NUSP has been designed to address two key challenges in informal settlement upgrading; first, the need to There are now over 2 600 informal settlements in South Africa, compared to around 300 in 1994. These settlements are home to between 1.1 million and 1.4 million households (according to Stats SA Community Survey 2007 and subsequent estimates - see Table 1).

While NDHS statistics show that over 2 million houses have been provided under government subsidised programmes over the same period, the pace of delivery has not matched the rate of informal settlement growth.

Table 1: Informally Settled Households by Province, 2007


Eastern Cape

Free State


KwaZulu Natal



Northern Cape

North West

Western Cape

Total Households

1 586 739

802 872

3 175 579

2  234 129

1 215 935

940 403

264 653

911 120

1 360 180

% Households in informal settlements










Number Households in informal settlements

101 551

109 191

454 108

140 750

43 774

86 517

23 554

145 779

108 814


1 214 038

Eastern Cape

12 500 610


1 212 559

Source: Statistics South Africa, Community Survey Key Municipal Data 2007

National and provincial calculations of number of households in informal settlements based on data from Community Survey Key Municipal Data 2007. Variation of 1 479 between provincial and national totals is due to rounding of figures in the provincial calculation, as well as the overall Community Survey methodology.

To provide 1.2m households with the standard RDP package (40m2 unit, 250m2 serviced freehold stand plus 30% land for roads and amenities) would require:

  • 40 000 ha, plus bulk and connector infrastructure
  • Around R92.4bn, equivalent to over 70% of the projected national housing budget 2009-2015

The target refers only to 1.2m households as the current backlog, and ignores current rates of growth in informal settlements (between 2% to 6% per annum across municipalities), demographic increase and household formation (around 3% per annum).

The NDHS established a partnership with Cities Alliance and commissioned an appraisal of 16 pilot and priority projects in 2008 to assess progress in informal settlement upgrading. This assessment plus an analysis of the overall progress in informal settlement upgrading concluded that the orthodox approach was unlikely to meet the government’s stated ambition to ‘eradicate’ all informal settlements by 2014, and that a radical shift in approach was required to an increased emphasis on incremental upgrading as provided for in Part 3 of the National Housing Code (National Upgrading Support Programme Assessment Report February 2009).

The report formulated the establishment of the NUSP and a proposed a refinement of the targets and approach of the UISP.

The NUSP has been approved by the NDHS and is included in the department’s medium-term strategic plan, and was included as a particular item in the Performance Agreement between the President and Minister for Human Settlements signed in April 2010, and as a specific output in the Delivery Agreement between the Presidency and the NDHS which will be finalised by the end of August 2010 (see Section 5 below for more details on the Delivery Agreement).

Technical assistance for the design and establishment of the NUSP is being provided by the Cities Alliance and World Bank Institute. The end date for this technical assistance is March 2011.

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