KZN Archives - SASDI Alliance

Building an organised community through the Shamrock wash trough project in KZN

By Archive, FEDUP, ISN, News, Publications No Comments

Kwanda Lande (on behalf of CORC)

Shamrock informal settlement at a Glance

Shamrock informal settlement is located along a portion of Amrisar Road and Gladiola Road in Belfort Estate suburb, northeast of Pietermaritzburg in Kwa-Zulu Natal. This informal settlement is located on municipal owned land and it contains single storey, stand-alone mud and timber shacks. The area is located along the flood line as a result this makes the settlement prone to flooding. The slope analysis for the settlement shows that the settlement is predominantly characterised by moderate to very steep slopes.

Shamrock informal settlement residents have lived in this settlement for more than 20 years without any adequate basic services. The community of 140 people was using one water tap and the nearby river as sources of water. The settlement location on steep slopes makes it difficult for residents to collect water. The settlement also lacks basic services like paved roads and walkways, which makes it even more difficult to collect water because roads that become muddy especially when it is raining. The distance to collect water that residents are expected to travel is also too long and difficult for old people.

Differrent methods that were used before the wash trough, to wash clothes and collecting water.

Different methods that were used before the wash trough, for wash clothes and collecting water.

The area’s close proximity to various primary and secondary schools and a college is one of the reasons people were attracted to Shamrock. In addition, a special needs school is located within a 30 minute walking radius. The residents of Shamrock were also attracted to the area because of job opportunities. This community is made of 52 structures, and a population of 140 people that migrated from rural areas of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The Shamrock wash trough Project

In 2013, FEDUP and ISN went to Shamrock and mobilised the community through starting a saving scheme. Prior the implementation of the Shamrock wash trough project in 2016, the community was mobilised through profiling and enumeration. This exercise was important, amongst other things to mobilise community member that were not part of the local saving scheme, and for the community to collective identify issues and solutions. The community identified an ablution and drainage system as one of their priorities and made a decision that they want a wash trough facility after some assistance from CORC technical team on different options to address their priorities and challenges.

The project implementation process of the wash trough commenced in 2016, and the project was completed in January 2018. However, the actual implementation of the wash trough took four days to be completed, in a period of two weekends (13-14 and 20-21 January 2018). One of the challenges that were experienced include that some community members did not participate in the implementation of the project. The reason is that these people felt that the project was only for people who are part of the local saving scheme. The community also had to change initial location of the wash trough, which was at the centre of the settlement. It was changed so that an elderly woman in a wheel chair would be able to access it too. The project was then moved closer to her shack, which is approximately 50m from the initial point.

The total cost of the project was R6426.00. The community contributed 20% to the overall cost of this project from their savings scheme. As a result, not all the community members contributed to the project because not all members of the community were involved in savings. Msunduzi Local Municipality’s water and sanitation, and area based management departments contributed with the additional 80% of the overall cost and with some technical expertise, this include environmental studies.

The wash trough is helping the community, it is now very easy for people to wash their clothes. The community has six water taps in the wash trough, which they can use. People are now interested in the project, even those who did not indicate any interest when we started this project. Everyone is now using the facility and people are demonstrating some excitement now that they do not have to wait long lines or go to the river for water. Those who were rejecting the project, now that they see the benefits that it has brought, they are apologising, they are promising to be part of future projects and they also want to be part of the local saving scheme. Ndodeni Dengo (ISN regional coordinator)

The success of mobilising the community of Shamrock informal settlement through the wash trough project also extends to neighbouring informal settlements. As part of the project, the community members and leaders from neighbouring informal settlements such as Crest place and Mayfair sent two community members to assist and observe. As a result, Crest Place has requested a similar project for their settlement. This community has also started contributing towards their project, which is planned to start soon.

Different construction phases of the Shamrock wash trough

Different construction phases of the Shamrock wash trough. 

Going forward

The SA SDI Alliance has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Msunduzi Local Municipality. However, there are challenges in terms of making this MoU work for both parties involved. As a result, FEDUP and ISN, want to use this project to showcase the ability of organised communities to the Municipality and other informal settlements.

The community of Shamrock has made their desire to improve this project known. They want to use the MoU signed with Msunduzi Local Municipality to add shelter, refuse removal, a table for children and other services. This will allow the community to use the wash trough facility even when it is raining, and that they could have a place for their children to do their schoolwork while their mothers are using the wash trough. The community also wish to do community gardening and install a grey water collection facility. Currently the municipality is being engaged by the community to request electricity.

Through this informal settlement-upgrading project, therefore, residents sharpened their ability to organise (through daily savings). This in turn contributed to building the community’s ability to engage other actors to continue incrementally upgrading their settlement. In this way poor communities want to demonstrate that they can use their projects to shift government policies and practices to the benefit of their communities.

We want to be viewed as equals: Reblocking KwaMathambo, Durban

By ISN No Comments

By Arnotte Payne* (on behalf of CORC)

View of KwaMthambo settlement in Durban

View of KwaMthambo settlement in Durban

Kwa-Mathambo informal settlement is located in a suburban area of Red-hill on Old North Coast Road in Durban. When the settlement was enumerated in 2012, it consisted of 294 shacks with a total population of 565 people—most of whom were employed in the city center or nearby residential areas. Since then Mathambo leader, Ndodeni Dengo, estimates the population to be close to 800.Situated close to the city centre and industrial areas, the settlement’s advantageous location grants residents convenient access to schools, employment opportunities, and transportation. Despite these amenities, poor environmental and health conditions in Mathambo pose serious risks for residents.

Mathambo experienced a serious fire in March 2016 which required 37 structures to be rebuilt. The reconstruction also offered an opportunity to pilot a reblocking layout in Mathambo which can serve as an example of reblocking during continued negotiations for a partnership between the Human Settlements Department and the Informal Settlement Network in eThekwini Municipality.

Mathambo after the 2016 fire

Mathambo after the 2016 fire

A view into life in Mathambo

Firstly, inadequate water and sanitation services—causing odors to emanate from dirty water—have led to cases of Tuberculosis. Prior to the re-blocking project, the entire community was served by only two ablution facilities—one for males, the other for females—with two showers. Secondly, low lying shacks were highly vulnerable to flooding from accumulated water runoff, given the steep topography of the land on which Mathambo lies. Thirdly, fires have repeatedly devastated the settlement. The first fire took place in 2013, destroying 258 shacks. In response, the municipality rebuilt 229 structures in the form of a transit camp and left 29 families homeless.

The 44 shacks that were not affected by fire remained prone to future environmental disasters given the precariousness of construction materials—a combination of zinc, tarp, planks and plastics—and the layout of the shacks. In March 2016, the settlement experienced a second fire—displacing 40 families whose shacks, belongings, and identity documents were burned. Though it was not the primary impetus, the second fire expedited the process of re-blocking Mathambo.

This section of KwaMathambo burnt down in the 2016 fire.

