African Centre for Cities is hosting the Co-Directors of Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre, and lecturers from Institute of Geography and Development Studies, Njala University, Sierra Leone Joseph Macarthy and Braima Koroma for a talk entitled Joining Forces for Change: Building Learning Alliances for Social and Environmental Justice in Urban Sierra Leone
Date: 24 October 2017
Venue: The Pink Room, Centlivres Building, Upper Campus, University of Cape Town
Learning alliances are becoming increasingly popular as an important means for co-producing knowledge about urban areas. While the shift from partnering among community organisations and other development agencies (e.g. NGOs) to universities and research organisations holds the promise of revolutionising knowledge production and its reliability, it also serve not only to improve understandings about poor and marginalised groups but also helps in building strong relationships between and among the different stakeholders. However, promoting such strategic partnership involving the university, local community residents and their groups, development organisations, civil society and private sector actors has frequently involved providing answers to such questions as: what counts as learning alliance, what kinds of knowledge should be produced, for who and with what capacities?
We will discuss these and other related questions by arguing that SLURC’s learning alliance initiative has provided a platform for opening up both lateral and vertical opportunities for bringing to the doorstep of city authorities, the key concerns and aspirations of informal communities. By way of this discussion, we hope to stimulate debates on learning alliance as well as draw attention to more appropriate ways to ensure inclusive, equitable and sustainably just urban development; change the mindset of different urban actors towards community-driven development approaches; including, how best to manage relationships between stakeholders in making decisions about the city. This session is particularly interested in reflecting on the role SLURC is playing in building the capacity of informal settlement dwellers and contributing to influencing policy and urban decision-making processes. In this session, we hope to reflect on some of the main findings from recent projects (livelihoods and urban humanitarian response) and discuss about some of the challenges and opportunities in establishing partnership and managing learning alliances.