ISN takes up Kaalfontein water and sanitation problems with Ekurhuleni municipality

By Kwanele Sibanda, CORC

Mobilision meeting

The residents of Kaalfontein learn at an ISN mobilisation meeting from other slum dwellers

On the 3rd of September 2011 the Tembisa Sub-regional dialogue was held. During the dialogue the Kaalfontein leaders made a request for the mobilisation of their settlement. As had been agreed upon in the dialogue, the ISN/FEDUP team went to the settlement on Sunday the 11th of September 2011. The public meeting arranged by the Kaalfontein leaders was well attended by the community members. Besides the mobilising team members, three community members of Khayelitsha (a nearby settlement) were also present for the purpose of learning and also sharing their experiences with the community of Kaalfontein.

In the meeting, the mobilising team gave background of ISN and FEDUP and furthermore highlighted on some of the following;

  • Importance of uniting as informal settlements
  • Sharing of experience
  • Importance of being equipped with information especially that of your own settlement as well as how the government operates.
  • Taking part in engagements with the government as well as making follow ups on issues agreed upon.

The Khayelitsha members shared their experience of engaging with the local municipality. After the presentations, the community asked questions. Many of the community members were interested in knowing how the mobilising team members and perhaps their communities as well had benefitted from being part of the SDI alliance. In his response, Alfred told the community that the manner in which he has benefitted is beyond achieving a house as he has done, but the strength in terms of knowledge that he has gained through being exposed to other communities and getting to know the government’s policies and processes. He added that the knowledge gained by the alliance members has helped them in positioning themselves when engaging with the government.

In response to what Alfred said, one of the community members said: “Siyaqala apha emphakathini ukubona umuntu oseke wahlala emkhukhwini, waphumelela ngokuthola indlu wabuya wacabanga ukusiza abanye abasahlala emkhukhwini. Ngiyamcoma lobaba.” (“It is the first time in this community that we see someone who once lived in a shack and succeeded by getting a house, but still thinks of supporting those that still reside in shacks. I praise this man.”)

The other ISN members from recently mobilised settlements responded by saying that the government has started taking them seriously because they are part of a broader network – the ISN (Informal Settlement Network).

Below are the key issues brought to the attention of ISN by the community members of Kaalfontein:

  • With more than 300 households in the settlement, they only have one water tap. Having one water tap is not the only problem. The tap is located about 500 m from the settlement and is across a railway line that has no bridge for pedestrians.
  • The settlement has poor sanitation as they have no waste containers. They rely on burning waste that can be burnt.
  • They have no electricity.
  • Their shacks are directly under electrical cables.
  • The settlement is more than 24 years and a number of people are employed at a nearby cement manufacturing company called Larfarge.
  • The land that they settled on in owned by Intersite Investment that is a subsidiary of PRASA, the passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.

Since the community identified access to water as one of their biggest challenges, the ISN team requested the community to choose one representative to join the ISN team in a meeting that was on the same day going to be held with the MMC of Water and Energy for Ekurhuleni (Aubrey Nxumalo).

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300 families share only one water tap in the informal settlement Kaalfontein

In the afternoon of the same day a meeting was held with the MMC. As the MMC spoke about his responsibilities, the Kaalfontein water issue was raised by one of the ISN members and the MMC responded by saying that before the weekend of the 24th, the ISN team must make a follow up with him for he promises to deal with the matter before the aforementioned date.

The other community prioritised needs will fall as part of the ISN, Tembisa sub-regional programme.