Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda

UPRISE Research Fellow, Dr Sophie King, has recently returned from a research design workshop in Kampala in support of a collaborative international initiative which is asking ‘what shapes state vision, commitment and capacity to reduce urban poverty in Ugandan towns and cities?’

The research is being co-produced with the Ugandan Alliance – a partnership between the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (an affiliate of the international social movement Slum/Shack Dwellers International – SDI) and their support NGO ACTogether Uganda.

The Alliance exists to strengthen the voice of the urban poor through building their capacity to represent themselves, address their own needs to improve state policy and programming. The Federation is made up of neighbourhood-based women-led savings schemes. The academic team consists of Professor Diana Mitlin at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester; Peter Kasaija, an urban planning professional and researcher who works closely with the Ugandan Alliance, and Sophie.

The project is an initiative of the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre (ESID) at the University of Manchester which is concerned with explaining what shapes state commitment and capacity to invest resources in ways which are supportive of social justice. ESID is also strongly focused on capacity building work with researchers at different stages of their careers and particularly in the global South. The ESID research portfolio covers a breadth of themes, but all their research is focused on the politics of achieving inclusive development whether that is in relation to economic growth trajectories, the governance of natural resources, social policy, or urban poverty reduction.

This particular project follows on from existing ESID research into such questions in relation the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission in India. The current research focuses on outcomes from the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda programme (TSUPU – a subsidiary towns initiative co-funded by the Cities Alliance) as well as on the character of investments in urban poverty reduction in the capital, Kampala. The Ugandan Alliance worked with local government to deliver TSUPU. In addition to the empirical findings, an important outcome of the research for the academic members of the team is to enhance their skills and understanding about how to co-produce knowledge effectively with grassroots federations, in particular, by working with them as equal partners in, rather than the subjects of, the research process.

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