A Baseline assessment for future impact evaluation of informal settlements targeted for upgrading
A report independently prepared by Dr Catherine Ndinda, a Habitat for Humanity SA Board Member, et al.
The upgrading of informal settlements programme (UISP) was designed in 2004, and its implementation has been in progress since then. The UISP is anchored on the foundational policies and programmes of post-apartheid housing vision as encapsulated in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), the South African Constitution, the White Paper on Housing (1994) the Housing Act (1997), Breaking New Ground (BNG) and other strategic documents of the Department of Human Settlements (DHS). The UISP also draws its principles from international experience on upgrading as articulated in various frameworks of the UN Habitat. The programme was designed in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and before the global economic recession hence, there is a need to integrate the notions of the current global and local development approaches in its revision. The revised UISP needs to be aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the National Development Plan (NDP).
This study reveals that informal settlements cannot be considered as temporary transit settlements of individuals seeking opportunities in urban areas. They are home to the urban poor who neither have access to subsidised housing nor to the private rental market, which remains beyond their reach. While the UISP has been valuable, there is a need for a policy on the upgrading of informal settlements. As international and local experience suggests, effective upgrading programmes are those where communities are involved from the planning to the implementation of the programme. The current design of the UISP does not provide an indication of stakeholder involvement in its design. The ex post design of the Theory of Change (TOC) and the logical framework reinforce the low level of stakeholder participation in the design of the UISP. Revisions to the UISP need to ensure that a wide range of stakeholders are involved in its formulation because when targeted beneficiaries can identify with the programme, then participation in its implementation and success becomes easier to achieve.
The vision of the UISP is implicit rather than explicit. In revising the UISP, there is a need to ensure that the programme contains a clearly articulated vision and mission that guides the implementation teams and agencies to achieve the specified programme objectives. The current UISP objectives are insufficiently specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and/or time bound (SMART). Despite the DHS’ setting the target of eradicating informal settlements by 2014, there were no specific targets set in terms of what the interventions proposed in the UISP should achieve. Consequently, more than 10 years following its inception, it has not been possible to clearly establish the impact of the UISP at national level. In revising the UISP, there is a need to ensure that targets are specified to allow for the measurement of the outcomes of the programme.
The baseline study findings point to high levels of deprivation amongst the most vulnerable who happen to be poor, African (87.6%), female (53.1%) and young (69.4% below 35 years), in informal settlements in terms of most of the development indicators. Fewer households in informal settlements have access to water, sanitation and electricity compared to the national averages of access. Food DHS June 2016 security is a serious challenge in informal settlements, with most households borrowing to meet their food and nutrition needs. So deprived are informal dwellers that they cannot secure credit to improve their dwellings, and they do not improve their dwellings unless it is absolutely critical. This is despite the fact that adequate housing is a right entrenched in the Bill of Rights. The assumption that informal dwellers can finance the consolidation of their dwellings without state subsidies would appear to be erroneous. From a policy perspective, the UISP is relevant and essential as it targets the most deprived populations in cities and towns, and provides poor populations with services essential for their survival. There is a need, therefore, to ensure that consolidation subsidies are spread widely enough for the majority of residents to benefit from the programme.
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