Summary:LUPP was established as an empowerment programme that facilitates provision of basic services like: water, sanitation, child care support and microfinance to the poor in Luanda, the capital city of Angola. LUPP became operational in 1999, during one of the most destructive phases of the civil war (1975-2002). Due to the war, basic infrastructure were neglected or destroyed; about 4 million people were displaced, most of them seeking refuge in Luanda. The city was designed for about 750,000 inhabitants but has a current population of 6 million. LUPP creates a conducive environment for communities to actively participate in securing and managing urban services. They also build capacity within local government administrations to engage, dialogue, and plan with citizens to address the priority needs identified by communities. LUPP builds capacity so that: a) communities can manage and provide such services, b) communities can actively participate in municipal governance and advocate for, promote and influence pro-poor policies at the national level, and c) local government administrations can dialogue and plan with communities so as to address priority needs that communities have identified. LUPP brought the issue of urban poverty to the attention of national, provincial and municipal leaders, stimulated debated and action, and put urban poverty on the public policy agenda. It demonstrated the importance of community participation in the municipal planning process, of accounting for the needs and views of the traditionally excluded groups such as children, youth, women, the elderly, people with disabilities, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Citizens now actively participate in urban forums and the poverty network to advocate for access to basic services. Municipal planning and budgeting is more inclusive, participatory and accountable. Government ministries have adopted the LUPP model of community management in the provision of urban services. Community-managed stand-pipes provided clean water to 74,000 residents, reduced the cost of water by up to 20 times, and doubled the quantity of water used by each individual to reach minimum recommended levels. Water-user groups have started to use their collective voice to demand and obtain service improvements from the para-statal water supplier. LUPP is developing national policy and training guidelines for community-managed water sources. Community-organized and operated creches are being replicated in all 18 provinces throughout the country. LUPP created and transformed a microfinance project into KixiCredito, the first non-bank microfinance institution in Angola. KixiCredito has 13,000 clients (62% women), total cumulative loans of US$70 million (since 1999), with a 98% repayment rate in 2009.
Summary:Legal Extension through Neighbours is a program that gives legal and civic training to enable ordinary people access the right to justice. The program works especially with financially vulnerable groups who normally receive no help with their problems, and often give up. This training enables any community to have voluntary counselors. The main objective is to provide alternative solutions for common judicial problems through “a neighbor helps another neighbor” strategy. This is based upon the constitutional mandate for every citizen to be aware of the law and his/her own rights and obligations. In the establishment of priorities, some questions considered included: ways to engage people through legal training, people’s perception of the legal system and awareness of constitutional rights and obligations. The project identified neighborhood organizations and established personal contacts to define the community’s needs and expectations. It also worked with town councils to develop the programme through collective agreements. Specific objectives of the project included meeting citizen’s needs and expectations regarding civic and legal education, creating spaces for democratic debate, and teaching the functioning of institutions through which citizens can claim justice or assistance. Strategic alliances with public organizations such as city councils were established for support and continuity of volunteer work. In each province, an NGO resolves the problems locally, while a Latin American network, created in 2008, facilitates access to the program, thus, national and regional impact is attained. Regarding the continuity of volunteer work, workshops for debates and exchange of ideas and opinions are held periodically for the neighborhood counselors. Given the provincial achievements, the program has been transferred from Mendoza to nine provinces in Argentina. The Center for the Promotion of Transference, Evaluation and Systematization (Centro de Promoción de Transferencia, Evaluación y Sistematización del Extensionismo Jurídico Vecinal - CPTES) has been established in Foundation PLUS in Mendoza. The process has been adopted by organizations in Uruguay, Paraguay and Guatemala. Transfers are based on needs identified by organizations from the province that makes a request to Foundation PLUS. The local organization starts identifying possible neighbors interested in receiving training. When training is over, the legal counselor is equipped with a variety of tools to enable, her/him guide those requesting help. When a problem is not solved, the counselor contacts the professionals of the parent organization. This program bases its continuity in the