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Launch of Upgrading at Flamingo Crescent with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille

By CORC, FEDUP, iKhayalami, ISN, Press No Comments

Authored by CORC

“People said Flamingo Crescent [Upgrading] will never happen. But today is here and this is the proof that it has happened – one cannot do it alone we need to work as a collective!”

Melanie Manuel, Informal Settlement Network (ISN) Co-ordinator

Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, with Flamingo Crescent Community Members, SA SDI Alliance, PFO's and City Officials

Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, with Flamingo Crescent Community Members, SA SDI Alliance, PFO’s and City Officials

Last week’s upgrading launch at Flamingo Crescent informal settlement celebrated the completion of re-blocking, installation of water, sanitation and electricity services for each of Flamingo’s 104 households, the unveiling of Flamingo’s first formal street names and opening of the settlement’s own crèche, Little Paradise. Moreover it marked a milestone in an ongoing upgrading process, showcasing what is possible when communities, intermediaries, governments and stakeholders form partnerships.

Delegates from community organisations and networks, the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, delegates from various government departments, ward and sub-council politicians, NGOs and support organisations gathered in the Lansdowne Civic Centre from 11:00 on Monday 10 February.

The re-blocking project is lauded as a successful demonstration of community-led, participatory planning, collaborative implementation and improvement of informal settlements. The uniqueness of the project was that despite the settlement’s density no one was displaced and grossly inconvenienced during the implementation of upgrading 104 structures.

ISN & FEDUP welcome the Mayor to the launch at Lansdowne Civic Centre

ISN & FEDUP welcome the Mayor to the launch at Lansdowne Civic Centre

First engagements around Flamingo Crescent 

First engagements began in 2012 after the City of Cape Town signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the SA SDI Alliance around joint community-led upgrading of 22 informal settlements, of which Flamingo Crescent is the third, having built on the experiences of Mtshini Wam and Kuku Town. It differs from the previous two in the severity of its socio-economic challenges – high levels of crime, unemployment, violence and poverty. Given these circumstances the Alliance’s Informal Settlement Network (ISN) facilitated implementation and engagement between the City and the community.

Melanie Manuel (Flamingo Crescent ISN facilitator) shared,

“When we started the partnership with the City of Cape Town in 2011 in Vygieskraal it was a day of celebration and no one knew the hardships that would lie ahead. As time went on we realised we fundamentally believe in community participation, a bottom up approach because we know communities understand their settlements best.”

Read more background here.

Flamingo Before Upgrading

Flamingo Before Upgrading

The Launch: Messages on Upgrading and Inclusion in Services

At the launch, the first speaker, Councillor Anthea Green shared,

“Since 2012 I have said that we need to upgrade Flamingo Crescent, despite resistance from the rate payers and residents’ groups. We were committed to work with the community, and now this is a transformed settlement”.

Informal settlements not only face substandard basic services like water, sanitation and electricity but are also cut off from functions of city administration such as receiving a residential address. The re-blocking project allowed the City and the Post Office to give Flamingo Crescent street names and addresses, after the community made this requirement upfront in their development plan.

Gerald Blankenberg, regional director of the Post Office, said that the Post Office Act and other regulations require the post office to expand addresses to underserviced communities.

“Informal communities are often times socially and economically disconnected from basic administrative functions, and therefore a residential address will give the Post Office an opportunity to serve the community with dignity”, he said.

In the keynote address, Mayor Patricia de Lille emphasised the significant role of Flamingo community’s steering committee, the Alliance’s ISN and Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) in the success of the project. She, however, expressed concern about the slow pace of project implementation, emphasizing the need to boost municipal and community capacity to ensure the roll out of more projects in the City’s 200 informal settlements.

“The aim of re-blocking is the improvement of informal settlements while people wait for a housing opportunity”, she observed.

In closing of the ceremony, the Mayor handed over certificates of tenure to community members, ensuring formal recognition of residence and tenure security.

Mayor, Patricia de Lille with Flamingo Community Leader, Maria Matthews

Mayor, Patricia de Lille with Flamingo Community Leader, Maria Matthews

The Impact of Upgrading : Before and After

Before re-blocking, the community of 405 residents had access to only 14 chemical toilets (of which 7 were serviced) and 2 water taps. There was no electricity so that contained fires in tin drums dotted the settlement’s dusty pathways. The community was especially concerned about the safety of its children playing in the busy street.

Re-blocking restructured space in the settlement, opening courtyard areas and clearly designated access roads, enabling the City of Cape Town to install individual water, sanitation and electricity services per household. What sets Flamingo apart from previous projects are its paved pathways, with official road names as well as the construction of a crèche.

The community contributed 20% to the cost of its structures through community-based daily savings. During the implementation phase, 20 jobs were created through the Expanded Public Works Programme.

