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NGO representation of informal settlements: the case of Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI)


Year published: 2023
Categories: Book Chapter

Author / Authors:

  • Huchzermeyer, M


In Mayne, A. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Modern History of Slums. pp.373-400. Oxford University Press, New York.

The abstract

Slum/Shack Dwellers International or SDI is an international NGO with grassroots and NGO affiliates in twenty-three countries in 2018, the vast majority of these on the African continent. Its governance incorporates selected and remunerated grassroots representatives, and until 2019 was intertwined with that of global agencies. While framing itself as being made up of grassroots savings collectives engaging in a set of non-confrontational approaches based on self-reliance and exchanges, SDI increasingly purported to represent and chart solutions for the urban poor globally. The organization’s savings-based structure of grassroots representation also sits at odds with an expansion drive, which had led to an uneven loosening of the methodological orthodoxy and therefore a diversification across the network. At the time of research in 2018, tensions existed between SDI’s representational procedures, the de facto nature of the network and its global narrative. This chapter combines a review of the extensive published and grey literature on SDI with selected interviews at the height of the organization’s global legitimacy.


  • Book Chapter