generation of ideas from the community and the neighbor counselors trained to identify potential problems and their solutions. Two very important components are: community-based projects, and continued analysis of the impact. The process of transfer includes identification of local organizations and territorial institutions functioning in the region; diagnosis of the socio-political situation in each community, including possible sources for financial and structural support. Once the local institutions have been specified, a collaboration agreement is signed. This is followed by selection of professionals to be trained as trainers, and neighbours to be trained as counselors. Training of the two groups is followed by opening of legal counseling offices. This practice was first transferred to Chile in 1998 and it has proven to be successful until present time. Each context required some adaptation but no fundamental change in the methodology. The experience has been transferred nine times nationally and four times internationally. The aim is to multiply access to the legal system to impoverished regions, allowing people to understand the concepts of citizenship, justice and rights; and to personally experience political, social and self realization. Noteworthy results include: Maipú, in Mendoza city, where participative budget has been implemented, with active participation of extensionists. The community suggests and prioritizes communal activities to be financed by the city council. In Uruguay, in the city council of Maldonado, extensionists take part in the Council’s assessment of public policies. The programme contributes to social inclusion and equality - the only specification is age, 18 being the minimum age for trainees. Legal formation and training, is done in simple language for citizens who have only basic schooling, respecting their ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds. Emphasis is on providing broad knowledge on the functioning of the legal system. This practice has been supported by provincial legislations giving access to requisite resources such as a physical space for legal counseling offices. The program has received recognition at the municipal, provincial and national levels. This practice has succeeded in transferring to local, provincial and national levels due to its strategic design, structure and methodology.
Summary:Vienna is the capital, and also one of the nine states of Austria. It is by far the largest industrialized city in Austria as well as its cultural, economic and political centre. ÖkoKauf Wien (Vienna Buys Ecologically) is a cross-departmental programme launched in 1998 and attached to the Executive Group for Construction and Technology of the City of Vienna. The programme aims to enhance the environmental compatibility of the city’s procurement system with the principles of climate protection and European Union (EU) procurement regulations. An important factor for the success of the ÖkoKauf Wien programme is its broad structure which involves more than 200 experts from all spheres of the Vienna City Administration as well as a number of external experts. Texts for invitations to tender, criteria catalogues and other guidelines that can be used in the field of procurement are continuously developed. Currently, there are about 100 such product catalogues for supply, construction and other services regularly procured by the City of Vienna. Over the ten years the programme has been running, there have been many reviews, assessments and subsequent adjustments: The use of waste paper for the production of office storage systems and sanitary paper saves resources and significantly reduces the environmental burden of waste water and energy consumption; the production of organic food releases less Carbon-dioxide than products from conventional agriculture; The purchase of organic food in accordance with the criteria of ÖkoKauf Wien, alone enables the City avoid about 20,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year; The change to energy-efficient office and household appliances and lighting technologies such as energy-saving lamps and energy-saving electrical appliances not only saves on energy but also considerably reduces Carbon-dioxide levels. These simple changes in processes contribute significantly to easing the burden on the environment. ÖkoKauf Wien targets the procurement practices of the city government as well as the consumption preferences and practices of city residents. The enquiries received show that other public procurers as well as large industrial enterprises and individual private households in other European cities are also interested in the results. The European Union has tasked its Member States to prepare National Action Plans on Sustainable Procurement. With the substantial collaboration of ÖkoKauf Wien", the Action Plan for Austria, which is available in draft form, was prepared within a relatively short period of time and contains primarily the results of the ÖkoKauf Wien programme for the ten priority issues defined by the EU. Since its implementation, the ÖkoKauf Wien programme saves an annual amount of approx. 17 million euro of a total procurement volume of 5 billion euros in the city of Vienna. Another calculable parameter is the reduction of about 30,000 tons of Carbon-dioxide per year. These savings reduce the burden on the public budget and on the climate and hence ÖkoKauf Wien can be called a sustainable policy and strategy.
