PRESS STATEMENT: Signing of a MoA with eThekwini Municipality

By News, Partnerships, Press No Comments


4 September 2018

The South African Slum/Shack Dwellers International Alliance (SA SDI Alliance) enters into an agreement with Ethekwini Municipality

The SA SDI Aliiance (an alliance of 2 social movements and 2 support NGOs, namely the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP), the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), the Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) and uTshani Fund), is proud of its longstanding partnership with the Durban metro going back over 20 years.  But this Memorandum of Agreement represents a major step upwards for this partnership giving it the basis for significantly scaling our work and improving the lives of tens of thousands of poor households.

We will endeavor to deliver on our side of the agreement across the city. However we must place it on record that we do not have a presence in all informal settlements in Ethekwini Metro. In many of these settlements we will have to work with other Community Based Organisations and networks. We welcome this – besides our international experience tells us that in order to upgrade settlements and build inclusive cities you need inclusive partnerships.

As the UN asserted in relation to the SDGs – we must leave no one behind. Not one single person. Not one family. Not one settlement and not one Organisation.

Issued by SA SDI Alliance
Kwanda Lande
Facebook: South African SDI Alliance || Twitter: @SASDIAlliance

Social and Physical Impact of Re-blocking: California Informal Settlement, Mfuleni (Cape Town)

By Archive, CORC, ISN, News, Press, Publications, Resources No Comments

by Kwanda Lande and Mariel Zimmermann (on behalf of CORC)

We decided to do re-blocking because we were living in a very congested settlement, we wanted our settlement to be rearranged, we wanted services –  we wanted to have roads, toilets, electricity and water. We also wanted this project because it is going to mitigate fire in the settlement, and we have been careful with the building material we have used to build our structures. (Lindiwe Noqholota, community member and member of the project steering committee) 

In the upgrading of California there is an advocacy purpose, resources were used for the community to demonstrate good practice around upgrading of informal settlements. The project was done so that the community can build itself as a community that is able to come together around issues because re-blocking is just the start, it’s not the end, it’s the starting point to say what’s next? (Oscar Sam, ISN Mfuleni subregional coordinator) 

The story of California informal settlement in Mfuleni, Cape Town is a story of many challenges, but also of many victories and hope. It is through this story where we begin to grasp nuances and multi-layers that capture the impact of re-blocking to the community.This story is told by community members, who have been engaged in a struggle for basic services, land and and housing since 2008.

Look over California informal settlement before and during implementation

Look over California informal settlement before and during implementation


California is an informal settlement located in the midst of formal houses in the Township of Mfuleni, Cape Town. The settlement occupies a space of 2,239 m2 between the streets of Umzumbe on the North, Mgwanda on the West, Dutywa on the South, and M Baba on the East. The community of California has been subjected to some threats since 2008, when the settlement started. This includes the fact that the community existed until 2012 without any services. It became worse in 2012 when there was fire that destroyed almost all their houses threatening their existence.

I remember in 2012 after almost all our shacks were burned down we had to build our shacks again because we had nowhere to go. People from this church in our area did not want  us to build our shacks in this area again. After the municipality had intervene the church then told us that each household should at least pay R50. But we refused because the municipality had told us that the church does not have rights to do this. This is how we fought to stay in this settlement, after which everything became easy and we were also given house/shack numbers. (Nokuthula Mazomba, community member and member of the project steering committee) 

Some of the first signs of collective action and self-reliance

Since 2008 the community of California did not have any legal water source and toilets, people were forced to use water taps provided to people in formal houses. This lack of water and sanitation services led to anxiety and the feeling of insecurity, when using the ‘toilet’ at night. Consequently, there was an attitude that led to restricting access to water from people living in formal houses. The community had to do something as a result they decided to make contributions of R10 each household and installed one water tap for the whole community.  

The installation of water tap is one of the first signs of collective action and self-reliance by the community. After which the community organised itself and went to the ward councillor demanding further access to water, in which they were successful. However, the settlement was still lacking services such as toilets and electricity, and the community needed a partner to intensify their struggle to access better services and improve their lives. Against this backdrop, the community of California meet with the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) in 2015 to enforce their voices.

Community members of California, and SA SDI Alliance leaders working together in implementing the project.

Community members of California, and SA SDI Alliance leaders working together in implementing the project.


Community using Data Collection and Community Exchanges

The Informal Settlement Network, partner in the SA SDI Alliance, brought a number of tools to assists the community in their struggles. This includes the data collection tool, which helped the community to engage municipality with facts and community-determined priorities. As a result, seven toilets were installed for the community, through the assistance of ISN, which helped to do data collection that helped the community to negotiate and to demand all these services.

Community of California doing enumeration of their own settlement

Community of California doing enumeration of their own settlement


Based on the data collected (profiling and enumeration) in 2015, the population of California is made of 47 households with 108 residents. Furthermore, this profiling and enumeration exercise done by the residents of California assessed community prioritise, which include electricity, water and sanitation. As a result, the community also went to the City of Cape Town to request electricity. Their first request was, however, met with disappointment. The municipality explained that it could not install electricity because of congestion and limited space for installing electricity.

