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Cape Town’s Growing Informal Settlements

Cape Town’s Growing Informal Settlements

Cape Town Metro has almost as many informal settlements as the entire Western Cape Province according to a survey by provincial government.

193 000 households living in informal settlements

Population growth, urbanisation and inadequate planning have led to an increase in informal settlements in the Cape Town area. Cape Town metro has 204 informal settlements even through it occupies less than 2% of the provincial land, presenting government with a big challenge for future city planning, housing and growth. And while legislation has been put in place to protect unoccupied land from being claimed by informal settlements, more and more shacks are creeping up in wetlands and areas inhabitable in winter months.

Provincial Anti-Land Invasion Unit

Prior to the establishment of the City’s Anti-land Invasion Unit, there were little to no structures and barriers in place to stop people from illegally occupying City and Provincial land. The unoccupied land had sometimes already been allocated to residents on the housing waiting list which further delays the 400 000 residents on the list from receiving their homes. The Anti-Land Invasion Unit is tasked with demolishing illegal structures on City and Provincial land in order to contain the rise of informal settlements in the Cape Town area.

Health challenges in informal settlements

In addition to the fact that informal settlements are illegal when built on City land, it also creates some troubling health challenges to both government and residents. Tandeka Gqada, Mayoral committee member for Human Settlements, said that due to the density of the townships shack fires and sanitation are a major health hazard which endangers the lives of those living in informal settlements. As the shacks are built so close to each other, the City of Cape Town is unable to build flush toilets in the community. The strain of funding further reduces living conditions with government having to allocating an estimated R292 million for electricity and a further R521 million for water and sanitation in order to improve the quality of life in Cape Town’s Townships.

Volunteer organisations in informal settlements

To support local government in their aim to improve the living conditions of residence in informal settlements, especially the children, Dreams To Reality as volunteer organisation provide volunteer programs in the Capricorn and Vrygrond communities. Volunteers from abroad are given the opportunity to assist those in informal settlements, giving them much needed relief and support from their deteriorating circumstances.

Find out how you can become a DTR volunteer, contact us today.

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