Environment & Urbanization local organisation profiles

As part of our commitment to learning from our partners, Environment & Urbanization regularly publishes papers that profile the work of local organisations. The papers listed below are free to download from the Sage Journals website.

2014 - ongoing
David Satterthwaite

Senior associate, Human Settlements

Covers of Environment and Urbanization publications

The organisation profiles published are free to download from the Sage Journals website (Photo: copyright Environment & Urbanization)

The journal Environment & Urbanization has published many papers profiling the work of local organisations; some are listed below with short summaries. Each paper's title is linked to the Sage Journals website, where you can read more and download the papers at no charge.

The papers are listed under four headings:

  1. Grassroots organisations
  2. Local NGOs
  3. Local governments, and
  4. Local funding organisations

Illustrating the importance of cross-fertilisation, it is not a surprise that many of the papers on local NGOs are also on their work with grassroots organisations, and most of the papers on local governments also discuss civil society organisations.


1. Grassroots organisations

Developing new approaches for people-centred development: Jockin Arputham (2008)
Jockin Arputham founded the National Slum Dwellers Federation in India and is president of Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI). This profile describes his life and work and the many different methods he has used to strengthen communities to fight eviction and get government support for people-centred development.

State and civil society in the barrios of Havana, Cuba: the case of Pogolotti: Ronaldo Ramirez (2005)
This discusses what influenced the success or failure of community projects in one low-income neighbourhood in Havana as it examines how people used available institutions to support a range of civil society initiatives.

Establishing the role of communities in governance: the experience of the Homeless People's Federation Philippines: Sandra Yu and Anna Marie Karaos (2004)
This describes the federation's achievements in working towards securing land tenure, upgrading settlements and improving the economic status of members.

Deep democracy: urban governmentality and the horizon of politics: Arjun Appadurai (2001)
This describes the work of the Alliance formed by the NGO SPARC, the National Slum Dwellers Federation and Mahila Milan, a federation of women's savings groups in India. It also discusses how these kinds of organisations can be instruments of deep democracy, rooted in local context and able to mediate globalizing forces in ways that benefit the poor.

Meet the Philippines Homeless People's Federation: Vincentian Missionaries (2001)
This photo essay describes how the federation was formed to bring together low-income community organisations that had developed housing savings groups in many cities and also to encourage and support the formation of other savings groups.

Building an urban poor people's movement in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (2001)
This is a photo essay on how the urban poor and their organisations are working with government agencies, NGOs and international donors in Phnom Penh to develop homes and neighbourhoods, support income generation and, where needed, manage relocation schemes.

Community-based organisation and participatory planning in southeast Mexico City: Pedro Moctezuma B (2001)
This describes the experiences of community-based organisations in settlements and municipalities in southeast Mexico City in participatory planning and in developing local projects and new employment opportunities.

The urban poor under threat and in struggle: options for urban development in Zimbabwe, 1995–2000: Beth Chitekwe and Diana Mitlin (2001)
This describes the development of savings schemes by urban poor groups in different urban centres in Zimbabwe and their negotiations with local authorities to allow them to develop their own homes and neighbourhoods. It also describes how these savings schemes developed the Zimbabwean Homeless People's Federation.

The Payatas Environmental Development Programme: micro-enterprise promotion and involvement in solid waste management in Quezon City: Vincentian Missionaries (1998)
This describes the growth of a federation formed by scavengers who live close to a major solid waste dump and explains how the federation increased the scavengers' capacity to negotiate with local authorities and other government agencies.

2. Local NGOs

Mchenga – urban poor housing fund in Malawi: Mtafu A Zeleza Manda (2007)
This describes the establishment of a federation of the urban poor in Malawi in 2003 with the support of a local NGO, and the operation of the Mchenga Fund to support their housing initiatives.

Orangi Pilot Project: the expansion of work beyond Orangi and the mapping of informal settlements and infrastructure: Arif Hasan (2006)
This describes the work of the Pakistan NGO, Orangi Pilot Project–Research and Training Institute in supporting improved provision for sanitation and other services in Orangi and other informal settlements in Karachi, and in other cities and smaller urban centres in Pakistan.

Community federations and city upgrading: the work of Pamoja Trust and Muungano in Kenya: Jane Weru (2004)
This describes the work of the Kenyan NGO, Pamoja Trust, and the Kenyan urban poor federation, Muungano wa Wanvijiji, in the informal settlements where a high proportion of Kenya's urban population live.

