Debating International Experience in informal settlement policy - relevance for South Africa-

Workshop 3: Informal Settlement Policy

Monday 23 February 2004, Sports Administration, Univeristy of the Witwatersrand.
School of Architecture and Planning, Wits University, Tel: 011-7177688

Principal Researchers: Dr Marie Huchzermeyer, Dr. Aly Karam, Mzwanele Mayekiso
Funded by the NRF (Project no: NRF4822)

Workshop participants:

Principal researchers on the NRF project: Dr Marie Huchzermeyer, Dr Aly Karam

Master students (University of the Witwatersrand): Ramabele Maltala, Rodger Wimpey, Zwelibanzi Majola, Shriley Manzili, Jonathan Lepotho, John Nkuna, George Onatu, Ephraim Nemaonzeni, Thabani Mncwango, Sierajodean Frazenburg, Rudzani Mabaso.

PhD students (University of the Witwatersrand): Alfred Omenya, Salah Mohamed, Georgine Peter.

Civil Society: Becky Himlin (Planact); Joel Bolnick (CO-URC/Slum Dwellers International); Max Rambau (People?s Dialogue); M. Rataemane and Alfred Gabuza (Homeless People?s Federation); Hector Mzimulu and Sylvia Ngwenya (Landless People?s Movement).

Government: Themba Masimini (Department of Housing), Yolanda Philip (Gauteng Province Department of Housing),

South African researchers: Carien Engelbrecht (Cities Alliance), Cecile Ambert and Lauren Royston (Development Works), Theunis Roux and Stuart Wilson (Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand)

International researchers: Dr. Alain Durand-Lasserve (Senior Researcher, CNRS, France), Professor Seth Asiama (Director, Institute of Land Management and Development, Kwame Nkurmah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana); Professor J. Kironde (University College of Lands and Agricultural Studies (UCLAS), Dar es Sal m, Tanzania), Dr Clement Leduka (Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, National University of Lesotho), Professor Carole Rakodi (International Development Department, University of Birmingham, UK)



1.1. Addressing slums/informal settlements in Ghana - Professor Seth Asiama (Ghana)2

1.2 The informal settlement intervention legacy in Lesotho ? Dr Clement Leduka (Lesotho)3

1.3 Experiences with informal settlement intervention in Tanzania, Professor Kironde (Tanzania)4

1.4 DISCUSSION on the tenure challenge. 5


2.1 An international comparisons on informal settlement intervention approaches ? Dr Alain Durand-Lasserve (France)6

2.2 An international perspective on aspects of intervention ? Professor Carole Rakodi (UK)8


3.1 Challenges for the state-society relationship in South Africa ? Catherine Cross (HSRC)10

3.2 Pro-Poor advances in South Africa ? Joel Bolnick (CO-URC/SDI)11

3.3 Questions for an informal settlement policy in South Africa ? Lauren Royston (Development Works)12

3.4 The limits of South African development concepts ? Cecile Ambert (Development Works)12

3.5 Reflections on the notion of ?best practice? ? Carien Engelbrecht (Cities Alliance)13

3.6 Unpacking the approach in Johannesburg ? Stuart Wilson (CALS)13

3.7 The role of law and rights in relation to policy ? Theunis Roux (CALS)14

3.8 DISUCSSION on evictions. 15


4.1 Informal settlements and national policy in South Africa ? Themba Masimini (Department of Housing)16

4.2 A perspective from the City of Johannesburg ? Nkosana Dlodlo (City of Johannesburg)16

4.3 Comments on city management approaches ? Salah Mohamed (Wits University)17

4.4 DISCUSSION on the role of national and municipal government17


5.1 Experience in supporting informal settlement communities ? Beckie Himlin (Planact)19

5.2 Poor people?s views on urban land and development (Homeless People?s Federation)20

5.3 CLOSING DISCUSSION on a way forward. 21

An initial paper was presented by the NRF research team ? see: ?Informal Settlement Policy:

Report on key findings of Phase One: International Literature Reviews?


1.1. Addressing slums/informal settlements in Ghana - Professor Seth Asiama (Ghana)

Slums and informal settlements in Ghana:

In Ghana there are no ?informal settlements? on invaded land. West Africa in the 1970s did not have ?squatter settlements? (see work 1970s work of Margret Peel, University of Birmingham), although if one looks closely now, it seems they are beginning to emerge. People in ?informal settlements? in Ghana mostly do have rights, But the conditions under which they live suggest that these settlements are ?slums?.

The slum challenge in Ghana:

There is government opposition to these ?informal settlements? or ?slums?, not only in terms of density and health, but also crime. While there is solidarity within the settlement, crime committed elsewhere is often traced back to the slums. This seems to be the biggest problem in Accra. The police is scared to enter these settlements. In Ghana, government policy needs to deal with this problem.

Upgrading initiatives:

Multi-lateral agencies have a role to play in improving the physical conditions. The World Bank has expressed interest in settlement upgrading.

Eviction threats in Sodom and Gomorra:

The settlement Sodom and Gomorra in Accra has received much media attention. The settlement developed around a market, and the residents (10-15 000 people) were mainly traders in the market. Government decided to relocate the market. The plan was to move people 10km away, but they resisted, as this would affect their employment. The Accra authority decided to use force, and as a result people went to court. The court gave an extension (this was 6 months ago). It is not clear whether government is still committed to remove the people.

Upgrading challenges for Dzungu settlement, Kumasi:

Ndzungu is a large ?informal settlement? in Kumasi. The original inhabitants have the approval from traditional authorities. The people come from the north of Ghana. Spatially, the settlement has grown closer to the city and its CDB. The settlement has poor drainage and high densities and is therefore difficult to upgrade. The occupants are mainly Moslems, and religion plays an important role in their activities. Government recognises these people and there is no attempt to remove them. Instead, government tries to install services. Some houses have to be removed in order to introduce a road, and the question is where to relocate the affected people. The population in Dzungu is well organised via chiefs, and the residents respect their chiefs.

