Launch Date

November 2011


Three kilometres north-west of the centre of Franschhoek in the Stellenbosch winelands,Western Cape, South Africa.

Implementing Organizations

Informal Settlement Network (ISN), Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Stellenbosch Municipality, Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI),  University of Cape Town, Department of Engineering and Built Environment, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Basic Funding Details

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Stellenbosch Municipality, the community of Langrug, and CORC makes provision for the establishment of an Urban Poor Fund (UPF). In the first two financial years (2011-2013), in addition to the capital and operational expenditure of community-initiated projects, the Fund will aim to “build an urban poor platform through a network of informal settlements and informal backyarders” by surveying, mapping and profiling settlements with the view of up-scaling upgrading across the municipality. Provisions are also made to invest in the social institutions of the poor in order to manage the partnership projects (e.g. setting up mini offices in five strategic clusters). The funding agreement sees the Municipality contributing R2million per year, while CORC/SDI contributes a further R1,5 million per year.

Contact Details

David Carolissen (Stellenbosch Municipality);;

Aditya Kumar (CORC);;

Trevor Masiy (Langrug community leader)


Seasonal laborers working on the wine farms and a large dam construction project established the settlement in 1992. The residents still find seasonal work on the nearby farms from September to March. This settlement construed a forgotten people for many years, until the municipality was forced to action in November 2010 when the neighboring farm owner obtained a court interdict against the Municipality for the settlement’s greywater runoff into their irrigation dam.

In Stellenbosch, the housing backlog is at 19,701 households, and more than 20,000 families live in informal settlements and backyarder shacks. The municipality receives 300 housing subsidies a year, and therefore families could wait up to 130 years to receive a subsidised house. In attempts to respond to this mammoth challenge, the Municipality undertook a restructuring of core municipal function, and the Informal Settlements Management department was created. It was tasked with the core mandate of strategizing around the challenges of urbanization, informal settlements and service delivery. One of the guiding values has been that the upgrading of informal settlements can serve as a people-driven, pro-poor solution to this urban and housing crisis.


Langrug is home to 2118 shacks and over 4700 people, one third of whom have currently access to neither electricity nor sanitary facilities.

Because of its position on the side of a hill, repairing the drainage system and eliminating greywater concerns enhances the health and livelihoods of the surrounding communities and farm areas.

The new partnership that was forged between the South African SDI Alliance and the Stellenbosch municipality with the upgrading of Langrug also paves the way for other informal settlements throughout Stellenbosch to see the service delivery and upgrading they require.

The long run potential integrated development of Langrug also provided students at the University of Cape Town’s School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics (in the department of Engineering and Built Environment) the opportunity to practice large scale planning. More importantly, it also provided the next generation of urban planners with the opportunity to learn early on the need to plan in collaboration with communities.

Project Description

In November 2010, Langrug was introduced to the Informal Settlements Network. By January of the following year, the Stellenbosch municipality and the alliance agreed to work together towards informal settlement upgrading.  ISN was introduced to the settlement after the municipality engaged the network, opening a sustained engagement between ISN/CORC and Stellenbosch Municipality which was prolonged over two years (2009-2010). In these engagements, both parties outlined the conditions under which the partnership would crystallise. The central topic of discussion was the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and more specifically, the core areas of intervention and action (contained in the appendices). Between 11 – 16 October 2010, senior officials from the Stellenbosch Municipality and community members from ISN Stellenbosch (mostly leaders of Langrug settlement) travelled to Uganda to see people-centred planning in action.

Through a number of challenging meetings and dialogues, representative leadership emerged in February 2011. This capacity building and leadership learning was triggered through a process of continuous engagement, exchanges to other informal settlements and creating links with the Municipality. ISN mobilised the community to number and measure its own shacks, while a relocation committee was formed to assist in the procurement and design of a new cluster of pre-fabricated homes at the foothills of the settlement. Meanwhile, the local leadership recruited 31 volunteers to enumerate Langrug’s inhabitants and map both the settlement’s physical infrastructure and its socio-economic profile. The enumeration, which was completed in March 2011, generated key knowledge for local authorities by providing spatial information that is crucial to improving service provision.

For further support, a bi-weekly coordination meeting has been established between the Stellenbosch Municipality and the leadership. This has had a considerable impact in the confidence amongst the general community and strengthened the role of the leadership. The alliance is currently engaged to assist the Langrug leadership to impact on neighboring settlements with the need for mobilization and settlement profiling.

In November 2011, 15 households were successfully relocated to make way for an access road and were integrated into other sections of the settlement. The Municipality provided emergency housing allowances for the community to build high quality upgraded shelters in a reblocked layout plan. The community has worked out re-blocking designs for almost all sections of the settlement and is waiting for the funding details to be finalized so that they can begin incremental upgrading of the settlement. The community is working on an affordable solution for a communal meeting space which will include the construction of a multi-purpose center.

Detailed project descriptions

Relocation Project:

Due to legal proceedings that were brought upon Langrug by a neighbouring wine farmer; with complaints that grey-water run off from the settlement was running into his irrigation dam, court rulings obliged 16 families within Langrug to relocate. Despite the suggested municipal provision of houses, the affected families opted rather to construct their own dwellings.

Whilst there were many challenges with regard to the community-driven construction of the structure, technical issues were eventually overcome, and the community successfully submitted a budget, procured the materials, designed a layout plan and built their own structures.  This process also opened up space for a communal court-yard; which was later used for a playground for the children of the community.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene:

The enumeration conducted in Langrug highlighted the need for an upgrade of sanitation facilities within the settlement. Indeed, the ratio of people to toilets was 49:1, and that of people to water points was 72: 1, with such services being sporadically dispersed through the settlement, access unequal, and service location disproportionate.

