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Partnership in Mossel Bay: FEDUP and Provincial Minister launch houses

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

FEDUP savers, Norman Bless, Provincial Minister and Municipal representatives infront of Norman Bles' new house

FEDUP savers, Norman Bless, Provincial Minister and Municipal representatives infront of Norman Bles’ new house

It’s a rainy June afternoon in KwaNonqaba, an area of informal settlements and state-subsidised housing on the outskirts of Mossel Bay. Singing arises from a tent pitched nearby a newly finished house – FEDUP members awaiting the arrival of Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements, Bonginkosi Madikizela. Among the group is FEDUP saver, Norman Bles, homeowner of the newly finished house. The day marks the official opening of his house – as well as four additional FEDUP houses. It also marks a breakthrough in the relationship between Mossel Bay municipality and the local groups of FEDUP savers – the beginnings of a partnership after over a decade of negotiations.

FEDUP savers celebrating the house opening and new partnership formation

FEDUP savers celebrating the house opening and new partnership formation

Tracing FEDUP’s history in Mossel Bay

Thozama Nomnga, Western Cape coordinator for FEDUP, recounts how in the early 1990s the movement had built 33 houses in partnership with the municipality. After a period of disengagement, FEDUP returned to Mossel Bay in 2006, re-connected with old savings schemes and the municipality, particularly around the KwaNonqaba housing project, which, at the time, was pegged at 110 houses. Due to changes in leadership and member affiliation to savings schemes, the municipality eventually pledged 35 houses in 2013. On 2 June 2015, the completion of the first 5 houses was officially celebrated along with the formal opening of the new house of Norman Bles.

Tracing the story of FEDUP’s Norman Bles

FEDUP member, Norman Bles, with his family infront of the newly finished house.

FEDUP member, Norman Bles, with his family infront of the newly finished house.

 

As Norman Bles, reflects on his journey with FEDUP, he explains that he has been waiting for a house since 1993. Originally from Mandela Zone 5, he began saving with (what is now called) FEDUP in 1993. Over the years he left and re-joined the Federation several times – in the early 1990s due to a perceived lack of municipal support for housing and later due to uncertainties in the saving group leadership. During the constant changes in membership and saving participation, Norman speaks about his encounter with a fellow saver, who emphasised the importance of savings. This encouraged him to re-join the movement and eventually form his own savings scheme.

“Because we liked the Federation and understood the rituals of SDI [Shack/Slum Dwellers International], I went back to my house, talked to the people and said, ‘Let’s open a savings group in my house.” Other people joined us and we have been saving until now”

(Norman Bles, FEDUP homeowner, Mossel Bay)

He explains how together with FEDUP he continued negotiating with the municipality for housing.

“We kept negotiating because I wanted a bigger house [than] the small houses the municipality was building. The promise that we would get bigger houses with uTshani Fund [FEDUP] is what gave me hope to continue saving. I have a wife and kids who now have a place to sleep. It is no longer in a small shack. Today there is no rain that will get my children.”

(Norman Bles, FEDUP homeowner)

Launching a house, building a partnership

 

At the launch itself, Western Cape FEDUP leader, Thozama Nomnga, described the day as “the start of a partnership with Mossel Bay municipality.” Both the minister and Mossel Bay Head of Department (HoD) for Human Settlements echoed this sentiment. In particular, the minister emphasised that the government needed to acknowledge its setbacks and work harder at making [housing opportunities] happen:

“What you are doing [as an Alliance] is directly in line with our strategic objectives in the Western Cape. You have proven that you have the capacity to do this thing [build your own houses]! Why can’t we use the Alliance to do these things in a number of settlements so we can really become partners. It might only be 5 houses but there are more coming. We want to change the landscape.”

(Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements)

Thozama Nomnga, Western Cape FEDUP coordinator

Thozama Nomnga, Western Cape FEDUP coordinator

 

Johan van Zyl, Mossel Bay HoD, speaks of the municipality’s mindset shift that enabled a more people-centred approach. While previous municipal programs and approaches were characterised by little coordination and cooperation between the municipality and communities, a meeting initiated by the provincial minister introduced an alternative view of community engagement. Coupled with a successful Govan Mbeki Award, a national reorientation toward more community support and continuous negotiation, the municipal mindset in Mossel Bay began to change:

“[We] have to have partnerships. Municipalities and government can’t do anything on their own….That is why the minister [indicated] that these initiatives will be supported by government to create more housing opportunities”

What underpins a partnership?

KZN FEDUP Coordinator, MaMKhabela

KZN FEDUP Coordinator, MaMKhabela

 

While FEDUP celebrated the completion of 5 houses, the road ahead is a long one. After over a decade of negotiations with Mossel Bay municipality and repeated submissions of project plans, the municipality seems receptive to a community-centred approach and to the People’s Housing Process (PHP). For Thozama, this certainly indicates the potential for partnership. Yet in order to build a strong partnership, the challenges need to be addressed – particularly in terms of delays in implementation. What underpins a people-centred partnership then?

“As FEDUP are are not saying people must grab land. People need to negotiate with government. We respect the government and our councillors. But the government also needs to respect us as communities. Because if we are not there, there will be no government”.

(KZN FEDUP leader, MamKhabela, at the Mossel Bay launch)

Building Continuity: Denver Community and University of Johannesburg Studio 2015

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN No Comments

By Motebang Matsela (on behalf of CORC)

From 27 April to 22 May 2015, the community of Denver informal settlement in Johannesburg partnered with students from the University of Johannesburg’s (UJs) Department of Architecture in a collaborative design studio. Such studios focus on co-producing ideas, scenarios, plans and typologies on informal settlement upgrading and housing. Denver’s first collaborative studio took place in 2014. It was the first of consecutive, annual studios that would build on previous work and span a period of 3-5 years. The 2015 studio therefore started where the last studio ended, focusing on establishing tangible outputs such as a collaborative design handbook and a catalogue of dwelling typologies.

