This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Realizing a sustainable human settlement?
Case study 1 - Sakhasonke Village
Introduction Sakhasonke means ‘building together’ in isiXhosa. Sakhasonke Village situated 5km from Nelson Mandela Bay’s Central Business District constitutes an innovative best practice model in delivery of medium density housing in a high-quality environment for poor people. This fully governmentsubsidised housing project is made up of 337 multi-storey duplex and triplex semi-detached units. It is located adjacent to Gqebera township right next to an informal settlement, south of Walmer suburb. The project was initiated by the General Motors SA (GMSA) Foundation through its Corporate Social Action Programme. In 2001 the GMSA Foundation provided bridging finance to purchases the insovent and run-down Walmer Caravan Park. Metroplan Town and Regional Planners initiated the project on behalf of the GMSA Foundation and acted as project coordinator. Metroplan was responsible for engineering, planning, site and services and building the units and the Urban Services Group (USG), a local urban development NGO, for social facilitation, public participation and the beneficiary selection process of the project. Government partners included the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality and the Eastern Cape Department of Local Government and Housing (DLGH). The main project objective was to demonstrate that densification is a strong instrument for integrating the poor into a quality urban environment and for creating sustainable human settlements. The project shows that it is possible to create a high-quality built environment for low-income earners with the government housing subsidy through alternative design solutions and reducing land and service costs.
Pierre Roux, 2007 Sakhasonke Village demonstrates that densification is a strong instrument for city reintegration and sustainable human settlements. The village design theme succesfully fused the concept of density and community. Lance Del Monte the project manager of Metroplan who designed and implemented Sakhasonke explained: “Community issues had to be incorporated with the design as close living conditions sometimes result in social friction. Great emphasis was therefore placed on the spatial development and the ‘feel’ of the complex to create a safe and ‘open’ atmosphere. Elavated surveillance from the double-storey buildings creates a safe atmosphere where people can relax in ther own defendable space. The atmosphere was further enhanced by the natural symmetry in the layout of the village as well as the overall cubic structure of the buildings” (Kotze, C. Urban Green File Vol 11 No. 6 February 2007).
Design and lay-out planning The key consideration for the Sakhasonke project was density: people living closer together reduce the cost of bulk infrastructure and services as well as the community’s ecological footprint. A relatively small piece of land was maximized through a medium-density design, affording more people access to adequate housing. Some 337 double-storey units were constructed housing between 1000-1500 residents on 4.49 hectares of land. The average erf size is 72 m2 (6m x 12m). The houses have a total floor area of 46 m2 and the rest of the erf leaves enough space for residents to make an entrance garden and for future extensions. Because it was an ‘infill’ project utilizing already existing bulk infrastructure (e.g. municipal water mains and sewerages lines) and because the distances between the houses are far less than that of ‘one-house-per-stand’ RDP housing the infrastructure and service installation cost were much lower ( about 50% less than the site-and-service costs of a conventional RDP township scheme). By using alternative design solutions for low-income communities, a dignified and compact urban environment was created that contributed to the restructuring of the segregated and fragmented city form and made the most of a scarce resource (i.e. land). As Del Monte explained: “The village could be compared to a secure, well-planned, middle-income complex complete with surrounding wall and public open spaces” (Kotze, op.cit.).
The houses are in duplex or triplex configurations along walkways and spaced around courtyards, which allow sunlight into the complex and creates pleasant areas for residents to socialize. Children enjoy secure spaces to play. Residents walk past one another’s homes. Units overlook each another which enhances security in the complex. In contrast, to the social ambience of Sakhasonke Village, most of South Africa’s housing projects follow the free standing RDP housing model which occurs mostly in large mono-functional townships within sterile environments on the periphery of metropolitan areas.
