The Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) has reached out to 35 ACP countries and 160 cities, and has provided the necessary enabling framework for improving the lives of at least 2 million slum dwellers. The programme acknowledges that the coordination between national governments and local authorities in the development and implementation of financing strategy is essential for sustainable city-wide slum upgrading.

If there’s a concept that is key to Slum Upgrading, it’s the “Citywide Strategy”. Being an alternative to piecemeal project-based slum improvement, it’s a programmatic way of addressing the challenges of informal settlements in a city; aiming at the physical, social, juridical and economic integration of all slums into the official planning and urban management systems that govern the city. By knitting the settlement into its surrounding urban fabric in an integrated manner, the dwellers become - physically, legally and socially - part of the city.

To achieve such goals, an integrated multi-sectoral approach is required, joining political, urban, financial and legal efforts. To ensure that all country members from the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) have the adequate support to provide financial measures, guaranteeing sustainability of implemented projects, the UN-Habitat Slum Upgrading Unit has organized workshops to present a new Financing Tool for citywide improvements. 

The tool is practical and it can respond to the PSUP work, but it can be used in all levels of your actions, like on leveraging government funds. It can be adapted to the country’s context and also be plucked to other aspects of the Government and other relevant stakeholders work. As a matter of fact, the key message from the workshop is that it is not possible to develop a financial system that works if you do not take into account the entire process and context of the country.

First of all, it is necessary to reflect on planning and designing decisions and what kind of barriers that are in the way of the infrastructure implementation. Secondly, it’s crucial to think strategically of the subsidies, so that they can be gradually replaced by other forms of investment, creating a sustainable and stable environment over time. To do so, the households shall be able to contribute financially in the long-term; so there is a need to reflect upon the amount of resources that  households are able to support and how to take political decisions to increase their power of consumption.

Kenya, being one of the most committed PSUP partners, had the opportunity to learn more on the subject in September during the workshop in order to improve knowledge of up-scalling actions. A related session was also organized this month for the official delegation  of Cameroon and another co-joint event is planned to happen in November in Tunisia, with the presence of the Kenyan and the Cameroon teams. 

Despite the fact that Tunisia is not a PSUP member, the country stood out during the Habitat III conference in Quito, 2016, due to the government’s initiatives to upgrade slums in a broader scale of the city. On the other hand, Kenya and Cameroon are members, both currently implementing pilot projects in a few selected communities.  There’s a clear will coming from all parts for collaboration, sharing best practices and taking actions towards more sustainable solutions when implementing  and expanding projects.

The objective of all those events organized wihtin the UN-Habitat’s Housing and Slum Upgrading Branch is to show how the PSUP philosophy can be translated into a financing strategy: being a long-term incremental investment. It also reveals the necessary engagements for the up-scaling step ; it takes the entire city – and all different sectors – such as the planning unit, so that slum upgrading is not limited to a few communities, but it rather becomes a programmatic process encompassing all settlements of the city. 

Article by PSUP 
Photo Credits: MyPSUP (CC)