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ISULabaNtu at the SASUF Sustainable Urbanisation Symposium

Dr Claudia Loggia represented ISULabaNtu at the SASUF (SA-Sweden University Forum) Symposium held at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elisabeth on the 7th-8th May 2019. The Symposium was convened under the theme ‘Sustainable urbanization through research, innovations and partnerships’ to create a platform for the exchange of knowledge on the current, trans-disciplinary research efforts and share information on practical, innovative urban and rural development projects responding to the rapid urbanization challenge which faces cities in South Africa, Sweden and the rest of the world. The Symposium focused on the following sub-themes:

• Sustainable peri-urban and rural development;

• Urban renewal and redesign;

• Public spaces and inclusivity;

• Curriculum enhancement and system-wide capacity building; and

• Cutting edge innovation projects driven through partnerships.

Claudia presented a paper titled ‘COMMUNITY-DRIVEN UPGRADING FOR SELF-RELIANCE IN SOUTH AFRICA: THE ISULABANTU PROJECT IN DURBAN’, as part of the urban renewal and redesign parallel session. The study seeks to analyse preliminary lessons learned from the extensive fieldwork activities over the last three years of the project. Claudia presented also the ongoing discussion of phase 5 of the project, around the development of a toolkit intended as a ‘living conversation’ to share knowledge and resources within local communities seeking to upgrade their settlements. Some of the participants from the National Department of Human Settlements expressed concerns about the permanence of informal settlements after upgrading interventions, which shows the failure of certain projects.

The same day, Claudia participated in the Academic Advisory Panel for the Science Technology Innovation for Sustainable Human Settlement (STI4SHS) Road Map, organised by CSIR and the SA Department of Science & Technology. Colleagues from CSIR have presented the status quo report and the vision 2030 for sustainable human settlements in SA. Different forms of innovations (e.g. innovative building technologies) and the role of academia in providing evidence based projects have been discussed.

On May 8th, the conference delegates visited the Walmer GQEBERA Phase 1 project, close to Port Elisabeth airport. There, some officials from the Provincial Department of Human Settlements presented the project, which is an example of Enhanced People Housing Process (EPHP) whereby beneficiaries are involved in the decision making and make a contribution. This project phase 1 is expecting to deliver 500 houses to informal dwellers living close to the airport. This is an example of in-situ upgrading where, according to the project manager, ‘the community has taken ownership for the implementation of the project through registered cooperatives’. It is expected that this project serves as a catalyst to create job opportunities and build the economy of this marginalized community.

Overall the quality of the houses built by these co-ops seems far better if compared to the standard subsidized RDP units delivered by local Municipalities. However, the costs are much higher and unfortunately, also in this case, the permanence of informal dwellings can be immediately observed after the completion of the house, claiming more space for the household (see the picture below).

You can find more information about the SASUF symposium here:

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