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Co-producing Ideas: Denver Studio 2014

In 2014 the studio catalysed the generation of co-produced mapping and socio-demographic data on the settlement. The aim was to formulate community action plans (CAPs) for Denver Settlement in an effort to encourage short-term community initiatives and to support further productive discussion with local government agencies and other stakeholders regarding incremental upgrading in informal settlements. It also introduced students to the necessity and value of planning with communities, shifting the focus from traditional ‘top down’ delivery towards ‘responsive’, community-orientated approaches. For more background on the settlement and the 2014 studio click here.

Aerial view of Denver informal settlements

Aerial view of Denver informal settlements

A growing partnership

The idea of co-production suggests the involvement of different stakeholders. For this studio, therefore, the role players included Denver community members and leadership, the Ward Councillor and community representative, a collective of community volunteers assembled at various stages of the long-term studio, Aformal Terrain in partnership with the Department of Architecture at UJ and its students and the Alliance’s ISN, FEDUP and CORC who offered technical and social support and facilitation.

Unlike previous studios that customarily take place in informal settlements, the Denver studio had to change venue when xenophobic violence broke out in Johannesburg. The socio-political atmosphere of the violence and hostel raiding was deemed an unsafe environment to operate under.

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As indicated, the collaborative outcomes are valuable aspects of the studio’s work. Based on the experience of last year’s studio, Gauteng’s ISN leaders highlighted the need for community members to gain tangible skills throughout the studio and upgrading process just as the students do. Each stage (module) of the studio therefore couples a community member’s practical participation in the studio with project management skills. In this year’s studio, more emphasis was placed on community participation and benefit.

This led to a revision of the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalising the partnership between the SA SDI Alliance and UJ’s Architecture Department.

Some of the changes were highlighted in terms of:

  • The precedence of the relationship between Denver community and SA SDI Alliance
  • Denver community decisions will be respected and take priority within this project
  • Any data generated by the community residents will remain the property of the residents. Copies of any formal information packages generated from the studio engagement will be made available to community leadership.
  • All parties agree to inform each other in writing around documentation, marketing or exhibiting of the Denver project. The documentation will sufficiently acknowledge the role of each party and most importantly the residents’

Building Continuity: Denver Studio 2015

The objective of this studio was to incrementally build on the content of the 2014 studio, creating continuity and ongoing engagement between past and future studios. It also aimed to develop a collaborative design ‘handbook’; a catalogue of typologies of dwellings in informal settlements with related strategies for improvement through self-build, co-ops, CBOs, local government assistance, infrastructure etc.

This investigation focused on three main issues;

  • site (the physical)
  • planning (spatial and developmental)
  • policy (strategies from governmental level)

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The intention was that these three focal areas would form a broad scale critical inquiry into current upper strategies for informal settlement upgrading and as a starting point suggested possible linkages with existing bottom-up initiatives.

It is envisioned that the outcomes will come to fulfilment in various forms through the studio process over the next 3-5 years in the form of awareness and knowledge packs about the settlement, site handbooks and guides on in-situ upgrading at various scales (shelter, site, policy, planning etc.), design studies for future densification and longer term formal development. A number of other valuable outputs not limited to this list will be determined through the studio process.

These potential outputs aim to bridge the gap between current bottom-up and top-down strategies already active in Denver – aiming to ‘connect’ community initiatives and local government intentions in more productive conversations toward improvement.

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The studios final presentations tabled prototype-scenarios generated in response to a three-week focused research exercise focusing on 3 scales;

  • Dwelling-and-Neighbourhood,
  • Planning
  • Policy

In this final week (loosely termed ‘rapid design prototyping’) students worked in mixed groups, integrating information from the 3 earlier foci with the aim of generating scenarios for the potential improvement of Denver Informal Settlement. It is intended that these scenarios become useful tools for engagement with the residents of Denver in focused workshops and engagements during the course of this year.

‘An eye for an eye makes the world blind’ – FEDUP/ ISN say NO to Xenophobia

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, News, uTshani Fund No Comments

Authored by SA SDI Alliance

Following the outbreak of xenophobic violence in Gauteng in April 2015, the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) – both members of the SA SDI Alliance – hosted a dialogue on 24 – 25 April 2015 to say NO to Xenophobia.

“When Xenophobia broke out the Catholic Church approached ISN & FEDUP for support because people were fleeing their homes. We decided on a dialogue because we realised that there was a problem on the ground.“

(Sipho Vanga, ISN Coordinator in Gauteng)

ISN facilitators in Holomisa settlement, Gauteng (2014). Sipho Vanga (third from left)

ISN facilitators in Holomisa settlement, Gauteng (2014). Sipho Vanga (third from left)

The dialogue was titled, ‘Is it really xenophobia or violent protest?’ It brought together 32 informal settlement leaders from Johannesburg (COJ) and Ekurhuleni Municipalities (EMM) in Gauteng Province. Represented settlements included Sicelo, Slovo Park, Delport, Marathon, Makause, Ramaphosa, Holomisa (COJ), Holomisa (EMM), Mandela, Kanana Park, Meriting, Denver, Zacharia Park, Siphamandla, Tinasonke and Thembakhoza. In a press release statement, FEDUP & ISN explained,

“In order to try and avoid violent protest and xenophobic acts we will host a series of dialogues with the leadership of informal settlements AND those affected by xenophobia to discuss social ills with the aim to facilitate the integration of affected people back into our communities.