For six weeks in 2011, two teams from Worcester Polytechnic Institute formed a partnership with the Langrug community with the hope of upgrading and maintaining the existing facilities and understanding the social interaction with these essential services.

As it stands, many upgrades have been carried out within the settlement, including an educational painting for children, and a foot operated tap – to assist those who have their hands full when when washing.  Other suggestions that have yet to be actualised include the provision of an erosion wall to contain the grey-water run-off, the installation of food waste bins, lighting and fencing; for improved security, improved locking mechanisms, signs to raise awareness of hygiene related risks, and a soap dispenser.

This project ultimately demonstrates how communities have the ability to interact with public infrastructure, and partner with planners to develop innovative means of providing more appropriate services.

Grey-water and drainage:

The need for a grey-water project within Langrug was undeniably evident. Years of accumulated household grey water that was stagnating in the settlement resulted in numerous negative health effects for all settlement dwellers, and particularly for those living next to the water source, or for the children playing around it. A WPI grey-water team allied with community researchers with the aim of setting a precedent for community grey-water interventions, encouraging the community as a whole to participate in grey-water implementations and maintenance, develop grey-water systems that will service as sustainable long-term solutions,  and equipping the co-researchers to continue aiding future grey-water projects.

The project illustrated the community’s competency in interpreting spatial patterns in land-use planning, and their ability to mobilise to take ownership of the process.

Setting up block committees:

One vital point of the enumeration and preliminary mapping exercise was the identification of blocks of settlements; pre-existing sections of the settlement that were delineated via existing networks.  There are numerous benefits of block committees, predominantly including the positive knock-on effects of savings schemes – local accountability, transparency, and social cohesion.

Block committees have been functional in most parts of  Langrug since February 2012. Currently, the priorities are; the identification of open spaces for the relocation of vulnerable houses or the construction of other amenities, security and neighbourhood watch, co-research for project identification and support, the validation of data, and building social cohesion through savings schemes. Re-blocking plans are being developed for each block, which creates an intermediate path to regularisation.


During enumeration, researchers realised that many children didn’t attend school during the mornings; instead wandering the settlement or staying at home – as many parents didn’t seem to see the value of the education provided.  Indeed, through visits to local schools, a number of concerns became apparent; including issues surrounding cleanliness, lack of parental attendance at school meetings, lack of parental volunteering in school feeding schemes, and parents failing to pay schools for services rendered.

Hence, with this upgrading project, the general aim was to influence parents to understand the importance of schooling and education, and in doing so to raise the levels of school attendance through partnerships with local creches, primary and high schools. It was ascertained that there still exists a need for school-leaver programmes and vocational training.


Violent crime is a significant daily reality for most shack dwellers, with numerous incidents of violent crime occurring in the Langrug informal settlement.  Just as communities with strong solidarity are most likely to reduce crime and delinquency, similarly, fear of rape and murder retrains resident’s mobility and breaks down social cohesion.

The aim of the security project was to research the contextual information relevant to the safety conditions within the settlement of Langrug, and to implement safety measures accordingly.  Upon analysing the enumeration data, and identifying trends and security concerns, the proposed interventions advocated by the research team included: introducing a roster of neighbourhood patrolling responsibilities, establishing a community policy forum (CPF) to build a partnership with the local police station, requesting greater amounts of lighting from the municipality,  active neighbourhood watch reporting suspicious characters to the CPF, and building security points around the toilet and water facilities.

Health and Wellness:

A general board meeting established the need to put health back on the CUFF agenda. The poor are inadequately serviced with health facilities and often have to queue for hours to receive poor healthcare at the end of their wait. Issues such as the high rate of water-borne contamination, along with the provision of ARV drugs for those affected by HIV/AIDS resulted in the community request for a mobile health clinic.

The aim of this project was to research local conditions, and through collaboration with other players, to find relevant solutions with the aim of influencing the allocation of local governmental health services in the Stellenbosch area.

The team has thus far been occupied with building partnerships with local stakeholders,  profiling the health conditions in blocks to enact current upgrading to include provisions for health services, and meeting with representatives from local health clinics to enquire into the possibility of obtaining more services.


Full service delivery via the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) which will include the reblocking of clusters, construction of a road hierarchy, construction of social amenities such as a Multi Purpose Centre (MPC), more toilets and taps per ratio for households, and gradual subdivision of plots and securing tenure status.


As with many communities, the leadership of Langrug is experiencing difficulty keeping community members engaged since it is difficult to see immediate results from savings and engagements with the municipality.

Projected Outcomes

While the physical space is being upgraded, community members are also able to take advantage of capacity building activities. Community leaders are also participating in work shops and learning how to use computers to map their settlement and bring savings in to the communities. Additionally, they are able to travel to nearby settlements to impart their new knowledge and experiences to other communities in Stellenbosch.

Because of the participatory process of collecting this data as community members, this will tend to increase cohesion and cooperation within communities by uniting their members in the pursuit of a common goal. This process also capacitates marginalised people by providing them with the necessary negotiation skills to engage in a mutually productive dialogue with external stakeholders. So far, Langrug’s leadership has demonstrated a high degree of organisational talent. The confidence that it has gained by having its efforts recognised will no doubt play an important role in the community’s ongoing empowerment. Furthermore, participatory processes and forming new partnerships between communities and the municipality of Stellenbosch provide the opportunity to shift the way governments, as well as communities, approach housing and service delivery. According to Johru Robyn, Town Planner in the housing department of the Stellenbosch municipality, his department has already been transformed through the partnership which led to a total rethink of their respective housing strategy. Stellenbosch as the home of some of the wealthiest and poorest citizens of this country, has a unique chance of presenting itself as an inclusive city where people from all backgrounds build their environment together.