Beyond environmental and health hazards, the settlement faces challenges including crime, harassment by police, low-paying employment opportunities given residents’ low levels of education, and the absence of facilities such as a community hall, church, crèche, learning centre and a community office given limited space in the settlement. Furthermore, despite the development of a municipal electrification program, electricity has proven to be a continued problem—leading some community members to resort to illegal wire connections which have caused fatalities. Furthermore, some residents contend with issues relating to unplanned children, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, and alcohol and drug abuse.

Damage caused by the 2016 fire

Damage caused by the 2016 fire

What it takes to mobilise a community 

As the ISN began to mobilise the community, there was a certain level of resistance from transit camp dwellers, many of whom were wary of the municipality. Skepticism of the municipality–and its willingness to participate in the improvement process–largely stemmed from public neglect experienced following the first fire. The poor design of the municipal transit camp worsened conditions in Mathambo, particularly extrapolating issues relating to drainage and sanitation.  

Given environmental conditions, the municipality has indicated that the settlement is slated for eventual re-location within an unspecified timeframe—which residents speculate may signify over ten years time. The lack of transparency regarding future plans for the settlement contributed to the perception among residents that local politicians would often promise improvements in advance of elections—leveraging community members as voting tools—while failing to actually implement basic and necessary public services. 

What the Enumeration Revealed

During the process of enumerating the settlement, it became clear that the settlement urgently needed taps, toilet facilities and a proper drainage system. Despite initial resistance, through a series of community meetings, residents and community leaders – in cooperation with the Planning Division of eThekwini Municipality – identified re-blocking as a viable solution to improve conditions in Mathambo. To mediate relations between stakeholders, the ISN hosted meetings with members of the community, the land owner, neighbours, the Ward Councillor, the chairperson of the Rates Committee, and the municipality’s Planning Division.

Mathambo prepares for Reblocking 

Mathambo community leaders present their reblocked layout to visitors.

Mathambo community leaders use wooden boxes to speak about their reblocked layout to visitors.

Re-blocking was planned as a Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) project, cooperatively funded by community members who practice two types of savings: participating in FEDUP livelihood programs and contributing to a community savings pool accessible to members at the year’s end. At the time of the most recent fire, the community had demonstrated their strong capacity for savings, with R8100 saved with a formal banking institution. To meet the community’s urgent needs in light of the second fire, CUFF issued a loan for the purchase of building materials—which is currently being repaid by the community in instalments. 

To prevent future fires, the project incorporated emergency precautions such as fire-resilient construction materials and fire detectors, while also improving access ways to facilitate entering and exiting the settlement. Additionally, the re-blocked layout will accommodate space for the 29 households displaced—and still shelterless— in the aftermath of the 2013 fire. 

Mathambo residents begin reconstruction in the reblocked layout.

Mathambo residents begin reconstruction in the reblocked layout.

Furthermore, re-blocking will improve the layout plan of the settlement, regenerating the neighbourhood’s “legibility” in the surrounding suburban environment. The project will enable the people of this settlement to take ownership of their upgraded facilities, potentially solving the challenge of service vandalism. Given that the city has identified a few informal settlements for electrification, the reblocking project may also influence the city’s potential selection of Mathambo as a beneficiary.

As of June 2016, structures have been constructed in accordance with the newly designed community layout, windows have been fitted, and in some cases, floors have been cemented with materials provided by the municipality. To address the persistent challenge of flooding, plans are being developed to construct retaining walls, walkways, proper drainage to control water and eradicate property damage during heavy rains.

Mathambo settlement leader Ndodeni Dengo (left)

Mathambo settlement leader Ndodeni Dengo (left)

The potential of partnership with eThekwini Municipality

The project represents a positive step towards a relationship between Mathambo and the eThekwini Municipality that is free of political divisiveness, while also demonstrating residents’ capacities to mobilise towards improving conditions in the settlement while waiting for government housing. Through engaging with the ISN and jointly financing the project through CUFF, the project has also strengthened the relationship between Mathambo and the SA SDI Alliance.

“The government must begin to have respect for us and stop looking at us as a nuisance and a voting tool but a significant part of the bigger community who can bring about positive national change through ordinary people aspiring to do extra ordinary things by fulfilling their vision. We want to be viewed as equals to formal residents so we will teach the formal residents and municipality how we would like to be treated and how we would like to be heard and included in their decision-making as well as be part of the governments programs whether it be housing, livelihoods or development.”  

Ultimately, the community would like for the government to integrate Mathambo into the neighbouring formal area by constructing in-situ houses. Given the settlement’s favourable location, re-location should be considered as a last resort. Community members believe that the successful partial re-blocking of Mathambo—the first settlement to be re-blocked in KwaZulu Natal— can serve as a precedent to inspire future projects in the eThekwini Municipality and elsewhere.

*Compiled by Ava Hoffman (on behalf of CORC)

SDI, WIEGO & Avina: Growing a Global Coalition of the Urban Poor

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Piesang River – the home of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), a meeting place filled with sounds of Portuguese, isiZulu, Spanish and English,  a place filled with expectations of what a four-day learning exchange might hold for its participants – representatives of urban poor networks from across Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and South Africa. Are there joint mobilisation strategies? How does each movement build partnerships? And what does advocacy from the perspective of community leaders look like? These questions shaped the purpose of the four-day learning exchange from 21-24 September in South Africa’s east coast port city, Durban.


The participants included community leaders and supporting organisations from

  • the Brazilian Alliance of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI)
  • the Ecuadorian Waste Picker Network
  • the Ecuadorian Network for Fair, Democratic & Sustainable Cities
  • the Association of Recyclers in Bogota, Colombia (Asociación de Recicladores de Bogota)
  • Fundacion Avina in Peru & Ecuador
  • Women In Informal Employment : Globalising & Organising (WIEGO)
  • Asiye eTafuleni in Durban (AeT, network of informal workers)
  • The South African SDI Alliance as hosts: Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), Informal Settlement Network (ISN) and Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC)

What brought together representatives from such different locations? Their affiliation to SDI (Brazil & South Africa), WIEGO (Colombia & Asiye eTafuleni, South Africa) and Fundacion Avina (Ecuador). All three are global movements of the urban poor. Although their approaches may differ, SDI, WIEGO and Avina share the vision of building equitable, just and inclusive cities. The learning exchange was convened by Cities Alliance, of which WIEGO and SDI are both members. Envisioned as a two-part exchange, the first was hosted by SDI in South Africa, while the second will be hosted by WIEGO in Colombia.

The exchange focussed on exposing the visitors to the South African Alliance’s approaches to- and outcomes of community organising. This included a visit to housing and informal settlement upgrading projects, a savings scheme, conducting practical data collection, a partnership meeting with government and getting to know the context of informal workers.