 Through ISN, in 2016 we went on an exchange to another settlement that was re-blocked by the SA SDI Alliance called Flamingo Crescent. We went to that settlement and saw how that settlement was built and how the settlement was redesigned and reconfigured to create space that would ensure the provision of services. After a year without interacting with ISN we also learnt that the City of Cape Town had made some budget for re-blocking in California and this was through the work of ISN that negotiated for budget to be made available for upgrading California. (Lindiwe Noqholota, community member and member of the project steering committee) 

However, when the community leaders who visited Flamingo Crescent were reporting to the community some members were not convinced about this project and rejected it as they felt that they were not sufficiently informed. After several meetings and explanations of how the project will look like and what the benefits for the residents will be, the community voted for the implementation. The community also knew that if they will not make use of the budget from the city, these resources would be taken elsewhere.

How has the project impact the Settlement?

The implementation of re-blocking in California begun in May 2017 and 47 structures were upgraded and specific building material that reduces the risks of fire was used. Paved access roads were implemented throughout the settlement. Furthermore, a stormwater drainage system has been implemented and electricity is in the process of being implemented. In the case of funding for the project, there was an agreement with the municipality that they will provide services, including water, electricity, and toilets.

Work in progress that involves structures before implementation and the last phase of the project

Work in progress that involves structures before implementation and the last phase of the project. 


The community contributed 20%, and supported by Community Organisation and Resource Centre (CORC) with 80% towards building their structures. Yet, the community is still waiting for the implementation of toilets and water taps per household from the municipality. The community also managed to negotiate for extra piece of land. This municipal land is located adjacent to the settlement but the community was not allowed to use it before. This extra piece of land has helped the community to have more space for access walkways and space for people to dry their clothes after washing them.

The re-blocking project of California allowed people in the community to ‘break walls’, and start learning and talking to one another. It allowed people to take ownership of the process and start personalising their environment where they have change their community and houses to suit their personal taste. Through this re-blocking process, it became evident that compromises are at the centre of re-blocking, and although some might not like an idea and approach, it is important that people compromise on their differences for the sake of development.

I learned that as residents of California, we do not really know each other, as I though before this project. This project has created a chance for us to learn about each other and to tolerate one another because we differ in a lot of things. As a result, it is helpful that we have community leaders that can speak for everyone and that people can raise their issues through and not to one another or direct to government one by one.(Buhle Mthimkhulu, community member and member of the project steering committee) 

What can the future for the community look like?

In regard to the future of the community, the kind of experience that the community has went through is essential because re-blocking is not the end but a starting point. It is a start for individuals to recognise themselves as part of a community. It is a start for the community to establish itself as part of a broader network of informal settlements. The project presents an opportunity for the community to start a saving scheme that will build social capital of the community and allow community members to support each other not only financial but also socially. This project is a start for the community to investigate and make sure that community prioritise are part of government budgets and use that to hold them accountable.

PRESS RELEASE: Digital Impact World Tour

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Date: 7 September 2017
Time: 9am – 5pm
Location: Guga S’thebe Arts and Cultural Centre | Langa Cape Town

SDI is proud to co-host the 8th stop on the Digital World Impact Tour, and its first stop on the African continent. The event will be launched by the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu.

Anchored by the South African SDI Alliance, the event will focus on the role community-gathered data plays in the production of social change in a digital age. The event will be held in the township of Langa, reinforcing a commitment to ensure urban poor communities are part of the conversation.

With the launch of the Know Your City campaign in 2014, slum dweller federations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America firmly entered the digital age. Though organized slum dweller communities have been profiling and enumerating slums for over 20 years, the campaign established a digital platform to house this data and anchor the coproduction of inclusive urban development strategy by communities, city governments and global urban development.

The event will bring together close to 150 people representing slum dweller social movements, civil society, funders, academics, city, provincial and national government, and private sector actors to explore the possibilities and responsibilities for using digital data to inform inclusive urban development policy and practice.

For the event programme and registration please visit

Issued by SA SDI Alliance
Yolande Hendler
Facebook: South African SDI Alliance || Twitter: @SASDIAlliance

Urban Sector NGOs comment on Human Settlements Draft White Paper

By CORC, Press No Comments

By Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Development Action Group (DAG), Habitat for Humanity South Africa, Isandla Institute, People’s Environmental Planning (PEP), Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU)

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 12.20.43 PM

The National Department of Human Settlements is currently in the process of developing a new White Paper on Human Settlements. This process offers a unique opportunity to address the shortcomings of existing policy and to influence the future of human settlement development in South Africa.

We – a collective of six urban sector NGOs – have a vested interest in the outcomes of this process. We are thus committed to engaging critically with the discussion document developed by the National Department of Human Settlements, and to advocating for the adoption of a more progressive version that recognises the role of communities, and informal settlement upgrading in human settlements development.

On 4 February 2016, we shared an initial commentary on the discussion document at an engagement hosted by the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements. It summarises our collective position and is intended to serve as the foundation for a more in-depth submission:

Commentary on the discussion document ‘Towards a policy foundation for the development of human settlements legislation’

1. The document ‘Towards a policy foundation for the development of human settlements legislation’ seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to the complexities of human settlement development and planning, based on a detailed analysis of the achievements and limitations of current HS programmes.

