South African Informal Settlement Support Program (ISSP) cities are experiencing rapid urban growth and, as a result, an increase in the number and size urban informal settlements with insecure living conditions. This trend is not going to stop any time soon. In fact, it is predicted that, by 2030, 71% of South Africans will be urbanised, rising to 80% by 2050. This will thus increase the demand for basic services, housing and infrastructure in an already highly unequal country. In order to prepare for this, the Western Cape Government is developing various frameworks and interventions to prepare the Western Cape.
The Western Cape Government’s Department of Human Settlements developed the Informal Settlement Strategic Framework (ISSF). Embracing the Western Cape’s Provincial Strategic Plan‘s Goal 4, the ISSF seeks to transform vulnerable settlements into safe and sustainable neighbourhoods, by enabling access to public infrastructure, finance, land tenure, economic opportunities, and incremental housing opportunities.
In order to implement this strategy and gain a deeper understanding of the socio-economic profile of each informal community in the province, the WCG Department of Human Settlements set-up the Informal Settlement Support Programme (ISSP). They appointed eight NGOs across the Western Cape, including VPUU NPC, to involve communities by collecting information for future planning, prioritisation and implementation of key interventions.
Our mandate at VPUU NPC includes Community Stakeholder engagement, such as leadership training and participatory planning. We are furthermore appointed to implement and manage data collection processes, or “enumerations” across several localities in the Western Cape.
The community participation process is a crucial first step, because it gives voice to the community. Through a series of engagements, we identify stakeholder groups to become part of a core leadership group. This gives the community the opportunity to stay informed and to voice their needs and wishes, which informs future planning.
Through a series of leadership sessions, a core leadership group receives training in community development and leadership skills. These include leadership training, communication skills, conflict resolution and financial management.
Enumerations are a community-led process of conducting a census of households in informal areas. An enumeration survey consists of interviewing 100% of the households living in an area. It collects socio-economic and demographic information relating to head of households, as well as number and age of dependents, access to infrastructure and basic services, disaster history, and tenure security levels. The enumeration is paired with a socio-economic household survey, taken by 10% of the households in the area.
In order to accurately represent community needs, we facilitate walkabouts and participatory mapping exercises with core leadership groups. Through a series of co-design workshops, the leadership group then gives input on spatial plans for the neighbourhood.
It is important to verify the accuracy of the information collected during enumeration. For this purpose, we set up a Community Register for the duration of the enumeration process. When all the data has been collected, we invite local community members to come and verify their information. This also helps us capture missing data and update the enumeration database. This verification process is crucial to ensuring that the information stored on the database most accurately represents realities on the ground.
Participatory mapping in Riemvasmaak, Caledon