House typologies Sakhasonke Village is made up of 151 duplex semi-detached double story houses (302 units) and 11 triplex semi-detach double story row houses (33 units) placed around 20 large green public spaces. Each unit has two floors of 23 m2 and it is plastered and painted on the interior and exterior. The open plan ground floor comprises a kitchen fitted with a sink, a lounge area as well as an enclosed shower and toilet. Shutterply boards provide the flooring for the top floor. The ground floor is connected to the first floor by way of a timber staircase in the corner opposite the front door. The first floor can be partitioned to provide two sleeping rooms – each with an insulated ceiling and windows. The duplex and triplex design proved to be a very effective means of saving on material and building cost by allowing units to share communal walls and services (plumbing and sewerage). The double story approach also contributed much to the cost effectiveness of the project (i.e. cost savings were made on the foundations and roofing of the double-story units compared to a standard 40 m2 RDP house). It should be noted that Sakhasonke was a government low-cost housing People’s Housing Process (PHP) project. It was constructed within the limits of the same housing subsidy of about R30,000.00 per unit, and with the same constraints imposed on all other low-cost housing developments . The higher-density housing typologies (duplex and triplex semi-detached double-storey units) yielded unit sizes at least 6 m2 larger than typical free-standing RDP units for the same subsidy amount. In July 2007 I conducted an energy survey of 20 households (about a 6% representative sample) in order to obtain data on the residents’ bus and taxi travelling routes. I also compiled an inventory of electrical appliances used in households and estimated their electricity and paraffin consumption levels. The absence of appliances in the 20 households highlighted the electricity poverty in the community. The survey inter alia confirmed that the thermal comfort in the duplexes were greatly improved by the shared walls of the semi-detached units, the application of cement plastering both on the inside and outside walls and through the provision of an insulated ceiling installed in each unit. All Sakhasonke’s houses were fitted with an ‘aerolite’ (a thick pink fiberglass wool material) as roof insulation in the rafter cavity above a rhino board ceiling. Thus the survey found that the Sakhasonke residents used far less paraffin for heating purposes in the winter than those households living in a shack in the neighbouring informal settlement or in a ‘matchbox’ shaped 40 m2 RDP house in Gqebera township. Sakhasonke is in close proximity of Port Elizabeth airport and some 5 km from the Nelson Mandela Bay’s CBD. It is on Victoria Drive next to light industries opposite the Walmer golf course. It is welllocated in terms of public transport, schools, HIV/AIDS clinics, commercial activities, the Gqebera informal market, domestic and gardening work. Many Sakhasonke residents are employed in the Walmer area. The majority are employed as domestic workers in Walmer suburb and walk to their workplace. Others are employed in the CBD, at the airport, light industrial park in Walmer or in the surrounding suburbs and take a short distance bus or taxi journey to their workplaces. The story of Khanyiswa Madolwana of No. 45 services as an example of the pro-poor benefits of living in a medium-density low-cost housing place close to the city. “Before she moved to Sakhasonke, she lived in Motherwell. She had been a domestic worker for 20 years. To be in time for work at 07:30, she would have to leave home at 05:00. She earns R900 a month and spent R315 a month on transport, she said. “I now walk to work.” She leaves for work at 07:00 and get home by 17:00. “I now also have extra time and money for my family,” she added. “Life is a little easier now” (Kotze. op. cit.).
Public Participation Community participation and buy-in by the community was central to the ultimate success of the project. People living in South African townships and residents from informal settlement areas have no
experience of medium-density suburbia environments and would typically think of multi-storey housing in terms of the legacy of the ‘single-quarters’ hostels constructed during the apartheid for migrants. In order to address this resistance, strong emphasis was placed on the participation process and community programmes implemented to promote social cohesion and sustainable livelihoods. Local residents were consulted throughout the process and were actively involved in the planning and construction. Although initially designed by Metroplan as a pilot to demonstrate the advantages of medium-density housing close to the inner-city, would-be beneficiaries soon bought into the village concept and became fully involved in the project and ownership passed on to the beneficiaries. The residents of Gqebera township were notified of the development by way of flyers and a series of general meetings. A ‘showhouse’ was built in 2002. Following a positive response to the showhouse, the Urban Services Group (USG) facilitated various workshops at which the concept was carefully explained using a ‘dollshouse’ and models of the units and overall planned development. Floor plans were discussed and house and plot sizes physically scaled at these workshops.
Clive Felix, Director of USG patiently explaining the complex to would-be home-owners. Photo: Metroplan files Various aspects associated with home-ownership were discussed. Felix explained the importance of institutions to help previous shack dwellers realize the responsibilities of home owners: “The majority of people have previously lived in shacks for up to forty years where they never had the financial responsibilities of maintenance of a formal house and paying for consumer charges. Attitudes must change and that takes time and is a continuous process which needs to be supported and managed. A holistic approach is necessary and the social element should be recognized and funded by the provincial government as part of the housing process” (Personal communication, 2006).
Sakhasonke surrounded by informality settlements.
