Running diary of Delport/Marathon CUFF project implementation: First week

By 18th Feb 2013 Aug 14th, 2020 CORC, FEDUP, ISN, uTshani Fund

By Tuliza Sindi (on behalf of CORC)

In November, ISN with support from CORC launched a renewed focus on small scale projects funded by the Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF), an Alliance initiative currently housed in uTshani Fund. Marathon and Delport informal settlements were established in 1995 by mineworkers who got evicted from the surrounding mine hostels as a result of the mines closing down. Both these settlements have been grossly neglected in service delivery, and three taps services more than 1,000 people in each of the settlements. here follows an account by an intern architect, Tuliza Sindi, who worked with the community in installing new taps, and upgrading existing ones.

Thursday, 22 November 2012 – Marathon Build Day 1

The project implementation of Delport and Marathon was delayed for several reasons. Since some of these hurdles have been overcome in the past few weeks, Majola (technical team from FedUP) and I (technical team from CORC) are able to better support the community. The materials have been delivered and Mfundisi, one of the leadership members and main contact person, has started collecting the bricks needed to build up the slabs around the tap, but only a few so far.

Marathon only has one tap that services the whole community. The community has identified the need to build a new tap, and it needs a new connection to the municipal line to not affect the current water pressure from Delport. A new valve has been ordered for a new connection to the main municipal supply, but they have found a new source for water, higher and closer than the original source. Connecting to this new source could solve some of the pressure issues.

The new water supply into the settlement will come from this municipal water source.

With Mfundisi as head of the builders and Jane as head of finance, the project starts at 10h00 in the morning with digging of trenches, half a lower leg deep, to place the water pipes. An allocation is made for food per person, but in general, eight to ten community volunteers are driving the installation of the new tap.

Mfundisi commences the digging.

The 8 volunteers working as a team to get the work done quickly.

Debris is moved away as the trench digging continues, exposing black, infected water and soil. As work continues, the community workers hit tightly compacted soil making it hard to continue the work. They decided to dig out shallow trenches and direct leaking water over and along it, in order to soften the soil. They plan to leave the water flowing over it overnight to make digging easy tomorrow.

I leave as some of the Delport community members arrive, excited to see the implementation process.

Friday, 23 November 2012 – Marathon Build Day 2

On our arrival at 08h00, we find several men working on rebuilding two houses that burned down right next to where the trenches were dug the day before. According to Mfundisi, the shacks burned down upon his arrival to the digging site at 07h00. A shebeen that was intact the day before is found no longer standing the next day.

The soil is softer due to the water that was channelled over it the day before, so the digging is much faster. More men have come to help, but many are left standing and staring due to the lack of digging tools. Majola and I leave early to try and organise more tools, to speed up the process. They stop digging as soon as we leave to have a meeting about conducting the Saturday work as the whole community to get the job done quickly and effectively.

The community members take turns to dig due to the lack of available building tools.

Saturday, 24 November 2012 – Marathon Build Day 3

The heavy rain has brought a halt to all work today. We’ve instead decided to have an administrative meeting in the office around a fire to discuss the building time limits. The initial idea was to have a technical team to pay to finish the job. The lack of continuity in the construction team slowed down the work pace. However, lack of clear guidance left some of the community members quarreling with others. The leadership members decide against working today and have opted to continue early tomorrow morning when it’ll be drier and less cold.

A meeting is held in the cold office with cooldrinks around a fire.

 Sunday, 25 November 2012 – Marathon Build Day 4

The energy starts at an encouraging pace! Most of the community members have woken up at 05h00 to start digging the pipe trenches. They finish digging and placing all of the pipes by 10h00. At this pace, we aim to finish building no later than Monday.

The pipes cut and laid in the dug trenches.

A T-joint pipe connection being made.

The community leaders showed me around the settlement what pipe fittings are still missing. As the project progressed, the community decided to add 12 more taps in addition to the 5 originally proposed from the Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF). The community’s savings was strong contributed an extra R2 000 to cover the cost. I drew up a quote for the addition of the 12 extra taps, which amounted to R2 500. They are hopeful about the additions.

Work stops due to the lack of pipe fittings now needed to cover 17 taps. Building is said to continue tomorrow upon the arrival of the much needed fittings.

Monday, 26 November 2012 – Marathon Build Day 5

Majola and I arrive to take Jane to the bank. A claim has been made to get the piping supplies so we are left to wait for those while Majola and I instruct them on building washstands.

The community members have not started collecting bricks, although they were told weeks before to do so. As we walk around the settlement, we see several heaps of useable bricks and instruct them to make a collection of 500 bricks to be placed at each site where building is to happen.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012 – Marathon Build Day 6; Delport Build Day 1


A disagreement between community leaders on the usage of the bricks resulted a interim cease works, until consensus could be reached.


The morning is spent at the suppliers ensuring that all of the pipe fittings are properly quoted and ordered. We also ensure delivery of Delport’s materials.

We arrive to Delport as one of the delivery bakkies arrive. Contrary to Marathon’s building process, Blanco (Delport’s leader) opt of start with building the washstands before installing the pipes, as it requires more effort than digging, so it gets the hard job out of the way to speed up the building process.

The delivery bakkie from Incledon arrives to deliver pipes and pipe fittings.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012 – Marathon Build Day 7; Delport Build Day 2


The community met with ISN leader from Ramaphosa informal settlement Sipho Vanga in sorting out small disagreements in the leaderships structure. The project was being delayed by the ceaseworks, and Sipho mediated the differences in opinions of the leaderships factions.


The Delport community has started with the process of building the washstands. They have mixed and laid the concrete strip foundations and have assembled the bricks that they will be using for all of their stands.

The first laid strip foundation for the washstand in Delport.

The bricks placed close to the laid foundation to start using as soon as it dries.

Majola and I leave them as they start digging trenches for the next washstand while they let the foundation of the first washstand dry. The piping connections are scheduled for the Saturday, when the whole community will be available to join in.

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