Dr Claudia Loggia of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) presented preliminary findings from an informal settlements upgrading project in Durban at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and Housing held in Quito, Ecuador.
This was done in collaboration with the University of Westminster in London, the uTshani Fund and the eThekwini Municipality.
The presentation focused on preliminary results of the group’s ISULabantu Project – an informal settlements upgrading led by the community as a grassroots approach towards self-reliance in South Africa.
Phase 1 of the project was run by academics and postgraduate students at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, led by Loggia, who is Principal Investigator of the South African team.
The results uncovered barriers and drivers impacting on existing bottom-up upgrading of informal settlements and revealed factors that have enhanced self-reliance in informal settlements in the Durban Metropolitan area.
The presentation featured an overview of the research programme, and included a video showing the Durban context and the fieldwork so far.
This was followed by a panel discussion involving five high profile experts working on informal settlements upgrading in South Africa. They were the Head of Human Settlements at eThekwini Municipality, Ms Beryl Mphakathi; Professor Marie Huchzermeyer of the University of the Witwatersrand; Ms Emily Mohohlo of Shack/Slum Dwellers International; Dr Graham Alabaster of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, and Dr Zoleka Sokopo of the South African Department of Human Settlements.
Said Loggia: ‘The side event was a unique opportunity to engage in practical discussions on informal settlements upgrading with some of the major experts in the field. It emerged from this interactive initiative that it is essential to build trust with the communities, who should take ownership of the upgrading process.
‘This should be reflected in the skills and capabilities that communities and local authorities need to develop further for effective community-led upgrading, including the development of effective interim tenure forms to enhance the occupational rights of local communities.’