A conversation about change-making by communities: some experiences from ACCA: RUBY PAPELERAS, OFELIA BAGOTLO AND SOMSOOK BOONYABANCHA
ABSTRACT This paper is from a transcript of a conversation between Ruby Papeleras and Ofelia Bagotlo, two community leaders in the Homeless People’s Federation Philippines Inc. and Somsook Boonyabancha from the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights. The community leaders reflect on the difficulties that community organizations face in finding solutions – for instance, getting land and getting local governments, donors and activists to respect their priorities. They describe the steps towards building an urban poor movement – learning to trust ourselves, building this trust by establishing community savings groups and instigating initiatives (which show other groups their capabilities and other urban poor groups what is possible), drawing everyone in and using their different skills in surveying and undertaking community initiatives. They also discuss how the flexible funding for small projects available through the ACCA programme helps catalyze local activities while they wait for government. Small grants or revolving fund loans can be managed by communities, so the financial management makes people more powerful in terms of planning, prioritizing, decision-making and implementing projects. Small projects also help prepare communities for larger, more difficult housing projects and bolster their negotiations for land (showing their capacity to pay and invest). With no solutions on offer from government or the private sector, community people begin to take over, creating a movement in which people are finding alternative solutions that are cheap, efficient, easy, quick, equitable and full of the social elements that are missing from government-provided housing. From this they show local governments what they can do. Small projects are a bridge to link different individuals and agencies, and provide a language for dialogue between them.