Gates foundation gives $10m to help urban poor

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $10-million to Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI) to help the urban poor improve their housing, water and sanitation.

The grant would go directly to grassroots groups that gather under the umbrella of SDI, enabling them to improve their living conditions and their capacity to negotiate with governments to secure rights to land, the foundations said in a statement.

The SDI’s affiliate, the Federation of the Urban Poor (Fedup), has constructed over 13 000 housing units since 1995 and provided tenure security to an additional 20 000 families, the foundation said.

SDI and Fedup signed a memorandum of understanding with the department of housing in South Africa in May last year.

The department has pledged R280-million worth of subsidies to the federation.

Sheela Patel, chairperson of SDI’s board, said the grant would help to build local dialogue and locally sustainable solutions.

Worldwide, about a billion people live in slums or shacks, most of which lack safe water and toilets.

“This fund is a breakthrough for slum dwellers to achieve their dreams and the opportunity to do things themselves,” said Rose Molokoane, chairperson of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor and an SDI board member.

The foundation will share results with a wide variety of institutions—including municipalities and national governments responsible for urban poor communities in order to showcase how the poor can become active partners rather than beneficiaries of aid.

SDI, based in South Africa, has affiliates in 33 countries, including 17 countries in Africa. - Sapa

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