HCC Holds First Local Innovation Workshop in Malabon

Last month Human Cities Coalition convened a multi-sectoral workshop in Manila to begin co-designing practical solutions to the urban problems identified in our needs assessments. In total, 56 individuals, who represented 48 organizations from Malabon City, attended the two-day workshop facilitated by Adam Molyneaux-Berry. The organizations in attendance ranged from community organizations to electricity companies, construction companies, academics, professional organizations, architects, innovation hubs, non-governmental organizations, national government agencies, and various offices from Malabon City Hall.

Building from the findings of our community needs assessments, the innovation assessment follows-up by beginning the design process for innovative solutions centred on those identified needs. In Manila, the community needs assessment was carried out in two Malabon communities: Tonsuya and Catman. Findings indicate that land tenure/affordable housing and access to electricity were amongst the most pressing and actionable priorities in Malabon.

As phase one of the innovation assessment, HCC partner AMS Institute conducted a global scan of all relevant sustainable innovations and developments pertaining to electricity and issues around tenure and affordable housing. This information, along with findings from the community needs assessment, were presented on day one (June 27) of the workshop. Day one was crucial for attendees from various stakeholder groups to meet, build trust, and link issues to potential solutions.

Day two (June 28) focused on co-designing practical solutions through the use of local innovations. Energy seemed to coalesce around five solutions for flexible tenure (in the context of affordable housing) and electricity. Discussions about two of these promising solutions are summarized below.

Constructing Community Housing:  Many people enrolled in Community Mortgage Programmes can only afford a mortgage for the land; they cannot afford to construct a house. As a result, around 30% of self-built houses in Catmon remain unfinished. A number of options can help with professionalization and decreasing construction costs, for example:

  • ‘Sweat equity’, or putting the construction skills of the community to work;
  • Building ‘model’ houses, which are used as an example for future self-construction/group-construction projects; and
  • Pre-finance an extra floor that is then rented out or solar energy that is sold off.

Solar Power: Solar energy has the potential to provide an entire family with sufficient energy to run a household. While many solar solutions have been tested in rural settings, this not the case for urban slums. As such, the following questions were posed about the potential for an urban solar community centre:

  • What would it take to provide a house with a solar panel, and even make the owner a micro-entrepreneur by selling back excess energy?
  • How would a solar community centre, where community members could buy energy and charge equipment (e.g., mobile phone), work?

At the end of the workshop it was agreed to build a community-led innovation hub as a ‘home’ for further pilots and stakeholder community building. This will be a space where participants can contribute their resources, talents, and expertise to developing the hub, and facilitate the process of developing community-based, innovative urban solutions.

About the Malabon community-led innovation hub:

  • A ‘Living Lab’ for developing new community innovations, inspired locally and globally and prototyped in the community;
  • A community centre for everyone to get together and get skills trainings;
  • A dialogue space to discuss urgent challenges and strengthen the community in the engagement with local government and the private sector; and
  • A matchmaking place for innovations and local start-ups and corporates (CSR) for (small) impact projects.

Malabon City has already kindly committed to allocate a space for such a hub in the community of Catmon, bordering Tonsuya. This same enthusiasm and commitment also appeared to be shared by other workshop participants. Vince Eugenio, Chief of Staff of the Philippines Urban Poor Commission (PCUP), had this to say:

Solutions to the most pressing urban development issues can not be developed by experts alone. The voice of those living in the margins of our cities should be as strong as those people testing their theories in these start-up, social labs. HCC’s innovation workshop opened that crucial space for community member and experts to collaborate.

Importantly the workshop cultivated a space to discuss and understand people’s personal experiences and motivations—like that of Mr Eugenio— for participating. Following this successful workshop, we aim to keep up the momentum and look forward to setting-up the community-led innovation hub and prototyping at least two urban solutions in the coming months. Additionally, we will hold an innovation workshop in our second pilot Jakarta in September.

> Read more about our community needs assessments

> Read more about our work in Manila