An elected Resident’s Committee co-ordinates different working groups to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the project. House rules have been adopted which prohibits shebeens, erection of backyard shacks and rentals. Rules are rigorously enforced. Some groups manage a garden; others HIV/AIDS home care; another the Women’s Forum; patrols formed a Neighbourhood Watch and from the community centre a pre-school and crèche are run. A few unemployed residents run a recycling and sewing cooperative. Safety & HIV/AIDS The caravan park walls surrounding the site were restored. The violent crime and housebreaking and theft incidence in Sakhasonke Village are relatively low. According to a survey 95% of the residents felt safe in their homes. While, 85% felt that it was safe for them to walk around in their area at night. Some 95% of the interviewees reported that they were friends with people living in the village. (Development Action Group (DAG), Sustainable Medium-Density housing: A resource book, 2008). Like many other poor communities in the Eastern Cape, the main social problem facing the Sakhasonke community is illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and TB. According to DAG (2008) the project coordinators together with the resident’s Committee and the Department of Welfare need to investigate and devise a strategy to deal effectively with the alarming deaths among home-owners who have young children. Issues such as child-minding for guardians responsible for AIDS orphans and the surveillance of childheaded households and other pressing concerns need to be addressed urgently. Conclusion The active participation of the Sakhasonke community in the planning and implementation of the project by means of skills training programmes and institutional capacity development of the residents committee and other working groups created a bigger sense of ownership of the project. An enormous amount of social capital was built in Sakhasonke Village trough the involvement of the USG. This was an essential contributor to the Sustainable Human Settlement’s social and physical sustainability in terms of the maintenance and repairs of the individual housing units and shared spaces as well as insuring the projects continuing day-to-day institutional management. This project demonstrates that housing is not about the provision of a turn-key house alone. It is about creating quality higher-density housing with shared spaces, landscaping, cost-effective services and the social transformation of a community through public participation, skills development, institutional capacity development, human and social capital formation, livelihood strategies and HIV/AIDS prevention and AIDS orphans considerations that go beyond the provision of just a house. Sakhasonke Village clearly demonstrates that it is possible to create a high-quality and dignified built environment for poorer communities in the city as opposed to the sterile environments in conventional RDP township developments with the same government housing subsidy. It is an exemplary housing project integrating most of the fundamentals processes and elements of urban development and social sustainability that it could be used as model for creating Sustainable Human Settlements elsewhere in South African cities.
Section 2 Social housing as an instrument for re-structuring SA cities
Case study 2 – SOHOC Amalinda Social Housing, East London
SOHOC Amalinda Housing is an accredited social housing institution established in the 1990’s in East London. Currently SOHOC is based in Durban. In 2007 and 2008 SOHOC received the DoH Govan Mbeki Award for the best social housing institution in the country. Amalinda Village was constructed in 2001.
Amalinda Village is a social housing complex comprising 44 apartment blocks and some 600 units in the Amalinda suburb of East London, centrally located near Frere hospital. It’s provides medium-density rental accommodation at affordable monthly rentals (ranging between R1,170R2,260 fixed below 30% of a tenants income) for working-class people near the inner-city in the lower-income group earning between R3,500 –R8,000 a month. Play parks for children and green open spaces with entertainment areas also help to create a quality environment for residents. This best practice social housing model accommodates a mix of households in the ‘gap market’ enhancing the mobility of working class people to access economic opportunities and contributing to spatial restructuring of the city of East London.
Rental apartments Each of the tree-storey walk-up apartment blocks contains 14 social housing units. The majority of the units are 40 m2 two bedroom flats. There are also loft apartments, one-bedroom and three bedroom flats in the complex.
The apartments provide quality private living spaces.
The unusual designs and colour combinations make these buildings architecturally attractive. The complex has been neatly maintained and regularly painted over the last 8 years. The townhouse design and a circular road add to the aesthetics of the complex. The lay-out of the flats together with the large surrounding trees and spacious lawns, contribute towards a soul inspiring ambience.
Amalinda Village is enormously popular in East London. SOHCO has a long waiting-list in respect of would-be tenants. It has a small but efficient team in an office on the premises. The team screen applicants more thoroughly than most estate agents, collect rental, insure that the units, gardens and common areas are well-maintained and the complex is kept clean. SOHCO maintain excellent tenant relationships and run a successful property management system. Occupancy figures and rental collections for Amalinda are very impressive: Occupancy rates is nearly 100%; The Annual tenant turnover is less than 12%; On average 98% of total rentals are collected each month; Bad debts are below 1% Tenant evictions and absconders are minimal
Amalinda has adopted a full cost recovery model and its rental income covers costs of maintenance and administration without structured soft loans or hidden subsidies. This is a fairly unique achievement.
In contrast most other social housing and public rental schemes in South Africa and around the world go through financial crisis after crisis in attempting to manage rental accommodation, collecting rent and maintaining their housing stock in a good condition.
The key principles that informed the design of this social housing development is that there must be a clear relationship between the social housing product on offer and the capital cost of the product and the amount of rent that tenants can be expected to pay. The project was developed along very tight budget lines to ensure that rentals are as affordable as possible. It took many conceptual designs, financial modeling exercises and costing reviews to achieve the target, says Heather Maxwell SOHCO’s CEO. For example, initially the scheme was conceptualized as more of a mixture of one and two bedroom units, but demand was overwhelmingly for two bedroom units, which are more efficient to build, so the scheme was redesigned after construction already commenced. New developments In Durban, SOCHO developed three social housing projects; Valley View 157 units, River View (in Cato Manor 330 units) and Port View a 146 apartment high rise CBD office block residential conversion. Amalinda has built another 480 unit project, in East London.