A People’s Approach to Housing and Upgrading

Visiting a people driven housing project at Namibia

Visiting a people driven housing project at Namibia Stop 8 settlements

While each movement shared its main focal areas and organisational approaches in presentations on the first day, a real sense of getting to know each other occurred through questions and anecdotes that opened windows into personal and collective experiences:

“In Colombia waste-pickers have been organising for more than 30 years – recycling is an option for poor people who are old or don’t have access to jobs. I was displaced during the war. My husband was killed by guerrilla fighters. Through recycling I was able to support my family” (Ana Elizabeth Cuervo Alba, Colombia)

“As waste pickers in Ecuador we lobbied the government to a point where we now have a national agreement that pays waste pickers for recycling” (Elvia Pisuña, Ecuador)

“Urban informal workers usually face extreme challenges with people resisting their presence in public spaces .We called ourselves, Asiye eTafuleni because it means – come to the table. Let us negotiate for the inclusive future of the working urban poor. “ (Richard Dobson, Asiye eTafuleni, Durban)

Incidentally, Piesang River also displays the fruits of FEDUP’s militant negotiation with national government around housing delivery. FEDUP leaders explained that the vast housing settlements in Piesang River and Namibia Stop 8 (a further area visited that afternoon) are a result of their success in convincing government to grant members direct access to their housing subsidy. This enabled them to self-build larger houses, culminating in the adoption of the People’s Housing Process (PHP) policy. Although it has not been without its challenges, PHP represents a breakthrough in altered approach from “delivery” to “collaboration”.

Recycling Exchange

Informal Settlement Upgrading Plans at Mathambo














In contrast, community leaders of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) elaborated on their difficulty in achieving breakthrough in municipal support for informal settlement upgrading. With over 2700 informal settlements in the country and an increasing housing backlog, the ISN supports communities with tools and plans for negotiating with local government around service delivery through incremental upgrading. During a visit to Mathambo settlement, community leader and regional ISN coordinator, Ndodeni Dengo explained that despite the settlement’s relatively small size, existing structures were located in high density to each other, with most not larger than 9m2 – and a deficit of water, sanitation and electricity services. The community had collected data about its settlement through a detailed household level enumeration that helped them negotiate upgrading plans with the local municipality. By using wooden boxes for planning a new layout that would enable service installation, the community established their ideal design for the upgraded settlement.

How do urban poor communities organise?

Over the next two days the visitors were introduced to the driving force behind FEDUP and ISN’s housing and upgrading projects: the practice of daily savings and data collection as tools for community organisation.

Explaining savings Kwa Bester

Explaining savings Kwa Bester

At Kwa Bestar savings group, the visitors saw that saving is not primarily about collecting money, but about collecting people. Savings groups are a space where trust is nurtured through daily saving, sharing needs and identifying common solutions. At present, the group of 39 active members has saved US$ 2800. It is also engaged in forming smaller saving units to access loans by generating income through small businesses. The keen involvement of young people aged 8 – 25 in the savings process was a special highlight. Once more it became evident that savings is about growing and enabling people, showcased by the rich dance, drama and music performances by the youth.

Youth savings group shares dance performance

Youth savings group shares dance performance

Where savings builds self reliance, data collection builds knowledge: upon arrival at Zikhali, a small, rural settlement in the northern sugar cane fields of Durban, Rose Molokoane, National Coordinator of FEDUP and SDI deputy president, explained:

“When a community knows clearly who they are, which are their problems, it is much easier to negotiate with municipal officials”

This is how data collection through settlement profiles (of a settlement’s history, infrastructure, conditions) and enumerations (detailed household level surveys) enables partnership with local government officials. When walking around the area, the group mapped the settlement boundaries and landmarks such as water and sanitation points on GPS devices while others spoke to residents, collecting household data by using the Alliance’s enumeration form.

GIS mapping in Zikhali settlement

GIS mapping in Zikhali settlement


Household Enumeration in Zikhali

Household Enumeration in Zikhali

Approaches to building partnerships with government

It is through savings and data-collection that SDI’s urban poor federations leverage partnerships: saving contributions show self-reliance and community will; settlement-wide data powers a community’s negotiation capacity. On day three the visitors accompanied the Durban Alliance to a meeting with the local municipality, province and a representative from national government, discussing the progress of housing and upgrading projects.

The South Americans perceived

  • A strong relationship with government officials
  • A measure of trust and flexibility in receiving visitors at the meeting
  • Political willingness to listen and debate

Insights from the South African participants

  • The perceived trust and partnership with Municipal Government was “built by doing”, demonstrating results and inviting the municipality to be part of the social process
  • Despite the working group and formally conducted meetings, the municipality often does not give prompt answers to the most urgent needs of communities

The visit to Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) added rich insight to the experience of informal workers and an added dimension to partnership building with local authorities. The group was introduced to AeT’s work in developing inclusive spaces that support sustainable livelihoods for informal workers. The shared realities of informal settlement dwellers and informal workers became particularly evident on a walk-about through the bustling Warwick market in Durban’s inner-city. For AeT and the SA SDI Alliance the encounter highlighted similarities and differences in approach but most of all established a platform for increased collaboration in the future.

Government Partnership Meeting

Government Partnership Meeting

View on to a section of Warwick market

View on to a section of Warwick market


Walkabout in Warwick Junction

Walkabout in Warwick Junction
















Reflecting, Learning and Joint Advocacy

With a rich collection of experiences and impressions, the group gathered on the last morning to reflect and share on the ….

  • Non-monetary value of savings. Savings are about collecting money and people (building social capital, trust, self-reliance)
  • Power of information: data collection is crucial for building self-reliance, identifying common goals and establishing negotiating power
  • Key role of women as cultivating transparency and accountability
  • Cultural factors present in South Africa: welcoming, joyful people, ability to join efforts and to coordinate
  • Youth work: value of young people generating and managing their own savings to use in initiatives of their choice (e.g. creative arts)
  • Global similarities in poor people’s struggles
  • Recycling as Income Generation: value in using opportunities around you (e.g. waste = recycling opportunity = income generation)
  • Increased awareness of interface between shack dwellers and informal workers

… and on strategies for the road ahead:

  • Mobilisation Strategies: Gain understanding of waste picker movements in South America
  • Building Partnerships: Plan further exchanges with local (i.e. national) counterparts of global movements
  • Prepare for Joint Lobbying at Global Events such as Habitat III.

As the global development community gears up for Habitat III, global movements of the urban poor are establishing a firm coalition. This learning exchange forms an integral part of that process, “allowing networks organised around livelihood and habitat to come together, share their experiences and strengthen their capacity to organise and advocate in favour of the urban poor” (Cities Alliance, Exchange convener). When speaking with a united voice, advocacy has the potential to influence policy discussions on increased collaboration between communities and governments.

“By referring to our connection with one another, WIEGO, SDI & Avina can make a strong case for a pro-poor agenda. Only if we come together as poor people we can show our governments that we are influencing their policies to meet the needs of the people. “ (Rose Molokoane, FEDUP Coordinator & SDI vice president)

Alliance at Human Settlements Learning Exchange in Durban

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN No Comments

By Jeff Thomas (on behalf of CORC)

A SA SDI Alliance team comprising FEDUP and ISN community leaders, regional co-ordinators and CORC representatives was invited to attend the International Human Settlements Learning Exchange in eThekwini Municipality from 15-17 April 2015.