Slum upgrading leading to displacement:

1984-86, the World Bank funded an upgrading project in the city next to Nima. This involved water and electricity. The project was never evaluated, but it is believed that the original inhabitants moved out, as the land value had increased. The project was intended as a pilot project, to be replicated. However, the know-how has been scattered, and the funding was not replicable (the project was very expensive).

In conclusion, the issue in Ghana is one of ?slums?. These are not always inhabited by poor people. Some extremely rich people live (see Asiama, S. O., 1985. The rich slum-dweller: A problem of unequal access. International Labour Review, 124 (3), pp.353-362).

1.2 The informal settlement intervention legacy in Lesotho ? Dr Clement Leduka (Lesotho)

Land tenure context in Lesotho:

There is no system of freehold, instead there are leaseholds. Someone is likely to claim ownership of land, even if this is not legal. There have been sites and services and upgrading programmes in Lesotho.

Who shapes urban space?

See Mariken V ?s book :Associational Life in African Cities. This focuses on a benign civil society. But nothing is said about the ?uncivil? civil society, which is also organising the urban space.

Policy on informal settlements in Lesotho:

The appears to be no explicit state policy addressing informal settlements in Lesotho. Implicitly, policy is tolerant/ambivalent. Currently, there is a moratorium on informal subdivisions.

1980s sites and services and slum upgrading:

Around 1984, under the influence of the World Bank, Lesotho experienced an ?era of sites and services and upgrading?. The World Bank earmarked two areas for sites and services, and developed vacant stands and stands with core houses, and other areas for upgrading. Roads and improved pit latrines were provided and material loans were made available for self-help housing construction.

Evaluation and outcomes of the upgrading initiatives:

The upgrading projects were based on full cost recovery, and with the intention that these areas would become part of the rates base. However, not a cent has been recovered, and the city councils have not collected any rates. Evaluations have concluded that the poor cost recovery is partly because the intervention was top down, with no participation. Politically, it was impossible to enforce new payments, as people already lived there before. As a result, the World Bank decided to close shop. The Maseru City Council continued with some of the work, but this was limited by political misunderstandings in the council. Note that unlike South Africa, Lesotho does not have a tradition of NGOs and CBOs that may drive informal settlement upgrading.

Resulting land management in Lesotho:

Along with the sites and services and slum upgrading initiatives, two significant institutions were created and have endured to date:

-a land law that still cannot be implemented;

-a city council that still is not effective.

As a result, informal land development procedures have emerged on customary holdings. Government seems to have no answer to this process. Some settlements have been demolished subsequently to make way for industrial or residential projects. As a result, many cases are in the court.

Subsequent densification:

In the first upgrading project, plots were large, but people were encouraged to subdivide to achieve higher densities. Leasehold tenure was offered as incentive to subsidise large plots. However, leaseholds were not successful as an incentive for subdivision. Instead, densities increased through the construction of rental rooms on the plots. The infrastructure attracted people, or created the demand. What were originally core houses in site-and-service areas are now extremely dense areas. 80-90% of the original core structures have been replaced. However, the original leaseholders were not permitted to make any changes to the houses until the loan payments had been completed.

1.3 Experiences with informal settlement intervention in Tanzania, Professor Kironde (Tanzania)

Scale of informal settlements in Tanzania:

50-80% of urban dwellers in Tanzania live in informal settlements. The official figure for the percentage of urban population living in informal settlements in the capital is 70%. This figure is from 1979 and has not been up-dated. Professor Kironde?s recent estimate is 83%. Current population figures for urban areas are lower than all past projections.

The range of informal settlements in Tanzania:

As in Ghana, the informal settlement population in Tanzania ranges considerably, and includes rich households. Informal settlements are not homogenous, some have very high densities and some are on marginal land ? these tend to be the poorer settlements. Others are low density.

The experiences with World Bank intervention:

World Bank funded informal settlement upgrading was not a success in Tanzania. Cost recovery failed, 0-30% of the costs were recovered. Operational maintenance also failed. With the current Community Infrastructure Upgrading Project of the World Bank, people are supposed to make a financial contribution before finance is forthcoming. The community signs a contract before the upgrading begins. The programme also has an operational maintenance component. The programme aims at minimum demolition and roads are not standardised. However, as in the case of Ghana, the result of the upgrading schemes of the early 1990s has been gentrification and displacement, as rents went up.

Experience with informal settlement removals:

Removals were planned from flood-prone land, but as demolition was happening, people rebuilt their houses. The residents? argument is that floods only occur every five years, and in the meantime they need to carry on with their lives.

The Tanzanian government?s approach to informal settlements:

People have obtained the land from someone claiming to own it. In general, the issue is access to land, not housing as such. If given land, the feeling is that people will do the rest. The right to housing, and the right to locality, have led the Tanzanian government to take a pragmatic approach. There is no demolition, but also not much intervention. The assumption is one might be able to improve at a later stage.

In 1999 a new Land Act was developed, introducing a six year renewable residential licence as a form of tenure. However, this has not been put into action yet.

The experience of housing finance in Ghana:

Tanzania set up a Housing Bank in the mid 1970s. Interest rates were fixed for long term loans. Data on borrowers was lacking. In 1995 the bank became insolvent and collapsed. Tanzania has little experience to offer on the housing finance front. The most successful experience is incremental, households depending on their own resources. Regulations require them to complete their houses in three years. However, this is inappropriate, as people are reluctant to take out loan and therefore need more time to develop their houses incrementally.

Government has a land provision scheme, which is supposed to deliver titles. However, people are not interested in formal titles, and government argues it does not have the space to store the titles/

A new role of civil society:

In the 1980s, civil society organisations proliferated (unlike Lesotho). CBOs are now being recognised as playing an important role in the way forward. The new Human Settlement Development Policy of 2000 is based on community participation.

