of Africa in an area of Liberia known as Montserrado County. The Mesurado River separates the mainland from Bushrod and Balli islands. Bushrod Island is occupied by mangrove swamps. This geographical feature considerably reduces the amount of land readily available for human settlement and other related activities. In 1986, the population of Monrovia was estimated at around 572,000 inhabitants. This number peaked at the height of the three civil wars from 1989-1996, 1999 and 2003 – given the tendency of movement of population flight into the safer areas of the country. From 1990 to 2004 the population of Monrovia was reported to be over 1,000,000. Monrovia was built for an estimated 500,000 inhabitants and it is now struggling with its current population over 1 million citizens. Today, greater Monrovia is comprised of 12 local government authorities, which include two cities, nine townships and one borough. Years of conflict devastated the social infrastructure; an estimated 80 percent of the housing stock was destroyed, seriously weakened institutional capacities and eroded pre-war gains made in improving living conditions in Monrovia. As it is the case with urban centres in Africa, it is still characterized by inadequate, or lack of, services, housing and infrastructure. Notwithstanding this, a high number of economically active members of the population migrate to urban centres in search of better opportunities and jobs. Young people (defined as below 35 years old) currently account for about 65 per cent of Liberia's population and youth unemployment is estimated as high as 85 per cent. Many residential areas in Monrovia have typical slum characteristics: occupation by a high proportion of low-income earners, lack of basic infrastructures, ambiguous or insecure land tenure rights, high population density, poor environmental conditions, poor or very poor building quality, among others. Lack of access to land by the urban poor is one of the key contributing factors responsible for the growth of slum settlements in Monrovia. In Liberia, slums are usually located along land that is either on the hills, close to the swamps or very close to the sea. During the rainy season they are highly prone to flooding and sea erosion. This results not only in the destruction of properties but people are often unable to leave their homes or to gain access to their homes. ? What are the key issues to be addressed? The key issues to be addressed by the country programme are as follows: 1. Lack of community driven funding mechanisms to compliment government and donor investments in slums. 2. Lack of a pro poor policy and legislative environment for urban reforms benefitting slum dwellers. 3. Weak pro-poor and resilient strategies and plans with investment for slum upgrading, services and affordable housing for the poor. 4. Insufficient mechanisms to engage slum dwellers in urban governance, planning, investment strategies. Through the LCP will urban poor communities will be mobilized and positioned to actively participate in city governance, bringing stability, safety and prosperity to Monrovia. Transformative change for effective community organization of urban poor men and women will be supported by more inclusive and resilient city planning process and productive secure employment of the rapidly growing young population who demand to see the peace dividends that were promised upon ending the civil war. The Programme will focus on slum profiling and mobilizing slum dweller associations to build consensus on key investment priorities, and develop plans for slum upgrading, affordable housing and livelihood programmes, including a community upgrading fund. SDI will directly support the mobilization of slum dwellers, citywide profiling as well as settlement and municipal forums. Forums will create a platform for community led profiling information to be shared and feed into longer term outcomes, such as city development strategies (CDS) and pro-poor policies. ? Why is this project needed? The 2014 Ebola outbreak added to the mounting concerns over the city’s lack of urban governance and planning, struggling basic services (especially water, sanitation and waste collection), virtual inexistence of secure tenure, and economic destitution of slum dwellers. Much of the development attained over the past decade has been undermined by the spread of the outbreak. The role of urban poor communities and local authorities in Monrovia in response to the Ebola crisis helped turn the trajectory on new Ebola infections. Monrovia was the hardest hit in Liberia, which had the most fatalities from the disease. Now Liberia is a success story compared to neighbouring affected countries due to government shift in priorities from October to December 2014 where investments went from national government to community policing, monitoring, enforcement and accountability for health and safety issues with MCC. Longstanding humanitarian missions such as UNMIL, which have supported greater Monrovia and the country at large during the Ebola epidemic are gradually phasing out from 2015. The gradual withdrawal of the large UN presence in the country provides a more urgent need to strengthen local health delivery systems and civilian institutions. In response, many development partners are interested in supporting greater Monrovia in the context of Ebola recovery (UNICEF and UNOPS on urban WASH, USAID on decentralization and World Bank on sanitation and land administration for example) but there needs to be a forum for coordination and partnership to move this forward in a systematic way. Urban poverty challenges in greater Monrovia as in many other developing cities are multidimensional, going beyond monetary poverty lines that are set based on income or consumption levels and often at the national level. The urban poor are often disproportionally affected by inadequate basic infrastructure and lack of access to social and economic opportunities, all of which influence the level and intensity of poverty in the metropolitan area. It is clear that inequalities in access to infrastructure and services within informal settlements and urban systems at large also reflect inequalities in political power, voice and capacity to hold duty bearers to account and to access entitlements. Greater Monrovia has about 1/3 of the country’s population with an estimated 70% or more living in slums. Poverty reduction in the city has both local and national significance. For poverty reduction efforts to be effective through the Country Programme, all stakeholders will need to work together to foster conditions for effective city management, an active citizenship, and sustainable service delivery to the urban poor. No local government can be effective without an enabling national environment or without the inclusion of its citizens, especially women and girls. The Liberia Country Programme (LCP) reflects a strategic shift away from ad-hoc grants towards a strategic longer-term engagement with a city. In broad terms, the aim is to Liberia, specifically its development partners and Cities Alliance members in greater Monrovia, to realise its urban agenda through investing in partnerships, building coherence of effort between members and partners and by improving the alignment between national policy, local government capacity and an active citizenry. ? How does the project relate to the Country Programme? The country programme seeks create a platform for sustainable urban upgrading under a functioning metropolitan authority through a foundation of community engagement and partnership. A key element of this partnership is the inclusion of Liberia’s urban poor in the planning, implementation and decision making of an upgrading agenda. The SDI component of the country programme focuses on building the capacity of the urban poor through organization and mobilization of savings groups, community-led data collection (profiling and mapping) of all slums in Greater Monrovia, and mainstreaming the use of community-collected data through forums and dialogue with local officials around the prioritizing and implementation of small high impact upgrading projects which will be supported through a Community Upgrading Fund. Under the Country Programme, SDI will partner with Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) to support the mainstreaming of community-led data collection to inform the development of a slum upgrading/affordable housing delivery strategy/framework. SDI intends to explore ways in which organized slum dweller communities can partner with local street vendor associations, such as NAPETUL, to increase the voice and representation of the urban informal sectors to engage local government.