Summary:Bulgaria ranks third in Europe in biodiversity, with a number of rare endemic species. It is also the largest fertilizer producer in Southeast Europe with about 60 % of its annual production exported to neighbouring countries. The resort town of Velingrad has had a long-lasting problem with all of its domestic, animal and agricultural waste. Residents of Velingrad used to collect all this varied waste and dump it in one end of the town. Intervention was needed and the citizens of Velingrad took up a project to collect and recycle the waste. According to the European Union, a significant number of Roma people live in extreme marginalization in both rural and urban areas. Intereko-21 began a project which involved mostly the poor and unemployed people of Roma origin, retirees and students from university to try and equally integrate the Roma people back into society. The decision to hire ethnic minority citizens was unanimously approved by the project participants. Intereko-21 purchased bio-composters for the biomass composting process. Composting is practiced by individuals in their homes, farmers on their land, and industrially by cities and factories. The compost produced through the project was used for the production of environmentally clean food and plant products that improve the life and health of the population in the cities of Velingrad, Yablanitza, Petrich and others. The production of compost provides employment for poor men and women including the Roma ethnic minority people. There are many achievements of the project which include environmental remediation through better waste management, changed attitude and behaviour on waste disposal, improvement of soil fertility and the promotion of organic food products. The Velingrad family composting project has also managed to better integrate the Roma through social inclusion in the project. This project has been replicated in other municipalities - the town of Petrich, town of Jablanica, city of Beli Iskar, town of Preslav and other municipalities in the region. Another major impact from composting has been for the environment: the city of Velingrad has become much cleaner!
Summary:There are about 12,000 homeless people in São Paulo; most live off begging for money and food in the downtown area of São Paulo according to statistics by the Secretary of Social Assistance of Sao Paulo. The east side of Sao Paulo’s 3.3 million population mostly consists of migrants from Brazil’s poorer north-eastern states. Cities Without Hunger is a Non-Governmental Organization that has introduced an alternative to social security food baskets by mobilizing the community to participate in the production of food in disadvantaged communities with high population density, in order to improve the situation of those groups at risk. The objective of Cities Without Hunger project was to make use of vacant public and private land for the development of vegetable gardens. The programme set up income-generating community gardens, fostered nutrition education to tackle malnutrition, introduced environmental and sanitary education within the local context and set up small processing units for harvested produce. Cidades Sem Fome uses a participatory community education method which has trained community members in technical as well as leadership skills. Through the programmes, provide needy communities are provided resources for professional training and income generation through the marketing of products obtained from participants’ farming projects. Another objective of the programme is to combat malnutrition and improve quality of life of the communities by facilitating access to safe and nutritious food and improving the physical environment of the community. The programme aims at providing alternatives for the economic development while minimizing the negative social, health, and environmental conditions. The Cities Without Hunger-Community Garden project formed a committee to select families who would participate in agricultural activities and also coordinate the implementation of work plans by urban farmers. The beneficiaries learned to recognize themselves as active players in urban governance and the quest to improve the quality of their lives. The project managed to combat malnutrition in communities through access to healthy and nutritional foods, in addition to promoting environmental sustainability in the cultivation areas. This programme has managed to provide poor communities with work opportunities, professional capacity building and improved incomes.