(ISN/FEDUP Press Release)

The program spread over two days and sought to find a common understanding of xenophobia and its causes in South Africa and to propose possible solutions to stop violence and discrimination. Topics of discussion included:

  • Xenophobia
  • Unemployment
  • Social Stereo Typing
  • Crime
  • Gender
  • Water & Sanitation
  • Upgrading
  • Land Tenure
  • Youth
  • Poverty

Day 1: Dialogue on Xenophobia’s Causes and Challenges

The first day engaged Gauteng’s informal settlement leaders who gave voice to their communities’ grievances, perceptions and concerns. Leaders shared first-hand experience of xenophobic violence, their respective perceptions of root causes and avenues of response.

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As community leaders spoke about experiences and community perceptions in their settlements they highlighted some perceived frustrations relating to:

  • Crime

“Illegal immigrants commit crimes and cannot be identified because their finger prints are not in the system”

  • Lack of employment

“Capitalists employ foreigners over locals because foreigners are willing to work harder and earn below the minimum wage.”

“Foreigners operate … businesses without licences because they can afford to bribe… authorities that approach them.”

“South Africans cannot compete with foreigners who are in a position of purchasing bulk commodities that automatically reduce purchase prices.”

  • Drugs & Poverty

“Foreigner mostly bring in and deal drugs that make a huge contribution to the poverty cycle.”

  • Low service provision and development

“The government uses foreigners as an excuse to not develop a number of areas. Yet when foreigners are displaced from communities, it is the government that advocates for their re-integration.”

Dialogue participants explained that jealousy drives locals as they perceive themselves as unable to compete with skills, knowledge and experience brought into the country by foreigners. For leaders this easy influx was connected to poorly protected borders. As “government only listens when communities take extreme measures” leaders explained that xenophobia was a new discovery by South Africans to ensure that their voices are heard and to catalyse service delivery. Some leaders criticised government for using informal settlements as “refugee camps”. They attributed the lack of service delivery to government’s reluctance to undertake upgrading in settlements that are home to foreign nationals.

“It is crystal clear that informal settlement residents are ignored and side-lined by government at all levels. Government has failed us completely in all areas of service delivery. Yet, we are always trying our level best, no matter what, to meet, plan and partner with government AND we will never stop trying!”

(FEDUP-ISN Press Release)

As the discussion unfolded, leaders analysed the matter in terms of their own context and role within it, recognising that “maintaining peace should start with leaders themselves”. They acknowledged that foreigners did not invade their communities but mostly settled through negotiation with respective community leaders while others rented from South Africans. Despite initially expressed frustration, participants concluded that “an eye for an eye only makes the world blind” and adopted a stance of saying “NO TO XENOPHOBIA”.

Day 2: Supporting the Displaced

Day two’s discussions included members of the police, business forums, perpetrators and affected people. Those affected explained that they had come to South Africa to improve their lives and not to sell drugs. Participants agreed that community members would help each other to communicate openly about illegal activity.

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Leaders furthermore agreed that no further violence should be experienced. They recommended that illegal immigrants try return to their home countries and apply for relevant travel documents. A further recommendation related to the need for consultative public engagements (between communities and relevant government officials) on integration plans for legal immigrants.

Dialogue participants had previously expressed a growing concern with government’s limited interest in engaging relevant community structures to identify the root causes of xenophobic violence in order to find ways of ameliorating it through community-led processes. Leaders decided that going forward, ISN & FEDUP should facilitate engagements with local authorities and jointly advocate for peace and integration in communities. Community leaders would draft a Memorandum detailing the grievances.

“We are apologetic for what happened in the country. That is why we held dialogues. ISN and FEDUP play an important role: we are not going to sit and watch xenophobia happen. Some foreigners – like our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe – belong to SDI [Shack Dwellers International), just like us. The solution is to create space for leaders to engage in dialogue. ISN&FEDUP should pressure government to deliver and CORC should be the middle man between us.”

(Sipho Vanga, ISN Co-ordinator Gauteng)

Outlook: Negotiation not Violence

For ISN National Co-ordinator, Mzwanele Zulu,

“The root cause of xenophobia is apartheid. It is something we can’t run away from – discrimination and apartheid realities are still present: people live in conditions where there is no transformation. There has been human rights transformation and perhaps some psychological transformation but no change in living conditions. Political, social and economic issues – especially the high unemployment rate – affect people and cause high levels of frustration.”

Mzwanele Zulu, National ISN Coordinator

Mzwanele Zulu, National ISN Coordinator

When cities act as engines of economic growth based on neo-liberal policies and programs they result in more inequality and poverty. Access to serviced, well-located land becomes increasingly difficult, as urban land markets are exclusionary by nature. More people are forced to access land informally and experience diminished opportunities to access employment, health, education, basic services and housing. In addition people experience diminished levels of political and administrative accountability. It is in this particular political and economic context in which informal settlement communities are trying to make sense of the chaos, their inequality and poverty.

“To address issues relating to informal settlement upgrading, urban poverty and development, the state needs CBOs, social movements and NGOs to work with. The same applies to xenophobia. We need drastic contributions from the state in terms of human and financial support. But the state’s response needs to be exercised through partnership with local channels.”

