Notes to broadcasters
Participatory community enumeration is an efficient way to gather information about urban communities and involve residents in the data-gathering process. This information helps the government plan upgrading activities in slums and resettlement initiatives. More importantly, communities become part of the process of developing their neighbourhoods, rather than being simply dependent on governments.
Around the world, millions of people live in slums and informal settlements. The conditions of living are often deplorable. According to a 2010 report by the Global Land Tool Network, one billion people in the world live in slums. In many cities, slums are now home to a large part of the urban population, and are growing as fast as cities themselves. The report also says that in the developing world, one out of every three people in cities lives in a slum.
Nigeria’s capital city is no exception. Over the years, Abuja has witnessed an amazing influx of people. This massive migration has had an adverse effect on the city’s social and physical infrastructure. Land is expensive and the cost of living is high. Abuja is also known for forced evictions and demolitions, due to the government’s commitment to conform to the city’s master plan. These forced evictions and demolitions are a human rights abuse under United Nations’ declarations. As a result of these activities, many low-income people work in the city but live in satellite towns. The population in these settlements is high. The settlements are overcrowded, lack basic services and are unplanned. In short, residents’ very lives and well-being are uncertain.
This story shows the efforts of an NGO to empower several communities in Abuja. The NGO uses community enumeration to help citizens direct funds to the most desperate sections of their communities.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
If you are just tuning in for the first time, this program showcases various initiatives carried out to make our communities healthier. Today, we have another interesting topic to discuss in the studios. Today, we bring you yet another wonderful effort, called “community enumeration.”
This story helps dispel many myths about poor communities: first, that poor communities are chaotic, crime-ridden and cannot organize themselves. The truth is that the majority of residents earn their living through hard work, and that they lack schooling and are underpaid. And secondly, that the poor cannot resolve their issues because they lack funds and knowledge.
Partnerships between communities, governments and other agencies can help people understand how residents cope in these slums, why they live the way they do, and what they need. This is where community enumeration comes in.
In Kenya when the Railways Corporation notified residents of the Kibera slum of plans to demolish structures in the area, community members quickly enumerated the people and the buildings likely to be affected. The findings revealed that about 20,000 buildings and over 108,000 people would suffer. The residents formed a group to negotiate on their behalf. Pressure was applied to government to stop the plans, and they were cancelled. In 2005, the Railways Corporation started negotiations with the community group. They later conducted a more comprehensive enumeration, which led to a voluntary resettlement scheme that is currently operating.
Enumerations are useful for resettlement. They help local people to organize themselves and propose alternatives to demolition and resettlement, including compensation.
Presenter: To many living in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, the sound of the bulldozer can mean only one thing – demolitions and forced evictions. Here in Abuja, memories of the homes demolished by the government are still fresh in the minds of many people. Because of these demolitions, most of those affected have resorted to living in satellite towns. These communities are now overcrowded and in urgent need of basic services. But an NGO has come up with a solution that will empower these communities. I have here in the studios with me the Executive Director of the Women’s Environmental Programme, Patricia Achakpa. It’s good to have you join us.
So, in order to prevent such horrific consequences, the organization decided that community enumerations were necessary to bring to light the situation in the community. This process will also empower the communities, make the local people aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and help the local people mobilize to overcome their challenges. They can use this information to resist forced evictions or to demand compensation. Community enumeration will also result in proper planning for the communities and meet the developmental needs of the communities.
We started this program last year, after we visited other African countries to see how it is done. Our project is different because the communities themselves are the ones physically involved in the exercise, and collecting the information. Once we have trained the enumerators, they conduct the process from start to finish. So this program is not ours but theirs, for their collective benefit.
Mrs. Achakpa: Like I said earlier, before introducing this initiative in Nigeria, we visited some other countries. We travelled to the US, India, and African countries like South Africa, Ghana and Kenya. We found that community enumeration is working there. This approach empowers residents by giving them information on their communities. They can use this information to negotiate with their government and with other partners, including politicians. You know that politicians often approach residents, asking them about their developmental needs and making promises, especially near election time. Having the information from community enumeration allows residents to lobby and advocate for their needs, and hold governments accountable. Abuja is full of communities, or slums as you call it; they are all around. They all lack basic amenities – no toilets, drinking water, health services, and so on. So this project is all about people getting ownership and improving these slums.
For example, we have worked in Jiwa community, which we have been reliably informed that the government will soon come to demolish. We have helped the community members to understand that by participating in this project, they will come to know everything about their community. They will know everything – from the population of their community to the state of its drinking water, the state of electrification, and many other types of information.
Ending tune up for five seconds, and fade out
- Contributed by: Oluwakemi Aduroja, Network News 24 TV, Nigeria
- Reviewed by: Jason Newberry, Ph.D, Taylor Newberry Consulting, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Interview with Patricia Achakpa of the Women’s Environmental Programme (WEP).
Interviews with residents of Jiwa Community, Abuja.
- Women’s Environmental Programme. Community Enumeration in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria. 2009.
- WaterAid. Community mapping: A tool for community organising. Guidelines for WaterAid Programmes and Partners. April 2005. http://www.wateraid.org/documents/plugin_documents/communitymappingweb_1.pdf
- Shaaban A. Sheuya, 2008. Improving the Health and Lives of People Living in Slums. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 1136, Issue 1, pages 298-306. Article first published online: 25 July 2008. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120849164/articletext?DOI=10.1196%2Fannals.1425.003
- Global Land Tool Network, 2010. Brief for Urban Planners: Improving data collection for urban planning through participatory enumerations. Global Land Tool Network Brief 2, March 2010. http://www.gltn.net/en/home/land-information-management/brief-for-urban-planners-improving-data-collection-for-planning-through-participatory-enumerations/details.html