Positive features of the document are, amongst others, the acknowledgement that by and large, communities and civil society organisations haven’t been meaningfully involved in processes of human settlement development to date. This admission brings attention to the need for well-designed participatory processes and partnership approaches. The explicit reference made to spatial planning, and its roles in the creation of sustainable and integrated human settlements, is also appreciated. The recognition of the importance of monitoring and evaluation as a strategy for tracking government’s progression towards the realisation of its goals is also considered to be a positive step towards a more grounded and accountable practice.


2. However, in our considered view, the proposed solutions to address the shortcomings identified are not dynamic enough and are insufficiently rooted in local practice around human settlement development. The document also does not reflect the depth of inequality or the seriousness of the current fiscal realities, and what these factors are likely to mean for the human settlement sector. Instead of the ‘business as usual’ approach, we expect the new policy to reflect more deeply what a ‘business unusual’ scenario means for human settlements policy and practice.

3. Our main concern is with the state-centric orientation of the document and the centralising tendencies that the document reflects (implicitly and explicitly). While we appreciate that a public policy document will be inherently biased towards the roles and responsibilities of the state, other stakeholders (including local communities, NGOs and the private sector) are an integral part of human settlement development processes. The document fails to adequately reflect what a partnership approach entails for human settlements policy and practice.

Even in its state-centric orientation, the document reflects a predisposition towards national government (and particularly the department of human settlements) as the critical actor in transforming human settlement realities. National government undoubtedly has an important role to play in determining human settlement outcomes, providing policy guidance, developing coherent programmes, providing effective fiscal instruments, addressing institutional blockages, and monitoring progress, amongst others. However, it is primarily at the local sphere where the complexities of human settlement development need to be navigated.

4. We believe that the primary objective of a policy on human settlements needs to be local enablement – enabling local actors (municipalities, communities, civil society organisations, private sector, etc.) to choose the institutional arrangements and programmatic responses that best suit local conditions, and enabling other spheres of government to offer the necessary oversight and support in this regard. Municipalities are not merely implementation agents of national human settlements programmes; they need to assemble the requisite partnerships and processes to effectively manage the challenges, trade-offs and contestation inherent to human settlement development, and to do this in an accountable and transparent manner.

Co-planning and preparing for informal settlement upgrading plans

Co-planning and preparing for informal settlement upgrading plans

5. The role of communities in determining the development agenda, implementing development strategies, and monitoring development interventions must be reflected in the policy vision and intent. The document is disproportionately concerned with the ‘culture of entitlement’, implying that (poor) citizens lack a sense of responsibility about their own development. This individualised notion of citizens as ‘responsible consumers/end-users of public services is problematic, particularly as it is not complemented with a recognition of the agency of civic actors and local communities in human settlements processes (including planning, implementation, maintenance, co-financing and self-help options, and monitoring and evaluation).

Instead, the new policy should work towards enabling communities to participate as active citizens, and to co-create – in partnership with government and other stakeholders – sustainable, integrated and resilient human settlements.

6. As organisations with a particular interest in informal settlement upgrading, we are especially concerned with the weak articulation of informal settlement upgrading as a core human settlements strategy. The suggestion that only those settlements located close to job opportunities will be considered  for upgrading is both exclusionary and short sighted. Economic opportunities are not static and over time may show movement across a city or town. Moreover, instead of focusing exclusively on job opportunities it would be more helpful to develop proactive approaches in support of local livelihood strategies.

Informal Settlement Upgrading

Informal Settlement Upgrading

7. Signatories to this commentary will make a collective effort to develop a more robust submission that deals with the following issues:

  • Deeper understanding of the role of communities and institutional arrangements required to support meaningful community participation and co-creation approaches to human settlement planning and development
  • Financing mechanisms, such as community savings schemes, and self-build approaches that enable communities to participate in the housing market
  • Strategies for releasing and managing well-located public land for human settlements development
  • Partnership modalities for human settlement development, including the roles and responsibilities of government and other stakeholders
  • Outcome-driven monitoring and evaluation strategies that shift emphasis from compliance to the achievement of progressive goals

8. In the meantime, we call on the national department of human settlements to publicise what its ‘extensive consultative process’ (as noted in the preamble) entails, to commit to further and deeper engagement with all relevant stakeholders (including civil society organisations and community groups) in the finalisation of policy and legislation on human settlements, and to be transparent and accountable in how it deals with comments received during the course of the policy development process.

Launch of Upgrading at Flamingo Crescent with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille

By CORC, FEDUP, iKhayalami, ISN, Press No Comments

Authored by CORC

“People said Flamingo Crescent [Upgrading] will never happen. But today is here and this is the proof that it has happened – one cannot do it alone we need to work as a collective!”

Melanie Manuel, Informal Settlement Network (ISN) Co-ordinator

Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, with Flamingo Crescent Community Members, SA SDI Alliance, PFO's and City Officials

Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, with Flamingo Crescent Community Members, SA SDI Alliance, PFO’s and City Officials

Last week’s upgrading launch at Flamingo Crescent informal settlement celebrated the completion of re-blocking, installation of water, sanitation and electricity services for each of Flamingo’s 104 households, the unveiling of Flamingo’s first formal street names and opening of the settlement’s own crèche, Little Paradise. Moreover it marked a milestone in an ongoing upgrading process, showcasing what is possible when communities, intermediaries, governments and stakeholders form partnerships.

