Housing for the Urban Poor
From Local Action to Global Networks

March 28, 2014, Presentation at the Southern Africa City studies Conference in Johannesburg

Astrid Ley gave a lecture on 'Transnational Grassroots Networks. New Tendencies in the Housing Process in Thailand, the Philippines, and South Africa'.

The paper looks at local-global activism as a new phenomenon in the realm of housing based on a research project, which included empirical studies in South Africa, the Philippines and Thailand. The focus will be on the activities of a) ‘Shack/Slum Dwellers International’ (SDI) in the Philippines and South Africa, an alliance between local federations and support NGOs as well as b) its “sister” model in Thailand, an alliance between the para-governmental ‘Community Organizations Development Institute’ (CODI), the ‘National Union of Low Income Community Organizations’ (NULICO) and the ‘Asian Coalition for Housing Rights’ (ACHR). The SDI and CODI/ACHR model have been studied in terms of their practices such as enumerations, savings, exchanges and relations to the state and international agencies. Here, focus will be given to emerging tendencies of these transnational grassroots networks, which were observed in various degrees in all three case studies; namely on three levels: 1) the organisational shift from membership to settlement-wide representation, 2) the change in their objectives from single projects to city-wide programs and, 3) finally the shift from transnational exchanges to foster regional clusters. The central concern will be to put the implications up for discussion: how can we conceptualize evolutions of transnational grassroots practice and the meaning for housing and urban research?

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