INITIATION DATE: The project was approved in October 2012 and was completed on 4th November 2012.

LOCATION: Kwa-Mathambo informal settlement is located on private land just off Chris Hani Road/ North Coast Road in the Avoca suburb, Durban.

PROJECT IN BRIEF: To improve grey water drainage system behind the communal ablution block, and to extend the number of water service points.

IMPLEMENTING ORGANIZATIONS: With technical support from the uTshani Fund/CORC Durban office, the community established a Community Construction Management Team (CCMT) to coordinate the implementation of the project. ISN communities also supported, especially Havelock, a settlement in the same ward 22, eThekwini Metropolitan.

BASIC FUNDING DETAILS: The total project budget for the drainage system and installation of new taps was R10, 394.80. The breakdown of this cost: The community contributed R1,700 to the project, which is more than 10%, and CUFF paid the balance of R8,694.

CONTEXT: Kwa-Mathambo informal settlement was established in 1991 at the time, which the land-owners’ gardener erected a shack for him and his family on the erf. With the years, more people settled on the land, and a settlement grew to 294 households (565 people). Geographically, the settlement is built up a steep hill on a relatively small piece of land that explain the high densities and typologies of the settlement. Three different private owners own the occupied land.

Resulting from discussions following the enumeration exercise, the community identified the blocked grey-water drainage systems behind the communal ablution block as a priority project. The major cause of blockage was the accumulation of solid waste. The contamination of this grey-water posed a major health and safety risk and could well have been contributing to high level of illness, particularly amongst children who regularly play in the lower reaches of the run-off.

Years of service delivery neglect means that the settlement is severely under-serviced, with only two blocks of flushing toilets and three wash-basins serving the entire community. The priority with this upgrading project was to eliminate grey-water blockages (caused by the accumulation of solid waste) by designing a community-maintained drainage system.

PROJECT IMPACT: The creation of an efficient grey-water drainage facility and addition of another water point have been the main short-term priorities for Kwa-Mathambo. Previously the drainage facility was used as a walkway and it was not designed to carry water away efficiently. The consequent health risks and unpleasant odours stemming from the stagnant grey-water were impediments on the quality of life. Hence, the projects aimed to positively impact upon all members of the settlement, but especially those directly surrounding the area that was being flooded by the grey water.

Kwa-Mathambo informal settlement was established in 1991. The first settler was a man who worked as a gardener for an Indian man, the owner of the land. When his contract job ended he had to move from his employer’s premises and he decided to build a shack in the backyard of the private property. This happened under the consent of the owner. Today 565 people are living in Kwa-Mathambo in 294 different shacks. It is believed that three different private owners own the occupied land. The settlement is built against a steep hill on a relative small piece of land and the shacks are built against and sometimes even on top of each other. At the lower section of the settlement, where there are a number of formal (albeit derelict) structures, which face Chris Hani road.

Kwa-Mathambo has been earmarked for “emergency services”, a category of basic service provision the eThekwini metro uses to indicate the uncertain future of the settlement, but basic service provision is guaranteed. According to the local leadership, there has been no planning or implementation of significant development projects.

The leadership of Kwa-Mathambo has been active in dialogues with the eThekwini metro, which was set up by the Informal Settlement Network

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The project proposal outlined a community-led action plan for the upgrading of drainage and the extension of taps, with possibility of eventually enacting a wider slum-upgrading process. Kwa-Mathambo is located in ward 22 and the community has a good standing relationship with the ward councillor. According to the City’s service delivery schedule, Kwa-Mathambo is only suitable for “emergency services”, which implies that according to the City, relocation is the only option. The community, in solidarity with ISN Durban, started a dialogue surrounding settlement upgrading as opposed to relocation. These dialogues are ongoing as eThekwini officials evaluate the possibilities of partnering with ISN on pilot projects.

OBJECTIVES: The first objective of the project was to address the pressing problem of an inefficient grey-water drainage system. Finding a solution to this contaminated water could drive down health and safety concerns. Secondly, the project addresses the lack of access to well-located taps.

CONSTRAINTS: Kwa-Mathambo’s full-scale development and potential re-blocking is seriously hampered by the lack of security of tenure. The site has major topographical challenges and the densely populated plot of land is not possible to navigate other than by foot. Access of emergency vehicles and roads with service delivery therefore narrows down the options for development. The community has a re-blocking spatial plan, but needs to engage the City on a collaborative project.