Participative Design, Final Choices And Micro Finance Back To News

Participative design, final choices and micro finance

The Empower Shack project aims to introduce an integrated approach to the upgrading of South Africa’s growing informal settlements, merging design innovation with community-driven spatial planning and livelihoods programming. The design processes of both the prototype and the urban layout have been iterative with back and forth engagements with all key stakehoders - the community, the City of Cape Town, ETHZ and Ikhayalami. In most instances ETHZ and Ikhayalami had to respond to the various requirements and needs put forward by either the City of Cape Town or the community.

A critical shift in the project came wth the City of Cape Town suggested we use foundations with block walls as fire-breaks. Initially the project embraced this suggestion in line with a usual re-blocking agenda however as things progressed it soon became evident from the City that the project would have to be viewed as a formal upgrade. This has slowed things down considerably as the project got stuck in numrous layers of bureaucratic red tape, the type of red tape we had avoided by going the conventional re-blocking route. However new innovations have come about through these changes for which we anticipate new methodolgies of upgrading will emerge.

The new prototype design has evolved from being a row of block housing to a mixed typology incorporating 3 dwellings on one 'plot' in  a triangular shape - this too came from wanting to dovetail with new City directives of minumum plot iszes of 75sqm of which ours is 90sqm. It was only once al these permuations and iterations were resolved that the micro finance model was finalised. As such since November to mid December Ikhayalami and the BT leadership have implemented a series of intense engagements with individual households so as to determine final unit sizes, affordability, loan term and repayment. The innovative concept of Land Release Credit has aided the project in virtual compensation for residents who have relinquished space to the project by enabling reduction in costs to the residents. In addition the project has subsidiesed households by 60% of the structure costs. This means depending on a households choice and previous shack size they will be paying between 0% - 30% of the structure costs.

All community members have made their final unit size selection with the approval of the BT leadership and Ikhayalami team in terms of clear understandings of households affordability (basaed on assemsenents done) and the level of household's ability to meet commitments in terms of community leadership scoring. The first deposits are expected in January.

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