Summary:This is an ongoing initiative started in 2001, by the City Council of Barcelona in cooperation with the City Municipal Institute of Education and the Agbar Foundation, a private foundation with strong interest in promoting knowledge and raising public awareness, especially on water and environmental conservation. The Barcelona School Agenda 21 Programme (PA21E) is a programme for schools, which fits into the city’s Agenda 21. PA21E was designed in 2000 in the Environmental Education and Participation Division, in the city’s Environment Department. It has been running for nine school years. Through this programme, the educational communities are involved in diagnosing, providing solutions and undertaking commitments to make a more sustainable city, beginning with their immediate environment, the school itself. A slogan that summarizes PA21E philosophy is “Many small people, in small places, doing small things, can change the world” (Eduardo Galeano). Schools are seen as extremely important in the advance towards more sustainable cities because of their function of educating future adults and their multiplying effect in the community via families. All non-university level schools participate in the PA21E: nursery (0-3 years), infants (4-6) primary and junior (7-12), secondary (13-18) and all levels of special education schools. In the 2009-10 school year, there were 326 schools participating. PA21E stimulates and supports school centres so that they may design, carry out and appraise plans of action with the aim to become more sustainable schools. Any participating school can request for help and specific advice. The programme’s educators go to schools to work with the management and teaching staff, and attend working meetings of the PA21E coordinating committee consisting of teaching staff, pupils and non-teaching staff. Availability of customised support to each school is one of the programme’s strategies that participants most appreciate, and it is undoubtedly one of the keys to its success. An essential element of the Barcelona Agenda 21(BA21) programme is an opportunity to lead the educational community to become involved, together with other community actors (enterprises, associations, the Administration...) in the improvement of the city within the common frame of the BA21 and the “Barcelona People’s Commitment Towards Sustainability”. A network of school centres working towards the same objectives and sharing a learning process work on hundreds of environmental projects each year, and the number has been growing yearly. In the school year 2008/09, a total of 264 projects of very diverse subjects and types have been carried out: energy and water saving, reduction of noise, paper saving, waste prevention, composting, “caminos escolares” and sustainable mobility, naturalization of courtyards and gardens, organic gardens, promoting biodiversity, responsible consumption, improving communication, building participation and co-existence etc. The participating schools monitor the coherence between theory and practice, pupils play a leading role and other stakeholders are involved. The programme has become a collective experience in the continuous improvement of the environment, spanning close to 10 years and has had a social impact on thousands of teachers and hundreds of thousands of students and their families. During the school year 2009/10 alone, the School Agenda 21 Programme has directly involved 81,882 pupils, 7,583 teachers, 1,481 supplementary staff members of the educational centres and 62,970 families. In PA21E, it is understood that environmental education is for understanding and acting, for strengthening participation, personal and collective responsibility, moral and intellectual autonomy, and communication and cooperative working. The PA21E has indicators and provides guidance for schools to do their own self-evaluation. Sustainability is ensured by institutional anchoring in several related municipal departments as well as schools, communities and families. This programme encourages inter-generational interaction and discussion over a subject of great importance to present and future generations. This pioneering programme has spread to other Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Latin American cities.
Summary:The local authority Municipal Climate Change Plan in Noain, Valle de Elorz in Spain is the result of a series of energy efficiency and saving activities carried out in the municipality within the Local Agenda 21 strategy. Before the Agenda 21 was approved in 2003 there was little awareness of energy efficiency and climate change issues. The local authorities had not installed any renewable-energy facilities and residents were not conscious about energy-saving. In 2004, the drawing up of a District Energy Plan covering the town’s amenities began. The plan involved local authorities, local businessmen and residents and included four areas of action: energy-saving and efficiency, developing renewable energy, integrating energy-efficiency criteria into municipal policies and awareness-raising and dissemination, covering 143 projects. Eventually these initiatives were combined with forestation projects under the umbrella title: District Climate Change Plan. In 2005 the first renewable energy facility was installed and since then several renewable energy sources have developed. Awareness-raising campaigns have been implemented, targeting residents and council staff and addressing different resource saving issues. Reforestation projects have also been established in the area. In 2008 a partnership was established with the central Foundation of Environmental Resources of Navarra to secure the support and provision of resources for the District Climate Change Plan. The result of the collaboration was the opening of the District Climate Change Office the same year. Major achievements include the installation of eight renewable energy facilities within the municipality and a change in energy consumption trends: in 2006 the electricity consumption was cut down ten percent and in 2007 by a further six percent. Since 2003 More than 30,000 trees and bushes have been planted in the urban areas. The promotion of sustainable mobility including cycle tracks projects and improved bus services have been quite successful, and increased use of bus transport has been noted. Hundreds of persons have become aware and involved through public participation forums, environmental volunteer days and energy saving/efficiency workshops. The local population is more aware and keen to get involved in activities to combat climate change. Municipal council workers are increasingly sensitive of the need to include energy efficiency criteria in their actions. The District Climate Change Plan programme is actively and continuously striving for environmental sustainability by reducing the district’s dependence on fossil fuels. The benefits go beyond environmental: once the investments have been paid off, they will either generate money or reduce current costs. Socio-economically the population has benefited from improved self-esteem through increased awareness, education and active participation. Currently, new Municipal Plan is being drafted to incorporate sustainability criteria into urban planning and building.