Delegates from community organisations and networks, the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, delegates from various government departments, ward and sub-council politicians, NGOs and support organisations gathered in the Lansdowne Civic Centre from 11:00 on Monday 10 February.

The re-blocking project is lauded as a successful demonstration of community-led, participatory planning, collaborative implementation and improvement of informal settlements. The uniqueness of the project was that despite the settlement’s density no one was displaced and grossly inconvenienced during the implementation of upgrading 104 structures.

ISN & FEDUP welcome the Mayor to the launch at Lansdowne Civic Centre

ISN & FEDUP welcome the Mayor to the launch at Lansdowne Civic Centre

First engagements around Flamingo Crescent 

First engagements began in 2012 after the City of Cape Town signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the SA SDI Alliance around joint community-led upgrading of 22 informal settlements, of which Flamingo Crescent is the third, having built on the experiences of Mtshini Wam and Kuku Town. It differs from the previous two in the severity of its socio-economic challenges – high levels of crime, unemployment, violence and poverty. Given these circumstances the Alliance’s Informal Settlement Network (ISN) facilitated implementation and engagement between the City and the community.

Melanie Manuel (Flamingo Crescent ISN facilitator) shared,

“When we started the partnership with the City of Cape Town in 2011 in Vygieskraal it was a day of celebration and no one knew the hardships that would lie ahead. As time went on we realised we fundamentally believe in community participation, a bottom up approach because we know communities understand their settlements best.”

Read more background here.

Flamingo Before Upgrading

Flamingo Before Upgrading

The Launch: Messages on Upgrading and Inclusion in Services

At the launch, the first speaker, Councillor Anthea Green shared,

“Since 2012 I have said that we need to upgrade Flamingo Crescent, despite resistance from the rate payers and residents’ groups. We were committed to work with the community, and now this is a transformed settlement”.

Informal settlements not only face substandard basic services like water, sanitation and electricity but are also cut off from functions of city administration such as receiving a residential address. The re-blocking project allowed the City and the Post Office to give Flamingo Crescent street names and addresses, after the community made this requirement upfront in their development plan.

Gerald Blankenberg, regional director of the Post Office, said that the Post Office Act and other regulations require the post office to expand addresses to underserviced communities.

“Informal communities are often times socially and economically disconnected from basic administrative functions, and therefore a residential address will give the Post Office an opportunity to serve the community with dignity”, he said.

In the keynote address, Mayor Patricia de Lille emphasised the significant role of Flamingo community’s steering committee, the Alliance’s ISN and Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) in the success of the project. She, however, expressed concern about the slow pace of project implementation, emphasizing the need to boost municipal and community capacity to ensure the roll out of more projects in the City’s 200 informal settlements.

“The aim of re-blocking is the improvement of informal settlements while people wait for a housing opportunity”, she observed.

In closing of the ceremony, the Mayor handed over certificates of tenure to community members, ensuring formal recognition of residence and tenure security.

Mayor, Patricia de Lille with Flamingo Community Leader, Maria Matthews

Mayor, Patricia de Lille with Flamingo Community Leader, Maria Matthews

The Impact of Upgrading : Before and After

Before re-blocking, the community of 405 residents had access to only 14 chemical toilets (of which 7 were serviced) and 2 water taps. There was no electricity so that contained fires in tin drums dotted the settlement’s dusty pathways. The community was especially concerned about the safety of its children playing in the busy street.

Re-blocking restructured space in the settlement, opening courtyard areas and clearly designated access roads, enabling the City of Cape Town to install individual water, sanitation and electricity services per household. What sets Flamingo apart from previous projects are its paved pathways, with official road names as well as the construction of a crèche.

The community contributed 20% to the cost of its structures through community-based daily savings. During the implementation phase, 20 jobs were created through the Expanded Public Works Programme.

Before upgrading

Before upgrading

After upgrading

After upgrading

Into the Future: Community voices on Partnership and City Fund

“Since 2010 we have been thinking about improvements in our settlement. This is when we got in touch with ISN, who introduced us to CORC, and we then made a partnership with the City [of Cape Town] We explained what we wanted from the city – our own taps, toilets and electricity. But we needed to come together and draft our own plans”.

(Maria Matthews, Flamingo Community Leader)

Through the SA SDI Alliance the community additionally partnered with several organisations. iKhayalami supported the community, ISN/FEDUP and CORC around training community members and top structure construction. The community established the re-blocked layout and community-based maps in partnership with students from Cape Peninsula University of Technology and support staff from CORC. With the support of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI, USA) the community drew up plans for the crèche. Habitat for Humanity South Africa contributed to construction by supplying the roof sheets and windows. The Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD) donated funds to build the crèche. CECD will also support around the training and registration of the crèche.

From Melanie’s speech it was clear,

“This project is successful because of the methodologies we use. We allow communities to do their own designs. The community also made a [financial] contribution [in a settlement] where 95% of community members were unemployed. How do we change the mind-sets of people who are still waiting for adequate housing? Let’s change the way we are living now while we are waiting for housing to come.”

