Insights are featured pieces of research

that explain key topics in greater detail.

Introducing Planning for Informality

Isandla Institute | 2018-02-14 | 0 comments

Last year global leaders adopted the New Urban Agenda at the Habitat III convention. This convention is held every 20 years where policy directions are discussed and enacted. News websites were abuzz at the news that the New Urban Agenda will set a new global standard and policy direction for sustainable urban development, and blogs featured in-depth discussions on the detailed recommendations for planning, managing, financing, conserving and living in cities of the present and future. Through Resolution 109 of the New Urban Agenda, global leaders promise that, “We will consider increased allocations of financial and human resources, as appropriate, for the upgrading and, to the extent possible, prevention of slums and informal settlement...

Analysis of 2016/17 municipal documentation – Our findings

Isandla Institute | 2018-02-14 | 0 comments

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.</p></p> 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 accou...

South African Urban Backyarders.

Isandla Institute | 2018-02-19 | 0 comments

South African metropolitan cities (Metros) are currently experiencing pressing urban development issues, with many residents living in extreme poverty and inadequate conditions.The urban poor are often socially excluded and are in need of effective government intervention. The challenge of informal settlements is the most recognisable and is often at the forefront of political media, human settlement policy and interventions. However, the plight of the backyard dwellers is frequently overlooked and disregarded. </p></p> Because of housing backlogs and economic recession across South African cities, amongst others, it has become more common for existing dwellings to accommodate tenants in predominately <a href="

Evaluating the Strengths and Weaknesses of the UISP

Isandla Institute | 2018-02-16 | 0 comments

The Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) forms part of the ambitious National Housing Code of the Department of Human Settlements (DoHS). The programme offers an intergovernmental approach aimed at improving the living conditions of people in informal settlements by providing efficient service delivery, security of tenure and community empowerment and involvement. The UISP is divided into four major phases: project preparation, interim services, full services and registered tenure. Phases 1 to 3 focus on service delivery through the involvement of municipal, provincial and national government. The 4th phase relates to the allocation of funds for the development of individual houses in line with the eligibility of households...

Partnerships facilitating Community Participation in Cape Town

Isandla Institute | 2019-02-26 | 0 comments

Strong partnerships between municipalities and civil society organizations are noted as good practice in informal settlement upgrading. Partnerships offer a way for stakeholders to share resources, knowledge and skills in upgrading projects. They can also be used to facilitate meaningful community participation – a principle that often lacks in practice. Municipal documentation from the City of Cape Town displays evidence of partnerships with civil society organisations to facilitate community participation. A deeper look into some of these partnerships reveals lessons which may be useful for other municipalities that are working towards creating an enabling environment for community participation. # Community Participation and Partn...

Planning for Informality webtool turns spotlight on municipal progress in informal settlement upgrading

Isandla Institute | 2019-03-19 | 0 comments

# About the Planning for Informality webtool The Planning for Informality webtool was developed by Isandla Institute in partnership with Open Data Durban and launched in August 2017. Municipalities, mandated by the National Department of Human Settlements, have committed to upgrading 750 000 informal settlement dwellings by 2019. Comprehensive informal upgrading strategies and plans are important elements in achieving this goal. The webtool tracks how the major metros are progressing towards this, based on reporting and policy commitments in core annual municipal documentation. The core municipal documents include the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) reviews, Built Environment Performance Plan (BEPP), Service Delivery Budget and Implementa...

The 2019/2020 budget and how it affects human settlements

Isandla Institute | 2019-03-19 | 0 comments

On 20 February 2019 Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tabled the 2019/2020 budget, his first budget vote since his appointment last year. The budget message over the past few years has been for government officials to do more with less. So what does the 2019/2020 budget have in store for human settlements, and informal settlement upgrading specifically? The 2019/2020 Budget is premised on the Minister of Finance’s analogy of a farmer who reaps and sows. This implies putting in, in order to get out. First, it is important to establish that the national Department of Human Settlements is responsible for more than just housing. As defined in the Breaking New Ground strategy of 2004, sustainable human settlements have to do with many aspects of ...

Measures of disaster risk management in informal settlements

Isandla Institute | 2019-03-26 | 0 comments

Informal settlement residents live in precarious circumstances caused by multiple factors which affect their quality of life. These households are incredibly vulnerable to natural and other disasters such as flooding and fires. A number of methods are implemented by government to manage and mitigate disaster risks in informal settlements, including settlement realignment, smoke detectors and fire combat training, alternative building materials use and methods, as well as alternative lighting technologies. The provision of disaster kits is the most common initial intervention by government once a natural disaster has struck *[1]*. Re-blocking, the realignment of shacks, allows for thoroughfares and courtyards that inhibit the spread of f...