The search for appropriate development standards:

Currently the 1956 Town Planning Ordinance is being reviewed. The attempt is to include flexible standards. There are examples of civil society taking the lead in defining standards. In the Makongo Area in 1992, people submitted their own proposal for development. This has not been approved to date, but others have been approved. Flexible standards are necessary, in order to get informal settlements officially recognised.

1.4 DISCUSSION on the tenure challenge

Theunis Roux: The central premise of the liberal approach of titling land appears to be wrong. It appears that the poor have an aversion to titles.

Carole Rakodi: It is not so much an aversion to titles, but the fact that people don?t need titles for security of tenure, and the poor don?t want to mortgage their assets. They don?t see their investments as a commodity. The critique of Hernando de Soto is that his theory is based on Latin American research.

Alain Durand-Lasserve: De Soto is successful with policy makers, because his theory is so simple. But the World Bank knows that its flawed, and don?t take him seriously. But the USAID and policy makers do.

Salah Mohamed: In Kartoun, Sudan, 2 million people live in informal settlements. The government relies on traditional structures, gives roles to traditional leaders. This, coupled with self-help processes, forms an effective crime prevention strategy.

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2.1 An international comparisons on informal settlement intervention approaches ? Dr Alain Durand-Lasserve (France)

Gasping the causes of informal settlements:

Informal settlements are a result of unequal distribution of wealth. By addressing informal settlements, we?re dealing only with the symptom. Our capacity to have an impact is limited as long as they reason for informal settlements remains. The realistic, tough cynical) view is that ?cities need slums? [see article by Baba Mumtaz in Habitat Debate].

The role of international comparisions:

There is a need for international comparisons, but the method has to be discussed. Case studies and monographs are essential, but are not sufficient for understanding the trends. One needs international comparisons:

1.To identify basic mechanisms in formation of informal settlements, the major shifts and trends. This requires national/city case studies, identifying what is structural and what is specific.

2.To learn what works for others.

However, there is a need to be sceptical of the notion of good practice. One needs to contextualise the notion of good/best practice. One needs to ask:

-good for who?

oLand lords

oLocal government

oNational government

The best practice database is useless and misleading, it can in fact be dangerous.

In international comparisons, one needs to be prudent with transferability.

What global trends have been identified in the last two decades?

  1. Increasing commodification of all informal land and housing systems, and this is tightly linked to globalisation/the free market.
  2. Dismissal of the state from the urban and housing sector (though not necessarily in South Africa). This is linked to globalisation and the financial and economic crisis in countries. Globalisation has promoted deregulation and privatisation [See book by Michael Cohen: Cities in the Nineties].
  3. All cities, without exception, have increasing social inequalities.

What are the positive trends?

  1. Decentralisation ? this has been an interesting process. New responsibilities have been given to local authorities. The problem has been: no transfer of resources, therefore disengagement of the state.
  2. Democratisation, and with this the increasing role of grassroots organisations at international level; their increasing role in raising awareness on informal settlements. There is an increasing convergence of the interests of on the one hand NGOs and grassroots organisations, and on the other hand international/bilateral institutions. The World Bank is shifting responsibilities to grassroots. However, this means ridding governments of the problem, giving it to the people to deal with, with few resources.

How do we assess the situation?

There is a need to assess the situation at global level. There is a need for better information, to understand the dynamics and trends, rather than accurate figures. There is an urgency. One should not waste time setting up a methodology to gather accurate figures. But we do need figures, and we need to agree on common definitions and concepts:


-informal settlements

-security of tenure

-customary tenure

There is a need for monitoring, the need for indicators, so that one can understand changes and shifts. But one should not spend years designing sophisticated methodologies. We know we now have 900 million people living in slums globally. If nothing happens, its predicted that there will be 1.5 billion people living in slums 15 years from now.

What are the key issues?

1)Tenure ? note: de Soto is a successful charlatan. Governments like his music. De Soto does not engage with the fact that social inequality is not addressed unless power is put under threat.

2)Local government and social organisations in government ? what relationships between people living in informal settlements and government institutions?

Policy responses:

An international comparison makes identification of innovative responses possible, e.g. Brazil, South Africa, India. There is a consensus that in order to address informal settlements, one has to combine two approaches:

-improving conditions in existing informal settlements;

-how to prevent formation of new slums/informal settlements (remember the figures of 1.5 billion people living in informal settlements in 15 years).

The task force of the Millenium Development Goal to improve lives of slum dwellers:

Alain Durand-Lasserve and Joel Bolnick are on a group of the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) Task Force on slum dwellers. The objective set by the MDG is to improve the lives of slum dwellers only in existing slums. What about the increase in the next 15 years? There is not task force for this issue, only the task.

The task force on improving the lives of existing slum dwellers is promoting three sets of issues:

-participatory planning;

-new partnerships involving formal actors and informal actors;

-tenure issues.

The task forces has limited room for manoeuvre. On cannot expect any major technical innovation, expect perhaps in the area of finance (see for instance innovative techniques in micro-finance). Instead, it is more efficient to look at new ways of using existing tools. We need a society with new forms of social organisation, we need new forms of partnership.

The challenge of pluralism:

How does one promote innovation? There is a role for networks, etc. But the main challenge is how to deal with cultural diversity. Most countries in the South inherited planning systems from the north. Most planners are trained in the North. The cultural model or reference is from the North. This makes it difficult to deal with cultural diversity ? even within the UN, although this is a culturally diverse institution. There is a need for legal pluralism.

2.2 An international perspective on aspects of intervention ? Professor Carole Rakodi (UK)

The concept of ?promising approaches?:

Informal settlements exist also because of inadequate formal land and housing approaches. One can identify some ?promising approaches?. A ?promising approach? is not a lesson. One needs to be careful in assuming transferability.

Tenure security:

Regularisation is about transferring legal occupancy, not titles. We should not be concerned about orderly development (the obsession of planners and architects). We should be starting with the people, their livelihoods. Once there is security of tenure, people will build incrementally. Many will not want to take loans, but if loans are offered by the state, people assume they can exercise their political pressure and get around repayment.

