VPUU was appointed to conduct a risk assessment and community-based planning in all the Informal Settlement pockets in the Driftsands Nature Reserve.
The aim of the risk assessment is to better understand the household profiles, priorities, and human settlement needs in the Driftsands’ informal settlements. The assessment enables better planning for risk mitigation, possible upgrade developments and ultimately to provide long-term solutions for the residents in the Driftsands informal settlements.
South African cities have experienced rapid urban growth. The result is often one of insecure living conditions in informal settlements, typified by widespread levels of informality in terms of living conditions and housing typologies. In urban South Africa, this is typically coupled with a high crime rate.
As part of the Western Cape Government’s (WCG) efforts in acknowledging that informal settlements are a more enduring feature of the provincial landscape than generally appreciated, they put out call for proposals to do a risk assessment in Driftsands. Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) responded to the call for proposals to implement community-based planning and enumeration, and was appointed as a service provider for the informal settlements inside the Driftsands Nature Reserve. VPUU NPC developed a project plan to carry out Community Stakeholder engagement, a household risk assessment, GIS mapping and participatory planning of the Driftsands Nature Reserve informal settlements.
There were 5 main objectives.
Design, implement and manage a stakeholder participatory process to support the data collection process.
Conduct a household risk assessment, which includes data collection and numbering of structures in the Driftsands Nature Reserve.
Capture GPS coordinates for all structures and link them to households in the Driftsands Nature Reserve based on the information gathered; and produce GIS maps.
Analyse all the data collected from the risk assessment and produce various reports
Develop a database which links each household information to a structure.
During the project, VPUU was also appointed to do Leadership Training and hold an Anti- land Invasion Workshop. The project commenced on 08/06/2021 and ended on 25/02/2022.
On the 4th December 2021, VPUU facilitated a workshop with the community of Driftsands Covid informal settlement. The aim of this workshop was to engage community leaders from the Covid community on how to prevent land invasions around the dam wall and within the floodplain once residents are relocated to safer places.
The workshop had presentations by government officials, and a breakaway strategic session in which the leadership answered the following questions:
The engagements were extremely practical and fruitful. The leadership acknowledged their role as primary communicators to the community about the dangers of building on the dam wall or near the river. The leadership requested more visible signs about the danger of building on the wall or near the river. Pamphlets should also be made available. Even though they saw themselves as the primary communicators, the leaders were at pains to point out the responsibility was not theirs alone, and called for closer cooperation with local government and the South African Police Force (SAPS).
They were actively involved in trying to prevent people from rebuilding, often chasing people away. They felt that the area should be fenced, with a visible guard hut, and that the area needed to be patrolled regularly. Furthermore, they even called on the SAPS and Law Enforcement to forcibly remove community members who fail to comply. They suggested that as leaders, they should determine who can build, and a closer relationship between the leadership and the community needs to be developed, and sustained through recognised structures. They called on NGOs and NPOs to band together with government to facilitate the process whereby a community forum could be formed.
They also requested that the damn dam wall be activated somehow, with the floodplain used for food gardening and sports fields for children to use. Seen in conjunction with requests for more information about the change of seasons, the request to activate the flood plain suggests the leadership recognise that the river needs to turned into an asset. This needs to come with an understanding of the dangers, as well as the opportunities.
It has to be seen as a community asset integrated into the larger plan for the community, not as a danger zone or land to invade. They also requested better education about the flood line. A walkabout was suggested. Some kind of marking on the wall was also suggested.
What is clear from the leaderships requests is the desire for more communication, and practical interventions to prevent further tragedy.
Educating the community on the dangers of the floodplain should be continued on a regular basis through community engagements, notice boards, warning signs and a visible outline of floodplain areas.
Leadership of the Covid community understands the severity of the dangers posed by building on the dam wall and in the floodplain. Leadership will protect the dam wall, floodplain and relocation site through mobilizing the community to patrol the areas 24/7.
Providing a guardhouse will assist leadership in protecting the area and making sure guarding takes place at all times. Support from Law Enforcement and SAPS should be obtained in assisting leadership in protecting the dam wall. A great way of protecting the dam wall and floodplain is by utilizing these areas as recreational areas like sport fields, children play areas and for food gardening. NGOs and NPOs together with Government should start engagements to form a community forum to assist in creating activated spaces.
Collaboration between Government officials and community leaders is vital in securing the safety of the Covid community and safeguarding the dam wall and floodplain.
The Leadership team are committed to finding long-term solutions, not only to the invasion issue, but to other issues faced by their community. They showed their mettle, collectivism, and spirit from the outset. The first introductory meeting to explain the leadership training took place on the 27th October 2021.
After the introductory meeting, there was a dispute among leadership about who should attend the VPUU leadership training. This became an issue as Driftsands had a Steering Committee, an Area Committee and a Leadership Group. This caused a division among the leaders. After the first workshop facilitated by VPUU, a separate Driftsands community meeting was called, where the community agreed to dissolve the many leadership groups and formed only one. It was this newly elected leadership team that continued on with the rest of the leadership training.
The following community participation and leadership training workshops were held over a two-month period.
On Saturday the 25th February, the leadership team and VPUU gathered for one last time. It was a bitter-sweet moment. The gathering was a certificate ceremony to recognise the Leadership who had attended the necessary modules of Leadership Training to qualify for a Certificate of Attendance.
VPUU had journeyed with the leadership team since June 2021. It has been an exciting journey with many challenges. The journey came to an appropriate end with the recognition of how the leadership had come together to address critical issues within the community, and how through participation and training an effective leadership structure has emerged.