movement-building & inter-community solidarity
JEI is the supporting NGO of the Nigerian Slum / Informal Settlement Federation (Federation), a growing movement of the urban poor coming together around common challenges and collective aspiration to build more inclusive, resilient, and habitable cities.
The Federation has thousands of members from hundreds of informal settlements in Lagos and Rivers States and rapidly growing in Abuja and other cities. JEI and the Federation are affiliated with Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), and integrate the core “rituals” that have successfully been used to build movements of the urban poor across Africa, Asia and Latin America, including:
- Women-led community-based savings groups, as a tool for economic empowerment;
Community profiling, mapping, and enumerations to gather data about communities that can be used to identify our needs and urban planning solutions;
Community-led planning toward incremental in-situ upgrading of settlements around issues of water, sanitation, housing, and access to basic services;
Youth-led multi-media documentation and media advocacy; and
Strong partnerships with the government towards inclusive urban planning and governance.
women-led community-based savings groups
Community-based savings groups form the foundation of the Nigerian Federation -- groups of individuals meeting on a weekly basis to save their money together, for their own purpose, and for the betterment of their communities. Every savings group is different, as its members are in charge of deciding their own groups' structure, how often meetings are held, and what types of larger community-wide projects they want to undertake. However, all savings groups work to empower their members -- financially -- to build a better future, whether that is a new or improved home or access to water and sanitation, school fees for their children, or retirement.
community mapping, profiling, and enumerations
JEI and the Nigerian Federation support community-led mapping, profiling, house numbering, and enumerations as tools to assist communities to "put themselves on the map" and gather vital information that can be used in planning for upgrading projects and engaging in dialogue with government authorities and development partners.
To date, the Nigerian Federation has supported community-led mapping, profiling, and enumerations in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja. In Lagos and Port Harcourt, the Nigerian Federation is carrying out "city-wide" profiling -- capturing baseline data about every informal settlement in both cities, and pairing it with GPS boundary maps, and geo-tagged data on the available services (water, waste collection, electricity, drainage, etc). This data forms part of SDI's Know Your City campaign.
Updates from our work:
October 2016, Quito, Ecuador -- Sani Mohammed (far right), member of the Nigerian Federation, meets with Joan Clos, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), as member of SDI delegation to the UN-Habitat 3 Conference, ensuring that the voices of the urban poor are included in the setting of the New Urban Agenda. Sani spearheaded the creation of the Federation's Policy Advocacy Committee which is a forum for Federation members to work together to push for changes in urban governance and policy within Nigeria and beyond.
October 2016, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos State -- The Nigerian Federation staged a mass protest/rally to the Governor's Office and the State House of Assembly demanding the the government to retract is threat to demolish "all waterfront settlements across Lagos State" and dialogue with the threatened communities around eviction alternatives. After over 6 hours protesting, demanding to dialogue with the Governor, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly came out to address the Federation and affected communities but could only promise to "look into" their concerns.
August 2015, Bishopkoji, Lagos State -- Nigerian Federation concludes weeklong SDI exchange with members from Port Harcourt as well as visitors from the Ghanaian Federation in Bishopkoji where savers from over 6 communities on the islands off Apapa Wharf met for a program on savings practices.
August, 2015, Oko Agbon, Mainland, Lagos State -- The Nigerian Federation convenes a savings and mobilization meeting in Oko Agbon slum, located half on land half on water, to encourage the growth of the Federation there. The meeting opened with song and dance to welcome visitors from our sister federation of the urban poor in Ghana.
January 2015, Agbajowo, Lagos State -- JEI and the Lagos Slumdweller Federation attend the weekly savings group meeting in Agbajowo, a community primarily comprised of saw-millers and their families located on the Lagos lagoon. The land on which the community sits is largely reclaimed from the lagoon with piles of saw dust. At the meeting savers discussed ongoing issues in their community, and planned ahead to a profiling exercise to take place in the coming weeks.
December 2014, Ebute Metta, Lagos State -- In collaboration with the Lagos Slumdweller Federation, JEI co-hosted a year-end rally to commemorate World Human Rights Day and review our accomplishments to date. Over 350 individuals from over 20 informal settlements in Lagos attended, alongside a representative of the Lagos State Public Advice Center, and representatives of partner NGOs, the Center for Defense of Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CDHRDA), and the Campaign Against Ignorance & Illiteracy in Nigeria (CAIIN). Read our joint press release for the event: "Lagos Slumdweller Federation calls for Security of Tenure to Achieve 'Human Rights 365' in Lagos."
June 2014, Freetown (Sierra Leone) -- JEI and the Lagos federation attended a regional 'slum profiling workshop' convened by CODESAPA and SDI and together profiled three urban slum communities in Freetown. Community-led 'settlement profiling' is a process in which community members get together and gather technical and narrative information about their community, including the number of structures, households, and schools, as well as the history of the community. The resulting 'settlement profiles' are then used as a baseline for engaging with local government authorities and others on service provision, in-situ upgrading, and other goals of the community.
July 2014, Port Harcourt, Rivers State -- Representatives of the Lagos slumdweller federation meet with Elechi Phase 2 waterfront community to exchange ideas on community organizing and empowerment through savings. This meeting was part of a week-long exchange in which two Lagos savers convened meetings in over a half dozen Port Harcourt communities to build awareness and excitement around the launch of a Port Harcourt branch of the Nigerian slumdweller federation.
June 2014, Ebute Metta, Lagos State -- Savings group members from Agbajowo community meet to support members receiving their first loans from federation funds to support their small-scale businesses. Within this loan program, initial loans are capped at N20,000, and must be paid off in installments of N1,000 on a weekly basis. Community leaders and other savers within each group serve as guarantors for the loans, ensuring timely repayment.
April 2014, Port Harcourt, Rivers State -- JEI meets with evictees from Bolivia Ama community, who since the demolition of their community in July 2012 live atop railway land, to plan towards a community profiling exercise. JEI has additionally provided the Bolivia Ama community some legal advice and guidance in their negotiations with Nigerian authorities over their involvement in providing security services to a tank farm sited adjacent to the land on which their community once stood.
February 2014, Freetown (Sierra Leone) -- JEI and Lagos federation of slumdwellers participate in regional West Africa hub-meeting of SDI affiliates in Freetown at which federation members exchanged updates on ongoing work and developed plans for the first 6-months of 2014. Depicted above, we visited informal settlements threatened by eviction to discuss strategies to counter the threats.