Report of HIC global activities of Cairo, Egypt 2005


68 representatives (29 women and 39 men) from international, regional and local social movements, NGOs and professional entities from 30 countries, including 10 Board Members and 8 Board Alternates, and one representative of InWent, were present on the training and the workshops of the HIC global meetings of Cairo, Egypt, September 2005. (see list of participants)

1. Training on Human Right to Adequate Housing

The training on HRAH made focus on:

· Legal specificity of the HRAH: from the human rights norms as practical tools the analysis to the legal specificity and state obligations regarding HRAH.

· Monitoring methodology: identification of the monitoring the elements of HRAH, the steps towards problem solving and the duty holders.

· Taking it on the road: upcoming UN and other advocacy opportunities: analysis of the political, factual, legal and implementation bodies and the un system and special focus on the opportunities for country and thematic monitoring and advocacy.

The evaluation made by HIC members highlighted the opportunity to have a deeper insight into how the housing right is closely linked to the Human Rights issue, and how it is possible to defend local violations of rights to housing by going up stage by stage to international level and the use of international commitments to reinforce the denounces. The outstanding presentation was the one related with the HLRN Toolkit as a codified the method for monitoring and evaluation of the human right to adequate housing, especially the legal aspect.

Participants pointed out the need to have different articulated dynamics for the theoretical approach and the practical suggestions with different methodologies for presentations. An important issue for further trainings is to have participatory debates and to include other means for exchange as round tables, practical examples, video clips, some posters with the cases that illustrate topics and concrete experiences to learn how the toolkit has been used and the results of the denounces presented to multilateral organizations. It is also mentioned the need to have a follow-up to give support to participants and reinforce capacity building of the trainers.

Suggestions included: the need of an orientation to first timers; try to get more organized by way of following making agendas; try to tie/link issues of discussions – as it happened a tendency to jump from one topic to another; provide the information in CD instead of hard copies for easy; and study the specific cases in workshops in order to understand the tools.

According to assistants, further trainings shall be based on better knowledge of each participant’s experience, country and continent background to train on procedures, tools and methodologies development accordingly, and could address topics as:

  • Women’s right to housing and sustainable environment, the links with financing and poverty issues.
  • Observatories of local, national and regional development suing as well as rights-based approach
  • Impacts of privatization process of habitat
  • Financing social habitat
  • HRAH and the access to basic social services
  • Debate on the right to the city and the local specificities and processes

2. Cross-analysis on Social Production of Habitat

Whatever contribution inhabitant groups make to Social Production of Habitat, SPH – be it in the planning phase, the financing, the construction or the management – they will always have to negotiate with other entities for questions like land, water, sewage, roads, finances. Habitat and housing rights, policies and programs are important to SPH actions because they may play a role both on the extent that these policies may facilitate and/or prevent the development of such initiatives. Conversely, SPH actions might become more effective and efficient under the umbrella of recognized rights and legally established policies and procedures. SPH urges an effective and efficient transformation of local and national policies toward understanding and strengthening people’s process for access and provision of land and shelter.

For 30 years HIC has been pooling experiences of people-centred production, improvement and management of habitat under the umbrella of different projects: GONGO, LIFE and more recently, Social Production of Habitat, supported by InWEnt. The documentation of experiences has centred in the process, the partnerships and the outcomes of specific projects drawing lessons and regional analysis. The time has come to re-analysis this knowledge and practices towards advocacy and increasing negotiation capacity at regional and international or global level.

HIC Global Events of 2005 in Cairo, Egypt made focus on the linkages between peoples process and the housing and land rights approach. The analysis of cases of SPH aimed to explore the issues arising related with up-scaling processes, new themes and advocacy opportunities

3. General Assembly

HIC General Assembly issued the Strategic Lines of Action for 2005-2007, adopted as the Cairo Declaration, that define policies and priorities on HIC global agenda.

The General Assembly stated solidarity with housing and land struggles in Iraq, Afghanistan, U.S.A. Paris, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Morocco.

4. Implementing HIC global strategy

The workshop on Implementing a HIC Global Strategy, was a collective analysis of the General Assembly policy orientations that included the identification of priorities and potentialities to build a global network. Based on the debates of the General Assembly the different working groups analysed the scope of the tasks, came to concrete agreements and edited the text that was adopted as the “Cairo Declaration”, which identifies:

HIC reaffirmed strategic focus include:

§ Developing relationships inside and outside HIC, through advocacy, promotion, facilitative, supportive and direct action; and strengthening civil society’s role in improving housing and settlement development.

§ Strengthening people’s processes by supporting community based efforts to improve housing and settlements and alleviate poverty by assisting a broad range of people’s actions, addressing a set of core issues: housing, governance and poverty.

§ Advocacy for recognition, defense and full implementation of housing rights, to improve the quality of life of the poor through improvement of housing conditions, in additional to income enhancement and social empowerment; and to move toward sustainable development.

