Grassroots and Informal Settlements

Grassroots and Informal Settlements

Grassroots women, informal settlements and slum dwellers associations are at the forefront in building inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities. They have built a movement that works collectively for action on a common set of locally driven objectives that seek to influence policies, programmes, and key decisions that effect change at local, national, regional, and global level.

These groups are the first responders to any crises and are critical contributors to solutions, which are a better fit to the local context. With the continued effect of the global health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, grassroot organizations continue to support marginalized and vulnerable communities in building forward better post COVID-19.  Grassroots Movements are associated with bottom-up decision making, encouraging community members to contribute by taking responsibility and action for their community.

The COVID-19 pandemic and pandemic responses, such as government lockdowns, have highlighted and exacerbated many of the chronic stresses urban poor communities live with and struggle against daily. As such, effective solutions to « build back better » need to be about more than COVID-19 response and recovery: they must address the need for sustainable, inclusive, and pro-poor urban development that provides communities with meaningful opportunities to work with government and other stakeholders to address issues such as secure tenure, food security, livelihood opportunities, and basic services like water and sanitation, as well as the need for accurate Community data to drive government responses in times of crisis.

Over many decades, organized grassroots communities have shown that they have the social networks and systems in place to respond efficiently and effectively to disasters and chronic stress. They have demonstrated their critical role to governments and development partners as reliable actors at the forefront of provision of information on and services to the most vulnerable. Indeed, with lockdowns and government restrictions, many external organizations were unable to access the vulnerable communities where these communities live and work, highlighting the immense value of working directly with grassroots organizations and networks. They will continue to advocate and catalyze positive change in their communities.