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LUPPEN Lilongwe Urban Poor Peoples Network and Eva Phiri Pump Aid project manager in malawi

LUPPEN Urban Heroes

Posted on: October 1, 2017
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In celebration of #UrbanOctober we are delighted to share with you a profile on our partner, Malawian Grassroots organisation LUPPEN (Lilongwe Urban Poor Peoples Network). 

LUPPEN was established in order to strengthen the voices of urban poor residents in Lilongwe to demand improved living conditions and enable them to actively participate in the development of their city. It currently has 3,000 members in 29 urban poor settlements.

Pump Aid and LUPPEN have been working together on a project in the informal settlements areas around Lilongwe. Lilongwe is a rapidly growing city facing the challenges of providing basic services to areas considered ‘informal’ where many people live close together and there is high unemployment.

The partnership between LUPPEN and Pump Aid is to working to improve waste collection, recycling and access to safe water and sanitation by creating sustainable small businesses in waste collection, recycling, sanitation and water products sales such as filters.

Eva Phiri, Project Manager for Pump Aid Malawi spoke to the LUPPEN team about their work and future ambitions for Malawi.

1. How did LUPPEN get started?
LUPPEN started after participating in a vulnerability analysis (PVA) initiated by Action Aid in Malawi in 2002. The recommendations made were that there should be an association formed to address some key issues and to act as a voice for the urban poor people. The organisation was established on 4th October, 2007.

2. Where do LUPPEN work?

LUPPEN’s catchment area comprises of the urban and peri-urban areas of Lilongwe mainly targeting locations for the underprivileged. Essentially, LUPPEN is a bridge between service providers and acts a voice for the poor.

They help inform NGOs of the real issues on the ground, allowing for a more informed approach to delivering aid.

3. Tell me about your volunteers, who are they, why do they work for LUPPEN?
Our volunteers are from the settlements, people from the catchment areas who can speak on behalf of others, these are leaders of local committees from 37 settlements in Lilongwe. They work with us because we meet their interests and act as a voice to those who have no ability to meet people who can help them.

Lilongwe Urban Poor Peoples Network

4. What are some of LUPPEN’s achievements?

We are proud of making sure vulnerable groups are included in all of our work including when choosing leadership and formulating committees. Over the years, we have developed excellent working relationships with Lilongwe City Councils.

They respect our work and recognise our voice. Through our work, women have been empowered to own land and for officially register their land. Giving them a security not known before.

5. Why focus on solid waste management, and why is this important?

Because our communities are designated ‘informal’ the city council doesn’t collect waste. As a result waste collects on roads and in rivers where water can become contaminated, many urban dwellers use these rivers to collect water for lack of a better option. Therefore to make our surroundings clean and hygienic we need to do something for ourselves.

We do this by empowering community members economically when they collect waste and turn it into compost which is sold. Initially this meets basic needs and as businesses grow, improving the livelihoods of urban dwellers. We notice big changes, including reduction of diseases such as diarrhoea especially among children.

LUPPEN Lilongwe urban poor peoples network

6. Are there any Changes you have seen in the community?

The change has been huge! Overall the cleanliness of the surroundings in the community has improved, including better health for the inhabitants. People are reporting far less diarrhoea outbreaks. The great thing is that this is being achieved through job creation for people who initially had nothing to do or only secured small part time jobs periodically.

Women are being empowered through increasing incomes to own land and find source of livelihood for their families. People are taking pride in their communities. It is not perfect yet, but we are getting there!

7. What are your ambitions?

To expand our work beyond Lilongwe, into rural areas where poverty becomes even more extreme, and to be visible, have our own offices and be empowered to reach more people and have lasting impact on more, so that we are seen to be contributing to the development of our country.

We have help many local people, stopping them from being forcibly resettled. Instead, through dialogue, the City Council has been persuaded to upgrade their locations to more formal settlements. We have played a major role in making the informal settlements and cleaner, healthier place to live for people. This is important. People want to live in a nice environment. Its natural.

We have started this work by establishing local waste collection committees. The partnership with  Pump Aid and the project we are now doing together on improving access to safe water and waste collection is now reaching people even beyond our catchment areas and also allowing people to own their own supply.

You can read more about LUPPENs important work on their website.

LUPPEN Lilongwe Urban Poor Peoples Network