Open Access (free)
Learning from communities in informal settlements in Durban, South Africa
Maria Christina Georgiadou and Claudia Loggia

In South Africa, over half the population live in urban centres, with one in five households living in informal settlements. Such unplanned settlements form a major challenge in the urban landscape, exacerbating issues related to poverty, inadequate infrastructure, housing and poor living conditions. This chapter investigates various interpretations of self-help approaches, as the term is understood in different ways by informal dwellers, community organisations and external stakeholders, using experiences and lessons learned from good available practice in the Durban metropolitan area. Community participation through co-production strategies and participatory action research methods are used to understand the level of community empowerment and sense of local ownership. The concept of self-building is analysed in terms of identifying key success factors for supporting self-help activities by local government and community support organisations. The study also explores issues related to the project management of a community-led upgrading project, including the role of stakeholder management, procurement and project governance. Empirical data is gathered in the form of semi-structured interviews, observations and focus groups with community leaders, non-governmental organisations, municipal officers and industry practitioners. The research aims to build capacity in local communities seeking to improve their living conditions and assist local authorities in enhancing their planning mechanisms.

in African cities and collaborative futures