Two examples are relevant:

India: Under Indian legislation, when an area is registered as a slum, people living in the area are entitled to a ?pather? ? an occupancy right.

Zambia: In informal settlements, occupants of houses are entitled to 30 year occupancy permits.

Individualisation of titles encourages a market. This has been countered by community titling, e.g. in Kenya. This has worked in a homogenous community, with no significant conflict, e.g. in Canada. But it has not worked in informal settlements.

The relocation experience:

Relocations very rarely work. But there has to be ?replotting? or ?relocation? where there is direct danger. The principle needs to be minimum disruption.

Infrastructure improvement:

After tenure security, incremental improvement of infrastructure is people?s priority. There are two issues linked to incremental infrastructure improvement:

-It is more expensive than servicing new land;

-It can increase demand and lead to gentrification.

One needs to talk about incremental investment, not blue print planning. Gentrification can be prevented if areas are not made attractive to higher income people.

Cost recovery is in principle desirable, but people are poor. There is recent work on subsidies, arguing they need to be designed appropriately. The subsidy has to be balanced between capital cost and maintenance cost, and this balance has to be context specific.

With tenure security and incremental improvement, house improvement can happen without a separate housing finance.

Institutional approach:

There is a need for responsive collaborative planning and implementation. This implies a flexible approach. It implies decentralisation, intersectoral collaboration, acknowledging a role for actors.

There is the danger of not integrating upgraded informal settlements with the city. In Hyderabad, the Urban Community Development Programme installed water pipes in an informal settlement, but did not improve the water supply into the pipes.

There is a need for capacity building for communities. This is an important role for NGOs.

The argument that communities should be involved in self-help housing needs to be questioned. ?Free labour? undermines people?s livelihoods. One needs agencies that are capable of responding to articulated needs of the communities. This cannot be done through a blue print. One needs to start with what exists, not with an ideal view of what will be achieved.

Challenges when governments support community organisations:

Local community organisations have to be given a say, have to be supported. But in the Sri Lankan Million Houses Programme, when political control changed, the community councils were marginalised, as they were considered oppositional. In Zambia, after change of government, the party structures at settlement level fell apart.

Appropriate standards:

Standards need to be adapted to informal settlements, and not vice versa. In Sri Lanka, standards had to be negotiated for the incremental improvement. One does not need road access to all plots, drainage does not need 3m reserves next to the road. One needs to look at the high densities in India, where upgrading could take place without disruption.

Limits of imposed solutions:

In Kenya, the upgrading programme of the late 1980s focussed on infrastructure and cost recovery (no tenure regularisation, as the residents had some rights already). Local government was presented by the World Bank with the upgrading package. But this was not what people wanted or could afford. The investment fell into disrepair. The government was expected to repay the loan to the World Bank, for an inappropriate package. In this case there had been no decentralisation, and no participation.

The challenge of communal services:

In the Lusaka upgrades, the assumption was that there would be communal infrastructure. This needed to be designed very carefully. 25 households were using a communal tap. Social pressure was applied on the group of 25 households to recover the costs. In reality there were some bachelors and some short term migrants who were not inclined to pay. As a result, water was cut off for the whole group. After than happened, no one was motivated to pay. Also a maintenance unit was to be set up, but this was not done, and the new infrastructure crumbled.

In India communal toilets were provided, but no one had asked the women about their hygiene practices. In reality, the communal toilets were a deterioration, not an improvement, in hygiene standards.

Some concluding remarks:

-Context is an important factor in assessing transferability.

-Don?t see informal settlements in isolation ? they?re part of the land and housing market.

-One needs to ask: what would be the content of a proactive and anticipatory policy?

-Large scale public provision of land has not been very successful in the past.

-Should one instead be guiding the process of land occupation?

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3.1 Challenges for the state-society relationship in South Africa ? Catherine Cross (HSRC)

How to achieve the correct state-society relationship?

State-society relations are a critical area in informal settlement intervention. It is very difficulty to get local government to do things differently. One needs to ask:

-What creates/informs government?s responses to informal settlements?

-What creates/informs the responses of informal settlement residents?

How does the state relate to informal settlements? The informal settlement residents are voters, but in South Africa (unlike some other countries), they do not comprise a majority. They can therefore be marginalised.

People in informal settlements are subject to different interests by different politicians, different parties, and different interests in government. Local government would like to keep the lid on (contain the informal settlement situation, zero tolerance). National government would like to make the problem go away, thinking it will be possible to control the situation. This is a long term objective.

The question of resources:

A policy has to be informed by an understanding of diverse livelihoods and resources, and how informal settlements are inserted into the cities.

What are the resources of the South African state?

-the resources are enormous (compared to many other countries);

-there is huge pressure on the state to deliver (more so than in other countries).

History of informal settlement governance and tenure in South Africa:

In the early 1990s, there was ?landlord?/shack lord control in Durban?s informal settlements. The liberation movement chased out the shack lords. In Durban in the early 1990s, with the conflict between the IFP and the comrades, resources were collected from the informal settlement communities for weapons for the youth. The system was a militarised committee regime in informal settlements.

Now informal settlements are run by the comrade movement (civics). Their land management approach is taken from rural areas. They check people out, before allowing them to settle in the settlement. People get ?floating? tenure that does not connect to a higher order system that can validate it (as compared to tenure in rural areas with ancient tribal rights). In urban areas the tenure is relatively insecure, as someone else owns the land, people?s have informal rights to occupy.

The comrades/civic movement involved moral enlightenment, democratic principles. Only once the shack lords were chased out, could communities negotiate for infrastructure. The problem is that government introduced new structures/organisations over the existing civic structure. The new structures are the elected councillors. In some areas this has resulted in a new desperate and violent conflict.

Informal settlements and criminality:

In South Africa, unlike the Sudan example mentioned earlier, the formal and informal institutions in informal settlements are weak, and have problems articulating with government (they don?t represent an effective crime prevention strategy).