The exchange, a first of its kind, was hosted by the Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) in partnership with eThekwini’s Human Settlements Department and the Affordable Housing Institute (AHI). It included about 200 local, national and provincial government officials, eThekwini Municipality councillors, private sector housing, NGO and academic representatives.  

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.42.19 AM

It aimed to “share different organisation’s perspectives and experiences within the human settlements sector to improve housing service delivery” (Reference). The exchange focussed on new funding models for affordable housing finance, effective new housing typologies and guidance for establishing socially inclusive and responsive housing settlements.  For the Alliance it was an opportunity to share concrete experiences in community participation that move beyond infrastructural approaches to human settlements development.The event was billed as an international exchange in that the keynote speaker, Professor Jeremy Gorelick, is a globally acclaimed expert in the area of alternative, more-sustainable funding models for housing finance. Among other things, he is the Managing Director of Capital Markets for the USA-based Affordable Housing Institute, a non-profit and tax exempt pro-poor consulting and research firm which operates in 43 countries.
Community-Based Implementation at Alliance's Namibia Stop 8 Housing Project in eThekwini Municipality

Community-Based Implementation at Alliance’s Namibia Stop 8 Housing Project in eThekwini Municipality

Examining Sustainable Funding Models 

His presentation on the first day examined factors relating to the opportunities and challenges of financing housing development in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by a brief exploration of “Public-Private Partnerships” and “Municipal Development Funds”. The day also involved presentations by KZN MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, SALGA’s Sustainable Human Settlements Specialist and the Treasury’s DDG who spoke on the South African Model of Human Settlements Finance. Seated around tables in the audience, participants were given the opportunity to discuss the presentations and share feedback on these at a plenary session.

SA SDI Alliance Team at Exchange

SA SDI Alliance Team at Exchange

Visiting Cornubia housing project 

While the first day focused on a sustainable funding model, the second day comprised two key parts: presentations and a field trip.  The presentations related to a series of existing and proposed human settlement projects while the field trip took us to two of them: KwaMashu Centre where a multi-storey 1000-unit social housing development is planned and Cornubia, a 25000-unit housing project and associated social and light industrial precinct to the north of Durban. At both these projects participants were afforded an opportunity to engage in a question and answer session with municipal officials leading the visit.

Cornubia Housing Project,

Cornubia Housing Project, eThekwini Municipality


Cornubia, eThekwini Municipality

Cornubia, eThekwini Municipality

Community-Centred Human Settlement Development

The third day’s focus shifted to issues of community participation in human settlements development discussed by the Project Preparation Trust, the SA SDI Alliance and Habitat for Humanity South Africa. The CEO of Project Preparation Trust examined the meaning of ‘people-centred development’ and its relationship to infrastructural development’. He shared 8 actions that South African cities need to take in order to become more people-centred. Key amongst these were

  • the need to understand local communities and circumstances
  • approaching participation as ‘negotiation’
  • focusing on partnership and trust-building
  • asset not deficit-based thinking
  • understanding informality by working with it not against it
  • and most importantly, focussing on improving livelihoods and quality of life

The SA SDI Alliance team shared its experience in pioneering people-centred development initiatives since 1991. The presentation focussed on the Alliance’s experience in community-driven human settlement upgrading in relation to ‘project preparation’ and ‘project implementation’. While project preparation was explained as comprising community-based savings, data-collection (profiling & enumerations) and planning, implementation looked at upgrading in terms of improved services, re-blocking and housing.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 12.31.08 PM


The emphasis in both regards was on how the Alliance approach provides opportunities for people to participate in and drive their own development, leading to self-pride and greater sense of ownership of the final product. It also emphasised the central role of women in driving the process and the need for partnerships between poor communities and government. A series of quotes about the Alliance process from significant national human settlements ministers concluded the presentation, clearly communicating that,

“It’s only a fool who cannot support this process”

(Derek Hanekom, SA Human Settlements Minister, 1999)

Habitat for Humanity SA’s final presentation shared its new strategic direction since 2012 and its use of the 4P model: People-Public-Private Partnerships. Habitat shared its approach to leadership capacity-building workshops, the role of asset-mapping and sustainable livelihoods analysis, the artisan audit towards providing appropriate skills training which is part of a social scoping exercise run in communities that participate in their own development programs.


Discussions aimed to broaden thinking and practice by municipal officials and sector practitioners alike. As a result of the presentations and discussion on community-centred participation on Day 3, the concept of ‘Public-Private Partnerships’ introduced on the first day had been broadened out to include People-Public-Private Partnerships, in which communities become central role-players in project preparation (community driven savings, data collection and planning) as well as implementation. As the Alliance continues to seek out a partnership the municipality, the exchange indicated a growing awareness concerning the significance of community-driven process and collaborative partnership between stakeholder sectors.

FEDUP and ISN Leadership Retreat 2014

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Leadership Retreat in KZN, Durban

Leadership Retreat in KZN, Durban

From 20 – 25 June 2014 national leaders from both FEDUP and ISN met in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal, for a leadership retreat. The aim of the retreat was to open up a space for leaders to reflect and reassess the different methods and tools they have been using to mobilise their communities.

These tools – mobilization and savings, exchanges, enumerations, mapping, and community-led implementation – are a shared set of rituals that all federations affiliated to Shack / Sum Dwellers International (SDI) practice. The retreat was not only a time of reflection, reorientation and discussion. It was also one of practical learning, especially in mapping, enumeration and savings practices, in which leaders refocused on the strength of these tools to mobilise new informal settlements and savings schemes.

The retreat

At the beginning of the retreat, Rose Molokoane, national co-ordinator of FEDUP explained,

“The last time we were here in Durban was for the march [to eThewkini Municipality] on 24 March 2014. We realized then that we need to continue building our leadership to make our work and these kind of events successful because an organisation is not a project, but a process. This is when the idea developed to call most if not all our leaders to a retreat”

This went hand in hand with developing and discussing a joint focus for the retreat. In thinking about the nature of a retreat, the group responded that it viewed the retreat as a time of reflection, co-operation, re-affirming vision, working together and a reminder of the Alliance’s current position. The group also highlighted that it wanted to achieve this focus by better understanding the Alliance’s vision and background as well as getting practically involved in community activities.

Rose Molokoane facilitates a discussion at the Leadership Retreat

Rose Molokoane facilitates a discussion at the Leadership Retreat

While the first day of the retreat looked back at the history and foundation of the Alliance, the other days focused on building the capacity of Alliance leaders for current and future activities. On the first day therefore the group focused on the Alliance’s founding gathering at Broederstroom and reminded each other of five pillars: love, availability, transparency, trust and commitment.

On the remaining four days Alliance leaders split into teams to do enumeration and mapping exercises in Boxwood and Johanna Road settlements in Kenville and to collect savings in Kwa Bestar. This meant that FEDUP and ISN members, some for the first time, became actively involved in one another’s tools of enumeration and savings.

These days also included training with the CORC enumeration team and workshops on the organisational roles and structure of the SA Alliance (ISN, FEDUP, CORC & uTshani Fund).

