CORC continues to provide platforms for the growth of dedicated professionals as well as community leaders: The latest award winner is Andrea Bolnick, who as programme director of iKhayalami produces affordable, innovative, and incremental technical solutions to the urban poor. After going to a selection panel in Kampala in May, the Ashoka office in Washington informed Andrea last week that her candidacy for an Ashoka fellowship was successful. Ashoka is a global organization supporting social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas in transforming society. Beginning with the first Ashoka Fellows elected in India in 1981, Ashoka has grown to an association of over 2,000 Fellows in more than 60 countries.
“I realized that there is huge gap between the poor who are lucky enough to get a state subsidized house and the remainder who live in abject poverty in shacks while they wait for the ‘promised’ subsidy,” says Andrea Bolnick. “It became abundantly clear to me that something had to be done to address the needs of millions of people who fall out of the state grant system. It is for this reason that I set up iKhayalami.”
Her team at iKhayalami, part of the South African SDI alliance and based in Cape Town, designs and manufactures very affordable, interim or incremental infrastructure and housing solutions that improve the living conditions of the people who are forced to live in informal settlements. The housing units are affordable to the very poor, fire and flood retardant, easy to transport and quick to erect. Similarly interim or incremental infrastructure solutions are innovative and alternative since in many situations informal settlements are not able to access state financed bulk services such as water, sanitation or energy.
iKhayalami intends to continue to design different typologies and source different technologies that can vastly improve the living conditions for communities and households. The multi-faceted approach focuses on:
- The upgrading of shacks
- Drainage solutions
- A multitude of sanitation options
- Alternative and sustainable energy consumption systems
An integral component is to work closely with informal settlement communities as central role players in the upgrading process. Another key aspect is the notion of drawing government into this process so that the model can be replicated at scale.