Human Settlements and Housing

In order to understand the affordable housing market in South Africa and its potential opportunities for both city governments and the private sector, the South African Cities Network (SACN) partnered with the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance (CAHF) to develop affordable housing profiles for each of its nine member cities. The intention of these profiles is to assist both the public and private sectors to better understand the workings of the affordable housing market. Each city profile also begins to identify some areas of investment and hopes to contribute towards changing the mindset that (to date) does not see this sector as profitable for investment and development.

Overview of Housing Markets in South Africa
Findings: Buffalo City Municipality
City of Cape Town
                  City of Johannesburg
                  City of Tshwane
                  Ekurhuleni Municipality
                  eThekwini Municipality
                  Mangaung Municipality
                  Msunduzi Municipality
                  Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality
Report Conclusion and Key Concepts

The Municipal Housing Leadership Forum focused on the key considerations for metropolitan housing and planning strategies for the political term following the 2011 South African municipal elections. The Forum identifies and reviews a number of challenges and opportunities that should be taken into consideration when developing a housing and planning strategy for the next five years.

Setting the context - key national policy drivers
Informal settlements and backyard rental
Law and order in metropolitan cities – land invasions and building high jacking 
Delivery constraints in the housing sector
Market failures
Community Mobilization
Support Programme for Public Housing Practitioners 


SACN contributed funding alongside the NRF and Wits University to support a group of Masters students’ fieldtrip to Nairobi, Kenya in September 2012. The group of 15 were students in the Wits Master's of the Built Environment in the field of Housing (MBE Housing) and some were in the MSc Development Planning taking housing electives.

Pedagogically, a visit to Nairobi was relevant from several perspectives:

  • Nairobi, as the host of UN-Habitat, has been at the centre of third-world housing debates in the literature since the 1980s.
  • Its government, similarly to that of South Africa, is developing ‘slum’ upgrading policy and gradually moving into implementation, while also striving for world class city infrastructure and facilities.
  • A robust debate exists on the relevance of different approaches to housing and informal settlement upgrading and the challenges in managing existing low income housing stock.
  • A first-hand experience of the ‘slum’ and housing environments and of the policy debates is an invaluable experience that will place this group of students in a better position to navigate the difficult world of housing/human settlements policy development in the countries in which they pursue their professional careers.

The selected students got to participate in various activities during the four-day trip to Nairobi:

Wednesday, 12-Sep-2012: Visits to Kibera settlement and Sanitary Facilities Project : Bio Center Innovations.
Thursday, 13-Sep-2012: Visits to Nachu (National Cooperative Housing Union) Office and UNHabitat.
Friday, 14-Sep-2012: Participation in “Re-Imagining Kenyan Urban Modernity: Symposium on the Slums Question in 21st Century,” a conference on slum upgrading & prevention policy hosted by the University of Nairobi and Pamoja Trust at the United Kenya Club.
Saturday, 15-Sep-2012: Visits to Mathare Valley and Kambi Moto in Huruma.

In addition to the invaluable learning experiences of the fieldtrips, the participating students had the opportunity to present papers at the symposium alongside Kenyan academics, practitioners and civil society activists.

The fieldtrip was led by Professor Marie Huchzermeyer of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, and associated with the university’s longstanding working relationship with the University of Nairobi’s School of Architecture, Design and Development.

The following field-trip reports were produced:

THE main theme of the Inclusive Cities programme revolves around whether residents have the opportunities and capacities to share equitably in the social benefits of city life. The programme objective is to enable cities to address the socio-economic challenges of South Africa’s segregated cities.

Conference report – October 2003
Parallel sessions on urban land management: By Dr Daniel K. Irurah
Rapporteur’s Report on Governance and Civil Society
Shelter and Services: Rapporteur Report
Rapporteur’s report – poverty, insecurity, vulnerability and displacement

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