Rose Molokoane (National Co-ordinator of FEDUP) and Charlton Ziervogel (CORC Programme Officer)

Rose Molokoane (National Co-ordinator of FEDUP) and Charlton Ziervogel (CORC Programme Officer)

Enumerations and mapping

The enumeration activities in Boxwood and Johanna Rd introduced FEDUP members to the practice of numbering, shack measuring, data collection and capturing, and settlement mapping. For Rose, it was clear that celebrating information is vital. This is why enumerations are so powerful – the socio-demographic questionnaires collect valuable information that communities can use to better organize themselves and lobby local government. Ma Mkhabela, from FEDUP KZN agreed that,

“It’s important that leaders are present at enumerations so that they can be in touch with community issues. Enumerations help to give people a space to relate to each other”

(Ma Mkhabela, FEDUP KZN)

Similarly, mapping and measuring give community members a further tool for planning and lobbying. By knowing the number of pathways in one’s settlement, or the incline of gradients, communities can contribute to developing a plan for their settlement.

Right: MaMkhabela (FEDUP KZN)

Right: MaMkhabela (FEDUP KZN)


During the savings collection in Durban’s Kwa Bestar, ISN members received a direct insight to the power of savings. They saw how savings can strongly connect communities through regular savings collection visits that also offer a personal opportunity to enquire about the welfare of a fellow savings scheme member.

Ndodeni Dengo ,Durban’s ISN co-ordinator, reflected,

“It was my first time collecting door-to-door savings. We need to take this back to our communities”

ISN National Co-ordinators Front: Ndodeni Dengo

ISN National Co-ordinators Front: Ndodeni Dengo

Looking back and moving forward

During the feedback session many groups expressed the value they saw in working together as a team and emphasized the need to continue sharing ideas and establishing a good working relationship between ISN & FEDUP.

“This retreat has revived me. I’m now able to remember things I had forgotten. I learned how things should be done in our organisation. Our pillars are there to grow the organisation. In our region, we now also know about the power or enumerations”

(Rosina Mufumadi, FEDUP Limpopo)

Rosina Mufamadi (FEDUP Limpopo)

Rosina Mufumadi (FEDUP Limpopo)

The Dept. of Human Settlements honours Patrick Hunsley & pledges R10 million to FEDUP

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

Patrick Magebhula Hunsley, founding member and stalwart of the South African Alliance and Shack Dwellers International (SDI), was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements on behalf of the Department of Human Settlements on Thursday 14 August 2014 at the annual Govan Mbeki Human Settlements Awards ceremony held in Johannesburg.

Patrick Magebhula Hunsley

Patrick Magebhula Hunsley

Patrick's son, Charles Hunsley, receives the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his father from Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu

Patrick’s son, Charles Hunsley, receives the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his father from Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu

This prestigious award ceremony (established in 2006) aims “to promote and inculcate a culture of excellence within the human settlement sector in the delivery of quality human settlements and dignity to South Africans” (Reference). The awards acknowledge excellent achievements on a Provincial and National level, in order to showcase and demonstrate the work done by the department at both tiers and to promote best practices in meeting the delivery mandate of the Presidency’s Outcome 8, which is aligned with the vision of building sustainable human settlements and meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

This year, however, the minister included an additional category of awards – the Lifetime Achievement Award – that was given to only two people in honour of excellent and noteworthy contributions. When attending Patrick’s funeral in Durban on 16 August at the KwaMashu Christian Centre in Durban, the minister shared

“For the first time this year, we honoured people with outstanding qualities and recognized them as life time achievers in this area. Of all the people who have been active in this field we chose two people. The first was Joe Slovo, the first minister of housing and the second was Patrick Magebhula”.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements and Rose Molokoane, National Coordinator of FEDUP at Patrick Hunsley's funeral on 16 August 2014.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements and Rose Molokoane, National Coordinator of FEDUP at Patrick Hunsley’s funeral on 16 August 2014.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements pledges R10 000 000 to the Federation of the Urban Poor at Patrick's funeral

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements speaks at Patrick’s funeral

The Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) has had a long-standing relationship with government. In the lead up to the 1994 elections, the federation of women’s savings collectives lobbied for an alternative approach to housing that focused on people-centred and controlled development – this model was appropriated by government in 1998 in the form of the People’s Housing Process (PHP). Read more here. Patrick was instrumental in these processes, negotiating with government and ‘un-blocking’ strategic regions in the country. In 2006 FEDUP secured a long term ‘subsidy pledge’ with the department of human settlements which was signed by FEDUP, uTshani Fund and then national minister of housing, Lindiwe Sisulu for 1000 housing subsidies per province in South Africa. In 2010 Patrick served as special advisor to then minister of human settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, on human settlements policy and practice. In 2011 Patrick was asked to serve on a Ministerial Task Team on Water and Sanitation, headed by Ms. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, tasked with addressing the issues of open-air, incomplete and dilapidated toilets in poor communities across South Africa.

Having worked together closely with Patrick, current Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, recognised him at the award ceremony as

 “an outstanding, humble man who helped us shape our policies and understand how people who live in slum conditions are not victims, that they have the power, together with our support, to take themselves out of their poverty. His name is Patrick Magebhula and he passed away on Monday 4 August 2014. It is a sad loss for us. We will bury him on Saturday with all the dignity that he deserves. Today we honour him as an internationally recognised champion and pioneer of the empowerment of the poor and acknowledge his outstanding contribution. We and his broader family of the Federation of the Urban Poor and SDI will have to double our collective effort to further his work to ensure that his life passion was not in vain.” (Reference)

At Patrick’s funeral, which was attended by family, hundreds of fellow activists, friends and comrades the minister remembered how she and Patrick had first met in Barcelona (Cape Town) when she was a new minister together with FEDUP and Rose. As she got up to speak at one of the occasions she explained that Patrick had humorously asked her to explain who she was, who had sent her, who she was representing and what her promise would be to the Federation. After the minister had shared this anecdote, she pledged R 10 000 000 in housing subsidies to FEDUP. Kwa Mashu’s church – packed to the brim – erupted in song, cheers and ululations.

 “My only regret is that Patrick is not here today to hear me but I want him to know that the promise I made to him, today, I kept in his honour. The federation will not be in want while I am around, the federation will not want for anything while the DG, the deputy minister and the department is there. The partnership we have will live in honour of this man whose humility is amazing. As the Department of Human Settlements we count ourselves as the broader family of Patrick.”

She also honoured the work of Shack Dwellers International (SDI) and its nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, which South Africa has decided to second.

“We as South Africa have pledged to second SDI’s nomination and lobby all African countries who are part of us to second the nomination so that we can celebrate with Patrick should we win the peace prize”.

The Minister then led the gathering in the song: “Lihambile iQhawe”, a famous freedom song that was also sung as Mandela was buried in December last year. The refrain goes: “Lihambile iQhawe lamaQhawa” – The Bravest of the Brave has departed.


