N2 Settlements, Cape Town

PROJECT REPORT:  Lwazi Park, Cape Town

1.  LAUNCH DATE:   2011

2.  LOCATION:   The informal settlement Lwazi Park is situated along the Lotus River Canal near the N2 freeway in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.




Aditya Kumar (CORC)  aditya@courc.co.za 071 0698147

Wandile Qamata 078 3966285


Since 2009 ISN, CORC and the City of Cape Town have been engaging in a partnership around eleven upgrading projects in the city. In January 2011 the existing partnership began to address a pending relocation at the informal settlement of Lwazi Park. The area known as the Cape Flats has many canals that were built over fifty years ago to drain water from the flood plains so that land could be prepared for the families who were forcibly removed from the inner city. These canals are hopelessly inadequate. They flood every rainy season. They are severely polluted and their banks are entirely degraded. However, the fairly sudden decision of the City to take action came as a surprise to the community. They were given only two weeks time to prepare for the relocation which the City initially planned to handle on its own with the support of hired consultants.


The project impacts directly on 38 families with a total of about 120 beneficiaries which were relocated to new sites. However, in the meantime new toilets have arrived and legal electricity is about to be introduced which not only upgrades the new settlement of Lwazi Park but also the living conditions at the neighbouring settlement of Barcelona which comprises 2100 structures with about 8500 inhabitants.


At Lwazi Park, an informal settlement in Cape Town, the country-wide problems of inadequate, polluted canals and inadequate housing have forced a community to relocate. A section of the Lotus River Canal runs along the N2 Freeway. For some time the Roads and Storm Water Department was planning to widen the canal where it passes the densely populated informal settlement of Barcelona. When it became clear that 38 families from the neighbouring settlement of Lwazi Park had to be relocated, the city hired consultants to manage the project. The city and the consultants identified an alternative site, not far from the place where the people were living along the canal. Municipal planners produced a very uniform, conventional, layout plan for the shacks that were to be repositioned.  However, their plan accommodated 26 shacks only – meaning that if the plan were implemented, twelve families would have nowhere to go.

In mid-January 2011 members of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) first visited Lwazi Park to investigate the pending relocation. They helped the community to map and measure their land and their shacks. They helped them to survey every family and get useful information like the size of the households and how long they have been living along the canal. Then they drew in a community architect from the Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), who facilitated a design for the relocation area produced by the people of Lwazi Park. This plan uses exactly the same space assigned by the city but also arranges the proposed new settlement according to their everyday needs and priorities. So instead of a simple grid layout, they came up with a layout that took into account the contour of the land and the existing walkways and pathways that the people already use. They created small open spaces for women to gather and children to play. They provided for different plot sizes because different families have different needs. And finally they suggested that the toilets to be provided by the city be moved into the centre of the proposed new square so that they can become a gathering point for the people and be protected from vandalism.

In May 2011 the whole community has been successfully relocated, toilets have been installed and electricity poles been erected. Legal electricity is expected to arrive at the settlement in the next few weeks. The community is in the process of putting a proposal for CUFF (Community Upgrading Finance Facility) together for the upgrading of shelter. The first phase would comprise 18 structures.


To capacitate a community within a given timeframe to become an active participant in the relocation and redesign of their settlement.

To initiate savings for further upgrading to be presented to CUFF.

To impact on other settlements through exchanges.

To agree on a shared agenda with neighbouring communities for the overall benefit of the N2 settlements.


The initial timeframe for enumeration, mapping and layout was very tight. CORC managed to persuade the City to allow more time for a participatory people’s process. The consultants did not cooperate well with the partnership. Eventually the City trusted the partnership and sided with the community and the NGO professionals. Internal leadership problems between the communities of Lwazi Park and the neighbouring Barcelona are obstacles to further upgrading. The issues seem to be personal and are dealt with by the ISN.


Lwazi Park is an example for a participatory people’s process which unfolded under extreme time constraint and against the averse influence of hired consultants. Thanks to an existing partnership with the City around other upgrading projects, the city-wide network of informal settlement leaders — ISN managed to create space for the community. Strong leadership evolved which made an enumeration, community mapping and layout possible. In four months 38 families were successfully relocated, plus sanitation and electricity has arrived. Lwazi Park is an ideal candidate for CUFF funding. Learning will impact on other communities and may well lead to bigger upgrading and income generation projects.