The annual strategic meeting of Spaces for Change | S4C and the Communities Alliance against Displacement (CAD) held on January 30, 2024, brought together leaders of informal communities in Bariga, Ajah, Lagos Mainland, Badagry, Mile-12, and Badia-East, to formulate action plans and strategies for strengthening the protection of housing rights in the new year. Founded in 2017 to address the challenges faced by the urban poor in Lagos State, CAD is a network that unites and mobilizes diverse communities to tackle issues like forced evictions, land-grabbing, and broader concerns linked to rapid urbanization and governance. The annual strategic meeting serves as a platform for S4C and CAD to align their respective organizational goals, review past achievements, and collectively strategize for the year ahead.
The meeting commenced with a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis of the accomplishments and challenges encountered in the past year. The challenges are many, ranging from increased demolition, mass displacement, gentrification, and heightened economic hardship as a result of forced displacement. The insights gained from the SWOT analysis informed the mapping of activities that will be undertaken in 2024 to address the identified challenges. The major areas of focus include fostering inter-community collaborations, brokering dialogue between communities and city planning authorities, and facilitating capacity-building and empowerment programs targeted at marginalized communities.
Recognizing that women often bear a disproportionate burden during forced evictions and displacement, 2024 initiatives will accord priority to women. This means that collective action and resources will be dedicated to addressing the specific urbanization challenges faced by women in marginalized or informal communities. More specifically, CAD will initiate targeted initiatives designed to enhance economic opportunities for women affected by displacement. This will necessitate the expansion and extension of CAD’s WOMENPOWA program to low-income women in diverse informal communities. Launched by S4C in 2018, the WOMENPOWA Loan Empowerment Program is an economic initiative aimed at alleviating displacement-induced poverty among women in informal communities in Lagos State. The revolving loan with zero interest, has successfully empowered over 50 women.
The annual strategic meeting is not just a convening, but a vehicle for collaborative problem-solving between S4C and CAD. The commitment to inclusivity, exemplified through the upscaling of the WOMENPOWA Loan Empowerment Program, underscores S4C and CAD’s determination to ensure alignment between problems and solutions. Through this annual meeting, both organizations have revitalized their readiness for the pursuit of an urban landscape that is equitable and resilient for all city-dwellers, whether rich or poor.