Community-designed, built and managed toilet blocks in Indian cities: Sundar Burra, Sheela Patel and Tom Kerr (2003)
This describes the 10-year programme of community-designed, built and managed toilet blocks undertaken in many cities by urban poor federations and women's cooperatives with support from the Indian NGO, SPARC.

The politics of engagement: gains and challenges of the NGO coalition in Cebu City: Felisa U Etemadi (2000)
This describes the efforts of the NGO coalition, Kaabag, to push the concerns of the urban poor in the local governance processes of Cebu City in the Philippines.

3. Local governments

Governance and natural disasters: addressing flooding in Saint Louis, Senegal: Khady Diagne (2007)
This describes an initiative to develop responses to flooding in the city of Saint Louis that brought together local government and civil society as it focused on reducing risks and on better preparedness in a city with very limited investment capacity.

Participatory governance in Peru: exercising citizenship: Michaela Hordijk (2005)
This discusses participatory budgeting as a learning process in two municipalities in metropolitan Lima – Villa El Salvador and San Juan de Miraflores.

Community police stations in Mumbai's slums: A N Roy, A Jockin and Ahmad Javed (2004)
This describes an alliance between slum dwellers' federations and the police to set up community police stations in the slums of Mumbai, and explains how they operate.

Citizenship knows no age; children's participation in the governance and municipal budget of Barra Mansa, Brazil: Eliana Guerra (2002)
This describes the development of a children’s participatory budget council in the city of Barra Mansa, to which boys and girls are elected by their peers to ensure that the municipal council addresses their priorities.

The rise and fall of government–community partnerships for urban development: grassroots testimony from Colombo: Steven Russell and Elizabeth Vidler (2000)
This presents evaluations of government policies by poor residents of Colombo who were active in initiatives to improve housing and services during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Community development councils and community action planning had given residents and community leaders more influence but it proved difficult to sustain these in the face of widespread poverty, entrenched government institutions, power structures antagonistic to community participation and NGOs intent on controlling initiatives.

Urban governance and health development in León, Nicaragua: René Pérez Montiel, and Françoise Barten (1999)
This describes the "healthy municipality" initiative in Léon and the innovations in local governance that underpinned it.

Participatory democracy and sustainable development: integrated urban environmental management in Porto Alegre, Brazil: Rualdo Menegat (2002)
This describes the city's participatory budgeting system and the multiple interconnections it has with a wide-ranging environmental policy.

Ilo: a city in transformation: Jose Luis López Follegatti (1999)
This describes progress from 1982 to 1999 in provision for water, sanitation, electricity, tree-planting and street-paving programmes, and ocean front renewal. Three hundred projects were financed and executed through a partnership between municipal government and community-level management committees.

Agenda 21; a form of joint environmental management in Manizales, Colombia: Luz Stella Velasquez (1998)
This describes the development of Bioplan–Manizales, a local environmental action plan for Manizales, and the different groups that contributed to its development, including the municipality. It also describes the many local initiatives that were supported and the innovative "environmental traffic lights" through which progress was monitored and made public.

The local environmental action plan for Olivares bio-comuna in Manizales: Luz Stella Vélasquez (1999)
This describes the local environmental action plan in Olivares, one of the poorest areas in Manizales. It also discusses the plan's different stages and highlights the involvement of local government, institutions, universities, the private sector, NGOs and community associations.

4. Local funding organisations

Baan Mankong; going to scale with "slum" and squatter upgrading in Thailand: Somsook Boonyabancha (2005)
This describes the national slum and squatter upgrading programme that provides support to community organisations and their networks through infrastructure subsidies and housing loans.

Innovative financing for low-income housing improvement: lessons from programmes in Central America: Alfredo Stein with Luis Castillo (2005)
This discusses what has been learnt from housing and local development programmes in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) during the last 15 years.

Participation and sustainability in social projects: the experience of the Local Development Programme (PRODEL) in Nicaragua: Alfredo Stein (2001)
This describes the work of PRODEL in eight cities in Nicaragua, where it provided small grants for infrastructure and community works projects and loans for housing improvement and micro-enterprises, targeted at low-income groups.

Local funds and their potential to allow donor agencies to support community development and poverty reduction: David Satterthwaite (2002)
This describes the growing number of local funds or local institutions through which international agencies or national governments channel resources to support community initiatives.


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