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Analysis of 2016/17 municipal documentation – Our findings

Isandla Institute | 2018-02-14 | 920 views

Analysis of the policies, programmes and projects presented in core municipal documentation was the starting point for developing the Data Index. Researchers in Isandla Institute’s Urban Land programme trawled through more than 50 pdf documents ranging from 50 – 300 pages to extract data. Read more about the research methodology and data sources.

In the assessment of 2016/17 municipal data of the eight cities, we found that increasingly cities are adopting strategies for the improvement of informal settlements in line with national government
targets, but there is a general lack of alignment. Below we present the top five issues that national policymakers and regulators need to resolve. This will help ensure cities are held accountable for
implementing plans aimed at reaching the 2019 MSTF targets (see Key Terms if you are unsure what these terms mean).

  1. Clarify the reporting details for informal settlement and backyard upgrading strategies: Cities interpret informal settlements and develop responses
    in very diverse and different ways. This should be encouraged and strengthened because special support programmes and policies attuned to local conditions
    (e.g. land rehabilitation, new tenure forms, revised land use management schemes, planning by-laws etc.) are needed. However, there should be some overall
    consensus on what these strategies should address. Specificities of these strategies, such as definition of informal settlements, housing backlogs, population
    growth projections, budget allocation, and progress on annual targets, should be guided by national government.
  2. Rapid assessment and categorisation (RAC) of informal settlements is listed in 5/8 cities. Guidelines for RAC is actively promoted by government
    agencies. However, every city appears to have their own interpretation of the RAC categories. For this reason it is difficult to compare due to: 1) unit
    of measures differ (e.g. households vs. settlements), 2) status is unclear (e.g. upgraded, planned, or in progress), and 3) assessment criteria differs (e.g. various interpretations of the
    NUSP/HDA categories of A, B1, B2 and C – see Key Terms).
  3. Proactive strategies for forward planning of land assembly, servicing and release is mentioned by 5/8 cities. It is concerning that cities deem regulatory enforcement of the anti-land
    invasion policies and the appointment of dedicated (private) security staff to monitor land invasions as the primary land policy in relation to informal settlements. Rather, cities should focus
    on identifying publically-owned land in well located areas and plan for incremental servicing and planned occupation of land.
  4. Since 2010 the National Upgrading Support Programme and Housing Development Agency have been providing technical assistance to 54 municipalities, and all eight cities received capacity
    support in areas of need. To date, there have been two rounds of technical support tenders issued by NUSP and HDA. However, none of the cities appears to mention areas of prioritization,
    capacity building, and more detailed settlement planning as a result of technical support from NUSP/HDA. Either cities are not taking heed of support provided, or there is a lack of integration
    between municipal reports and management systems.
  5. Housing mega (or ‘catalytic’) projects have been a feature of the current administration since the reappointment of Minister Sisulu as Minister of Human Settlements. Provincial and city
    government departments are required to submit their schedules of mega/ catalytic projects to the national Department of Human Settlements. In our assessment, 3/8 cities have included such projects
    in identified urban networks. Are mega projects absorbing all budgets at the expense of informal settlement upgrading? It is not clear what the implications of such large scale projects are on capital

Each year Isandla Institute will analyse city governments’ core municipal documentation uploaded to the website. We intend to develop more indicators to track progress
and show how cities are improving their respective policies, programmes and projects.

Slum upgrading remains the most financially and socially appropriate approach to addressing the challenge of existing slums. UN Habitat (A Practical Guide to Designing, Planning, and Executing Citywide Slum Upgrading Programmes 2015 (PDF), page 15)

Related Insights

  • The State of Land Release in South Africa
  • Making municipal budget allocations for informal settlements more democratic