(Mzwanele Zulu, ISN National Co-ordinator)

Reflections on the Southern African Hub Meeting: Blantyre, Malawi

By SDI No Comments

***Cross-posted from SDI Blog***

By: Mariana Gallo, Knowledge Management Officer CCODE; Nico Keijzer, LME Officer Southern Africa SDI; & Noah Schermbrucker, Projects Officer SDI 

The recent regional hub meeting for Southern Africa took place in Blantyre, Malawi, from 28-31st March 2015. It was the first time that Blanytre or Malawi have hosted a regional hub meeting and provided an opportunity for the Malawian alliance to showcase their work. Participants from South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe attended the meeting. Botswana was invited but not able to attend.

Country Reports and Field Visits

The day commenced with each country reporting on their key indicators using the new Learning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (LME) reporting format. All countries concurred that this format assisted them in measuring progress, setting realistic targets, identifying challenges, and more targeted learning to overcome them. For the first time the hub was able to produce accurate totals for Southern Africa – as illustrated in the below table.

Southern African Hub Totals
Baseline Target Achieved Total
Members  161 961,00  8 765,00  7 084,00  169 045,00
Savings Groups 2490 300 217 2707
Daily Savings  4 354 901,00  829 755,00  287 494,00  4 642 395,00
UPF Savings  1 960 417,00  210 099,00  127 794,00  2 088 211,00
         
Settlement Profiles 1553 445 316 1869
City-wide profiles 123 32 3 126
Enumerations 294 50 47 341
Maps – GIS 109 306 207 316
Maps – Hand drawn 15 24 10 25

A variety of field visits also took place. Those who visited Nancholi settlement learnt about the slum upgrading activities that were being undertaken by the federation. Work included the construction of bridges, the development of an agricultural market, the renovation of a local clinic, and the construction of additional blocks for the local secondary school. Other delegates visited a variety of groups who were involved in income generation projects. One group called “Waste for Wealth” produces and sells compost. Another group makes sausages that they package and sell, while a third group makes and sells tie-dye clothes.

The group producing compost manure in Chilomani, explaining their experience with the enterprise.

The group producing compost manure in Chilomani, explaining their experience with the enterprise.

City Council and Discussions on Country Projects

On the third day, hub delegates visited the Blantyre City Council for a meeting with the Mayor, the Director of Planning and Development for Blantyre, and other officials. While the meeting illustrated the successful partnership between the Malawian Alliance and the Blantyre City Council (BCC) it became clear, through the lively discussions that took place, that these types of partnerships need to be underpinned by material commitments from government (e.g. land, budgetary allocations for slum upgrading). The international delegation pushed the BCC around its previous commitments to establish a citywide slum-upgrading fund. The Malawian federation needs to follow up on the space opened by this discussion.

The meeting attracted media attention, and was reported on the front page of one of the main newspapers on the following day.

Hub participants attending a meeting with the Blantyre City Council.

Hub participants attending a meeting with the Blantyre City Council.

The afternoon’s sessions provided an opportunity for delegates to reflect more deeply on their LME process. Not only in terms of challenges identified but feasible actions to address these issues. Below is an example of this work that the hub collectively committed to implementing over the next period. Outcomes will be reported at the next hub meeting.

Challenges:

1) Unrealistic targets,

2) Understanding of enumerations process or profiling is difficult,

3) Not having a system of reporting,

4) Politics delays the process,

5) Working with other stakeholders is always difficult and can delay the whole process,

6) Changing the mindset of people who expect a lot of money as some organisation does,

7) Slow implementation of projects,

8) Not practicing daily savings.

Possible Solutions:

1)     Setting of realistic targets within a specific period of time,

2)     Drawing of process maps – steps involved in saving, profiling, enumeration etc.,

3)     Mobilizing communities on why they are doing the profiling, enumeration etc.,

4)     Having standard reporting templates/systems,

5)     Signing of MOU’s (exchange visits among municipal/local officials),

6)     Joint working groups that involves stakeholders,

7)     Communities must take ownership and drive the change in the community,

8)     Communities should have one voice in getting resources from local authorities,

9)     Going back to the roots of daily savings.  Take ownership of savings and how the money is managed to build confidence.

Data, Reflections on Donor Funding, Exchanges, and Closing

The final day commenced with a presentation on the data platform from the SDI Secretariat. Federations were able to access, discuss and interact with the online platform that stores their profiling information. This is part of a process to deepen federation ownership of the information collected.

An interesting and important discussion, which is central to the work of all federations and affiliates, then took place.  The crux if this discussion is that while it is recognised that donor funding is needed for activities, the agenda and priorities of donors can sometimes be in conflict with the federation’s core vision (e.g. building unaffordable housing on the periphery of the city).  Broken into country groups delegates discussed criteria for accepting donor funding. Flexibility, equal partnerships, common vision and inclusion of the poorest were amongst the common points of consideration.

The meeting closed with a collective reflection session that gave delegates an opportunity to assess the content and structure of the hub meeting.  More substantive details can be found in the hub report. The next hub meeting was set for September in Zimbabwe.

The Malawi Alliance prepares their data for sharing

The Malawi Alliance prepares their data for sharing

Malawi Federation members work with the online data platform.

Malawi Federation members work with the online data platform.

Spotlight on Mpumalanga: “Through FEDUP we support each other”

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund One Comment

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

“At Ellerines in Standerton, we need to collect Dolly, then its not far: continue straight over the crossing and turn left to get to Extension 6. We want to share what we are doing in our savings scheme. Some of us have houses, and some of us are starting small businesses”

(Togo Simelane, FEDUP member, Mpumalanga)

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Emelina Hlabati and Beauty Nkosi, long standing members of FEDUP’s Masakane savings scheme in Standerton

As Mama Dolly Moleme and Togo Simelane arrive at their home in Extension 6 in Standerton, they lead the way to Gogo Emelina Hlabati’s home. Together with Beauty Nkosi, the three ladies make up the steering committee of FEDUP’s PHP housing projects in Standerton. Apart from acting as FEDUP’s regional financial signatories, the group is involved in negotiating with the municipality and provincial government for direct access to housing subsidies through the People’s Housing Process (PHP). Read more about FEDUP’s engagement with PHP here.

