Profiling informal settlements and solutions for emergency housing

Projects and Programmes continue to host regular workshops to find solutions for informal settlement upgrading and emergency housing. On 28 June a workshop ‘Profiling informal settlements, analysis of trends, and status quo in different provinces and municipalities’ took place in Johannesburg. The workshop was over-subscribed and attended by key sector role players including NGOs, academics, professionals and representation from all spheres of government.

The two key objectives of the workshop were to share with sector role-players reports on informal settlement profiles, status and trends at national, provincial and municipal levels; and to share with the sector how the information will be used and the support which HDA could offer. Ilana Meltzer (Eighty 20) presented national findings on informal settlement trends and status quo, followed by Mark Misselhorn (PPT) who demonstrated how data can be used to address the challenges around informal settlements using the KwaZulu-Natal strategy development process. Amira Osman (CSIR) consolidated the issues discussed in the workshop and highlighted the following:

·         Data must be translated into solutions – financial, policy, physical and spatial, decision-making

·         Is it possible to keep data up to date and to track it in order to measure success or lack of success

·         How much information is actually needed and is useful

·         Definitions and classifications – formal and informal / rural and urban

·         Informal settlements are very dynamic - informality evades measurement 

·         Formality is slow and costly and informality is a reality

·         Rapid assessments that need to be translated into rapid innovative interventions 

·         Cultural activities and other activities that people engage in can help inform about the communities

Dr Osman concluded by explaining that the role of the HDA is to provide clarity on the issues she listed above.

According to the HDA Act, one of our functions is assist organs of state with emergency housing solutions. To address the challenges around emergency housing, the HDA, with its partner the Development Action Group (DAG), is developing a conceptual framework including implementation guidelines to guide and inform emergency housing and the HDA’s role in this programme. The HDA and DAG co-hosted two workshops on emergency housing - the first workshop, ‘Working towards a conceptual framework for emergency housing’, took place on 10 May in Cape Town. The objectives of the workshop were to confirm HDA and DAGs’ understanding of this conceptual framework and to define both proactive and reactive responses to emergency housing, to explore the role of the HDA, and to network with sector role players and establish working relationships.

The workshop was followed by one on 29 June entitled ‘A proactive approach to address emergency housing situations based on case studies’ in Johannesburg. The main objectives were to share findings from emergency housing case studies research and to test the HDA’s proposed implementation criteria and operational guidelines on emergency housing. Helen McGregor from DAG was up first with a presentation ‘Background to emergency housing: key emerging issues and trends from case studies’ and ‘An overview of the emergency housing implementation guidelines’.  After the presentations the workshop broke into smaller groups in order to look at proactive responses to emergency housing linked to real case studies. In the afternoon Paul Hendler (Probitas) presented ‘A functional framework for emergency housing’ which proposed the HDA framework of support on emergency housing. The workshop was full of lively debate and the response was very positive. Key issues to emerge included:

·         Relocations are a last resort

·         Proactive and longer-term response needed

·         The issue of informal settlements must be addressed and not just with a top structure approach

·         Land acquisition – proper long-term planning is needed


Presentations from the workshop are listed below and can be downloaded:

1. HDA mandate, role and approach to informal settlement upgrading
2. Informal settlements data - South Africa (national picture)
3. Informal settlements data - Western Cape
4. Informal settlements data - Gauteng
5.  Informal settlements data - Eastern Cape
6. Informal settlements data - Mpumalanga
7. Informal settlements data - Northern Cape
8. Informal settlements data - North West
9. Informal settlements data - KwaZulu-Natal
10. Informal settlements data - Free State
11. Informal settlements data - Limpopo

A proactive approach to address emergency housing situations based on case studies - presentations from the workshop are listed below and can be downloaded:

1. HDA approach to emergency housing
2. Emergency housing - key emerging issues and trends
3. Implementation guidelines - table of contents
4. Implementation guidelines - case studies
5. HDA functional framework for emergency housing
6. Emergency housing functions