(Melanie Manuel, ISN Facilitator)

Melanie Manuel, ISN Co-ordinator in Flamingo

Melanie Manuel, ISN Co-ordinator in Flamingo

As important as settlement improvement is in itself, the methodology is just as significant. Moreover, Flamingo Crescent serves as a precedent for informal settlement upgrading on a larger scale. The day ended with the community leading the Mayor through their settlement, unveiling Flamingo’s new street names and officially opening the Little Paradise crèche together. It is Melanie Manuel’s closing words that speak of the future:

 “We need to look at a holistic plan for the metro. Let’s look at how we can reach basic services much quicker and how we can scale up. The Alliance projects do not only focus on reblocking but on basic services in every form. The Alliance has designed a City Fund with which communities can directly access money for upgrading in Cape Town. In Flamingo the Aliance’s Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) helped us match the 20% that each community member contributed to their structure. This kind of facility on a city-level will go a long way – we challenge the City to continue partnering with us and match our contributions in the City Fund!”




SA Alliance at National Human Settlements Indaba 2014

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, News, Press, SDI, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

FEDUP members welcome Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Deputy Minister Zoe Kota-Fredericks at the SDI Exhibition booth

FEDUP members welcome Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Deputy Minister Zoe Kota-Fredericks at the SDI Exhibition booth

Twenty years after Joe Slovo’s historic Botshabelo Housing Accord, Lindiwe Sisulu, incumbent minister of Human Settlements, invited stakeholders in the human settlements sector to the National Human Settlements Indaba and Exhibition, which was held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg from 16-17 October 2014. This included the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) on behalf of the SA SDI Alliance and Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI),

Aims of the Indaba

The Indaba not only marked twenty years of South African democracy but also ten years after the first social contract was signed in 2004 during Sisulu’s first term as Minister of Housing from 2004-2009. The first social contract, similarly, brought together a number of stakeholders in the housing field to discuss and sign an agreement regarding co-operative and collaborative housing practice which would pursue the aims of the then newly launched housing policy: Breaking New Ground (BNG): A framework for Sustainable Housing Development. BNG largely focuses on “promoting the achievement of a non-racial, integrated society through the development of sustainable human settlements and quality housing”. Click here for more on BNG policy. Ten years later, however, the implementation of BNG has been only partially successful.

Against this backdrop, the 2014 Indaba aimed to:

  • Review progress in the implementation of BNG
  • Review the impact of the Social Contract for Rapid Housing signed in 2005
  • Commit stakeholders to a second social contract towards 1.5million housing opportunities by 2019.
Rose Molokoane and SDI delegates from Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe

Rose Molokoane and SDI delegates from Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe

South African and International SDI delegates at Exhibition booth

South African and International SDI delegates at Exhibition booth

Day 1: Pledges towards a second social contract

Amidst actors such as the South African Banking Association, the Chamber of Mines, construction companies and trade union representatives (to mention but a few), SDI and the SA Alliance voiced the interests of the urban poor and advocated for an inclusion of the urban poor in planning, decision-making and implementation.

During the first day’s introductions, Jockin Arputham, SDI President and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, shared a message of support ahead of the minister’s keynote address which is outlined here. In the afternoon contributors pledged their commitments to the second social contract.

SDI President Jockin Arputham with Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Deputy Minister Zoe Kota-Fredericks

SDI President Jockin Arputham with Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Deputy Minister Zoe Kota-Fredericks

Jockin Arputham speaks at Press Briefing

Jockin Arputham speaks at Press Briefing with Minister Sisulu and Director General Zulu

The SA SDI Alliance Pledge

In response to the Department’s larger orientation, Rose Molokoane, national co-ordinator of FEDUP, powerfully shared the pledge of the SA SDI Alliance:

FEDUP pledges to work with national, provincial and local government to deliver 1000 housing actions every month, improving the life of 1000 households. These actions will include

1)   Organising communities through savings

2)   Upgrading services such as water, sanitation, drainage, energy and roads

3)   Building bigger and better houses

4)   Advising the ministry on how to work with communities and organise them to be full stakeholders

We also commit to draw other organisations of the urban poor into the pledge as equal partners. We cannot do this alone. You cannot do this alone. You need our help. “We know the minister is serious about supporting us. What about the MEC’s? What about the local authorities? Are you?

View Rose Molokoane’s speech here:


Day 2: Reviewing BNG projects & the second social contract

The second day of the Indaba concluded with presentations by several MECs on the successes and challenges of implementing BNG projects in four provinces, followed by the reading and signing of the second social contract. The specifc commitments of the second social contract are documented here.

Rose & Jockin sign the second social contract on behalf of SA SDI Alliance and SDI

Rose & Jockin sign the second social contract on behalf of SA SDI Alliance and SDI


Throughout the Indaba the minister repeatedly referred to the value and experience of SDI and the South African Alliance’s work in forming an inclusive atmosphere that engages the urban poor around their own housing development.

Over the last twenty years the SA SDI Alliance has developed an ongoing partnership with the Department which spans from the signing of the Botshabelo accord in 1994, participating in the 2005 national housing accord, the signing of the first social contract in 2005, the 2006 MoU pledge with the Department for subsidies of R285million with which FEDUP has built over 2000 houses to the Department’s most recent pledge of R10million in August 2014.

Throughout FEDUP’s partnership with the Department its core vision has always been: “Nothing for us without Us”. This message is also at the heart of FEDUP’s pledge. As the second social contract is implemented in the next five years, it is the collective vision, experience and practice of the urban poor that is crucial to a truly inclusive implementation not only of housing but also of incremental, in-situ informal settlement upgrading as a vital step towards attaining housing and tenure security.