Durban and Port Elizabeth Leaders on Sanitation Exchange

By CORC, iKhayalami, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Stefanie Holzwarth and Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Over the past years, the communities of Midrand in Port Elizabeth and Havelock in Durban have been upgrading their settlements, step by step. Last week’s exchange (8-11 July 2014) – in which community leaders visited Cape Town settlements – formed the next step in activating solutions to their specific needs for water and sanitation upgrading.

Site visit in Kuku Town

Site visit in Kuku Town


Midrand and Havelock

Midrand is located on municipal land but is not yet listed on the municipality’s database and therefore experiences great difficulty in accessing services. The community consistently experiences severe flooding. Havelock, on the other hand, is built on privately owned land and has been earmarked for “interim services” by eThekwini Municipality, indicating a willingness to deliver basic services in the short term and habitation in the long term. It is built against a hill with high shack densities that have led to shack fires, flooding and torrents of water flushes in the rainy seasons. Read more background on Havelock and Midrand.

The exchange

During the four-day exchange about ten community leaders visited five settlements in and around Cape Town. The exchange was linked to the SHARE Program (Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity) linked to Shack Dwellers International (SDI). Read more about SHARE here. It was facilitated by the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) and iKhayalami. It centrally focussed on how communities can use sanitation as a tool for upgrading and mobilisation, particularly in response to ever present and severe flooding.

Midrand community leaders, for example, spent time investigating the most suitable and relevant options for sanitation upgrading in their settlement:

  • Communal toilets and wash facility at the edge of the settlement (ablution blocks) without re-blocking
  • Sanitation and wash facility in the centre of the settlement with partial re-blocking
  • Individual sanitation facilities in courtyard (one-on-one sanitation) with settlement wide re-blocking

These would all require engagement with local government institutions.

Havelock’s central challenge is drainage. The settlement has already engaged with local government about constructing a sanitation unit as well as providing more sanitation units in the centre of the settlement. This would coincide with the communities’ already existing plans to re-block its settlement. Midrand and Havelock’s leaders therefore visited upgrading sites that provided an example of different options available to them.


Example of sanitation in a community-run Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) facility

One-on-One Sanitation in Kuku Town

The visitors spent the first day in Kuku Town where the community recently completed re-blocking with individual sanitation per upgraded structure. They were particularly interested in how Kuku Town managed to re-block without having to relocate people to other areas. Other questions focused on why the community chose individual toilets. Kuku Town’s leaders explained that

“single toilets are manageable because the owner is responsible for their own toilet and because there are no conflicts within the community with regards to hygiene.”

The leaders also reflected on Kuku Town’s successes and challenges throughout planning and implementation. The visitors learned how Kuku Town approached the municipality for support in terms of infrastructure services. Both Midrand and Havelock were impressed by the Council´s successful involvement in providing water and sanitation.

6. After reblocking 3

Sanitation and water services per upgraded structure in Kuku Town

Sanitation facility in Langrug, Stellenbosch & BM Section, Khayelitsha

In Langrug, Franschoek. the visitors saw an example of upgrading that included relocating 16 families, the construction of a second access road and grey-water and drainage channels, and a community designed, multi-purpose Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) Facility. The visit offered insight into the WaSH facility, the drainage project and the local playground. The subsequent discussion facilitated an exciting learning environment with questions about the maintenance of the WaSH facility and funding. They also discovered the opportunity of hot water provision via solar heating systems in summer. The afternoon centred on projects in BM section, Khayelitsha. Its similarity (due to an uneven slope) to Havelock made it an ideal site for the exchange and delivered an essential input for its visitors.


Interior view of Langrug’s WaSH facility



Courtyard in BM section

Shared Sanitation in Mtshini Wam & ongoing re-blocking in Flamingo

The visit to Mshini Wam provided valuable lessons for the visitors – particularly in the field of funding and engaging the local authority. The visitors took special interest in understanding how Mtshini Wam managed to convince some residents to share toilets on a cluster basis while others had single toilets. The challenges relating to communal toilets were thoroughly discussed.

“The main idea was to have single toilets but due to the number of shacks and the limited space, the plan was diverted in order to accommodate communal toilets. The maintenance and cleaning of the toilets depends on the cluster groups.”

The visitors concluded their site visits in Flamingo Crescent, an ongoing re-blocking project. During a walkabout the visitors observed how shacks were broken down, how ground works were installed and how the new structures were erected.

Site visit in Flamingo during re-blocking

Site visit in Flamingo during re-blocking

Midrand community discusses the way forward

On the last day, Midrand leaders and iKhayalami discussed the sanitation options available to the community and the future steps each would imply. Community leaders agreed that re-blocking with one-on-one services would be the most realistic and feasible option.

“The ablution block won´t work for us because there is lots of friction. No one wants to wait for a long time when using the facility. Community blocks won´t work because some of the people are not responsible. They leave it without taking care.” (Community Leader, Midrand)

Midrand’s leaders agreed to start saving to upgrade their structures instead of solely blocking out. They hoped to convince the municipality to come on board. Re-blocking would be conducted in phases – identifying clusters for incremental re-blocking.

One major challenge in Midrand is the lack of space. Part of the settlement land is still in private hands – which causes major tenure insecurity. Together with iKhayalami the leaders discussed various solutions. While the community leaders resolved their questions, the next step is to share these with the rest of their communities when they return.

The exchange not only offered a learning space but also enabled leaders to grow their ability in community-driven upgrading,

“I have learned a lot by being a community leader and by being part of this exchange. It has built up my confidence and my professional experience. I was a very shy person before – now I can stand up and work for our development goals.” (Midrand community leader)

Midrand Consultation

Andy Bolnick (iKhayalami) discusses sanitation options with Midrand community leaders

National Community Exchange – Durban to Cape Town (Part 2)

By CORC, iKhayalami, ISN No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

A four-day community exchange was underway from 29 April to 2 May 2014, during which community leaders from Durban visited informal settlements in and around Cape Town.  This blog continues to trace the experiences and reflections collected on the exchange, the first two days of which have been recorded here.

Day 3 in Langrug informal settlement – Sanitation, Drainage and ‘Greening’

View of Langrug informal settlement, Franschoek

View of Langrug informal settlement, Franschoek

Located in the affluent wine-farming area of Franschoek, Langrug informal settlement, home to about 4500 people, is characterised by extreme poverty, poor housing and sanitation. In the face of these challenges the community signed a precedent-setting Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the locally presiding Stellenbosch Municipality that channelled government funds to community-based upgrading initiatives. This translated into relocating 16 families, the construction of a second access road, the construction of grey-water and drainage channels and a community designed, multi-purpose Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) Facility. The facility includes a communal homework area for children, a hair salon, benches and laundry basins. Click here for a comprehensive profile of Langrug. Currently, Langrug is involved in the second phase of upgrading: ‘greening’ the existing WaSH facility with vertical vegetable gardens and developing a dry sanitation facility in Zwelitsha, an ‘informal’ section of Langrug without taps and toilets.

