What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
At CCODE we worked with the communities to negotiate for land (greenfield development) with the City of Lilongwe and 193 low cost houses were constructed for community members who had been renting in the high density surbubs and informal settlements. This was also made possible in the City of Blantyre where 465 low cost houses were constructed and in Mzuzu were 89 houses were constructed. Once poeple had moved into the homes we realised that not only did their former shacks get new tenants but in some cases they started dissapearing with new landlords who were well to do coming to take over. In other instances some of the beneficiaries to the green field did not want to move into their new homes that were usually located further away from town and thus faraway from jobs and social networks. The first realisation (of new tenants) made us realise that we needed an upgrading solution for these settlements as Green fields would not scale a people driven land and housing aceess process. The fact that the land that is accessible but still makes sence for the poor (close to the areas of work, social netwroks etc) is becoming scarcer and the City land is finite, a solution was needed on where the people are living. Coupled with the fact that the poor are being evicted from these communities by the better off, a localised solution was needed. We noted that the people are already living in these communities and plots albeit in poor housing conditions and that the improvements would not mean the people being carted off to new settlements but upgrading their homes so that they are still within the communities but living in better homes. The issue of Gentrification provided a solution as it would be possible to support the poor access the land once one landlord decides to sell for one reason or the other. As the poor are the first to know when a plot is up for sale it means that the poor would be the ones getting the land in most instances and thus could then construct better homes. The fact that the poor are already surviving on these stands as multipe families means that it is possible for the homes to be improved and the same number of households accomodated better. The other issue considered was that once a landlord decised to sell, its the poor who get to know first that their plot is up for sale and yet they do not have any option.
The realisation that the planning laws and standards was not geared towards making access to land for the poor a reality tehre was need to combine the process from both the community mobilisation end to that of negotiating with the Local Authorities and the central government.
Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.
Siku Nkhoma, an urban planner by profession has since 2003 worked with people (especially women) from poor urban settlements across Malawi and has worked towards firstly understanding the issues from the poor person's point of view. This had meant spending time in community meeting and traveling with community leaders, which meant staying in the communities themselves. This not only provided the basis for working with the poor but commiting into a vocation of finding solutions that have been ground breaking in Malawi and sometimes being cross planted in other countries. From walking and waking with the urban poor communities in 2003, a national movement of the urban poor has been formed and is actively working towards finding lasting solutions to their shelter problems.
Siku is a Zimbabwean married to a Malawian, who moved to Malawi in 2002 and begun working with communities in 2003 as mentioned above. As a foreign woman, the language barrier was never felt as the more time spend with the communities provided the basis for learning and also understanding the issues. To date CCODE is one of the most successfuly local NGOs in Malawi that has not only put the issues of the urban poor on the map but also provided the requisite solutions as well. This has also not been done by the innovatr in the forefront but through allowing the people themselves to own and manage the process and accross the country the people are spearheading their own issues.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
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