Before upgrading

Before upgrading

After upgrading

After upgrading

Into the Future: Community voices on Partnership and City Fund

“Since 2010 we have been thinking about improvements in our settlement. This is when we got in touch with ISN, who introduced us to CORC, and we then made a partnership with the City [of Cape Town] We explained what we wanted from the city – our own taps, toilets and electricity. But we needed to come together and draft our own plans”.

(Maria Matthews, Flamingo Community Leader)

Through the SA SDI Alliance the community additionally partnered with several organisations. iKhayalami supported the community, ISN/FEDUP and CORC around training community members and top structure construction. The community established the re-blocked layout and community-based maps in partnership with students from Cape Peninsula University of Technology and support staff from CORC. With the support of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI, USA) the community drew up plans for the crèche. Habitat for Humanity South Africa contributed to construction by supplying the roof sheets and windows. The Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD) donated funds to build the crèche. CECD will also support around the training and registration of the crèche.

From Melanie’s speech it was clear,

“This project is successful because of the methodologies we use. We allow communities to do their own designs. The community also made a [financial] contribution [in a settlement] where 95% of community members were unemployed. How do we change the mind-sets of people who are still waiting for adequate housing? Let’s change the way we are living now while we are waiting for housing to come.”

(Melanie Manuel, ISN Facilitator)

Melanie Manuel, ISN Co-ordinator in Flamingo

Melanie Manuel, ISN Co-ordinator in Flamingo

As important as settlement improvement is in itself, the methodology is just as significant. Moreover, Flamingo Crescent serves as a precedent for informal settlement upgrading on a larger scale. The day ended with the community leading the Mayor through their settlement, unveiling Flamingo’s new street names and officially opening the Little Paradise crèche together. It is Melanie Manuel’s closing words that speak of the future:

 “We need to look at a holistic plan for the metro. Let’s look at how we can reach basic services much quicker and how we can scale up. The Alliance projects do not only focus on reblocking but on basic services in every form. The Alliance has designed a City Fund with which communities can directly access money for upgrading in Cape Town. In Flamingo the Aliance’s Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) helped us match the 20% that each community member contributed to their structure. This kind of facility on a city-level will go a long way – we challenge the City to continue partnering with us and match our contributions in the City Fund!”

 

 

Minister Sisulu speaks about Partnership with SA Alliance

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2006 Pledge Conference with Minister Lindiwe Sisulu

In anticipation of The National Human Settlements Indaba and Exhibition (16-17 October 2014) we share a speech made by Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements in 2006 about the Department’s partnership with Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP).

During this event the minister recognised the inherent value of partnership with the Alliance and of promoting community-led development processes:  she signed an MoU binding Provincial MECs to pledging 1,000 subsidies per Province per annum to FEDUP.  Since 1994 the Alliance has partnered with national, provincial and local government, pioneering new methodologies of community organisation. This year’s Indaba will be held in Johannesburg and focuses on the theme of “Building partnerships for accelerated delivery of human settlements”.  Both SDI and the South African Alliance have been invited as partners who reflect and voice the interest of the urban poor.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY LN SISULU MINISTER OF HOUSING AT THE CONFERENCE OF SHACK/ SLUM DWELLERS INTERNATIONAL AND THE FEDERATION OF THE URBAN POOR 

19 May 2006 
International Convention Centre
 , Cape Town 

Chairperson;

President of the Slum Dwellers International,

President of the Federation of the Urban Poor,

Representatives of other different community based organisations present here
,

Comrades
,

Invited Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I accepted the honour to open this Conference with a great deal of humility. Humility because I, who represents those who are seen to have plenty, have to stand here in front of you who represent the poorest of the poor and pretend that I have some words of wisdom to impart to you. But I stand here with pride, and I am proud too, because you have chosen my government as a partner in a cause that goes right to the heart of what we are and what we fought for all those years. For me this can only mean an endorsement of your confidence in us, that with us, through us, your ideals can be achieved.

I welcome your confidence in us for we, in turn, will use it to spur ourselves on to ensure that our common goals are realised. It is an honour for us to be counted as one of the champions of the poorest of the poor.

The great revolutions of modern times have, apart from the influences of technological advances and progress, been the result often of the kind of progressive action that had found its source from the grassroots. Such has been the influence and the power of the grassroots in the present time that none who held political power could on their own define and occupy the political space that is critical to issues of sustainable development.

We are all one human force, inexorably drawn to the ideal that until all are free, free from the shackles of poverty, none of us is free. Because by some strange reason we are bound to this universe together. There is some logic in this contradiction. If we are to move forward – progress, our collective pace will be determined by the slowest, in this case the lowest. The great irony of our time! The future of our civilisation rests on how we determine our way forward. We shall not be identified as the civilisation of great poverty, that cannot defines us, we who are proud inventors of everything that has culminated into our launching into space to seek answers about what lies beyond. Perhaps, this is a justifiable deflection as we remain unable to solve problems that lie at our feet. Intellectually, one of the best periods of recorded history, but morally very wanting. The consciousness of the rich closed to the poverty that surrounds them.

