Shelter and settlements Alternatives was established in 1999 by a group of eminent Ugandans brought together by a shared concern for the poor state of human settlements across the country. The idea to form a Network in Uganda was born out of the recognition that there are several stakeholders in the sector contributing to access to one or more aspects of adequate human settlements. Furthermore, that the challenge of promoting adequate human settlements for all calls for effective partnerships between government, the private sector, civil society, development partners and the communities themselves. In 2008- 2009, a group of stakeholders in the human settlements sector in Uganda, drawn from civil society, academia, professionals’ associations, communities and the private sector With support from Rooftops Canada and Swedish Cooperative Center (SCC) started engaging with efforts to form the Network. The initiative was conceived and spearheaded by Shelter & Settlements Alternatives (SSA), who have been involved in information dissemination and networking in the sector.
WHAT WE DO
In May 2010 following a workshop held with stakeholders, the elected Steering Committee members agreed to form the Network, which is now called Shelter and Settlements Alternatives: Uganda Human Settlements Network (SSA:UHSNET). The Network’s mandate is to provide a credible forum for discussion of human settlements issues and challenges and promote formulation of an enabling policy environment for mobilization of technical and financial resources required to provide decent, affordable and well planned human settlements for Ugandans, with particular focus on low income slum dwellers.
The network works through its members, working groups and secretariat to fulfill its four strategic objectives encompassing service delivery and institutional sustainability:
1.To influence Government and other stakeholders commitment to effective implementation of local, national, regional and international commitments to adequate housing
2.To enhance community participation in human settlement decisions and actions which affect them.
3.To strengthen the performance effectiveness and sustainability of Member Institutions.
4.To strengthen the sustainability of the Network
To meet these objectives, the Network employs several core activities and strategies, including:
- Research and documentation: The network continuously conducts research and documentation of activities and issues in order to map the effectiveness of its interventions as well as the state of human settlements in Uganda.
- Information sharing: The Network conducts information-sharing activities in a number of ways, including publication and dissemination of IECs, best practices, newsletters and e-bulletins, and national media campaigns.
- Networking, advocacy and lobbying: The Network acts as a platform for stakeholders in the human settlements sector to lobby and advocate for adequate housing for all Ugandans. Through the working groups, the network has been able to engage government and make contributions and recommendations on different policies and regulations that guide the sector. For example, the Network has provided input on the National Housing Policy draft, drafted guidelines on evictions and resettlements, and submitted position paper on the need for Government prioritization of the housing sector
- Community mobilization and empowerment: Communities are strengthened and supported though trainings, workshops, peer educations, exchange visits and general advice and technical support. The network puts great emphasis on community participation and mainly works through its members to raise awareness and empower local communities, often tough facilitating housing cooperatives, women’s groups and other forms of collective action aimed at changing the living and housing conditions of the urban poor.