In relation to informal settlements, there are various routes to criminality:

  1. Criminals come from the outside, and want to operate from an informal settlement. In many cases the criminals are better organised than the community. Especially where communities are weak, where there is low social consensus in the community, communities are too weak to through out the criminals. This results in friction with the policy and with local government.
  2. Comrades fall into crime themselves ? armed youth have come to abuse power. Many have become politically redundant, and have had to employ themselves. A movement that started with a high order moral view went smash.
  3. Where local government has failed a community, conflict results between an elected councillor and existing community structures. This results in rivalry and outright conflict. There are cases where councillors have their critics murdered. Again, the councillors originally were highly motivated for public service, but deteriorate into corruption and violence.

What chances for government to contain/control informal settlements?

Under what conditions can informal settlements be controlled? In South Africa the problem was that the traditional/existing leadership was not allowed to control (international comparisons seem a panacea!). Stability in informal settlements fluctuates. What capacity is there for interfacing between local government and informal settlement communities. There is a need to understand how they operate on the ground.

3.2 Pro-Poor advances in South Africa ? Joel Bolnick (CO-URC/SDI)

In agreement with Alain Durand-Lasserve, Joel Bolnick believes that the only thing one can have confidence in is the uncertainties. Legal frameworks are important, but from his experiences, these are only levers. It will depend in who?s hands they are.

The role of statistics/data/enumerations

Rather than an issue of ethics, this is an issue of pragmatism. This applies to the issue of statistics. How have the poor used this instrument? See how data is used by the urban poor, as levers for change. Urban poor communities are counting/enumerating themselves. This data becomes an instrument for negotiation. But statistics are instruments of politics, they?re subjective. The state monopolises the gathering of information

Examples of enumerations:

An example from Nairobi is the enumeration organised by Pomoja Trust in the Korogocho settlement. Tenure is complicated by the fact that there are landowner, structure owners and tenants. The enumeration was contested, had to be carried out under police guard. The enumeration found that many tenants were not represented, were hidden and exploited.

Following on the presentation on Ghana, its interesting to note that some South African Homeless People?s Federation members are currently in the Sodom and Gomorra settlement assisting with enumeration. In Sodom and Gomorrah, the enumeration is testing the assumptions around the river being infested, and around the alternatives that exist.

The Homeless People?s Federation is now enumerating the largest informal settlement in Durban, and they?re doing a land audit with the church

The need for pro-poor platforms:

An important ingredient for change (in the approach towards informal settlements) is that governments are informed by a pro-poor platform. This can consist of professionals, academics, NGOs, communities. This can be effective, if all these people have as a starting point the perspective of the poor themselves.

Is there an emergence of a pro-poor platform in South Africa, a UDF- (United Democratic Front-) equivalent of the urban poor? Yes, but it seems luke-warm in terms of potential. The obstacles relate to the issue of a regulatory state ? ?our pathway to an RDP heaven? ? the divine right to rule. In this interpretation, democracy means only the right to vote. There are also contradictions in civil society. Civil society is diverse, and lacks enough really powerful champions of the urban poor. This also has to do with the culture of entitlement created by the capital subsidy. In South Africa the planning standards are over-regulating. This is a serious constraint.

Positives points of South Africa:

South Africa has an extraordinarily open society, and a remarkable constitution. The history of civil society is still very deep, and will begin to grow again. There are first signs of collaboration between the LPM (Landless People?s Movement), the HPF (Homeless People?s Federation) and SANCO civics. Rather than contesting for resources, they?re understanding that they have a common cause. They?re desperate to explore alternatives.

3.3 Questions for an informal settlement policy in South Africa ? Lauren Royston (Development Works)

Where have we come from? What have we learnt from the standardised housing subsidy intervention? Where to now? Some answers lie in the international examples, and in what the poor do for themselves. What are the policy implications?

How does one make an informal settlement policy intersectoral? It needs to be a policy municipal planning, infrastructure and housing, not just a housing policy.

We need to understand what the preconditions are for particular policy emphases. What makes it possible for governments to accept the status quo? It is a complex reality with contextual nuances. How does one make the contextual richness relevant to policy makers? Their policy must enable local solutions that are locally defined. Their policies have to ensure capacity and resources at local government level.

Is there any potential for real decentralisation (of funding) in South Africa, or will it remain an unfunded mandate? Too much flexibility may not be desirable (given the low levels of capacity). Officials will need a rule book.

3.4 The limits of South African development concepts ? Cecile Ambert (Development Works)

Is policy the main determinant of what is done on the ground? If one unpacks this horizontally, one realises there is an interplay with state attitudes, professional attitudes, and the particular role of people, so-called ?beneficiaries?.

Participation in South Africa has come to mean ?justifying intervention?. The terminology used is ?role players?, ?stakeholders? and ?recipients?. For the South African state to make decisions on behalf of people, it has to have its data right. This ignores people?s resources and initiatives. The government?s concept of ?sweat equity? cannot assume people therefore own the process, as its applied in a reductionist way. The same applies to the government?s concept of ?home-based care? for people with AIDS.

3.5 Reflections on the notion of ?best practice? ? Carien Engelbrecht (Cities Alliance)

Informal settlements represent a policy failure. The consequence is political, economic and social unsustainability, and this will eventually bite everyone.

It is fashionable to ask ?who are the actors?? ? national governments, vs. communities, vs. cities (local government is the current flavour of the month).

The shifts have been from sites and services to comprehensive development to institutional infrastructure, including tenure. Shifts and variations create an ambivalence as to what is ?best practice?. Brazilian best practice is built on decentralisation and strong local government. It is not possible to take these models and apply them elsewhere. One needs to ask ?best by what criteria?? What are the bottom lines?

-There should be no denial of what the reality is;

-There should be political will to engage in a state-civil society relationship that allows community involvement ? but to what extent?

-Resources have to be dedicated. The problem is that these tend to be compartmentalised.

There will always be winners and losers in any upgrading programme. This creates dilemmas for community leaders and for the public sector.