“We cannot do this alone. You cannot do this alone. You need our help.”

(Rose Molokoane)

CORC Architect receives honourable mention by CA-ASI

By CORC, ISN, News, Press No Comments

visuel_projet8A young architect working with CORC, Mr. Olwethu Jack, was awarded one of nine “honourable mentions” in the most recent international architectural competition hosted by CA’ASI Association, an international ” “club” open to all those who love contemporary architecture and design“. In a press release dated 2 April from CA’ASI Paris headquarters, the international jury, after having reviewed 194 projects submitted, announced the winners of Young Architects in Africa competition which aims to highlight African project creativity, and help a rising generation of young architects achieve worldwide recognition. This follows the successful previous editions of the awards of New Chinese Architecture in 2010 and Young Arab Architects in 2012.

The CA’ASI Association has been established to promote the dialogue between architecture, contemporary art, and the Biennale visitors. For the 14th International Architecture Biennale, the CA’ASI has opened the doors of Palazzo Santa Maria Nova to emerging African architects in order to emphasise the creativity and originality of new African architecture, and to help it gain world-wide recognition.

Mshini Wam profile

In Mr. Olwethu Jack’s submission form, primarily citing his supportive work with the communities of Mtshini Wam and Langrug, he writes

Personally as a designer working for CORC I value the opportunity of designing with community members whereby I am able to use my architectural background to fulfil the community’s developmental vision. This process is informed by the community’s vision of their settlement and after discussing the vision, we, together with the community assist in putting that vision on paper sometimes through models, which is 3D visual to assist the community to understand the context better. The most important thing for me is building a model together with the community because sometimes it is hard for the community members to understand the terminology, scale and space thus the models helps eliminate some of the language barriers.

The Wash Facility

The Wash Facility

The Young Architects in Africa competition recognizes and concerns architecture in a broad sense, and “there is no particular type of project to submit. You can submit either built or unbuilt projects. The program, category or size are not imposed. All types of projects are welcome.” (Project Information FAQ). AS.Architecture-Studio defines architecture as “an art which is socially committed and engaged in the construction of mankind’s living environment”. It is based on team work and shared knowledge.

These projects will be exhibited at the CA’ASI, AS.Architecture-Studio’s Common House in Venice, as part of the 14th Architecture Biennale’s Collateral Events (June 5th – August 30th 2014), then at arc en rêve centre for architecture in Bordeaux, the Academy of Architecture in Paris, and several other cultural institutions across Africa. All projects from the candidates to the YAA competition will be published in a widely distributed bilingual catalog.


SA SDI National Forum and Charter Launch

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, Press, uTshani Fund No Comments

mayor 2

The Executive Mayor, Honorable Poppy Mpho Magongwa delivering her speech during the launch of the charter. 

By Thandeka Tshabalala (on behalf of CORC)

Once in 4 years the South African SDI Alliance holds a national forum, this year’s forum started from the 11th-14th November 2013, where more than 200 members of the ISN and FEDUP regional facilitators from all the provinces of South Africa were present. They discussed and shared experiences on income generation programs, savings, enumeration, profiling, informal settlement upgrading, land ownership and partnerships.   The forum is an event where the alliance reports on its past achievements and challenges while the supporting NGO CORC (Community Organization Resource Center) uses this platform to understand the challenges faced by all regions on the ground.

At the opening of the event Bunita Kohler the Managing Director of CORC emphasized accountability. She noted that both the ISN and FEDUP needed to be accountable to the communities and the NGO to the donors that assist in helping communities to ‘do it for themselves’. She further mentioned that projects such as sanitation facilities, houses, income generation loans and community savings are important to the movements to show other communities the possibilities of community driven projects.

Patrick Magebhula the national leader of the ISN reiterated the position of ISN in relation to the difficulty faced by informal settlement residents in accessing basic services, houses and land. He mentioned that ownership of land in South Africa still needs to be addressed and hopes that the national forum will assist in exchanging lessons from other regions that have been able to fight evictions and access land.  Communities without land will always remain in the cycle of poverty. They cannot plan for the future, as they do not know where they will be tomorrow. ISN and FEDUP have committed to a far-reaching agenda of working with communities in planning for their own development. This entails communities collecting information about themselves through profiling and enumeration, using the information to influence their plans, and asking for government assistance in supplying services.

“ During the dawn of democracy a lot of civil organizations like SANCO fought to change the living conditions of poor people. When we started the Federation of Urban Poor called FEDUP we also wanted to contribute to the change. We realized that communities already had community committees, thus the ISN is made of leaders who are sensitive and have a vision to community development.   The Federation knows that people do not have money to build houses but the question should be, how do we support people to do it themselves. The federation must continuously seek at making partnerships with government to open up doors for developments in poor communities.

ISN and FEDUP are working with all levels of the government to give the urban poor a voice. The intention of organizing poor people is to be able to attract resources. The government has a responsibility and a house alone will not alleviate poverty. Through savings communities can build houses and pay for their household expenses.  Regions such as the KwaZulu Natal network presented that they had 11271 members and have saved R716553.40 and Gauteng Network has 4993 members with R2664554.51 savings.

