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"Endlovini" - meaning "like an elephant" describes the power of the early settlers in what is known as the Monwabisi Park informal settlement on the southern edge of Harare and Kuyasa suburbs in Khayelitsha.  Just more than 20,000 people live here in 6,400 informal (corrugated iron) houses with 360 communal toilets, two thirds of which are usually working and most of which are locked (claimed by adjacent community members). That is roughly 25 families to a loo.

Monwabisi Park (as the City prefers to call it) is currently subject to an in situ upgrading program being delivered by VPUU and can look forward to improvement in basic conditions some of which have already begun (viz. electrification and upgrading of communal standpipe sites).

Zoomed in the pattern of settrlement becomes clearer.  Note the "formal" brick houses to the north of the tar road are not much larger than the informal dwellings.

So as to identify stakeholders in the upgrading process and work towards acknowledging the land rights of inhabitants we drew the rooftops in using GIS.

Placing the GIS shapefiles on handheld Trimble Juno GPS units running Starpal's free-in-Africa HGIS app allowed out team (most of whom were living in Endlovini)  to give each dwelling a unique label on the ground.  The label and front door were photographed:

This number was then captured as a reference on each household survey (total 6,300) so as to create the desired database describing the community.  This database has become an instant deeds registry of sorts greatly assisting the "book" kept by the civic structure.  A recent site visit showed that after 2 years the numbering system retained a 97% accuracy across the settlement.

Of course there were learning curves and hiccoughs in this process.  Working in an fluid, informal environment with multiple service delivery organisations will lead to confusion.  Structures occasionally move and new ones are built.  Over the two years 30% of structures were further developed and houses were sold, new tenants arrive.  But overall the picture gained is powerful to the agents of delivery and the inhabitants themselves.

The database allowed VPUU to visualise other aspects of the community such as electrification status, structure materials (wood burns!), date of arrival in settlement and age/gender structure of the community all of which could be mapped to ensure better delivery of required services.