NEWS

eThekwini responds to basic needs of informal settlement dwellers

06 Jun, 2017
The Metropolitan Municipality of eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal deserves credit for its implementation of a successful and large scale mass housing development programme. However, not all settlements can be provided with full services and low income housing in the short term due to funding and other constraints.

The Metropolitan Municipality of eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal deserves credit for its implementation of a successful and large scale mass housing development programme. However, not all settlements can be provided with full services and low income housing in the short term due to funding and other constraints.

Approximately a quarter of eThekwini’s total population of 3.5 million reside in urban and periurban informal settlements, most of which are located on land which is both difficult and costly to develop due to constraints such as steep slopes, unstable soils and high land costs.

eThekwini is responding to a range of challenges faced by informal settlements by implementing a pro-active and broad based programme aimed at providing basic interim services to 166 prioritised settlements. Such needs include access to adequate sanitation, clean energy, roads and measures to reduce the risk of shack fires.

These prioritised settlements are those which are on the Municipality’s housing plan, but which cannot be provided with full services and low income housing in the short-term. Settlements destined for eventual relocation are not included. The following are the main services and responses being provided by the interim programme:

  • Communal ablution blocks: Basic sanitation is provided by means of converted containers which are plumbed into water and sewer mains. Each block consists of a separate unit for males and females which provide toilets, showers, hand-basins and wash-troughs. Lighting is by means of solar power. The norm is to provide at least one block for every 75 households.
  • A basic road network and footpath: A prioritised road infrastructure network and associated storm-water controls is being provided. This consists of main transportation routes as well as some smaller access ways and pedestrian footpaths.
  • Electricity connections: Where possible, shacks are being connected to the main electrical grid on a pre-paid basis DHS 0800 701701
  • Standpipes: Whilst standpipes have already been provided historically in most settlements, where standpipes are not available, they are being provided. The norm is to provide a standpipe within a 200m of every dwelling.
  • Key social facilities: Plans are currently being developed to inform the more effective provision of key social facilities such as fire and police stations, clinics, schools, sports-fields and community halls.
  • Sustainable livelihoods: A process of participative livelihoods engagement is being planned. The sustainable livelihoods approach strives to build stronger community responsibility and ‘self-help’ as well as to facilitate a better relationship between the urban poor and the Municipality.

Informal settlements have been grouped together into logical ‘clusters’ or precincts in order to enable more effective and sustainable urban planning. Subcontractors have been procured from within the eThekwini region via a transparent process. Local labour is being utilised as well as locally produced materials wherever possible.

Efforts are being made by eThekwini to identify opportunities for community based maintenance of interim infrastructure (e.g. clearing of stormwater culverts).

It is anticipated that, in some settlements, the construction of interim services (especially roads and footpaths) will necessitate some relocations. Households to be moved (‘relocatees’) will be provided with R2,500 worth of building materials or else a voucher which can be used for the purchase of such materials in order to assist them in rebuilding their informal house at another locality.

eThekwini’s Basic Services Programme reflects a national trend in human settlements to provide more for the many rather than more for the few.

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