Togo Simelane (front), Beauty Nkosi (left), Emelina Hlabati (right), Dolly Moleme (back)

Togo Simelane (front), Beauty Nkosi (left), Emelina Hlabati (right), Dolly Moleme (back)

Building first houses in Extension 6

FEDUP has been active in Extension 6 since 2001, with five savings schemes (Masakane, Lethukhanya, Vukuzenzele, Masihambisane and one income generation / loan group).

Dolly explains,

“We started building all the FEDUP houses in Extension 6 in 2005. uTshani Fund supported us with pre-financing the houses. We managed the construction of the houses through our Community Construction Management Teams (CCMTs). Houses should take one week to build but we waited for one month for the materials to deliver. The role of the government is to provide an inspector to check that the houses we build meet the appropriate standards.”

Beauty Nkosi infront of her Federation house

Beauty Nkosi infront of her Federation house

FEDUP self-financed its first three houses as “show houses” to negotiate for direct access to subsidy funds in 2001 and 2002. This enabled members to build houses with bigger dimensions than RDP houses. For the group of ladies it was clear,

“We’re not looking for municipality houses – we want Federation houses because they are much bigger and more beautiful”

Between 2005 and 2006 FEDUP has built 36 houses. Other members in the community are approved to receive a subsidy but Dolly explains that there has been little movement from the municipality. The group therefore contacts the municipality on a weekly basis to find out about proposed plans for the next subsidy houses. The likelihood of receiving subsidies in the near future, however, is small. This reflects the inability of South Africa’s provincial Departments of Human Settlements to adequately meet the country’s housing backlog. The backlog in Mpumalanga alone is close to 200 000.

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Beauty Nkosi with human settlements accredited photograph with Emelina Hlabati and Nomvula Mahlangu

FEDUP houses in Extension 6

FEDUP houses

 

Building Savings, Building Support

Through daily savings, however, FEDUP, has nurtured strong savings schemes and spaces in which members can support each other, regardless of the extent of municipal commitment and support.

Dolly explains,

“The Federation helped Gogo Emelina to such an extent that when she was born she was living in a shack. She started daily savings and luckily with the support of the Federation she was able to bury her husband in a dignified manner. When her husband passed away, the house was completed. Today she has a house and a chicken business. Otherwise she would be out in the open”

Dolly, Emelina and Beauty speak about their savings scheme:

“We are all part of Masakane savings scheme. Now we are about 30 members. Many of us received houses. Together we have a chicken project. We buy small chickens, we grow them and then we sell them when they have grown big. When we heard about the FEDUP loan group we decided to sell chickens because many people like to eat chickens.”

Read about FEDUP’s Income Generation Programme here.

Dolly Moleme and Emelina Hlabatis Chicken business

Dolly Moleme and Emelina Hlabatis Chicken business

Masakane savings scheme is also involved in other forms of saving such as saving towards groceries for the year-end. At the end of the year 60 members use the savings to buy a big load of groceries and one sheep each.

“Many people who live here live in shacks often don’t want to save. But when they see us building our houses they come running to us and ask how they can do this too. I like the Federation a lot! Even though I already have a house I would never dream of leaving the Federation. Many people are struggling. Through FEDUP we support each other even if the municipality doesn’t seem to want to help us”

(Dolly Moleme, FEDUP member, Standerton)

Togo Simelane in FEDUP office in Extension 6

Togo Simelane in FEDUP office in Extension 6

Stories from FEDUP’s Income Generation Programme (FIGP)

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

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Elisa Ramboda

Venda Beadwork in Limpopo

My name is Elisa Ramboda. I’ve lived here in Ramahantsha* my whole life, more than 70 years. I’m the first member of Pfano, my savings scheme, and I was the first to join when the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) was launched in Limpopo because I heard about savings. When the FEDUP income generation project started I took my first loan of R 1000 – to buy beads in town and sell Venda beadwork here at my house and at paying points where people get their grants. Even when there is a wedding, people come and place orders with me to make them traditional decorations.

I sell headbands for R150, armbands for R90, belts are R150 and necklaces cost R40. I make good profits and I have already taken and repaid three loans! This helps me to pay my grandchildren’s school fees. I also support my daughter-in-law and my son.”

This blog traces the stories of FEDUP members in four South African regions who use the Federation Income Generation Programme (FIGP) to start businesses, support family members, and secure their livelihoods.

(*near Makhado / Louis Trichardt in Limpopo)

FEDUP is built on daily savings

As a network of saving schemes, FEDUP’s core practice centres on daily savings collections that establish a space for individuals to share daily struggles and for savings group to identify solutions. Most often members’ needs pertain to accessing well-located land, security of tenure, improved shelter, housing and basic services. Through daily collections and other community organisation tools FEDUP has built partnerships with government on all tiers, negotiating access to many of these needs.

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FIGP draws on FEDUPS’s Urban Poor Fund

Amidst successful negotiations, the lack of income generation continued to cause instability and hardship. FEDUP therefore launched the FIGP in 2014 to assist members in starting small businesses, enabling the movement to generate its own income through reinforcing the significance of daily savings itself. FEDUP (via uTshani Fund) registered with the relevant financial bodies and started up a legal and formalised microfinance institution through which members can access group loans from their own Urban Poor Fund instead of external financial institutions.