River view social housing in Cato Manor
Emerald Sky social housing in East London. Steenberg social housing project. In Cape Town, SOHCO constructed 450 units in several two and three-storey walk-up apartment buildings opposite Steenberg station in the Southern Peninsula. It is a medium-density social housing scheme for the working class in the ‘gap market’ consisting of two storey duplexes and one bedroom studio flats. The tenants were selected from the City of Cape Town’s housing demand data base, and
criteria included household income of between R2,500 and R7,500 per month, creditworthiness and the lack of a criminal record. The rentals are very affordable varying from R 625 to R2, 100 per month.
The Steenberg social housing project is an energy efficiency development and each of the rental units has a solar water heater on the roof. This is the first social housing rental project in the Western Cape partnered by the provincial government and the City of Cape Town together with a civil society in the form of an accredited social housing institution. Steenberg Social Housing is funded partly through the new Reconstructing Capital Grant’, together with a Western Cape government institutional subsidy and top-up loan raised from the National Housing Finance Corporation. The projects next phase will cater for an additional 210 social housing rental units. Amalinda social housing is strong on governance and financial sustainability and is a prominent project in the context of policy evolution and the operationalizing of the BNG policy.
Section 3 Energy efficiency in low-cost housing
Case study 3- Kuyasa low-cost housing energy upgrade, Cape Town.
“The rationale behind focusing on energy efficiency in low-income housing is that it provides a way of using international concerns on climate change to address poverty alleviation. While reducing the energy use in low-income households will not significantly reduce overall energy use in the short term, it does free up a significant portion of the household income to be spent on other things such as improved diet and education, which in turn improves the household’s earning ability. Improve indoor air quality and, better health which further reduces the burden on low-income households and improve quality of life for residents in low-income housing” (Du Plessis, Irurah, D. and Scholes, “The built environment and climate change in South Africa” Building Research &
Information (2003) 31(3-4) pp. 240-256).
The planning for the Kuyasa project, located in the south-eastern part of Khayelisha outside Cape Town, started in 2002. Kuyasa is a ‘section’ within Khayelisha , which was developed around 1999. It is a typical South African post-apartheid township, made-up of 6,000 or more standard 36 m2 RDP houses, which were poorly constructed with the minimum subsidy, commonly un-plastered concrete block structures without interior walled rooms or insulated ceilings but just covered with asbestos roofs.
Kuyasa township in Khayelisha A pilot project, commenced in 2003 involved retrofitting eight RDP homes and two crèches with insulated ceilings, replacing conventional lighting with low watt compact florescent bulbs, and installing solar water heaters on the roofs. Because these pilot participant households would have used electricity for the purposes of heating water in the absence of solar heaters theproject reduced demand for coalfired electricity. In this regard the claim is that in theory a total of 2.85 tonnes less CO2 are generated per household per year as a result of the project. Certified by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Board in 2005, Kuyasa was the first registered CDM project in Africa under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change mitigation to earn certified emissions reduction or carbon credits. It is also the first Gold Standard project in the world with a high rating in terms of ‘social sustainability and local development and has a minimal impact apart from the reduction of greenhouse gasses on the natural environment. The project has been widely applauded both nationally and internationally. Notably, Kuyasa was the first CDM project that introduced the concept of ‘suppressed demand’ allowing carbon credits to be earned for the ‘energy poor’ on the basis or future demand. This innovation in the Kyoto Protocol means that carbon credits may be claimed by a CDM project for introducing energy efficiency in low-cost housing as a poverty alleviation strategy. Interestingly, the first 10,000 Certified Emission Credits (CER’s) from the project was sold to the UK government to offset the carbon footprint of the G8 summit held at Gleneagles in July, 2005. The project was founded on a strong partnership between the community of Kuyasa, the City of Cape Town, Department Environmental Affairs and Tourism, South-South North (SSN) an international NGO
specializing in climate change issues and the development of Clean Development Mechanism projects , and the South African Export Development Fund (SAEDF), a venture capital fund, which promotes startup businesses in the renewable energy sector. Community participation Although the Kuyasa community did not know much about climate change, the beneficiaries took great pride in the project and supported it for many reasons, namely the savings they make on electricity bills and having warmer houses. The eight pilot households saved on the average R600 per year on electricity bills, which they were able to spend on food and for the education of their children. The scheme’s pilot phase was actively supported by local residents, who have been consulted from the beginning. The City of Cape Town and SSN worked closely with the ward development forum in Kuyasa, which put together a broad-based steering committee who were able to take ownership of the project through key decisions. The steering committee assisted in the design of the project, decided which households would participate in it, and mapped out how the project would move forward into the next phase. The steering committee also played an active facilitation role between the project developers and the Kuyasa community and consequently there was a flow of ideas between stakeholders and an on-going opportunity for public input from the community over the project (Eiron, G, Lohmann, L and Reddy, T, The South African Projects in Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society, Bond, P. Dada, R. and Eiron G. University of KwaZulu-Natal Press 2008).