Existing WaSH Facility after 'greening'

Existing WaSH Facility after ‘greening’

KZN visitors taste Langrug's spinach

KZN visitors taste Langrug’s spinach

The exchange visitors were introduced to all these aspects on a detailed walk-about. Langrug community member, Alfred Ratana, indicated the differences in depth and purpose of the drainage and grey water channels and explained the processes accompanying relocation. He emphasised the uniqueness of Langrug in that it was a municipality-driven project which was not community financed.

“Langrug shows that municipalities can have a different approach to communities. Our experience shows that municipalities can include us in their plans and construct with us – not for us”

(Alfred Ratana, Langrug community member)

Langrug community member, Alfred Ratana, speaks about Langrug's grey water drainage

Langrug community member, Alfred Ratana, speaks about Langrug’s grey water drainage


Viewing a community-constructed drainage channel

Langrug community members also explained the breakthrough presented by Zwelitsha’s dry sanitation facility: due to its location on a steep mountain slope it has been impossible to provide water and sanitation services to around 600 families. The dry sanitation facility, however, is a step towards changing this. The vertical vegetable gardens in Langrug’s existing WaSH facility (developed in partnership with Touching the Earth Lightly) showed the visitors how the community secures food and generates income. By selling the spinach it grows, the community intends to generate income to sustain daily running costs of the facility.

The visitors were also impressed by a crèche facility that had been established between external partners and mothers in Langrug who wanted to provide an alternative, more affordable option for their children. The teachers of the crèche explained that,

“getting something started is not about presenting an idea to social services. You just need to start. Once the idea is happening, you can take the outcome to social services and get it registered”.

Once back at the WaSH facility Langrug’s steering committee shared details around the developments in their settlement. The group was also joined by Diana Mitlin and visiting colleagues from Manchester University. Read about their impressions here.

Sharing impressions after the walkabout

Sharing impressions after the walkabout

Langrug's steering committee explains the steps it took in the upgrading process

Langrug’s steering committee explains the steps it took in the upgrading process


Day 4 in Mtshini Wam – Reflections on how to continue

The final visit to Mtshini Wam showed the visitors what a large-scale re-blocking project could look like. During upgrading, the settlement also received one on one services, some in-structure toilets and public water points. More details on Mtshini Wam’s re-blocking are documented here.

Over four days the group had seen much, listened intently, exchanged questions and pondered how to take these impressions back home. Some key points:

  • Visiting Langrug presented a highlight for the visitors from Durban as the topography and accompanying challenges (steep inclines, drainage and flooding) are similar to the conditions in their own settlements.
  • Langrug’s drainage and sanitation facilities therefore presented relevant options for the Durban visitors
  • The visitors were inspired by the initiative and commitment they encountered in their fellow community leaders, something they wanted to take back in responding to circumstances in their own settlements
  • The exchange highlighted the importance of partnerships and the ever-present opportunity to form partnerships as a foundation for wielding large scale change
A street view of Mtshini Wam after re-blocking

A street view of Mtshini Wam after re-blocking

KZN leaders in conversation about securing service provision

KZN leaders in conversation about securing service provision

Durban’s Kenville and Foreman Road settlements will share their experiences of the exchange in mass meetings with their communities this weekend (16-18 May). Their next steps are to enumerate their settlements and establish a relationship with their councillors.

As the visitors embarked on the journey home, ISN community leader, Nkokheli Ncambele, reminded them that

“it is important not to impose everything you have seen on this exchange on your communities at home. Rather take what you have learnt and present it to the community as a suggestion. Then you can decide together what you want and how to make it work in your own settlement”

Exchanges certainly are the most important learning vehicle in the South African Alliance. They facilitate the direct exchange of information, experience and skills, thereby building a horizontal platform for learning between urban poor communities. Through sharing successes and failures in projects, giving and receiving advice on engaging government, sharing in work and life experiences and exchanging tactics and plans communities become central actors.

National Community Exchange – Durban to Cape Town (Part 1)

By CORC, iKhayalami, ISN No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Informal settlement leaders from Kenville and Foreman Road in Durban are mobilising their communities to upgrade their settlements with better services and improved spatial layouts. Last week’s exchange to Cape Town (29 April – 2 May 2014) therefore presented a first-hand opportunity for them to draw insights from fellow community leaders.


Group picture in Kuku Town: Durban and Cape Town communities on exchange

Over the week the Durban visitors were hosted by Kuku Town, Flamingo Crescent, Langrug & Mtshini Wam communities in and around Cape Town. Each day was dedicated to an in-depth visit of each settlement. This included a detailed site visit, discussions on  collecting savings, enumerating and profiling settlements and contributing to planning and mapping. Besides bringing leaders together on a national level, the exchange also connected communities locally: for leaders from Kuku Town, Flamingo and Langrug the exchange comprised a first time visit to the other settlements. Exchanges are thus the most important learning vehicle in the South African Alliance, facilitating the direct exchange of information, experience and skills between urban poor communities.


Introductions and briefing on the week ahead at CORC office in Mowbray

Day one in Kuku Town: Upgrading & Savings 

Community leaders met in Kuku Town, a small settlement that recently completed re-blocking and in the process secured one-on-one water and sanitation services from the City of Cape Town. Read more about Kuku Town and re-blocking here. In the discussion community leaders took the visitors through a step-by-step picture of Kuku Town’s experiences. ISN representative, Melanie Manuel, explained that

“What we do in ISN is not only to beautify our settlements but to actually change the way we live. Savings and partnerships – like we had with Habitat for Humanity and the municipality – are an important part of this.”


Community leaders share their experiences around organising and upgrading in Kuku Town community hall

Yet, before partnerships can be formed, a community needs to know its settlement in terms of the number of (un)emloyed people, the number of structures and families and details on service provision (electricity, sanitation and water). This information is collected in enumerations. Kuku Town community used its enumeration data to plan its re-blocked layout and to negotiate the provision of one-on-one services and short-term employment opportunities through the City’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).  Community leaders explained that they organised themselves in clusters to be able to navigate the logistics around communication and construction during re-blocking.

Among a variety of questions, the visitors took special interest in understanding the connection between savings and upgrading, especially the role of community contributions. Melanie explained that

“Savings contributions enable us as communities to take ownership and responsibility of the changes and upgrading in our settlements. We want to move away from a ‘free for all mindset’ and restore dignity and pride to our communities”

Melanie Manuel, ISN representative

Melanie Manuel, ISN representative

But collecting savings poses a continuous challenge. How to go about motivating communities and responding to accusations? Flamingo Crescent’s community leader, Auntie Marie, shared her experience:

“Getting the community’s commitment for daily savings is difficult. People only want to act when they see that things are happening. You’ve got to be tough. If you’re not tough you won’t get anything right”

For Kuku Town community leader, Verona Joseph, the partnership with the City and its support in this regard, was crucial.  This became evident at Kuku Town’s official handover that afternoon which was attended by the ward councillor and City officials.  The handover and a site visit completed the first day of the exchange, demonstrating what a tangible community-government partnership can look like.


