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This content is taken from the UCL (University College London) , Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre & Njala University's online course, Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds My name is Margaret Bayoh from Dwarzack Community, I’m a federation member. My savings group is Agape Savings Group. All the staff here do save. And I’m the collector for my group, Agape Savings Group. We save according to our earning. We save as much as we can. We don’t have fixed amount. Someone pays 1500, we started with 50 Leones, 100 Leones, 500 Leones, 1,000 Leones. We save as much as we can. The impact is too much. The savings help us to pay our children’s school fee. It also helps us to pay our rents. It helps us in solving the medical bills. Even family problems, through the savings.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds When you have $500,000, you don’t have to go to any other person to loan money. So if you have $500,000, for example, [and] you have a $200,000 problem, you don’t allow anybody to know your secrets, because we save to make our secret be secret. Because when you go to someone to borrow money, you can’t just go and say, Mr. Ali, give me $200,000. Mr. Ali will say, come Margaret, why do you want this $200,000? I must explain because I want the money. So because of these savings, I don’t have to explain my secrets to anyone. Just the chairperson collector says, right, Ms. Mami Aseta I want $200,000 for my savings. So my problem was solved.

Skip to 1 minute and 44 seconds And a lot of us have benefitted through that. Here, we loan among ourselves. This money, that we are collecting we save, after some amount, we have another – a huge amount, like $2 million [Leones]. We decided to loan among ourselves, so that our savings will grow. Whilst we are paying the loan, we also save. And this will help us to attend send some of our social problems in our community.

Participatory planning: women's saving group

You will now meet Ms Margaret Bayoh, a resident of Dwarzack and member of the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor and the Agape savings group.

She will tell you how the group has improved her and the other savers’ lives, in part due to the things they have been able to use their savings towards, such as school and hospital fees. As previously discussed, savings groups are used as a key tool in the participatory planning approach promoted by Slum Dwellers International through the Federations of the Urban and Rural Poor. Savings groups contribute in very material ways, building the community’s resources to invest in housing and community infrastructure, but they also help to develop relationships of trust amongst residents, strengthening communities.

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Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone

UCL (University College London)

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