Community-driven data shapes infrastructure investment standards

Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and Global Infrastructure Basel (GIB) Foundation.


“Global struggles for poverty reduction, climate change adaptation and resilience will be won or lost in informal settlements.”


The Standard for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure (SuRE) Smartscan is a tool that assesses – and seeks to improve – infrastructure projects against 75 criteria on sustainability and resilience.

The challenge. Inequality and climate change are defining challenges of our time; acute underinvestment in basic infrastructure and shelter manifest as sprawling slums characterized by poverty and vulnerability. With a billion people now living in slums around the world, it is critical to increase and shape investment in climate-resilient infrastructure in ways that enable slum dwellers to inform and partner with city government and development partners to scale inclusive solutions.

The innovation response. To speed-up the attraction of public and private investors towards investments in sustainable and resilient informal settlement upgrading by bringing existing infrastructure investment certification tools together with community data.

This pilot combined the use of this tool with informal settlement data from the SDI Know Your City data system. In this way, the pilot built evidence and incentives for resilient informal settlement upgrading that can inform decision-makers implementing the Resilience Strategy for the City of Durban, South Africa. Using participatory learning and action (PLA) methodologies, the partners built collaboration with various stakeholders and slum communities to develop the business case for risk management and illustrate the value and benefits of collaborative approaches to infrastructure projects.

To promote wider application of the experience and the results, SDI and GIB collaborated with other members of the RMEL CoP, including 100 Resilient Cities (100RC). There is potential to replicate this approach in other 100RC cities in South Africa, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Kenya. Using the Know Your City data systems and the SuRe® Standard, cities will be able to carry out impact measurement of any sustainable and resilient infrastructure, and to prove the business case for sustainable and resilient infrastructure.

Watch this space – upcoming blog to share progress!