INITIATION DATE: The first phase was completed in November 2011, and the next phase of 96 shacks funded by CUFF started in June 2012.

LOCATION: Ruimsig informal settlement is located on the West Rand and is part of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan area. The settlement is located on the judicial boundaries of City of Joburg and Mogale City, a smaller local government.

PROJECT IN BRIEF: After the first phase of re-blocking 38 shacks in the flood prone “wetlands” area, the community approached CUFF for funding of phase two: the re-blocking of 96 new shacks.


  • Ruimsig development committee: overall community mobilization and project steering
  • ISN: social mobilization support and partnership meetings with the City of Joburg and Mogale City.
  • iKhayalami: Phase one funding (via Selavip) and implementation, and phase two implementation
  • CORC: Social and technical support such as exchanges, savings, enumerations, design and planning
  • University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Department of Architecture: seven week design studio
  • 26’10 South Architects: overall design framework supervision in association with UJ
  • Goethe Institute (Johannesburg): Exhibition and funder of 26’10 South Architects’ professional hours

BASIC FUNDING DETAILS: The project budget for the implementation of 96 shacks of 17.5 m2 floor space came to R341,000. At the time of writing (March 2013), R151,143 (or 44%) of the project budget has been spent and 42 shacks have been completed. The community has contributed R23,600, which equals 16% of the current expenditure. Some structure owners’ contributions are still outstanding.

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CONTEXT: Ruimsig informal settlement covers an area of 5.2 hectors and is situated in the heart of a middle to upper class residential area. When the first residents of the settlement lived on the land in the mid 1980s, the area was predominantly farmland. By 1986 the farm was sold to a new owner who charged farm workers rent. In 1998 the City of Johannesburg bought the land at which time the time was rezoned from a peri-urban argi-zone to residential. In the following years, new residential developments attracted job seekers in the construction industry who settled on the land.

People were working on farms in this area. In 2006 the settlement started growing and other people joined us while they were looking for job opportunities. The City installed some toilets in the area to service the people. There were about a hundred toilets and two main water tanks where we fetch water

Dan Moletsane, ex-community leader, Ruimsig informal settlement


According to the enumeration exercise conducted by the community and supported by ISN, FEDUP and CORC, the number of households is 369. On service level inspection, it was found that basic services are limited to about seventy ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilets, which, according to the community, the City only services once a year. Access to some of the toilets remains restricted, due to high shack densities and bad roads. These toilets are not serviced at all. There are three standpipes that are each connected to three water tanks in three different locations of the settlement. Of these water outlets, one is not working. The settlement has no electricity.

Albert Masibigiri, one of the core design team members, said that the settlement was in a great location despite its lack of services. “We are supposed to stay here because we are close to jobs. There is no need to move to another place. This place is close to the shopping areas, close to Joburg, and close to all areas”.

IMPACT: To date, 80 shacks have been re-blocked in the flood-prone Wetlands and Church area. This was completed in the first phase (38 structures) and in the second phase (42 structures). There is still funding for the balance of 54 shacks, which has not yet been implemented, bringing the total of the re-blocking project to 134 shacks.

The community has been working closely with ISN and FEDUP coordinating structures to establish strong savings schemes in the community, set up planning and coordination structures for project implementation, and exchange lessons learnt from communities in similar development stages. Building on this platform, the community has entered into a relationship with the University of Johannesburg’s Department of Architecture, 26’10 South Architects (especially the firm’s principal, Thorsten Deckler) and the Goethe Institute in Johannesburg. The settlement was divided in four main clusters: North-west (Shebeen), North (Spaza), East (Church) and South (Wetlands). Working in groups of four over a period of seven weeks, architecture students and “community designers” mapped out important features of the area, which informs the long term project plan.


The project has also drawn the attention for the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP), located in the national Department of Human Settlements. NUSP helped facilitate some engagements with the two intersecting municipalities, City of Johannesburg and the Mogale City.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The first phase re-blocking of 38 shacks affected by flooded areas in the “wetlands” section completed in November 2011. iKhayalami raised funds from a Chilean funder Selavip for the upgrading of 38 shelters. When this was successfully completed, the community applied to CUFF for phase two of the re-blocking project, which made provisions for 96 shacks.

The project is all about re-blocking. We have already completed 38 shacks with the support from iKhayalami, UJ and SELAVIP and allocated the 38 new shacks in phase 1 which included the Wetland and Church area. We propose to be provided with funds to cover the balance of 96 shelters in the balance of the Church and the Spaza area. 50 have been approved. We plan to complete 10 units at a time.

OBJECTIVES: With a better layout, issues of congestion and density can be addressed, safer areas for children to play can be created, a safer environment can be fostered, shacks can be improved and basic services can be upgraded – all of which will vastly improve the living conditions of its inhabitants.


CONSTRAINTS: Due to the politically contested area, the Ruimsig committee leadership has faced several threats and challenges of councilors and city officials. In one instance, a church member built an additional office on the church’s site and hearing of this, the City responded with