Exchange communities join Kuku Town handover ceremony

Inspecting the water and sanitation services provided by the City

Kuku Town site visit: inspecting water and sanitation services provided by the City

Day two in Flamingo Crescent: Re-blocking and Partnerships

Flamingo Crescent is about to begin re-blocking and – in partnership with the City of Cape Town – is set to receive one-on-one services. On a walkabout through the smoke and dust-filled pathways community leaders received a thorough impression of the settlement’s layout. Most structures – consisting of old cardboard, zinc, timber and plastic pieces – are situated around a broad, u-shaped pathway that is intersected by smaller, narrow footpaths. Flamingo’s population of about 450 people resides in 104 structures. The entire settlement makes use of only 2 taps and 14 chemical toilets that are emptied three times a week. The absence of electricity means that fire is used as a central source for cooking and warmth.

1. Overview 2

Flamingo – view from above

Site visit in Flamingo

Site visit in Flamingo

In a nearby community hall, Flamingo’s steering committee explained its relationship with ISN and the challenge of collecting savings contributions due to its high unemployment rate (50%). Flamingo’s enumeration acted as a powerful entry point to negotiating an improved layout and service provision with the City of Cape Town. Together with students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (USA) the community designed the re-blocked layout and conceptualised plans for a crèche and a play park.  Later, the visitors joined the steering committee’s meeting with a Cape Town City official who provided an update on the City’s contribution to upgrading.  For the visitors this was of particular value as it emphasised the crucial role of partnerships and the number of actors involved in a given project. The question at the forefront of many minds was: how can we do this in our communities at home?

For Auntie Marie, Flamingo community leader, it is evident that

“If it wasn’t for ISN, I don’t know where we would be. Through ISN we were introduced to the City and we got a partnership. We started thinking, ‘Now something is going to happen’. Flamingo is going to be re-blocked!”

Continue reading Part 2 of the exchange here.

(Flamingo steering committee presents its partnerships

Flamingo steering committee presents its partnerships

Auntie Marie, Leader of Flamingo Community and Steering Committee

Auntie Marie, Leader of Flamingo Community and Steering Committee

Report back to Flamingo Community

Report back to Flamingo Community


Amandla Imali Nolwazi! Alliance marches to eThekwini Municipality

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, uTshani Fund No Comments

After weeks of preparation and community mobilization, thousands of shack dwellers gathered on Durban’s Dinuzulu Square early on Monday morning, 24 March 2014. As people arrived by foot, mini-bus taxi and on numerous busses, they were met by songs of protest sounding from an ever-growing crowd of shack dwellers affiliated to the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN).  The mass of black and white t-shirts, placards, banners and cardboard signs bore powerful messages

“Did you know the majority of people in eThekwini are still without title deeds?”

“Phambili nge community participation – Forward with community participation!”

“No Upgrading without Us!”

These messages pointed to the purpose of the march: to hand over an agreement of co-operation to eThekwini Municipality which outlined a more inclusive, implementable and participatory partnership between the municipality and organized groups of shack dwellers affiliated to FEDUP and ISN.

First marchers gather at Dinuzulu Square

First marchers gather at Dinuzulu Square












From Dinuzulu Square to the City Hall

The date of the march coincided with national celebrations around Human Rights Day. Most shack dwellers in eThekwini municipality and the country, however, do not benefit tangibly from the achievement of human rights in South Africa. Land acquisition, housing, water and sanitation, refuse removal, access to electricity and informal settlement upgrading are urgent and daily recurring concerns. For shack dwellers in eThekwini municipality these issues are particularly expressed in the lack of a meaningful engagement between themselves and the municipality.  The march, therefore, aimed to set the scene for an inclusive and participatory working relationship.



A crowd of about 2500 marchers set off from Dinuzulu Square at 11h00, marching in peaceful and powerful protest, singing and loud hailing slogans that express the hardships of life in informal settlements and the power of organised communities. In the mid-day heat of a bright summer’s day, the streets of Durban CBD came to a standstill as shopkeepers, pedestrians and on-lookers absorbed the lively and determined atmosphere. The slogan was clear:

“Amandla, Imali Nolwazi, eish! Ayilumi Mayihlafuna” – Power is Money and Knowledge! Eish! You can’t bite while you are chewing!


The alliance slogan directly speaks to the low response many urban poor communities receive from local municipalities.  ISN community leader Sifiso Nobani, explains that

“We chose to march because this is the only language that the municipality understands. Roads will be closed and people and businesses will take notice of us”

After 2km, the marchers, representing numerous informal settlement communities in eThekwini gathered in front of the City Hall to hand over the Agreement of Co-operation.

Towards an Agreement of Co-operation

The agreement was drafted as a response to some of the most pressing challenges faced by the urban poor in eThekwini. Sithembile Doncabe, FEDUP savings scheme leader, explains that

“ We are sick and tired of living in informal settlements. We are losing our dignity. We want to raise our dignity. We are citizens. We want houses. But they are not listening to us”

Ma Mkhabela, provincial FEDUP coordinator adds,

“There is some commitment from the municipality but they keep pulling back. When we meet in joint working groups once a month, municipality members are often missing. The provincial and national response is better. The problem is that our ‘partnership’ with the municipality is not a written one”

“We don’t know anything about the municipality’s plans for upgrading our settlements. We need to be informed about time lines and planning. We want to be independent communities. We have rituals that help us, like enumerations that show that one shack does not equal one family. If we have a chance to submit this information to the municipality we can develop our country nicely, like the constitution says!”

At Durban City Hall

At Durban City Hall

The co-operation agreement outlined these concerns in more detail. They relate to: a lack of updated facts and figures concerning the urban poor, a slow approach to land acquisition and assembly for informal settlements, inadequate delivery of basic services and disaster management, inadequate inclusion of the urban poor in municipal budgeting and planning processes, lack of municipal commitment to Joint Working Group structures to deal with uTshani Fund old debt and Pledge Housing implementation, limited social development, poverty alleviation, livelihood generation and nutritional programs as well as inadequate access to finance in funding community based upgrading projects. The agreement of co-operation also outlines the purpose and joint activities for future collaboration, emphasizing practical and implementable suggestions.

Several provincial alliance members shared their experiences around lobbying and mobilization with the marchers. Joe Nene, advisor to the Mayor, then joined national coordinators Rose Molokoane (FEDUP), Mzwanele Zulu and Patrick Magebhula (ISN) as the agreement was read out and handed over.

Mr. Nene received the agreement, emphasizing that he could not promise a signature but that it would be passed on to the mayoral office, which would respond within seven days.

As communities wait for a response from the municipality, Ma Mkhabela is clear,

“We want to plan together with the municipality so that they know our priorities. They need to talk to us. There’s nothing for us without us. We want to know that we have agreed together”.

Joe Nene (Advisor to the Mayor), Patrick Magebhula and Mzwanele Zulu (ISN national coordinators)

Joe Nene (Advisor to the Mayor), Patrick Magebhula and Mzwanele Zulu (ISN national coordinators)