Learning from communities in informal settlements in Durban, South
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.