Taking loans to start a business

The criteria for accessing a FIGP loan are:

  • Formal FEDUP membership (complete once-off UPF payment of R750)
  • Active member of a FEDUP savings scheme
  • Experience as small business entrepreneur for at least 6 months
  • Be part of a group of 5 to access a loan

These criteria ensure that members continue saving and supporting one another in the development of their respective businesses because individuals can only receive loans when they are in a group of five. The whole group must also make repayments as one overall sum. Therefore individual success depends on group success. 

Sophie’s Tuckshop in Bethal, Mpumalanga

Sophie Mofokeng's tuckshop

Sophie Mofokeng’s tuckshop

As Sophie Mofokeng attends to a customer in her well-stocked tuck shop, in the front section of her house, she says that she has been a FEDUP member since 2013.

“I started my shop in 2009. But after a while I got stuck because I did not make enough profits because I did not increase my prices enough from the wholesaler prices. But now I am good at it. FEDUP has helped me a lot, especially through savings and the FIGP loan, which supports me with my shop. I have taken and repaid three loans so far: R500, R1600 and R1000. They have helped me because I don’t have to pay high interest. I have many customers especially on weekends and month end. I count my profits every day when I close and put them in my account.

Saving is good for me because I can’t always draw the money when I want it. It helps me to support my children after school, maybe through varsity (university). I want to grow the shop and buy a chips machine and a double fridge so I can stock more colddrinks.”

In Standerton (Mpumalanga), Dolly Moleme, Emelina Hlabati and Beauty Nkosi (both over 70), speak about the poultry project they started through FIGP.

“The Gogos and I are members of Masakane savings scheme. We used to be many members – now we are about 30 people. Many of us received houses but we wanted to do more to support ourselves. The Gogos and I started a chicken income generation project because many people like to eat chickens: we buy small chickens , grow them and then we sell them.”

(Dolly Moleme, FEDUP member, Mpumalanga).

Dolly has also used FIGP to make her own Achar (condiment) and sell at a public vending area in Standerton’s town centre. Other FEDUP members in Bethal have set up their FIGP businesses, selling uniforms, clothing and household items in public areas where people gather to collect their monthly grants.

FEDUP seamstresses in North West Province and Gauteng

In Legonyane (North West) and Orange Farm (Gauteng) FEDUP savings scheme members are making use of FIGP loans to expand their sewing businesses. Both members are experienced seamstresses and use the loans to buy material to make graduation gowns and shwe-shwe dresses.

In reflecting on the impact of the loan system within the FIGP, Rose Molokoane, FEDUP National Co-ordinator said,

“As FEDUP, we initially got together in saving schemes so we could save towards houses.  Some people began dropping out when they didn’t see houses. But our work is not about houses only – it’s about the future. We are building a future, not a house. We are building a home, not a house. In a home there are many needs. We are using this loan programme (based on our savings) to do something about them.”

Minister Sisulu appoints Rose Molokoane to Council of Social Housing Regulatory Authority

By CORC, FEDUP, News, SDI, uTshani Fund No Comments

The South African SDI Alliance, together with SDI, is excited to announce that last week national minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu appointed Rose Molokoane to the Council of the South African Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA). Molokoane is founding member and national co-ordinator of the SA Alliance, the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) and Deputy President of SDI.

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu (left), with Jockin Arputham (SDI president), Zoe Kota-Fredericks (Deputy MInister) and Rose Molokoane (right) at National Human Settlements Indaba 2014

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu (left), with Jockin Arputham (SDI president), Zoe Kota-Fredericks (Deputy MInister) and Rose Molokoane (right) at National Human Settlements Indaba 2014

Rose Molokoane

Rose Molokoane

In her appointment letter Minister Sisulu writes,

“Your appointment to the Council of the Social Housing Regulatory Authority is in recognition of your unique set of skills and expertise, and I am confident that your contribution will be meaningful.”

The SHRA works together with the Department of Human Settlements at all tiers, the National Housing Finance Corporation and international actors to develop the social rental housing sector for the delivery of rental housing accommodation to low and middle income earners.

The SHRA’s vision is to regulate and invest in the development of affordable rental homes in integrated urban environments through sustainable institutions. Some of the functions of the SHRA include:

  • Promote the development and awareness of social housing by providing an enabling environment for the growth and development of the social housing sector.
  • Provide advice and support to the Department of Human Settlements in its development of policy for the social housing sector and facilitate national social housing programmes
  • Provide best practice information and research on the status of the social housing sector
  • Support provincial governments with the approval of project applications by social housing institutions
  • Provide assistance, when requested, with the process of the designation of restructuring zones
  • Enter into agreements with provincial governments and the National Housing Finance Corporation to ensure the co-ordinated exercise of powers
Rose Molokoane facilitates daily savings workshop for FEDUP treasurers and collectors in Limpopo

Rose Molokoane facilitates daily savings workshop for FEDUP treasurers and collectors in Limpopo

Molokoane is a resident of Oukasie township near Brits in North West Province, and a member of Oukasie savings scheme. A veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, she is one of the most internationally recognised grassroots activists involved in land tenure and housing issues. FEDUP has supported more than 150,000 shack dwellers, the vast majority of whom are women, to pool their savings. This has won them sufficient standing to negotiate with government for a progressive housing policy (People’s Housing Process) that has produced over 15,000 new homes and secured more than 1,000 hectares of government land for development.

