On 11 September 2019 Dr Claudia Loggia was invited to present the ISULABANTU project at the UISP Community of Practice (CoP) Workshop organised by the National Department of Human Settlements in Johannesburg. The purpose of this CoP workshop was to share and exchange knowledge in the informal settlement upgrading space, while bringing together different stakeholders from the government, civil society, academia and local communities. Among the attendees, there were representatives from different Departments of Human Settlements (local, provincial and national), NGOs, research Institutions, academia and also local communities.
Firstly, the Chair, David Morema, who is the National Program Coordinator of the NUSP, opened the workshop by outlining the recent activities proposed by NUSP for informal settlements upgrading in South Africa. After clarifying the purpose of the workshop and presenting the concept note prepared by NUSP, David introduced all the three panelists representing respectively Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), the NGO Isandla Institute and ISULABANTU. A 30 minutes’ presentation, followed by 20 minutes of discussion, was delivered by the three invited panelists.
Claudia provided a brief summary of ISUlabantu’s aims and objectives, and then outlined the key findings (phases 1 to 5) together with latest engagement activities with local communities, as part of phase 5 (Toolkit Development). The presentation had a very positive feedback from the audience and was followed by a vibrant discussion around the role of Municipalities, the function of the proposed toolkit and the importance of community engagement. Claudia explained the role that eThekwini Municipality is currently playing in implementing the Upgrading of a settlement in Durban (Havelock settlement), because of all the work made through ISULabantu. In addition, Claudia presented the upcoming ISUlabantu events in Durban and London as good opportunity to continue the discussion around Informal Settlements Upgrading in South Africa.
The other two presentations focused, respectively, on a SERI project on Sanitation for Women with disabilities in IS and a guide for Municipalities developed by ISANDLA Institute titled ‘Advancing a co-production approach to upgrading informal settlements in SA'.
The workshop was concluded by a panel session, where the panelists and the audience discussed some key aspects and actions that need to be addressed by policy makers in the near future. Claudia proposed to give academia a more important role in bridging the relationship between municipalities and local communities and also creating an interactive platform to bring together all the different stakeholders (government, civil society, academia, local communities).