WIT Press

Proper Homes, Toilets, Water And Jobs: A New Approach To Meeting The Modest Hopes Of Shackdwellers In Cape Town, South Africa


Free (open access)





Page Range

743 - 757




259 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


S. Jiusto & R. Hersh


With the global need for new approaches to sustainable development in periurban \“slums” as a backdrop, this paper reports on an innovative approach to community-based, in situ informal settlement upgrading in the Monwabisi Park community of Cape Town, South Africa. The program is an experimental effort to combine the creative resources of parties that often have difficulty working together to nurture local self-help efforts that, with judicious and limited outside resources, can lead to sustained provision of improved community services and infrastructure. Starting with a local street committee’s creation of a children’s crèche in 2005 and partnering with a small local NGO, the Indlovu Project has established a set of public amenities and a vision for the future that combines western sustainable development concepts such as permaculture with Xhosa cultural sensibilities regarding equity, ubuntu, collective decision-making and the nature of private and public spaces. The Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a US university, has through an experiential science-technology-society educational program begun engaging students and faculty members with community members and city agencies to develop an integrated plan for transforming the eleven year old Monwabisi Park squatter camp into an \“ecovillage” based on these local community perspectives and desires. This paper discusses the principles and strategies underlying the redevelopment effort; explores how students can be uniquely positioned as agents of redevelopment; and presents some of the unique strategies and services that are emerging through this collective effort. Keywords: informal settlement upgrading, urban sustainability, experiential learning, undergraduate education.


informal settlement upgrading, urban sustainability, experientiallearning, undergraduate education.