Upgrade of 2300 homes In the next phase, 2,300 RDP houses throughout Kuyasa were retrofitted with insulated ceilings (e.g. Isoboard) , safe electric wiring (additional light fittings, switches and plug points), energy efficient compact florescent lighting (CFL) and plugs as well as solar water heaters on the roofs. The average household size in Kuyasa is estimated to be between 4-5 adults and children. Accordingly, approximately 10,000 people are benefiting directly from this energy efficiency housing intervention.
The beauty of the project is that climate change money is being used to alleviate ‘energy poverty’ in a marginalized South African township; RDP homes in the area are warmer, residents enjoy hot water, make crucial savings on electricity while paraffin and coal consumption decreased, which in turn reduced the fire risk in homes and also improves the indoor air quality of Kuyasa homes. A technical monitoring of the project thus confirm that temperatures in these homes are up to 5%C warmer in winter and 5% cooler in summer than RDP houses without roof insulation in the same area. Antidotal evidence also suggests that the number of TB patients receiving treatment and mothers with sick children having flu and pneumonia visiting the local clinic are declining. In this regard, a household survey undertaken in July 2009 on the impact of the retrofitted Kuyasa homes found that 76% of households experienced a decline in pulmonary pneumonia, carbon monoxide poisoning and respiratory illnesses. This considerably lessened the health burden of households and potentially saves the South African taxpayers millions of rand in externalities through the provision of health services in Khayelitsha. A major public investment in low-income housing stock in Kuyasa running into many millions which were shoddily constructed and barely finished off with a small subsidy in 2000 have now been rehabilitated as a sequel of this home upgrade project and as result the urban poor’s most tangible asset namely their RDP home improved in market value through the plastering effort, installation of a ceiling, safe wiring and a solar water heater on the roof.
Local economic development The Kuyasa CDM project also created job opportunities in installing and maintaining the solar heaters. During the implementation phase 86 local residents were employed on a full-time basis for the duration of the project in the following categories: plumbers, electricians, carpenters, solar heater installers, a maintenance crew, quantity surveyors, quality controllers and gardeners. Four disabled persons
assembled the roof stands for the solar water heaters. The artisans received 30 days of training at North Link College in Parow, were they received SETA accredited courses. The Kuyasa employees were engaged in terms of the governments’ Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), but their conditions of employment differed significantly from EPWP part-time employment conditions. The contractors were permanent staff for the full duration of the project of more than a year earning a monthly salary of between R3500-4000, which is much higher than EPWP remuneration. SAEDT supplemented their basic EPWP government monies with carbon finance and through other project donor funds.
Conclusion One of the great aspects of the project is that it stimulated the development of a locally manufactured solar water heater product called Extreme Geyser produced in Paarl which is competitively priced and much better suited than Chinese imports for installation in low-cost housing throughout South Africa. As Carl Wesselink, the project coordinator explains: “the strategic thinking was that the success of the Kuyasa project would create a massive demand giving local manufactures the incentive to bring costs down. The South African manufacturers of solar devices are targeting Mrs. Jones in Constantia” but we (SAEDF) want to “promote social service delivery where there is potentially a much greater demand in the future”. Locally produced solar heaters systems are now widely-installed on the roofs of low-income housing and social housing developments in the Western Cape (such as the Steenberg social housing project discussed above). As a pioneering project in this field it provides a financial and technical sustainability model at the neighbourhood level for the roll-out of energy upgrades and the installation of solar water heaters on low-income housing. According to Steve Thorne of South-South-North “ Kuyasa has taken a while to get to where it is, but now provides an affirming demonstration of what can be done for ‘energy poor’ communities on a larger scale not only in existing township environments but also in green field housing in the future”. The vision of SSN was to use the Kuyasa project to develop a national strategy for energy-efficient lowcost housing in South Africa and register a country-wide carbon emissions reduction certification method with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Board under the UN Climate Change regime. “Carbon credits could then be generated for all subsidized low-cost housing and could later be extended to gap housing”, says Thorne.
Section 4 Building homes through a participatory planning process
Case study 4: Freedom Park informal settlement upgrade, Mitchell’s Plain.
On Freedom Day 1998 a group of households mostly women-headed occupied a vacant school site in Tafelsig, Mitchell’s Plain. The households came from backyard shacks and overcrowded homes in the surrounding areas. Some 300 families had lived in the Freedom Park informal settlement. The Development Action Group (DAG) and Legal Resources Centre (LRC) assisted the community in a struggle against eviction by the City of Cape Town. The City eventually agreed to a housing development on the land and the Freedom Park housing project commenced in 2006. It is a phased in situ upgrade which involved an innovative participatory lay-out planning process that gave rise to a medium density housing development. The process allowed the beneficiaries the option to design the area lay-out plan and to indicate their preferences with regard to housing topologies , neighbours and plot locations. Strong emphasis was placed on the participation process and community programmes were implemented to promote social cohesion and sustainable livelihoods.