3.6 Unpacking the approach in Johannesburg ? Stuart Wilson (CALS)

The right to locality in South Africa

Is there a right to be housed where you are? The Grootboom judgement tends to offer an opportunity to try to make that argument. Housing policy must be reasonable, which means it must be comprehensive. The Grootboom judgement defined a class of people not catered for by housing policy.

One could argue that informal settlement dwellers in cities are not able to access formal housing at reasonable distance, and this defines them as a class of people not catered for by current policy.

The policy to evict and relocate people to the periphery prejudices access to livelihoods and social services. There is not choice as to whether formal housing is linked to their livelihoods.

Constitutionally there is no right to location, but there are constitutional limitations.

Johannesburg?s informal settlement intervention approach:

The typology of policy presented is extremely helpful. What is Johannesburg?s policy? It fits in different places in the typology. It is both repressive and deterministic. Evictions and relocations happen in the name of development, not constructed in partnership with informal settlement communities. The intervention is prescriptive, particularly in the face of opposition. There is a transformative aspect ? of a 100 informal settlements in the city, 36 are earmarked for relocation. The rest are earmarked for in situ upgrading. There are contextual factors that lead the city to decide whether to transform or evict. Some of the factors are rational ? what is good for the people? Others are for instance locational interests (that want to see the informal settlements moved elsewhere).

The Thembelihle case:

At times the contextual reasons for attempting relocation are highly localised. In the case of Thembelihle, two reasons were given:

  1. The settlement never had permission to occupy;
  2. The area is dolomitic.

However, it was found that formal houses in the surrounding are more dolomitic, there therefore being no good reason to evict on grounds of imminent risk. The surrounding Lenasia has been providing access to social services, which translates into a tacit permission to occupy. The city seems to have decided it does not want to evict the people after all. This leads us to believe that the city?s Spatial Development Framework leaves space for local interests to be mobilised. Whether or not a particular informal settlement in Johannesburg is relocated is in fact not based on a planned rational approach.

3.7 The role of law and rights in relation to policy ? Theunis Roux (CALS)

The need to acknowledge complexity:

The policy typology needs to bring out complexity, e.g. in Brazil many complexities and stages of informal settlement intervention exist at one point in time. (In South Africa, local governments see themselves as having to implement national government?s unfunded mandates).

One also needs to develop a typology for civil society?s relationship with the state. During apartheid, this relationship was revolutionary and reformist at the same time.

The property clause in the constitution is not a useful basis on which to engage with local government. The question is how/where to engage the issue?

What role for law and lawyers?

At times they?re engaged by civil society to engage the state. The role of law is to alert the government to gaps in policy by telling real stories in the courts. Constitutional theory is to get a dialogue going between courts and the government. There needs to be an ongoing cycle of courts examining policies and government changing its policy. But there can be very long intervals in this dialogue. In the case of Grootboom, it took three years before policy was changed. Are the courts then an effective vehicle for policy change?

Does the right to housing represent a right to location?

The Cape High Court has interpreted Grootboom as a right to location. The council wanted to remove people from the periphery of a playground. The counter argument was that people should move only if there was a place for them to move to. This is also relevant to Johannesburg, in the absence of a rational plan.

In response to de Soto and the titling question:

South Africa came up with an innovative way of securing tenure, through embracive law that defines a class of people who may not be evicted unless certain measures are taken. This confers security of tenure without conferring a title. However, the premise of this approach is that people have access to justice, that lawyers are prepared to take on such cases, and that there is a supportive legal system.

3.8 DISUCSSION on evictions

Theunis Roux (CALS): COHRE (Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions) is currently tying to document the scale of recent/current evictions in Johannesburg.

Philip Phosa (LPM): Recent evections/removals were from Mandelavilee to Sol Pl tjie (January 2002), and Bushkoppen to Vlakfontein. According to the LPM, there are 102 informal settlements in Gauteng. Of these, 66 are earmarked for relocation.

Theunis Roux: Seven inner city buildings are also earmarked for eviction.

Joel Bolnick (CO-URC/SDI): Is any other strategy evolving in civil society other than litigation? Are people developing alternatives to be negotiated?

Theunis Roux: Often the decision to relocate and the actual relocation happen very quickly. But there is innovative inner city intervention, e.g. tenants undertook tasks that reduce the grounds for eviction (typically health risks).

Stuart Wilson (CALS): For Thembelihle, there has been a problem with factual inaccuracies in the Johannesburg City Council, especially re the imminent health risk.

Philip Phosa (LPM): The councillor did not follow procedures to evict people from Thembelihle. People were woken up by ?Red Ants? (security company employees). The relocation was not on a voluntary basis. Relocation should not require the involvement of security firms.

Other LPM member: The first removal from Thembelihle was to Poortjie, where there were no school and no transport. The councillor in that area was imposed on the people that were relocated. He knows nothing about them. The people that were relocated complained. As they were being removed, they rebuilt their shacks. Compare this with Waterworks. The people were living in a waterlogged area, and asked to be relocated, but government did nothing. Why are the people?s voices not heard?

Homeless People?s Federation (HPF) member: Is anything being done to stop these evictions?

LPM member: The LPM has tried to discuss with government. They met with the Minister of Land Affairs. She denied the issue of evictions, but promised to follow up. The LPM then saw her on TV saying ?the LMP say they want land ? they must go to rural areas and farm, what do they want land for??

Stuart Wilson: It appears that when evictions happen in Johannesburg, there is very little accountability, very little alternative.

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4.1 Informal settlements and national policy in South Africa ? Themba Masimini (Department of Housing)

In defence of SA Housing Policy:

Homelessness is just a symptom of a bigger problem. There are also other spheres of life ? health, employment, etc. Government formulated policies to address these matters. These problems did not start in 1994. They are the consequence of a long process. Government formulated a housing policy based on reality in South Africa. The policy has seven strategies:

  1. stabilising the housing environment ? a number of programmes have developed out of this.
  2. Mobilising credit ? the problem here is the massive unemployment, and the two economies.
  3. Providing subsidy assistance.
  4. Supporting people-centred development ? here the PHP (People?s Housing Process) was developed, government working in collaboration with other players.
  5. Building institutional capacity.
  6. Facilitating the speedy release of serviced land.
  7. Integrating public sector investment.