Molokoane has initiated federations of savings schemes throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. She was awarded the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor in 2005 for her struggle to bring land and homes to the poor.

Rose Molokoane with members fellow members of SDI board and council from Uganda and Tanzania.

Rose Molokoane with fellow members of SDI board and council from Uganda and Tanzania.

Rose Molokoane with FEDUP Western Cape members

Rose Molokoane with FEDUP Western Cape members

 

Tinasonke Community: Our show houses help us negotiate with Gauteng Province

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Cynthia Ntombekhaya Yalezo and Philda Mmole * (on behalf of FEDUP)

This piece of land – where we now live – was not always called Tinasonke**. When we still stayed across the road – there in Tokoza township – as backyarders, it was called Caravan Park. There were only labour tenants living on this land because it was used to farm apple and apricot trees and mielies (maize).

**(Tinasonke township is located in Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, near Alberton in Gauteng. It was formally established in 2009).

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Tinasonke community leaders, Philda Mmole and Cynthia Ntombekhaya Yalezo

Walking through Tinasonke

View of Tinasonke

From Tokoza to Tinasonke

When we lived in Tokoza, about 1500 of us backyarders came together in 1997 to form the Zenzeleni Housing Savings Scheme as part of what we now call the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP). We wanted to improve our conditions by living on our own land and in our own houses. This is when we identified Caravan Park and negotiated with the owner of the land, who sold it to uTshani Fund on behalf of FEDUP in 1998 for R1.2 million. As a savings scheme we contributed R 260 000 of the cost which we used as a deposit for the land.

Each member of our savings scheme had to contribute R600 to cover the cost of the deposit. Some of us were working, others not. But we tried to help people. We lent money to Mama Msani to buy and resell bananas to earn the R600. There was a split and not everyone contributed to the cost of the deposit but we all moved away from Tokoza in 2003.

Philda and Cynthia outside FEDUP office in Tinasonke

Philda and Cynthia outside FEDUP office in Tinasonke

The beginning: our plans for houses

At this time we submitted our housing subsidy applications to the provincial government. Once they were approved we planned the site layout with the support of consultants who drew the layout professionally and submitted it for approval. We are now about 1200 people in Tinasonke, living on 514 sites. When we drew the layout plan – the municipality asked us to name our land.

We chose “Tinasonke” which means “all together”. We want everyone in FEDUP to get access to land together.

Since we moved here our savings group separated. Some members wanted RDP houses while the rest of us wanted FEDUP houses (Through the People’s Housing Process FEDUP members can directly access housing subsidies and construct larger houses through Community Construction Management Teams. FEDUP houses are generally 50m2 or larger, depending on the extent of additional savings. RDP houses are 40m2 in size.)

RDP house (left) , FEDUP show house (right)

RDP house (left) , FEDUP show house (right)

Far left: Lucky Khwidzili (uTshani Fund), Elias Matodzi (Owner of show house) Far Right: Philda Mmole, Cynthia Yalezo, Emily Mfundisi Mofokeng (Tinasonke Steering Committee members)

Far left: Lucky Khwidzili (uTshani Fund), Elias Matodzi (Owner of show house)
Far Right: Philda Mmole, Cynthia Yalezo, Emily Mfundisi Mofokeng (Tinasonke Steering Committee members)

Plan of Action: Building our show houses

Some community members have RDP houses. As FEDUP members our subsidies have been approved but we haven’t received them yet. We don’t want to fold our arms and wait for government to deliver houses. We want to do something ourselves – because when you wait for government you can wait 100 years. We try practice freedom, democracy.

We decided to build two show houses in Tinasonke to show government that we can do it ourselves. We used our own savings money from our Urban Poor Fund to pre-finance the two houses. In Tinasonke we have three savings schemes that meet every Saturday. Two are made up of FEDUP members in Tinasonke, and one is a savings scheme of landless people.

For the show houses we selected FEDUP members according to their age and participation. One of the show houses belongs to Nthathe Elias Matodzi. He has been a member of FEDUP since we moved to Tinasonke. FEDUP is in his blood. We like FEDUP because being part of this organisation gives us knowledge.

We want to negotiate with our show houses. We want government to see that we are doing things for our selves. We want government to match us with money so it can meet us half way and give our subsidies to us. Even now the rest of the community want FEDUP houses because they have seen our show houses. We want provincial government to see that we can do it for ourselves.

* Compiled by Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC) 

Elias Matodzi's 'two' homes, (showhouse on right)

Elias Matodzi’s ‘two’ homes, (showhouse on right)

Elias in his soon-to-be-completed house.

Elias in his soon-to-be-completed house.

Roof tiles delivered to Elias' showhouse.

Roof tiles delivered to Elias’ showhouse.

FEDUP’s Women-Driven Data Capturing

By FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

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By Anni Beukes (cross-posted from SDI Secretariat)

Last week, the South African SDI Alliance’s Data Capturing Team reported back to the South African Federation’s (FEDUP) community leaders in Cape Town on their work over the past eight months.

This team have not only assisted in co-designing and beta testing of some of the key features of the newly designed data-capturing platform in order to ensure that it is SDI federation friendly, but have also captured all the historic data and supported some other federations in capturing and verifying some of their newer (especially mapping) data. 

During the demonstration, six longstanding federation members were taken through the steps of capturing data on the Informal Settlement Profile and Boundary Mapping forms by their younger colleagues. 

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One finger at a time, the mamas each captured a profile and saw their data become available – as well as the 1,198 profiles and 190 boundary maps available for South Africa. 

In total this team has captured or supported the capturing of roughly 7,000 profiles (historic and standardised) and over 800 boundary maps from across the globe! 

