South African cities are experiencing rapid urban growth, resulting in growing 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 increase the demand for basic services, housing and infrastructure in an already highly unequal country.
To this end, the Western Cape Government Department of Human Settlements has appointed eight local NGOs, including VPUU, to the Informal Settlement Support Plan (ISSP). Our role is to work in collaboration with local government in order to gather the required information necessary to improve the living conditions faced by residents of informal settlements. Part of our ISSP mandate at VPUU is to implement and manage data collection processes, or “enumerations” across several localities in the Western Cape.
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.
Enumeration helps to create a picture of a community. Communities can be very big and complex to understand. It is easier to plan developmental interventions if you can see how different parts of a community fit together. This is essentially the purpose of an enumeration. The information gathered allows us to create an accurate, up-to-date and locally accepted representation of who lives in these areas and under what conditions. This is fed back to the Western Cape Government and goes on to inform strategic planning and urban upgrading, service delivery, disaster management and access to tenure security.
An enumeration process has several necessary steps and requires significant planning and community participation. Local community engagement is crucial to the enumeration process. Local residents are in the best position to speak about and navigate their communities.
Before enumeration begins, we hold a Tenure Protocol Workshop within the community earmarked for enumeration. In this workshop, we discuss local tenure protocol and the importance of community participation in the enumeration process.
We invite local unemployed community members to apply as enumeration fieldworkers in their communities. Selected applicants go through three days of training, which includes how to use field maps for navigation and ODK for data collection.
Siqalo ISSP enumeration training session
Before the survey fieldwork begins, all structures and infrastructure in the community are mapped and households numbered. Trained fieldworkers go through the settlement physically numbering each structure/household with stencilled numbers. This process takes about a week and precedes the household survey.
Once structures have been numbered the household survey of all structures (enumeration) can begin. Over the duration of a month, trained fieldworkers conduct interview surveys at each dwelling unit identified in the numbering process. Field coordinators/supervisors ensure that quality control standards are met on an ongoing basis during this process. The information gathered underpins and informs a profile of the community, a multifaceted depiction of the area’s socio-economic and demographic make-up, including levels of tenure (in)security, access to services and infrastructure.
Enumerators stand outside a household to be enumerated in Siqalo informal settlement
When the initial round of surveys is complete, one can then finalise the database and continue with systematic quality control.
Finalised survey data then goes through a rigorous statistical analysis. From finalised data, we develop visual interpretations of key data through maps, bar charts, pie charts and frequency tables. These visualisations inform written interpretations of findings as well as supplementing our project reports (see example of data visualisation below).
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 information 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 crucial to ensuring that the information stored on the database most accurately represents realities on the ground.