Objectives
The Project will mobilise urban poor communities and youth to actively participate in city governance, bringing stability, safety and prosperity to Monrovia. Transformative change for effective community organisation of urban poor men and women will be supported by more inclusive and resilient city planning process and productive secure employment of the rapidly growing young population who demand to see the peace dividends that were promised upon ending the civil war. The Grantee’s component of the Cities Alliance Country Programme in Liberia will focus on slum profiling and mobilizing of slum dwellers to build consensus on key investment priorities, and develop plans for slum upgrading, affordable housing and livelihood programmes, including a Community Upgrading Fund (CUF). The Greater Monrovia profiling data will be part of Grantee’s global Know Your City campaign, where slum dwellers collect and analyse data about their settlements to influence resource flows and development priorities, to mitigate against disaster and conflict and to make poor communities vocal and visible. When these settlements federate at the city, national and global level this data has incredible value for bottom-up policy formulation and developmental agenda setting. The Grantee will also support the establishment of national, city and settlement forums to build active and informed citizens and provide a platform for regular engagement with local authorities to ensure best possible social outcomes for a strengthened slum dweller national federation and informal worker association. This shall provide active citizenship of the urban poor in city investment strategies and settlement plans. These forums will serve as essential spaces for reflection on available urban data, for dialogue between communities and authorities on policy and strategy formulation and monitoring and evaluation of the country programme. The CUF projects will be planned using community profiling data, which will be reflected upon at settlement forums, so that priority projects are identified in a manner that is participatory, transparent, and accountant and that builds practical and productive institutional linkages between organized communities and government.
Activities
1. Component: City-wide slum profiling and mapping 1.1 Activity: Learning-by-doing exchange 1.2 Activity: Community trainings (profiling & mapping) 1.3 Activity: Twelve (12) city-wide slum profiles (one for each of the 12 LGAs) 2. Component: Settlement and Municipal Forums 2.1 Activity: Settlement forums 2.2 Activity: Municipal forums (two forums per year for the 12 LGAs) 2.3 Activity: Mobilization, capacitation and monitoring of federated savings groups 3. Component: CUF Community Projects 3.1 Activity: Municipal profile data review for CUF project planning 3.2: Community and YMCA monitoring of CUF projects
Expected Impacts and Results
The Project will mobilise urban poor communities and youth to actively participate in city governance, bringing stability, safety and prosperity to Monrovia. Transformative change for effective community organisation of urban poor men and women will be supported by more inclusive and resilient city planning process and productive secure employment of the rapidly growing young population who demand to see the peace dividends that were promised upon ending the civil war. The Grantee’s component of the Cities Alliance Country Programme in Liberia will focus on slum profiling and mobilizing of slum dwellers to build consensus on key investment priorities, and develop plans for slum upgrading, affordable housing and livelihood programmes, including a Community Upgrading Fund (CUF). The Greater Monrovia profiling data will be part of Grantee’s global Know Your City campaign, where slum dwellers collect and analyse data about their settlements to influence resource flows and development priorities, to mitigate against disaster and conflict and to make poor communities vocal and visible. When these settlements federate at the city, national and global level this data has incredible value for bottom-up policy formulation and developmental agenda setting. The Grantee will also support the establishment of national, city and settlement forums to build active and informed citizens and provide a platform for regular engagement with local authorities to ensure best possible social outcomes for a strengthened slum dweller national federation and informal worker association. This shall provide active citizenship of the urban poor in city investment strategies and settlement plans. These forums will serve as essential spaces for reflection on available urban data, for dialogue between communities and authorities on policy and strategy formulation and monitoring and evaluation of the country programme. The CUF projects will be planned using community profiling data, which will be reflected upon at settlement forums, so that priority projects are identified in a manner that is participatory, transparent, and accountant and that builds practical and productive institutional linkages between organized communities and government.