During the launch of the ISN/ FEDUP charter Patrick requested the Executive mayor, honorable Poppy Mpho Magongwa and the Ward Councilor, Jack Sefudi of Madibeng Municipality to understand the value of community savings and community involvement in the planning process. This is to avoid community dissatisfaction.

“Savings is a ritual to show the government and other communities that people want to be practically involved in changing their lives and are not just waiting for handouts.  Partnership starts at home, they start at home and extend to cities and would like people to use these partnerships to discuss matter that community development such as service delivery, land ownership and education.  These partnerships can help government on engaging communities in community development policies such as participating in the IDP.”

Facilitators at the forum shared challenges in terms of implementing projects and mobilizing communities due to the lack of government support. Even after clarifying to communities and municipalities that ISN/FEDUP is not politically affiliated but part of a movement that assists people plan their communities.  They do this by setting a precedent and attracting resources from the government.   Some of the challenges include:

  • Lack of support from ward councilors because they think the alliance is politically aligned.
  • Project approval by municipalities takes long thus affecting implementation
  • Difficulty of implementing projects after enumeration when councilors are not involved from the onset.
  • How to get the youth involved in saving and changing their lives at an early stage
  • Lack of trust in savings schemes as some members disappear with groups money

Joyce a representative from the Zambian SDI federation responded to the challenges in her speech directed to both community leaders and the municipality. She stressed the benefits of community-municipality partnerships noting how leaders should make use of the partnerships and not just feel triumphant in signing MoU’s. She stated,

“Without councilors support the work of the federation will not move forward and this is because their work goes hand in hand with municipalities to open doors for communities. Communities do not want to sign MOU’s (Memorandum of Understanding) without a purpose, MOU’s should not be put under the table and not be of benefit to the community. MOU’s are meant to open doors for development in communities”


The Executive Mayor accepted the ISN/FEDUP charter and welcomed the alliance on behalf of the Madibeng municipality. She said that it was rare to be amongst community based organizations that do not ‘pay lip service’ to issues of community development, but ensure that they make it their concern to improve the well being of their fellow community members. She quoted the words of Archbishop Ndungane “ poverty does not wait for time or convenience, it strikes anytime, all the time and with full force for most households, and therefore, our response must be charged with a sense of urgency and determination.” She said that the municipality too has adopted methods of alleviating poverty such as applying labor-intensive approaches in project implementation to create employment opportunities.

The mayor acknowledged the work of the federation by saying that the three pillars that FEDUP was based on (PEOPLE, MONEY, and INFORMATION) were vital for negotiating and lobbying for change. The municipality was aware of the different programs that FEDUP was involved in especially around Oukasie and surrounding areas such as Jericho and Maboloka. Programs that bring people together, teaching them to save money and improve their livelihoods.

She confessed that the municipality too is facing barriers in the effort to fight poverty such as:

  • Lack of services
  • Lack of land
  • Lack of access to markets
  • Lack of access to health facilities
  • Lack of education
  • Lack of power to influence decisions

Such barriers would be difficult for the government to overcome if it did not work together with civil society and the sooner everyone understood that poverty is not ‘my problem or your problem but our problem’ it will be easy to win the fight and we have to be united.

The mayor further regarded both education and land ownership as long-term strategies in fighting poverty. She urged the people to take education seriously because an educated nation automatically becomes enlightened and exposed to more opportunities. The government of South Africa has taken issues of land reform very seriously as there are policies in place to address this. In conclusion she said that the municipality of Madibeng is committed to poverty alleviation and will support FEDUP/ISN   because the municipality wants to see real change in its communities.




OPINION: Opportunities in Urban Informality, Development and Climate Resilience in African cities

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, Press, Resources No Comments

Article from (Climate and Development Knowledge Network)


Blaise Dobson and Jean-Pierre Roux (SouthSouthNorth) argue that African urbanisation and burgeoning informal settlements present an opportunity to build truly adaptive cities.

African cities are characterised by high levels of slums and informal settlements, largely informal economies, high levels of unemployment, majority youthful populations, and low levels of industrialisation. They have the highest growth rates in the world despite the fact that sub-Saharan Africa is still only approximately 40% urbanised. The urban poor, who largely reside in informal settlements and slums, are vulnerable to a range of global change effects, including global economic and climate change impacts. These can combine to have devastating effects on the poor, who generally survive on less than US$ 2 per day, but also on the ‘floating middle class’, who are defined as living on between US$ 2 – 4 per day, and constitute 60% of the African middle class.[1]

The African Centre for Cities (ACC) and Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) hosted a three-day workshop in Cape Town in July aimed at developing a framework for understanding the intersection between climate resilience and urban informality, and promoting integrated urban development and management within African cities. ‘Champion groups’ from Accra (Ghana), Kampala (Uganda) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), which included local authorities, academia and civil society attended.

