Question NW1827 to the Minister of Human Settlements

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20 October 2021 - NW1827

Profile picture: Buthelezi, Ms SA

Buthelezi, Ms SA to ask the Minister of Human Settlements

What has she found to be the benefits of the Better Living Challenge in the Western Cape where residents are taught how to improve their informal settlements?


Based on information received as well as a consultation with the Western Cape Provincial Department of Human Settlements, the Better Living Challenge (BLC) started in 2014 to respond to socio-economic needs of communities and to spur job creation. It was co-funded by the Western Cape Provincial Department, of Human Settlements and Economic Development and Tourism.

The target groups of the BLC are:

  1. Residents who only qualify to receive a serviced site from government and are required to build their own structures,
  2. Residents already living within informal settlements, to assist them to build safer structures and promote dignity by utilising the principles from the tutorials, and
  3. Small-scale builders who are already assisting residents in informal areas, which are key to economic empowerment.

The Western Cape Provincial Department of Human Settlements reported that they engaged with various communities, including in Du Noon, Khayelitsha and Philippi, on their needs and priorities to design the initiative to respond to the respective requirements and attain the necessary community support. The initiative is aimed at assisting those still waiting for housing opportunities and cannot assist themselves in any other way to, in the very least, build a safer structure. The initiative has been well received by the communities and was also nominated for a Human City Design Award in 2019 hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network, the Human Cities Network, and the World Design Organisation.

In addition, the incubator programme facilitated the training of fifteen (15) local small-scale builders from Du Noon, Khayelitsha and Philippi in the City of Cape Town informal settlements, not only building and material-selection skills, but also entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, and personal development skills. Workshops were held with community builders and stakeholders in Sibanye in Moorreesburg and Swartland, in December 2020 as well as with other communities in Grabouw in the Theewaterskloof Municipality. The BLC, via the Cape Design Institute, also developed tutorial videos, which is aimed at small scale builders and the facilitators, including municipal housing official, within the informal settlements upgrade sector who are conducting workshops with community builders.

The Province advises that the BLC has thus far assisted many informal settlement communities directly in the Breede Valley and Drakenstein Municipalities, and the Provincial Department has also shared the initiative with Non-Governmental Organisations working within informal settlement areas, Municipal human settlements and housing officials across the Province, relevant sector Departments and the National Department of Human Settlements.

The National Department has in place policies, planning, programmes and funding interventions to ensure that informal settlements are upgraded, and this includes ensuring households are provided with security of tenure and access to water, sanitation, energy with access to socio-economic development and opportunities, to ensure an improved quality of life.

The National Department of Human Settlements will undertake further consultation with the Western Cape Province to ensure that the outcomes of the BLC are congruent with that of the policies and programmes of the Department. On this matter the Department was advised that the BLC also includes an initiative to promote adequate housing. The Department has advised the Western Cape Province, that all the outcomes of the BLC must ensure that all required minimum norms and standards of the Department as well as compliance with building regulations and specifications. In addition, the dignity of all households must be respected.

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