Freedom Park was a phased in situ upgrade which was done by way of a roll-over development. The shacks were moved around by the residents themselves when the roads and services (sewerage and bulk water supply) were under construction in 2007. This approach prevented the removal of the community to some transit camp and displacement of vulnerable livelihoods.
In situ upgrade of services in Freedom Park, 2007
This housing project demonstrates the merits of in situ settlement upgrading through community-based methodologies such as participatory poverty assessments, social mapping and community layout planning to achieve integrated development. Community processes in the upgrading of Freedom Park. Urban poverty is complex. Informal settlements are complex and diverse in their physical form, the level of poverty, vulnerability of households and social problems within settlements. The spatial arrangements in informal settlements are often closely aligned to social networks and livelihood activities. A one-size-fits-all approach to informal settlement upgrading , which ignores the differences within them is not going to be successful – it is crucial that the complexities of informality settlements, the poverty dynamics and vulnerable livelihood strategies need to be understood before designing lowcost housing and urban development projects. Understanding household’s livelihood strategies, using the participatory assessment, can be an important methodology towards achieving a more integrated housing development. In Freedom Park, DAG carried out a participatory livelihood assessment together with the community, which was then used as the basis for planning a range of development initiatives in partnership with other NGO’s for example a savings club, a recycling project, a home-based crèche, a food garden and multi-purpose community centre. A participatory social mapping exercise of Freedom Park (reproduced below) illustrates the diversity of social problems in the settlement community. Gang turf and where they meet to fight are illustrated. Shebeens are also shown and one of them is considered as being a ‘place of danger’. Freedom Park is spatially divided into “well off” and “vulnerable/poor” sections. Rastafarians and ‘alcoholics’ are seen as being part of the “vulnerable/poor” section. The prominence of a soup kitchen and places where food are donated highlights the complexity of poverty and vulnerability within the community.
Hand-drawn social map of Freedom Park: Source DAG, 2004 The project run by DAG resonates with the Breaking New Ground housing policy calls for “communities and community-based organizations to engage more effectively with the housing programme”. BNG encourages community involvement in informal settlement upgrading by way of participatory layout planning. In Freedom Park DAG assisted in building the capacity of the community through training courses and workshops. It engaged with the City housing officials through a 13 member Housing Committee, mostly women and elected on a yearly basis. DAG and the Freedom Park Development Association also conducted workshops where the beneficiaries had the opportunity learn and then
design the proposed layout as well as select house typologies. Aside from infrastructure and services, which was seen as ‘technical issues’ by the City of Cape Town, the community was involved in the planning process. The level of participation in the layout planning proved to be a real achievement, as evidenced by the seven different drafts before a layout plan was finalized that satisfied the needs of the residents.
A vulnerable/poor section of Freedom Park, 2008 A multi-stakeholder partnership was formed with the Naill Mellon Township Trust (NMTT) who agreed to construct the houses. During October 2008, some 1,350 Irish volunteers in the Trust’s annual housing blitz constructed 439 homes (single story freestanding and semi-detached units and double story row houses and semi-detached units) which are larger (42m2) with improved finishes as well as a community centre.
Freedom Park, 2010
In Hangberg informal settlement on Sentinel Hill above Hout Bay harbour, DAG is involved in an innovative socio-economic participatory survey and mapping exercise that is spatially referenced to a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) community register and digital data base. It contains not only narrow household income figures but also poverty data on issues such as HIV/Aids, child care, security and perceived safe spaces etc. Since the spatial form and inhabitants of settlement communities continuously changes over time this household data base is consequently updated by community-based field workers trained up by DAG. Data on public open spaces, footpaths, trees, no-go areas, shebeens and drug dens as well as all informal businesses are incorporated into the Arc-GIS database known as the Hangberg Land and Services Management Tool. The purpose is to use this tool to underpin a tenure arrangement and incremental site and service upgrade. The engineering works will have to accommodate the squatters’ home-made infrastructure into the formal plan.
Rural housing and local economic development
Case Study 5 – Limpopo ‘bushveldt’ housing
Over the last 15 years the South African government neglected the housing needs of people living in rural areas. RDP developments are seldom undertaken in these areas and public spending on housing in rural regions has been minimal. Accordingly, the government’s new housing policy, Breaking New Ground (BNG) acknowledges that “the existing supply-side and commoditized housing programme reflects a significant and inherent urban bias” (Department of Housing, 2004). BNG therefore promoted a comprehensive rural housing programme. In 2005 a special ‘Rural subsidy’ was introduced ‘to address the backlog of formal housing in the communal areas’ of the former homeland areas. The rural subsidy is available to persons who do not own the land on which they want to build a house but, have rights to land what is termed ‘functional security of tenure’. Examples of functional tenure include state land occupied for more than five years and tenure granted in terms of traditional laws and custom. The rural subsidy may be used for building houses, for services, or a combination of both (DoH, 2005). Mawa People’s Housing Process (PHP) is an example of a innovative rural housing initiative which combines the delivery of formal housing with local economic development (LED) in a rural district about 90 km northeast of Tzaneen in Limpopo province. Unemployment in the area is high and the majority of people stay on as migrants on the Phalaborwa mines and the surrounding citrus estates. The rural homes During 2005/6 the project finished 115 homes 50m2 (2/3 larger than standard RDP houses), located on freehold agricultural plots. In 2007 another 200 units were completed in a neighbouring village. The houses have three rooms and a kitchen equipped with piped water and a washbasin. Mawa is supplied with electricity.