Approaches to the Upgrading of Informal Settlements

Isandla Institute | 2019-04-02 | 0 comments

There are a number of approaches to informal settlement upgrading, such as in situ upgrading, reblocking, and superblocking. A look at the characteristics of each allows for a better understanding of their respective benefits, as well as highlighting the necessity for community participation from the planning stage to ensure the sustainability of these upgrading approaches. # In Situ Upgrading of Monwabisi Park Monwabisi Park is one of the five informal settlements where the City of Cape Town embarked on a pilot programme for in situ upgrading in 2010. The upgrading process in these areas was participatory in nature, with the first step being the establishment of steering committees. The committees were tasked with identifying community ...

Upgrading key to overcoming poverty and unemployment in informal settlements

Isandla Institute | 2019-04-09 | 0 comments

Informal settlements form and grow due to in-migration as people seek better prospects in urban areas from rural areas or smaller towns, and partly due to natural population growth in the urban area and in other informal settlements. These settlements can provide a foothold for low income migrants due to low rentals, with proximity to opportunity leading to minimal transport costs. Thus, informal settlements provide potential for a ladder out of poverty. Not only do they serve as access points to economic activities in nearby formal areas, but a host of economic activity occurs within these settlements. These need to be protected and promoted. Most of this economic activity is in the informal sector. A sustainable settlement should host ...

2019/2020 Update Analysis

Isandla Institute | 2020-10-06 | 0 comments

The policy context for informal settlement upgrading is in constant flux, as policy-makers try to ensure that policy is evidence-based and informed by practice. The dynamic nature of informality is the reason why informal settlement upgrading is often referred to as a ‘moving target’. This has a bearing on annual metro municipalities’ plans and strategies. The 2019/2020 financial year was notable in the context of local government strategic planning, particularly for urban development. It was the end of national government’s 4-year medium-term strategic framework (MTSF) to tackle poverty, unemployment and inequality. This meant that metros would be gearing up to meet the targets set in 2014. 2019/2020 was also the year that National ...

Planning 4 Informality (P4I): Encouraging Accountability and Dialogue on Informal Settlement Upgrading and Backyarding Support

Isandla Institute | 2021-06-23 | 0 comments

Informality remains a prominent feature of South African cities. Despite an ambitious public housing programme, informal settlements have continued to mushroom over the years. It is projected that 2.2 million families live in underdeveloped and substandard housing across the country; at least 60% (1.3 million households) of those live in informal settlements in and around the eight metros. Cities are given a clear mandate to upgrade informal settlements by providing services and renovating infrastructure. This is accomplished through the Upgrading Informal Settlements Programme (UISP), which outlines the procedures to be followed for different aspects of informal settlement upgrading, such as planning, land acquisition, basic services pro...

The new impetus given to Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa

Isandla Institute | 2021-06-30 | 0 comments

In her recent address on the Human Settlements Budget Vote, Minister Sisulu dedicated R10 billion to address the ‘nightmare’ of informal settlements over the next 3 years. This denotes a significant shift from previous stances taken by the National Department of Human Settlements – under Sisulu’s leadership – to either ‘eradicate’ informal settlements or have informal settlement upgrading eclipsed by ambitious housing projects. The shift represents a sense of pragmatism: an acceptance that informal settlements are an enduring feature of the urban landscape, combined with the realisation that the public housing programme cannot resolve the housing crisis fast enough. The contraction of the economy as a result of Covid-19 is further puttin...

The nuances of backyarding: What do we know?

Isandla Institute | 2021-07-13 | 0 comments

Informal backyard living is a long standing feature of South African cities and has been steadily growing in recent years. It offers many urban residents an affordable housing solution, particularly those who are not eligible for public housing, those who qualify but find themselves on the long housing waiting list, or those who do not qualify for a bond and who cannot afford formal rentals. In fact, recent research on backyard housing in Cape Town conducted by the Backyard Matters Project, jointly executed by the Development Action Group (DAG), Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) and Isandla Institute, found that a significant proportion of tenants opt to live in neighbourhoods they have lived most of their lives or where the...

Exploring the relationship between evidence and implementation

Isandla Institute | 2021-07-07 | 0 comments

It almost goes without saying that there should be a strong relationship between evidence and policy. Government interventions that are not based on research and a solid understanding of the context in which they are implemented are less likely to succeed. Similarly, it is important for government to substantiate the claims they make about service delivery using evidence so that genuine accountability can take place. Having a strong evidence base enables better planning. By understanding what is needed and what has been implemented so far, governments are able to adjust and target their interventions so that they have the greatest positive impact possible. Government (at all levels) will not be able to improve the lives of people living ...