Exchange Report: ISN Gauteng strengthens Eastern Cape network

By Evelyn Benekane (FEDUP), Mohau Melani (ISN) and Motebang Matsela (CORC)

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In May 2013, we traveled to informal settlements in and around Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape to support the communities who are planning to upgrade their settlements. The purpose of this exchange is related to re-blocking, like the projects of Ruimsig, Mtshini Wam and Sheffield Road. The delegates from the represented settlements in Gauteng have also experienced situations of fire outbreaks and congestion of shacks, therefore calling for support around the broad idea of re-blocking. The settlements in Port Elizabeth are also different from the other cases because of the low-densities. Here are the people who traveled with us to Port Elizabeth, and we met Evelyn Benekane there.

Name Gender Organization (Fed/NGO) Why Chosen?
Mohau  Melani Male ISN CUFF
Motebang Matsela Male CORC Technical
Albert Masibigiri Male ISN Technical
Zandisile Lena Male ISN From affected settlement
Phillip Mnomyiya Male ISN From a congested settlement
Xoliswa Ngwanqa Female ISN From a congested settlement
Yoliswa Jozana Female ISN From a settlement with fire outbreaks

First Visit: Moeggesukkel 

The Gauteng delegation first visited the settlement of Moeggesukkel.  They have been working proactively to prepare plans for their settlement. Read this report published by the SA SDI Alliance a while ago. We had a meeting in the morning after breakfast, where we identified challenges that the leadership is facing in the settlement. One of the key issues that was identified is that the two divisions in the community, those for re-blocking and those against. On arrival, the community committee and technical team identified four of those who are against re-blocking. We talked through the planning processes. The community committee came together with the technical team and we discussed all the processes of re-blocking. The Gauteng delegates from informal settlements Makause, Joe Slovo, Holomisa and Nancefield demonstrated how to measure sites.

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The community of Moegesukkel have organised themselves around the common practices of  enumeration, savings and community based planning. Savings have in part been spent on materials for the re-blocking process. In the community meetings we learnt that there is a buy-in for the project. There are also a few politicians and councillors who want to influence the community against the project as they deem this a threat to their vote base. Therefore the team has agreed to informally influence those who are against the process starting at the household level. Households plan together around incrementally securing access to tenure rights. In many cases, re-blocking has already started organically.

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Here are some photos on the reblocking project in progress

Second Visit: Midrand

In June we presented the mapping process the Midrand community has undergone. This is reported on in this article. What follows are some observations on our engagement with the community in their process of establishing community steering committees and other governance aspects. 

In a general community meeting, the ISN Gauteng delegation made it clear that the ISN is not a political party. ISN Gauteng argued that it pushes community-based savings and upgrading as key building blocks of strengthening the network. The engagement with the City remains key to changing the lives of the poor. ISN commended the Midrand community on their partnership with the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. The perceived process will lead to incremental security of tenure, servicing of the sites and in the future ownership. These are important factors outlined to the community. For now the community needs to focus on what they want to achieve, as the majority of the community are contributing, use that money to set the terms of their upgrade. We encouraged the community to sign an MoU with the office of the Mayor and the Human Settlements Doctorate around the progressive upgrading of informal settlements.

Meeting 3: Enkanini, Ward 13

Before we left Port Elizabeth, we also had a chance to make contact with Enkanini, a settlement in Ward 13. We set up a meeting with the councillor to express the intentions of the Network, and to indicate the partnership-in-the-making with Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. We will continue to engage the settlement and the councillor.

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