This project would not have been possible without their valuable support! 

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Rolling out Lumkani Fire Device: Preventing Fires, Upgrading Communities

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, News No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

The last two months bear witness to the devastation fires can cause. At the height of South Africa’s hottest months, fires pose a continuous threat, often breaking out in informal areas, wiping out entire segments of informal settlements, despite the response of fire departments.

Fire in Langrug, Stellenbosch Municipality, February 2014

Fire in Langrug, Stellenbosch Municipality, February 2014

A proactive response to fire?

In January and February 2015, the Alliance was alerted to two fires in ISN/FEDUP settlements alone, with several more breaking out in the City of Cape Town and Stellenbosch Municipality such as in Langrug informal settlement where an estimated 70 structures were razed to the ground. In 2014 the City of Cape Town’s Human Settlements directorate spent R6.5 million on fire aid by issuing 1 186 enhanced emergency kits to victims of 254 separate fires in a period of two months.

How can the response to informal settlement fires become less reactive and more proactive and preventative? Since early 2014 the SA SDI Alliance has partnered with Lumkani, a social enterprise that has designed and co-developed an early warning fire detection device with ISN and FEDUP affiliated communities in Cape Town.

UT Gardens leadership with Lumkani with installed device on wall

UT Gardens leadership with Lumkani with installed device on wall

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Co-developing the Lumkani device

The Lumkani device uses heat detection technology to sense for fires. It accurately measures the incidence of harmful fires alerting the family inside a shack of the danger. Each device is networked to surrounding devices within a 100m radius. In the event of a fire the detecting device sends a signal to surrounding devices within this range. A solid beep means that the device has detected a fire in your own home while a broken beep indicates that the fire is in the nearby surrounding. A wave of sound creates a community-wide alert and response to danger. This buys time for the community to become proactive in rapidly spreading fire risk situations. Through deep engagement with UT Gardens community leadership, the Lumkani team co-developed the device to optimally suit the informal settlement context. Read more about the device and the co-design process here.

The Lumkani device

The Lumkani device

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Co-developing the device – workshop in UT Gardens ahead of rollout and installation.

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Co-developing the device – workshop in UT Gardens ahead of rollout and installation.

Roll-out and Community Contributions: “We are proud of our device”

In November and December 2015 the first Lumkani devices were rolled out in UT Gardens and Siyahlala’s D-section. Currently ISN and FEDUP community leaders have rolled out 650 devices.

On the first day of distribution and roll-out, community leaders and members of the Lumkani team installed about 20 manufactured devices in the homes of community leaders and general community members. The devices need to be installed 1m away from the cooking area, to avoid triggering a false alarm in the event of close proximity to a heat source. The device is therefore positioned as high as possible while still in reachable distance in order to test or silence the alarm.

As the first batch was installed the community leadership collected a 20% contribution of the overall cost of the devices from community members through door-to-door visits. Contributions are an integral part of the Alliance approach of “Vuku’zenzele” – “Wake up and do it for yourself”.

Nokokheli Ncambele, Western Cape ISN co-ordinator explains,

“[Contributions are important because we want] communities to find solutions to their own problems. If a community contributes, they show that they are interested. With our contributions, we leverage more funds”

Communities that expressed interest in the device during initial mobilisation could apply to the Alliance’s Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) for co-funding, whereby CUFF covered 80% and community members contributed 20% (i.e R20) of the total cost.

Emily Vining, who facilitates Lumkani’s community interaction, reflects on the significance of community contributions,

“It is our hope that the act of purchasing the device is an exercise of freedom whereby people can increase their own safety and security and that of their community through their own agency and choice. Communities don’t have to wait for external actors to bring about change. They can do it for themselves”

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UT Gardens community leader, Vuyani Ntontela and Lumkani engineer Frank Petousis install device

Lumkani with Nozuko

Siyahlala’s FEDUP co-ordinator, Nozuko Fulani, with Lumkani’s Emily Vining & Frank Petousis

Fire prevention record so far

So far the system has prevented the spread of two fires in UT Gardens. The first (9 Dec 2014) occurred in the late morning when a light breeze blew some embers from a cooking fire into the neighbouring home. Although the homeowner was away, the Lumkani device she had installed triggered her neighbours devices who ran outside their homes to see where the danger had come from. The community managed to keep the fire contained with buckets while one community member used the toll-free emergency number 112 to call the fire department. The fire had burnt the community member’s home to the ground but no other structures where affected. The community attributed this to the early alert the Lumkani system provided.

The second incident occurred in the early morning hours of 22 Dec 2014 when UT and Lumkani leadership were alerted by SMS text messages that the system had triggered. Later that day it emerged that some men had left their pot unattended while making food. Their Lumkani device rang when the pot caught fire alerting them to the danger. They quickly put out the fire and shared the story with UT Gardens community leader, Thamara Hela, as they were very impressed with the functionality of the device.

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UT Gardens community leader, Thamara Hela, with Emily Vining

A broader approach to Upgrading

The Alliance’s partnership with Lumkani is an example of what a proactive community intervention can look like. Its significance lies in the co-design and co-development of the Lumkani device – between community members and Lumkani’s technical team. What sets the Lumkani device apart is the community’s involvement in developing its own technical intervention. Through negotiating additional funds through their own contributions the community expressed its interest in taking the device on as its own – “Vuku’zenzele”.

The partnership is also an example of a broader approach to upgrading, one that reaches beyond housing and basic services. When upgrading includes co-design and relevant co-intervention, communities move from being receptors to actors, taking more control of the development process itself.