Four main axis for further actions were identified:

§ Promote the social production of habitat

§ Revise MDG slum reduction targets

§ Halt forced evictions and promote human rights

§ Campaigns and networks

5. Board Meeting

The Board Meeting addressed HIC global activities and operative decisions, ie:

§ HIC Board proposes guidelines for electoral processes with full respect to the autonomy and specificities of each region and network.

§ the Working Group on Globalization and Privatization of Habitat (reference person: Michael Kane or Knut Unger)

§ the Task Force Housing and Land Rights in War, Occupation and Armed Conflict (reference person: Joseph Schechla)

§ Women and Shelter Network will design a strategy for internal repair and re-articulation of the network with the HIC strategy and programs. A first step is to breed a map of themes and organizations working on the field of gender and habitat. For more information contact: Maite Martínez, Olga Segovia or Marisol Dalmazzo.

§ 84 members applications y 36 friends applications were analysed. The Middle East/North Africa was approved as HIC Region.

§ HIC global activities for 2006 will coincide with WUF 3, Vancouver, Canada. This is a return to HIC’s birthplace and an opportunity to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Coalition.

6. HIC in the field: site visits

Site-visits to meet local practices on housing/land struggles and initiatives in:

  • Defending the right to adequate housing in urban slums: An encounter with communities facing evictions and posing alternative solutions, Egyptian Center for Housing Rights, Cairo
  • The connection between domestic violence against women and the right to adequate shelter: The local experience of initiating the establishment of women’s shelters in Egypt, site visits to the shelter facilities, meetings with victims to discuss cases, Bariq Center for Women Victims of Violence, Cairo.
  • Microcredit and social development in Upper Egypt: Village-level upgrading and construction with credit schemes combined with legal-defense and social rehabilitation strategies, Better Life Association for Community Development, al-Minya (Upper Egypt).
  • Land rights and globalization: Exposure to local initiatives in the rural Nile Delta to uphold housing and land rights and protect livelihoods for farmers subject to recent legislation privatizing lands, Land Center for Human Rights, Cairo.
  • Living conditions and community development of Cairo’s garbage pickers (zabbalin): The experience of social and economic development in the communities living from recycling, Waste Collectors Association, Cairo.
  • Rehabilitation of historic urban centers: A visit to historic preservation sites in Islamic Old Cairo where local initiatives have managed to ensure the social dimension of development integral with the restoration of the built heritage, Center for Development Services, Near East Foundation, Cairo.
  • The Right to the City and the Environment: A visit to Cairo vantage points to survey the effects of urbanization and pollution on the environment and its consequences for habitable housing, livelihoods and public health, Habi Center for Environment and Human Rights, Cairo.

6. Core Follow-up Activities

Monitoring opportunities of the HRAH

  • HLRN will coordinate the monitoring and advocacy opportunities on the HRAH

Social production of habitat

  • Breed a map on case studies linking SPH and other HIC members and strategic focus.
  • In the frame of the Agenda 21 and the Sustainable Cities Programme, HIC will suggest cases to be presented at regional advocacy opportunities: the workshops we have been suggesting, tries to bring together the different players and to break down what SPH means into the reality of selected cities which should be open for the dialog with HIC on alternative strategies to deal with the existing slum and squatter settlements and with appropriate areas dedicated to low-income groups in the future and to discuss what in the current reality prevents people from making SPH a first but necessary step towards the solution of their felt housing needs and basis of citizenship.

Renewal of representatives to HIC Board:

  • From November 2005 to December 2006, eight HIC structures will elect their representatives to HIC Board: Asia, Europe, Latin America, Francophone Africa, Middle East/North Africa, HLRN, HSEN and WAS.

Activities at III World Urban Forum, 2006

· A Round Table to review progress on the “Cities without Slums” Initiative (MDG7) and to advocate the revision of Target 11, as stated by the Executive Director, at CSD 13.

§ A Networking Event to provide an opportunity to exchange perspectives and practices on “Social Production and Management of Habitat”, based on a worldwide inquiry and advocacy initiative of HIC.

§ A Networking Event to provide an opportunity for learning to use a tool-kit to monitor the right to adequate housing and forced evictions, in multiple habitat situations, including zones of conflict. The tool-kit which is in English, Spanish and Arabic is a product of the HIC Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN)

§ A Networking Event to provide and opportunity to expose and share the impacts of privatization and globalization with respect to habitat public goods and services — social housing, utilities and so on, both in the North and the South. The event is the initiative of the HIC Working Group on the Privatization and Globalization of Habitat.

§ A Networking Event to provide an opportunity for learning about the establishment of Urban Observatories to enhance sustainable habitats, based on cases from several African countries. This is an initiative of HIC Habitat and Sustainable Environment Network (HSEN).

§ A Special Event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of HIC, which coincides with Habitat I commemoration. The event will honor the eminent veterans of HIC worldwide, who were present in Habitat I, in Vancouver 1976.

§ An Exhibition of the achievements and practices of people-centered processes, social movements and communities with respect to multiple features of habitat.

§ A Public Rally to voice alarm and demand “Global Action on Homelessness and Forced Evictions” everywhere.