Summary:The World Health Organisation estimates that six out of ten people in Africa have no access to proper toilets. Proper toilets and hand washing prevents the transfer of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in human excreta, which otherwise contaminate water sources, soil and food. This contamination is a major cause of diarrhoea, the second biggest killer of children in poor urban neighbourhoods, of the global south. The “Iko Toilet” initiative began through Ecotact, a social enterprise incorporated in Kenyan in 2006. Ecotact’s mission is to develop innovative answers to the growing environmental sanitation crisis in Kenya’s urban areas. It is a partnership with local authorities in Kenya through a Build-Operate-Transfer process. The aim is to offer convenient, hygienic and sustainable water and sanitation services to users in markets, bus parks, urban leisure parks and slums. Ecotact has invested in environmentally sustainable sanitation projects in many urban centres and low income settlements in towns in Kenya. The Iko Toilet initiative derived from the word “eco,” has been supported with both technical and financial resources such as the Patient Capital Loans from Acumen Fund (USA); awards from global agencies like Global Water Challenge (USA) and Ashoka-Innovators for the Public; Government agencies such as the Athi Water Services Board, and corporate social responsibility funds of some large Kenyan corporations. The toilet design minimizes on use of water; and incorporates harvesting of urine – which is bio-digested for energy. Since 2008, Ikotoilet has been serving over 40,000 people daily with safe water and sanitation and is constructing more ikotoilets in ten Municipalities. The ikotoilet blocks have incorporated income-generation kiosks such as shoe shiners, cleaners, barber shops, newspaper vendors and electronic money transfers outlets (M-Pesa) which provide employment to local youth. Ecotact currently employs 160 youth in the “toilet malls.” The ikotoilet programme aims at restoration, transformation and sustainability of sanitation in urban public space. This has helped improve views about public toilets; and has also stimulated demand across the East Africa region. Ikotoilet in partnership with the government of Kenya has also engaged in highlighting the importance of proper hygiene. This is done through public awareness campaigns such as participating in the Guinness record contest for Most People Washing their Hands at the Same Place. The initiative has managed to change lives, and transform public health practices in many communities. The initiative has won several awards such as the Ashoka Fellowship on Public Innovation in 2008; Lemelson Fellowship on Technological Innovations; World Toilet Organisation Hall of Fame 2008; Schwab Fellowship on social entrepreneurship 2009; Africa Social Enterprise of the Year 2009 by World Economic Forum and Citation during the Clinton Global Initiative 2009. As they scale-up, Ecotact has finalized an Ikotoilet youth franchise incubation model that will promote young entrepreneurs in sanitation services. The model has received support from the Government of Kenya through the Athi Water Services Board and Ministry of Youth Affairs.