The African city: Four future scenarios

Prof Edgar Pieterse from the ACC opened the discussion by outlining four future scenarios for African cities:

  • The status quo: Small middle-class gated enclaves and neglected slums
  • The green status quo: Gated enclaves, new towns, pockets of greening and slum upgrading
  • The smart African city: Smart grids, mobility, improvement of spatial form (compaction) and slum upgrading
  • The adaptive city: Smart grids, full access, low-tech, localised renewal of slum economies and ecosystems

Pieterse’s four pathways challenged a few of our preconceptions about what an ideal African city should look like. First, it highlighted the real possibility that selective greening (e.g. promotion of a ‘green economy,’ improved building standards and more efficient infrastructure) can fail to address deeper structural issues contributing to informality and vulnerability of marginal communities. This greening is likely to reinforce the status quo of small, gated enclaves and underinvestment in slums while not addressing the spatial issues that exacerbate informality and vulnerability. Second, it highlighted the ideal of an Adaptive City, which is not necessarily high-tech. A preoccupation with high-tech solutions for African problems may ignore the most accessible and affordable solutions to urban challenges.

Cities are critical to addressing the threat of climate change in Africa 

The late Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom’s parting appeal was that we should not pin our hopes on a single international agreement to manage common resources like the earth’s climate system. Instead we need “evolutionary policy” that can adapt quickly to uncertain futures. According to her, these adaptive policies critically depend on sub-national actors, in particular cities. While the US failed to ratify the Kyoto protocol, more than 1000 US cities have now signed the US Climate Protection Agreement to strive to meet the Kyoto protocol targets in their own communities.

While nation states struggle to negotiate a high-level climate change agreement and national governments interpret how best to integrate climate compatible development into their particular contexts, it is often up to sub-national entities, like cities, to implement these plans.

Ostrom’s work also shows the importance of playing to the strengths of a myriad of institutions to cooperate across multiple scales. On our workshop fieldtrip to Langrug informal settlement an hour outside of Cape Town we saw how her insights rang true. The improvements that have made Langrug a more resilient settlement despite its informality were due to collaborations between a network of different institutions, communities, and individuals cooperating across multiple scales. Block committees in the settlement, Slum Dwellers International (SDI), the Informal Settlements Network (ISN),Stellenbosch Municipality, the University of Cape Town and Worcester Polytechnic collaborated to mobilise financing, gain political legitimacy, map out the settlement with a Geographic Information System (GIS), and embark on various upgrading projects.

There is another reason why cities should be in the forefront of the fight against climate change: They are responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In rapidly emerging African economies, environmental concerns take a backseat to development priorities. To the extent that African governments are concerned about climate change at all, they are predominantly looking at adaptation rather than mitigation.  However, whilst a ‘development first’ approach is understandable from an equity point of view, many ‘leapfrog’ technologies exist that are both pro-poor and GHG mitigating. Researchers within the MAPS collaboration have developed a typology to classify poverty-alleviating mitigation actions that may be helpful for African leaders as they prioritise their efforts to build adaptive cities. African cities have cost effective options like bus rapid transport systems, small plot intense agriculture, participative waste management, household biogas, improved energy efficiency building designs, cooking and lighting technologies. Development and mitigation do not have to be mutually exclusive; there are low emissions development pathways that are both viable and optimal.

lang 2

Moving forward

At the workshop, presentations by the city teams from Accra, Kampala and Addis Ababa all confirmed and elaborated on Pieterse’s characterisation of the challenges facing African cities. However, the presentations also highlighted the geographic and cultural specificities that make each city unique and generic cookie-cutter solutions a bad idea. On the second day, delegates attempted to develop a framework to approach informality and resilience across African cities in a systematic way; an ambitious and laudable experiment. We believe the potential energy unleashed in the sharing of comparative stories from different cities is a good starting point for further work on a stylised framework to address issues of urban informality and resilience in the African context. It was exciting to be part of a south-south exchange where African solutions were sought by Africans, for African cities.

In our opinion, cities (urban governments and their constituents) have a critical role to play in addressing the threat of climate change. The theme of African urbanisation in the 21st century cannot be ignored. Socio-technological solutions exist that can harness the latent energy of informality. Growing urban informality can be an opportunity to leverage innovative ways to make the Adaptive City a reality.

We occasionally invite bloggers from around the world to provide their experiences and views. The views expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of CDKN.

For more information about this CDKN project, please visit the project page.


Growing Food in Limited Spaces Through Vertical gardens

By CORC, News, Press No Comments

By Thandeka Tshabalala (on behalf of CORC)

Planting the vertical food garden, Langa, 3rd Sept 2013, Gege creche 2

Source of photographs : (Stephen Lamb, 2013)

On a learning exchange the community of Langrug went to Gege crèche located in Langa to see a demonstration by Touching the Earth Lightly on how to grow food in vertical gardens. The aim of growing food vertically is to use the limited spaces that communities have to decrease poverty and hunger in informal settlements. Due to the shift of poverty from rural areas to urban areas, food gardening is an alternative to providing food security in informal settlements, with the high unemployment rate in informal settlements it is difficult for households to provide nutritious meals for their families because food security in urban areas is tied to purchasing power.

The initiative to start a food gardening projects in communities is linked to providing a food at a cheaper price in turn decreasing household spending on food. The broader idea is to have most of the community members growing gardens either for consumption at a household level or selling to the community to increase the household’s income. The community was introduced to different ways in which they can grow gardens in limited spaces; this includes vertical gardens and growing food in crates where they can easily transport their gardens in and out of their shack to avoid theft.

Planting the vertical food garden, Langa, 3rd Sept 2013, Gege creche 3

Source of photographs : (Stephen Lamb, 2013)

Watch the learning exchange of the langrug community to Gege creche on [youtube][/youtube]