The spacious Mawa houses, 2007
Financially, Mawa was a success too. 115 homes were constructed at a total project expenditure of R2,9 million or R25,000 per unit, which is well below the level of the current housing subsidy. Local economic development (LED) The Mawa project created employment for 34 bricklayers and 87 labourers of which 53 were women (since many households in the community are female-headed) and provided jobs for 30 more people at a local brickyard. It was a labour-intensive construction project for low-income workers in the same category as Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) work. Apart from employment, the project provided training to 119 community members in basic building skills such as bricklaying and construction. Another 50 people were indirectly employed to make bricks, window frames, and transport materials. Residents who owned tractors as well as donkey carts were paid for transporting materials to and from the site. The innovation of this housing project lies in its
methodology. Local Economic Development (LED) was taken full advantage of. It seeks to use, as well as create, resources within the community, thereby cutting costs on unnecessary external entities such as contractors that built for profit. Hence, the Mawa community was involved at all levels of the process and were paid for services rendered, with 57% of project funds spent in the local economy ( 45% on building materials i.e. bricks, sand and stone and, window frames assembled by local artisans with 12 % allocated to wages for community builders).
A local brick-manufacturing facility.
Another spinoff was the Merekome Brickyard that was set up for the project is the only semi-industrial business in the vicinity and employ 30 people, five of them permanently employed by the brickyard.
Community Participation The elders in the community were lobbied. The ward councilor first of all met with the local chief. Four show houses were constructed in the village of Mawa. Mass meetings like the one pictured above initiated the project. The Tzaneen Municipality dedicated a facilitator to the project and placed two fulltime community workers in the village. A series of PHP workshops took place. A Steering Committee represented the community at municipal level and site meetings. Regular open air meetings were held where the project management, the local ward councilor, politicians and the tribal leadership reported back to the community on problems and delays with the project, progress and new developments. The community was mobilized through a participation process involving politicians and tribal authorities and community members empowered in building construction, paying them from project funds and providing opportunities for further employment. The Mawa project is an example of how low-cost housing initiatives in conjunction with community involvement and LED can work well in rural areas in order to create sustainable livelihoods
Section 6 The People’s Housing Process
Case Study 6 – The Ocean View People’s Housing Process, Cape Town.
The People’s Housing Process (PHP) can be defined in this way: “While many people need houses, official housing programmes have not been able to meet the diverse needs of our various communities and the necessary resources are not always readily available. People have consequently, over the years, been building houses themselves. This is what is referred to as the ‘People’s Housing Process’. Typically it is where individuals , families or groups take the initiative to organise the planning, design and the building of, or actually build, their own houses”( People’ Housing Partnership, 1998). Breaking New Ground (BNG, 2004), on the other hand, views the PHP in the following ways: “Housing authorities at all levels are moving in the direction of increased use of the People’s Housing Process. The thinking behind this expansion is however contradictory. On the one hand, PHP is promoted as it provides residents a greater choice over the use of their subsidy. This generates positive housing outcomes, increased beneficiary input, and greatly enhances beneficiary commitment to those outcomes. Thus, the PHP achieves its two main goals of ‘more for less’ and an improved beneficiary commitment to housing outcomes by increased productivity through ‘intellectual equity’ (not primarily cost reduction through ‘sweat equity’ ), and by increasing beneficiary ‘ownership’ through the exercise of considered choice (not by forcing beneficiaries to provide free labour). Other participants view PHP as primarily a vehicle for mobilization of sweat equity as an alternative to existing beneficiary contributions. The ‘sweat equity’ approach to the PHP tends to undermine the key benefits of the approach. The current approach towards PHP is thus inherently contradictory”. The Ocean View PHP project is an example of a People’s Housing Process as a vehicle for bottom-up self mobilization and through community action building quality subsidized homes for themselves. Ocean View is on the mountain behind Kommetjie in the South Peninsula of Cape Town. When Simon’s Town was designated as a white area in the 1960’s a forced removal relocated the port’s coloured community in flats and small council houses at Ocean View. No formal housing had been erected since the 1970’s, despite the growing population. By the 1990’s some 30,000 inhabitants were living in extremely overcrowded conditions in 600 flats and some 1800 township houses and in backyard shacks. An informal settlement was also formed on the outskirts built by families in an area known as Atlantic Heights. The project illustrates how the housing crisis prompted self-mobilisation of the community from the bottom up and through collective action they took control over this resource. In response to these conditions, a number of community-based organisations (CBOs) banded together and founded the Ocean View Development Trust (OVDT) in 1992. OVDT represents 30 CBOs with trustees drawn from community leaders. Its aim was to seek ways of alleviating the accommodation crisis through community action. Since 2000, the OVDT facilitated the construction of about 700 homes in Ocean View through a self-help scheme for beneficiaries drawn from overcrowded township homes and from the informal settlement. This project was initiated in 1994 financed by way of the original ‘Consolidation Subsidy’ for site-andservice developments. It was a National Housing Board pilot project on the development of a self-help People’s Housing Process programme. To ensure that residents could make the best use of the small consolidation subsidy (around R7,500.00 in 1994) OVDT implemented a number of support initiatives. A Housing Support Centre where would be
owner-builders obtained a range of advice on technical and building trade matters. The concept of a housing support centre was subsequently adopted as formal policy in the government’s PHP housing delivery mechanism. A community block making facility had by 2002 produced over a million blocks for Ocean View residents at affordable prices. OVDT projects a vision that housing and construction should provide an impetus for community development and local economic development through job creation and capital recirculation. Aside from the building contractors and artisans employment it created various micro enterprises such as plumbers, glazing operations, carpentry shops, backyard welders and so on.