Summary:The region of Tyre and the Bekaa Valley, in southern Lebanon is approximately 50 miles south of Beirut. This rural area was badly damaged in the late 1970s and early 1980s during the war between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The damage to the area’s infrastructure for the supply of water and the treatment of waste has had devastating effects on the health of the local population. Before the “Sustainable Environmental Practices Project” (SEPP), no public plan for waste treatment existed in the region. Natural water sources were often contaminated by sewage and children were frequently ill due to poor water quality. Solid waste was burned in open-air pits or buried in landfills without proper management. There was no recycling and waste disposal was causing conflict between different communities. This project was implemented by the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Lebanon, whose overall goal was to improve both solid waste and waste water management policies. SEPP conducted a comprehensive environmental education program to strengthen the capacity of municipalities and local communities in environmental management. They implemented an ambitious high-visibility policy dialogue to re-direct national policies on waste management from centralized approaches to locally appropriate and cost-effective technologies. YMCA also managed to organize a roundtable discussion with government ministries, municipalities and representatives of the private sector on waste management in rural areas. The project managed to establish one solid waste treatment plant, which serves 56 villages with approximately 300,000 people, and nine wastewater treatment plants which serve 10 villages. A three year environmental awareness campaign was also presented to 10,000 students and teachers in 94 schools, 88 municipalities and communities, and to more than 50 NGOs; women’s groups and institutions, to increase the visibility and long-term success of the project. Lessons learned from the SEPP are that simple, low cost, technologies work best for rural areas and waste can be viewed as a resource with economic value, whether as recyclable material, compost, or water for irrigation, as this will bring operating income to the project and improve sustainability. SEPP can be replicated in conflict-affected areas using social mobilization, community awareness raising and cost-sharing approaches. As a result of the project, YMCA Lebanon has received many requests from other towns and villages to replicate the project.
Summary:Darkhan city has a population of 70,000, with high unemployment. 60-70% of the unemployed are women, and many live on the streets. Waste collection is usually done by the poor, who collect plastic and glass to sell. Frequently, children are also involved, and contribute to the family’s income. Mongolia is a developing country that transformed into a market economy in 19990, with increased importation of consumer goods. Population growth and increased consumption has resulted in significant increase in the volume of waste – currently 43.2 million tons of waste annually, 30-40 percent being plastics. Darkhan waste site is located 7 km from the city and 2 km from the international highway. Plastic bags are dispersed over an area more than 150 hectares, affecting plants and livestock. There are no human or financial resources to manage waste on such a huge territory. There is also shortage of re-processing/recycling factories. Mr. G. Olonbayar, a rural-urban migrant seeking a better life the city, started the Environment-Friendly Products initiative in 2005. He decided to collect garbage and use environment-friendly recycling technology. He initiated the Plastic Bag Partnership with diverse local stakeholders and established a small scale factory for processing plastic bags, bottles and containers. He has installed the equipment and conducted training on recycling technology and methods. The Plastic Bag Partnership collaborates with more than 30 individuals and has more than 100 customers in the private sector. The company produces the covers of plumbing wells, fences, posts, chairs, benches, railways parts and more than 50 kinds of environment friendly products. These products are substitutes for woods and iron, have a guarantee of 50-100 years, and have helped reduce use of wood by 15-20%. The initiative has contributed to improving the environment by reducing the toxic smoke and environmental pollution - the introduced technology reduces the air pollution by 30-40%. So far, 7.392 hectares of land has been cleaned of plastic waste, flatted and cultivated with perennial plants. Another major achievement is the job-creation and income generating possibilities offered to the homeless, poor and marginalized people, especially women. More than 250 people have been employed and over 2,000 deprived families now have an income and have markedly improved their lives. The company has disseminated the waste-processing technology in six cities of Mongolia and in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The new technology has been registered, approved and issued a patent by the Government. It provides a basis for further detailed studies by science and research centers and environmental authorities of Mongolia. The local Governor’s Office and the related authorities have supported the initiative from the start and it has also been awarded several local, national and international.