The emergence of new policy:

Government is learning by doing. In the past there has been no discussion about

-medium densities

-social housing

-emergency housing

-informal settlements.

For the first three, policies are now being developed. Emergency housing policy developed in response to Grootboom. Informal settlement policy is also being developed. The impression is given sometimes that government is not addressing the issues. But some are being addressed.

4.2 A perspective from the City of Johannesburg ? Nkosana Dlodlo (City of Johannesburg)

The City of Johannesburg?s position on informal settlements:

There is some need for clarity. The City of Johannesburg does have an informal settlement policy. Its policy is transformative, but deterministic in a way ? see the Johannesburg Housing Development Plan (the legislative requirement to do this).

But at local government level the City has been unsystematic in dealing with informal settlements. The City is getting a better understanding from the data it is generating. However, for Johannesburg, informal settlements are only one of many competing interests.

The City?s response to diversity:

In the City?s informal settlement strategy, there are criteria for selecting/prioritising informal settlements. Livelihoods and security of tenure are considered, and he City ensures that long term development happens in an area. The City understands that informal settlements are not just freestanding settlements. They are all areas not proclaimed as townships. This may be mean

-transit camps;

-spontaneous settlements;

-land invasions.

There are 116 registered informal settlements in the City of Johannesburg. The City is now doing data verification, also asking, what is the development status, what are the prospects for development? This is captured in the Municipal Housing Development Plan (which will be adopted soon). Many of the 116 settlements are older than 10 years. Some are on private land, many are in flood plains. Many contain non-South Africans. Some are on site designated for social facilities, some are under power lines.

18 months ago, a City Development Framework was adopted, addressing some of the challenges.

Challenges for the City:

One difficulty for the City is that there are not unlimited resources for relocation. In every case the question is: Is it viable to upgrade? The temptation on the part of the City is to adopt zero tolerance to land invasion, due to the issue of queue jumping ? the queue jumping cannot be encouraged.

One would hope that a strong civil society movement can develop to work with the City. But there are no champions of the poor. The City needs them.

4.3 Comments on city management approaches ? Salah Mohamed (Wits University)

In which way should the City engage informal settlement communities in issues of resources distribution? Some of the challenges are

-characteristics of informal settlements

-criminality/urban violence

-institutional capacity.

This all affects the degree of participation we can expect from informal settlement residents.

The City of Johannesburg?s management approach is a hybrid between New Public Management and Participatory Management, but the principles of New Public Management tend to dominate, despite the IDPs, which appear to have a certain weakness, when compared with Brazilian participatory approaches. However, this is very contextual, and one needs to understand why this has succeeded in Brazil. In Johannesburg?s IDP 2 000 people participated. In participatory budgeting of the municipality of Santo Andre, 55 000 people participated. This amount increases every year.

We need to reflect on why the voices of the poor are not year by government in South Africa.

4.4 DISCUSSION on the role of national and municipal government

LPM member: Some informal settlements have existed for 10 years. The administration should have guided them. The problem is that they were ?offered? councillors that did not emanate from the informal settlements, they are party representatives.

It is LPM?s wish that informal settlements are upgraded where they are. The existence of informal settlements is a political failure and an embarrassment. LPM?s hope is that the right heads will be put together in the policy-making. LPM also argues that there is a need for urban agriculture.

Joel Bolnick (CO-URC/SDI): Latin American authorities are concerned about the limits of the participatory budgeting approach. It tends to perpetuate the power relations. The beneficiaries are extracting entitlements out of the state, as opposed to communities owning the problems and owning the solution. In Brazil people are currently reflecting on this.

Alain Durand-Lasserve: There are direct market eviction processes. These present a new problem. The problem is not the difficulty to find good land for housing development, the problem is the price of the land. Market processes lead to eviction.

Stuart Wilson: It appears that the City of Johannesburg?s policy and implementation are far apart. There are many aspects that make local intervention by the city illegitimate ? e.g. not to have done any research as to whether social facilities are available at the relocation site.

LPM: Ten years of democracy is too long. In Johannesburg delivery is too slow compared to other municipalities. The question must be asked: Is all the vacant land privately owned? Mayor Masondo recently declared that all informal settlements would be declared townships. However, there are problems of crime, filth, overcrowding. The waiting list doesn?t work. It only favours people with money. People from elsewhere are being given the RDP houses. When we report this, we?re told they will follow up, but ANC members shield one another.

Another LPM member: In Thembisa, people invaded land because they were so overcrowded. Vusani Security came and took the people?s belongings. To date, they did not get their belongings back. There is also an issue with [bank-]attached houses in Soweto. Half of the people are to be relocated. The Soweto councillor is from another province, he has no idea. She feels she does not exist to the ANC, yet she helped the ANC be where it is today.

A further LPM member: Can there be an approach to work with dolomites, rather than relocate people living on dolomite to other areas?

Nkosana Dlodo (City of Johannesburg): The issues of backlogs and urbanisation pressures are major problems for the City of Johannesburg. It appears as if the city is not acting fast enough. One cannot expect government to make a complete change in ten years. People have been encouraged to participate in government. Lessons are still being drawn.

In 1998, Nkosana Dlodlo was part of the process of formulating a development framework. In his experience, a geo-technical study was conducted independently. The report found that certain pockets had high dolomitic content. Light dolomite is treatable, but expensive to treat. The geotechnical report gave guidance whether or not to proceed. The city did consultations, but these were in the City Hall, which he admits is far away. They were mainly attended by the Indian community. Another problem was the changing leadership on the ground in Thembelihle over time. The City cannot be blamed for this. The reality is, the City is learning.