Many builders site their ‘Wendyhouse’ (temporary wooden lodging – a house within a home) on the foundations and over time as savings are made build a house around it. A key feature of the Ocean View initiative was to encourage homeowners to engage in incremental building which allowed them to consolidate and extend their dwellings over time. In 2000, the OVDT, introduced a’ Roll Over Fund’ that lends money to households that wish to extend or improve their dwellings. Repaying has proved satisfactory. A decade later, and housing projects should only be audited after a long period, the result is a suburban milieu with its own character of diverse structures (depicted below). The nature of upgrading and extensions, which is an ongoing organic process, suggests that given enough time, households prove resourceful in obtaining the money to invest in their dwelling. The Ocean View community certainly view their homes as a valuable asset. Ocean View’s success has provided a model project for the government’s PHP programme. In 2005 it received recognition as an UN-HABITAT World Award finalist.
Case Study 7 – The Slang Park PHP from Grabouw in the Western Cape
The government housing subsidy was never linked to inflation and in monetary terms its value decreased almost by 50% between 1994 and 1999. Thus in the early 2000’s private sector developers and the construction consortia withdraw from the low-cost housing sector due to dwindling profit margins. As a result, the central role of developer shifted to under-resourced local authorities, whom were expected to carry out supply-driven delivery, and slowed down housing delivery enormously (BNG, 2004). Under-resourced local municipalities were expected to plan where RDP houses should be built, what construction standards should apply, and hire, manage and supervise the building companies that will establish townships, install bulk infrastructure, services the stands and build the houses. The Slang park PHP is an example of such a ‘managed PHP’ in which the Theewaterskloof Municipality acted as overall manager and ‘developer of last resort. Grabouw is a booming agricultural town on the N2 motorway about 80 km east of Cape Town. The majority of farm workers in the area are employed as casual and seasonal workers. Most live in informal settlements or backyard shack in the local township. Pressure from farm workers and due to in-ward migration from the Eastern Cape, has seen the town expanding faster than its infrastructure can absorb. In 1994 a devastating shack fire destroyed an informal settlement next to the N2 motorway and left hundreds of families homeless. The Slang park housing The Slang Park project constructed 850 self-built homes in 2004.The top structures are bigger, 36m2, and of a better quality than standard RDP houses of the time. Three room houses were built plastered and are equipped with insulated ceilings. “The size and quality of the houses were very reasonable within the constraints of the subsidy and the utilization of labour with only limited experience,” explained the project manager, Johan Meyer, a civil engineer. Theewaterskloof Municipality was the developer and their project manager coordinated the project. The municipality bought materials, hired subcontractors for the various phases (e.g foundations, walls, roofing etc) and managed and monitored the quality control. The crux of the project was the involvement of the community in training to build their own houses. 80 members of the settlement that was razed by the fire were trained in the skills of building, plumbing and carpentry. The trainees would then with the help of a professional builder start building. Teams specialised in the foundations, bricklaying, plastering the walls, roof cladding and so on. A women’s group painted the houses. Skilled artisans assisted with some tasks, roofs, doors and windows, in particular. The project provided adequate housing to homeless people and shack dwellers in a socially integrated settlement – some 70% of the residents of Slang park are African and 30% Coloured people. Five years later these residents are generally satisfied with their homes and neigbourhood. Incremental extensions to the core structures and home improvements had been undertaken. The homes have been well-maintained and painted in colorful codes. Some home-owners established gardens, which gave them a sense of status. Few backyard shacks are visible, which is often sign that a social process of reinformality is occurring. The downside is that, all the municipal workers who inspired and co-ordinated the project had been made redundant under political restructuring.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.