In convening this Conference, the Slum Dwellers International and the Federation of the Urban Poor, give us reason to have greater confidence that the common struggle we share against homelessness will indeed achieve its greater results during our own lifetime. No moment in the history of human society has landed itself to this possibility other than ours.

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, with Jockin Arputham (President of SDI) and Rose Molokoane, National Co-ordinator of FEDUP, 2006

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, with Jockin Arputham (President of SDI) and Rose Molokoane, National Co-ordinator of FEDUP, 2006

I have just retuned from a trip to India – a most valuable learning experience it was. I did not get to see the Taj Mahal but what I experienced was more valuable than the Taj. I went out to see the pavement dwellers of Mumbai living in the most shocking conditions on the edge of society – having lived that way for all their lives. But a people with hope. An entrepreneurial people taught me the value of saving and the spirit that drives them to ensure that they do provide a house for their families. A people determined that they will do their bit to restore their dignity.

I yearn for that spirit here. A spirit that says this is our government – how can we help it in this huge challenge to provide housing? What can I – sitting in a shack house – do to help ensure that I too have a house? We need to infuse this in our people. We were once a proud people that moved heaven and earth and did do the impossible. The present challenge is within our power to resolve.

In India, I also had a tour of projects that had been undertaken by slum dwellers, projects that demonstrated resourcefulness, originality and innovation. They vindicated the belief I had always had that if government was to accelerate the delivery of housing then the complete involvement of the poor needed to receive full support.

I then began to reflect on the 2005 World Summit Outcome that committed governments to specific actions in relation to slum prevention and slum upgrading. Key among the resolutions was the commitment to increase resources for housing and the related infrastructure.

Ghandi believed that there was an innate goodness in human nature which at all times is able to perceive the truth as though by instinct.

We are a people with a very proud history, proud of what we can do for ourselves. My worry right now is that this proud heritage is dissipating now that we have our own government, the government of the poorest of the poor, the disadvantaged. And we have ourselves to believe that the government will provide.

I have been very attracted by the founding ethos of Shack Dwellers International: that no matter how disadvantaged, we can still do it ourselves, that in fact it is nobler if we do it ourselves. Help me plant this into the heart of every disadvantaged South African. Help me inspire them to stand up.

At the Special Ministerial Conference of the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD), that we held a month ago, in Nairobi, resolutions had been passed to effect these outcomes of the World Summit by focusing governments on the resourcefulness of the poor.

Having ourselves placed the issue of slum prevention and slum upgrading at the top of the international agenda we resolved not only to prevent new slum formations but to also look into the existing policies, legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks that hinder our abilities to deal with slum formation in ways that affirmed and strengthened our relationship with the poor.  We therefore resolved to review the frameworks that exist to enable an environment where the full capacities of community organisations and non-governmental organisations were utilised. In practice, amongst other things, this will mean the promotion of community-led development processes in slum prevention and slum upgrading and the identification of ways to assist initiatives relating to savings.  

I am gratified that the relation we have cultivated with yourselves has enabled us to implement some of these resolutions already. The Homeless People’s Federation, that we had interactions with in 2004, enabled us to make this start.

The Conference cements the relationship by now enabling us to act together at the international level. It is my hope that such collaboration will help encourage a fundamental rethinking of issues connected with sustainable development and the achievement, specifically, of the Millennium Development Goals. It is a great contradiction of our times, in my view, that whilst on the one hand we correctly extol the virtues of economic progress and political stability, on the other hand, we remain unable to expend and invest sufficient resources to achieve those outcomes.

I have had occasion to look back and assess the damage done to all of us in this country by the policies of inequality. It has cost us dearly. If eighty years ago we had all progressed along the same path, I leave you to imagine where this country would be today. We held back on the development of a segment of our society and we live with those consequences.

The steps that we have taken to support and assist initiatives from the Slum Dwellers International and Federation of the Urban Poor recognizes this singular truth. As government we recognize that apart from the market mechanism other initiatives and ways that have their origins in the people who make up our cities and towns, exist.

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and President of SDI, Jockin Arputham

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and President of SDI, Jockin Arputham

This is the experience that yet again I was exposed to when again I visited Thailand last year. I was exposed to a unique programs that forms partnerships between communities, government, and other stakeholders in identifying and developing suitable land for housing. This was a partnership to ensure that communities were located in the most opportune locations where their actual needs could be addressed in a sustainable manner.

We are thus committed to learn through practical experience and to enhance our programs to ensure that community needs are achieved. And I thus welcome the proposed structured cooperation arrangement that will be established during the Conference for the implementation of projects linked to policy and strategy enhancement.

The Conference is a unique opportunity for all of us to learn how partnerships with civil society are formed and should operate.

I would like to congratulate all of you for the achievements that both individually and collectively you have made in advancing the cause of slum dwellers.

Finally, Jockin, I do not know what to say to you. You remind me so much of my own father. You are beautiful in every single way!

I thank you most sincerely.