Summary:There are 19,972 poor rural communities in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico, of which 15,712 have less than 100 inhabitants. The lack of a constant water supply is greater in the highlands, where the communities’ population is made up of indigenous groups. These communities are established on mountainous ground, and the population is widely dispersed all over the vast terrains. Water-related diseases are common in Yalentay; the Tzotzil indigenous community. They include intestinal parasites, diarrhea and malnutrition. The introduction of appropriate and low-cost technologies such as rain harvesting, primary water treatment, ecological pumping and irrigation systems; improves water management of indigenous communities. The community residents participate in the construction of all appropriate technologies, especially in the construction of the rain water collector. The Rain Water Collector is designed to collect rainwater from house roofs into an underground cistern. It is constructed to collect rainwater through lateral canals connected to PVC pipes, which take the water to the underground cistern where it is filtered through sand and gravel layers. Bicycle pumps take water to areas difficult to access, and dry toilets are constructed to avoid environmental pollution. Rural ecological laundry and devices for intermittent irrigation were installed, to reuse the water for cleaning and agriculture. The main objective of this long-term project is to establish a “model community on appropriate technologies” in Yalentay Chiapas. The first two stages of the project included construction and transfer of appropriate technologies in order to reduce water-related diseases in Yalentay. The project was built in stages, according to the priorities of the community. The project focuses heavily on helping women and children, because in the indigenous communities, women and children are responsible for domestic activities, especially water provision, food and cleaning. The results of the project have been obtained through surveys and social studies applied before and after the introduction of the appropriate technologies. There has been a marked reduction in water-related diseases and morbidity rates, improvement of living conditions, availability of clean water for household use and reduction in time spent by women and children collecting water. The project also took into account ethnic identity and definition in the construction of the technologies. These appropriate technologies are easy to construct and can be replicated in other parts of Mexico.
Summary:This is an initiative of the NGO, Fundacion Salvadorena de Desarrollo y Vivienda Minima (FUNDASAL) with very active partnership of the beneficiary communities. It also involves the Municipal government of San Salvador, the Ministry of Public Works, local public and private entities and several international donor agencies (for funding). The main strategies used are: formation of housing cooperatives to mobilize the beneficiary population; a rights-based approach supported by extensive awareness- raising, including the public media; as well as institutionalization of the Historic Centre Plan through legislation. Given the critical situation of habitat deterioration and abandonment in the old area of San Salvador, FUNDASAL implemented the project, with four themes: social organization, advocacy and management of land and housing projects. The objectives are: search for collective solutions between citizens and institutions; return to the built city avoiding the current expansive urban sprawl with its serious damages to the surrounding environment; support the impoverished residents in low income settlements; promote the exercise of citizenship and rights. The strategy aims at residents’participation in a broad social movement composed of people, institutions and other stakeholders. The initiative has contributed to revitalization of the historic city centre through environmental improvement, better housing for residents, poverty reduction through jobs in the re-building process as well as enhanced social inclusion and solidarity of the communities involved. The programme has also improved gender equality through active involvement of, and benefit to the large population of women heads of households in the programme area. The programme is also contributing to environmental conservation by reducing urban sprawl; while the use of co-operatives rebuilds the social fabric and capital. Together with residents of the historical city center, it was decided to give priority to families of 35 tenements, due to their serious housing plight, as well as insecurity and vulnerability of women heads of households. FUNDASAL encouraged these dispersed families to organize and fight for the improvement of their habitat. The Foro Permanente por el Desarrollo Integral del Centro Histórico de San Salvador (Permanent Forum for the Integrated Development of the Historic Center of San Salvador) agreed to work on comprehensive improvement of the area, residents’ legal status, open discussions of problems and alternative solutions, especially the management of a Master Plan. More than 200 families, 75% of them women-headed, registered five housing cooperatives, and established a social network for self-managed habitat improvements. This elicited the interest of other 260 inhabitants of old neighborhoods. Sustainability is enhanced by the existence of “El Foro Permanente …” which exists since 2005, and incorporates 20 public and private institutions, universities and professional unions. The Foro managed to push through the Declaration of the Historical Center of San Salvador, by the unanimous vote of the Salvadorian Congress; conducted studies on the use of land and participated in the drafting of the agreed upon Historical Center Partial Plan. The programme has applied many lessons learned from programmes in Europe and Latin America. It has also itself informed programmes in other cities in the country and the region, including responding to requests for technical assistance.