Themba Masimini (Department of Housing): These challenges are facing the nation as a whole. Johannesburg/Gauteng is the economic hub of the continent. It attracts a lot of people. Middle income housing is mushrooming. The backlog will always be there, until the economy of the continent is addressed. This is a reality we have to appreciate. Government is trying to purchase private land.

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5.1 Experience in supporting informal settlement communities ? Beckie Himlin (Planact)

The challenges of land delivery/access in South Africa:

Planact is working informal settlements (her colleague is attending a court case involving an informal settlement today). We need to address just how badly land access and the land delivery system in South Africa are working. Why are these mechanisms not working?

Development delays in Johannesburg:

In Johannesburg Planact is working with two communities that are waiting for land. The projects have full support from Council, and are not on privately owned land. But there are delays initiated by wealthy owners in the area. The reasons are race and class. The Jukskei Crocodile River Reidents Association are claiming that the new development (Cosmos City) is ?effectively destroying the rural character of the area, and have challenged the development through administrative challenges and in court. This has all resulted in 5 years of delay! The Zevenfontein people are earmarked for occupation of Cosmo City (the owner of the land they are currently occupying is not willing to consider long-term settlement by the residents, and instead wants to sell the land for other more lucrative purposes). The community currently only has chemical toilets and temporary water tanks. They have been promised access to land, but they?re still waiting.

The Muldersdrift Housing Trust bought its own land, but it can?t get township establishment, due to resistance of rich landowners in the area.

The challenge of political patronage:

There are also complexities with building capacity within communities. There are issues of leadership, legitimacy, exclusion if leaders are not fully representative. One should not be na? about consultation. There are intricate political relationships within communities, and (sometimes) patronage relationships with people in Council. Livelihoods are exchanged for political support. Such resources corrupt people. Within the Public Works Programme, there is livelihood support. But these are (in some cases) allocated as political favours, a form of social/political currency. One needs to ask: who benefits, who doesn?t?

In Randfontein Municipality there are community-based maintenance programmes (e.g refuse collection where local government is not able to deliver the service). However, the issue of political patronage and gender inequity is present in the decisions as to who gets appointed. And women get to do the sweeping, whereas men do the refuse sorting. This means they can collect recyclables and sell them on the side. This adds to their income.

There is a very complex supply relationship for people living and having their livelihood on a rubbish dump. Companies come to collect the recyclables. For many people this is a crucial livelihood source, but there are health hazards but no health services. How does one structure these kinds of opportunities to make sure they are just/fair for all?

Experience with livelihoods and the PHP:

Planact is involved with the People?s Housing Process. They have managed to use the top-up subsidy of the PHP to empower people. But in that particular community strong leadership existed. The leadership in consultation with the community decided that it was not viable for all subsidy beneficiaries in that community to sacrifice their time to build their own houses because they needed their time for their livelihood. However, quite a few were unemployed. They were trained, their capacity built, they got paid. They were empowered economically and out of the experience. The Gauteng Province did not like the way Planact went about this. The Province was trying to prescribe, e.g. how much of the subsidy could be paid for labour. Instead, policy has to be flexible.

5.2 Poor people?s views on urban land and development (Homeless People?s Federation)

Problems in the relationship between the poor and government:

In HPF experience, government runs away after its input. Government does not want to hear the poor. Government wants to do its own policy, does not want to hear what the people suggest. Government does not want to support the people. Instead it is building the professionals and other stakeholders. Its not interested in the poor.

The relationship between HPF and Gauteng Province is very difficult. HPF has built houses, but Province is not giving these people their subsidies.

The Homeless People?s Federation is having serious problems with the City of Johannesburg. Every time you want to meet with the City, they?re not there. The Johannesburg Federation works better with the Province than the City of Johannesburg. Ekhuruleni Metro gives a meeting any time!

Government ambiguity and lack of transparency on land:

Gauteng Provincial government was owning 13% of the land. There is no transparency, the Province is not saying which land it owns. Its similar with the geo-technical statistics on land. Government does not come and tell the poor about the statistics. They just come to the poor and say its dangerous to live here. No evidence is given.

There is an issue with land. In Alberton [Ekhuruleni Metro] people clubbed together and bought land, but government delayed in supporting this. Government calls its development ?people?s development?, but when people do own the development (as in the Alberton case), government calls it ?private development?.

Those that are on land formally are facing problems. If you don?t pay for your services, you get a warning, and they evict you. That is why people go to informal settlements.

The role of informal settlements within HPF:

As an organisation of housing savings schemes, HPF can look at informal settlements from a different way. To them, informal settlements are areas where people can learn for their future and their children. People choose where they want to live, they chose where they live now.

Problems experienced with relocations:

Lets look at government policy for housing: With relocation, they put you far away, somewhere where you have no relatives. It?s a one-roomed house. This house is nothing to you, its as if they gave you nothing.

Government is very clever. It builds houses very far from town, so the poor can?t get to the city. The services cost R500-700. The poor can?t afford that.

Limitations of government?s PHP:

There is no real PHP. People should be at the centre of development. SAHPF and other homeless people?s organisations are the masters of PHP. Pinki Vilakazi came and copied our system, and then called it the government?s system. If government can work hand-in-hand with us, we won?t bark at government. Government is full of delaying tactics, of bubblegum promises.

5.3 CLOSING DISCUSSION on a way forward

Landless People?s Movement: Government issues some food parcels to informal settlement residents, but they go to the government officials. You don?t get them unless your ANC. Government must hear our problems. We want to support ourselves, plough vegetables. We?re not asking for heaven. We?re only asking for upgrading of informal settlements. Something must be done now. The people are tired of promises.

Joel Bolnick: Its important that we test communities to the same extent that we test government. To what extent have communities maximised possibilities with local government? There are vertical and horizontal issues. On the contextual differences, its important to note that there are less differences between informal settlements in Brazil and South Africa than between the rich and poor in Cape Town. One needs to recognise that this is a difference of class, not culture or race.

On the other hand, the voice of the people must be heard, as government thinks it can speak for the people.

Project team: It was agreed that this dialogue must continue, and that we would have another formal workshop in November.

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