Havelock installs a flood prevention measure

By Phumelele Mbali and Olwethu Jack (on behalf of CORC)

Havelock informal settlement is located 8km outside Durban central, close to the northern suburb of Greenwood Park.

The land is privately owned; one part by the Kwa-Zulu Natal Provincial Department of Human Settlements and another part by a private owner. Havelock is built against a hill and the shack density is high. In June 2012, an extensive mobilisation, enumeration and mapping exercise was undertaken in Havelock. This is documented in the Havelock project profile. The communtiy built a model for the potential future development and in-situ upgrading of the informal settlement (pictured above).

The Havelock settlement has been one of the key actors in the frequent dialogues with the eThekwini metro, as arranged by the Informal Settlement Network (ISN). At these dialogues, the community has raised their concerns of high densities and low levels of services. The high densities have been a conducive environment of shack fires and flooding, and shacks closer to a water stream have struggled with the torrents of water flushes in the rain seasons.

During December 2012, the community experienced major floods in the low-lying area of the settlement again. Early this year, the CORC Durban office received a group of planning students from the University of Botswana who supported the community in designing a flood prevention measure for the river at the lower sections of the settlement. The community prepared a plan for the channeling of river to prevent flooding. The community initially wanted to approach the Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) to co-fund the project, but on rethinking the project, the community realised that recycled materials will work equally well.

The community leaders worked closely with the students from the University of Botswana and spoke to the residents most affected by the floods. Moreover, it was ascertained the source of the floods which was a blocked municipal drain hidden in the bushes. This exercise mobilised a lot of community members to assist. The team decided to do this exercise as practical as possible. The following day they started clearing the area according to their sketch.

However, community participation was very weak in the initial stages. Only after the students left, the community started the implementation of the project. The site clearing was done very quickly and they started digging the catchment area in one day. This realy motivated alot of people to come assist including people from formal houses were helping and not holding back.

We left the chanel clear and dugout to see how water will flow. The following day after a rainy night we realised that the ground water seeps through the ground to the surface kept the ground muddy. This made us realise that we can not use concrete but to lay stones in the channel and hold them with a wire mesh. Retaining walls were needed (see below) in other areas and the community members collected tyres and rocks to retain. The community participation at the end of the project was very impressive. At the end the community members appreciated and ecknowledged the students saying that Umntu ngumntu ngabantu.