By Stefanie Holzwarth and Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)
Over the past years, the communities of Midrand in Port Elizabeth and Havelock in Durban have been upgrading their settlements, step by step. Last week’s exchange (8-11 July 2014) – in which community leaders visited Cape Town settlements – formed the next step in activating solutions to their specific needs for water and sanitation upgrading.
Midrand and Havelock
Midrand is located on municipal land but is not yet listed on the municipality’s database and therefore experiences great difficulty in accessing services. The community consistently experiences severe flooding. Havelock, on the other hand, is built on privately owned land and has been earmarked for “interim services” by eThekwini Municipality, indicating a willingness to deliver basic services in the short term and habitation in the long term. It is built against a hill with high shack densities that have led to shack fires, flooding and torrents of water flushes in the rainy seasons. Read more background on Havelock and Midrand.
During the four-day exchange about ten community leaders visited five settlements in and around Cape Town. The exchange was linked to the SHARE Program (Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity) linked to Shack Dwellers International (SDI). Read more about SHARE here. It was facilitated by the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) and iKhayalami. It centrally focussed on how communities can use sanitation as a tool for upgrading and mobilisation, particularly in response to ever present and severe flooding.
Midrand community leaders, for example, spent time investigating the most suitable and relevant options for sanitation upgrading in their settlement:
- Communal toilets and wash facility at the edge of the settlement (ablution blocks) without re-blocking
- Sanitation and wash facility in the centre of the settlement with partial re-blocking
- Individual sanitation facilities in courtyard (one-on-one sanitation) with settlement wide re-blocking
These would all require engagement with local government institutions.
Havelock’s central challenge is drainage. The settlement has already engaged with local government about constructing a sanitation unit as well as providing more sanitation units in the centre of the settlement. This would coincide with the communities’ already existing plans to re-block its settlement. Midrand and Havelock’s leaders therefore visited upgrading sites that provided an example of different options available to them.
One-on-One Sanitation in Kuku Town
The visitors spent the first day in Kuku Town where the community recently completed re-blocking with individual sanitation per upgraded structure. They were particularly interested in how Kuku Town managed to re-block without having to relocate people to other areas. Other questions focused on why the community chose individual toilets. Kuku Town’s leaders explained that
“single toilets are manageable because the owner is responsible for their own toilet and because there are no conflicts within the community with regards to hygiene.”
The leaders also reflected on Kuku Town’s successes and challenges throughout planning and implementation. The visitors learned how Kuku Town approached the municipality for support in terms of infrastructure services. Both Midrand and Havelock were impressed by the Council´s successful involvement in providing water and sanitation.
Sanitation facility in Langrug, Stellenbosch & BM Section, Khayelitsha
In Langrug, Franschoek. the visitors saw an example of upgrading that included relocating 16 families, the construction of a second access road and grey-water and drainage channels, and a community designed, multi-purpose Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) Facility. The visit offered insight into the WaSH facility, the drainage project and the local playground. The subsequent discussion facilitated an exciting learning environment with questions about the maintenance of the WaSH facility and funding. They also discovered the opportunity of hot water provision via solar heating systems in summer. The afternoon centred on projects in BM section, Khayelitsha. Its similarity (due to an uneven slope) to Havelock made it an ideal site for the exchange and delivered an essential input for its visitors.
Shared Sanitation in Mtshini Wam & ongoing re-blocking in Flamingo
The visit to Mshini Wam provided valuable lessons for the visitors – particularly in the field of funding and engaging the local authority. The visitors took special interest in understanding how Mtshini Wam managed to convince some residents to share toilets on a cluster basis while others had single toilets. The challenges relating to communal toilets were thoroughly discussed.
“The main idea was to have single toilets but due to the number of shacks and the limited space, the plan was diverted in order to accommodate communal toilets. The maintenance and cleaning of the toilets depends on the cluster groups.”
The visitors concluded their site visits in Flamingo Crescent, an ongoing re-blocking project. During a walkabout the visitors observed how shacks were broken down, how ground works were installed and how the new structures were erected.
Midrand community discusses the way forward
On the last day, Midrand leaders and iKhayalami discussed the sanitation options available to the community and the future steps each would imply. Community leaders agreed that re-blocking with one-on-one services would be the most realistic and feasible option.
“The ablution block won´t work for us because there is lots of friction. No one wants to wait for a long time when using the facility. Community blocks won´t work because some of the people are not responsible. They leave it without taking care.” (Community Leader, Midrand)
Midrand’s leaders agreed to start saving to upgrade their structures instead of solely blocking out. They hoped to convince the municipality to come on board. Re-blocking would be conducted in phases – identifying clusters for incremental re-blocking.
One major challenge in Midrand is the lack of space. Part of the settlement land is still in private hands – which causes major tenure insecurity. Together with iKhayalami the leaders discussed various solutions. While the community leaders resolved their questions, the next step is to share these with the rest of their communities when they return.
The exchange not only offered a learning space but also enabled leaders to grow their ability in community-driven upgrading,
“I have learned a lot by being a community leader and by being part of this exchange. It has built up my confidence and my professional experience. I was a very shy person before – now I can stand up and work for our development goals.” (Midrand community leader)