Slum and Shack Dwellers International (SDI) launches Know Your City Campaign for gathering citywide data on slums

At a World Urban Forum 7 networking event this afternoon in Medellín, Slum and Shack Dwellers International (SDI) officially launched its Know Your City Campaign — a global campaign for gathering citywide data on slums as the basis for inclusive partnerships betwen the urban poor and local governments.

The Know Your City Campaign is "aimed at the development of protocols for cities to map slums across the city," the official announcement explains. "Every household, every neighborhood and every informal settlement has to be counted. There can be no inclusive or equitable development planning and investment, nor effective city governance if the increasing majority of the residents of informal settlements remain unaccounted for."

At the networking event — entitled "Know Your City: Creating Resilient and Equitable Cities through Partnerships for Community-Collected Data" — a panel composed of members of SDI and partner organizations presented the campaign's rationale and the tools and technology that SDI has created to implement it.

"SDI has demonstrated that cities have to work with urban poor communities to collect baseline data and maps of all informal settlements in the city," the announcement explains. "This is the beginning of forming a relationship with those who have remained invisible in city planning in the past. Our campaign seeks to invite communities of the urban poor, NGOs, academics, and city mayors and administrators to join this campaign. We urge national governments, bilateral agencies, multilateral organizations, and academics, to finance and support this process."

SDI's announcement describes the "many immediate and long-term benefits" of slum mapping:

First, it helps settlements to develop a collective understanding. When communities visit each other while collecting information, settlements begin to network. Most of SDI federations have emerged through such exercises.

Second, sustainable development for cities needs to makes sure that information about all living in the city has to be collected, and updated. Invariably, cities list only half the settlements. This leads to skewed investments; increased difference between amenities and services provision and more difficulty in catching up to provide all these services.

Third, in times of increased awareness of city responsibility to vulnerability with man-made and climatic disasters, reaching those most vulnerable and often least documented is always a problem for city administrations.

"Helping the poor to create a voice, a collective identity, and possibilities to participate in transformation and change," the announcement concludes, "is an integral aspect of what we all seek in the future of cities."

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