Sheffield Road Upgrade: Community Mapping

Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by

Sheffield Road is an informal settlement situated on a road reserve set aside for future extension, near the busy N2 freeway in the Philippi township of Cape Town. Residents suffer from problems such as overcrowding, severe winter floods, and lack of tenure and services. The Sheffield Road Upgrade, a joint project between the city of Cape Town and a South African SDI alliance of the Community Organization Resource Centre (CORC), the grassroots organization Informal Settlement Network, and the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP), a women’s savings group that came about after the successful upgrade of the Joe Slovo informal settlement after a fire that left 1,500 residents homeless.

Using SDI’s community-mapping tool, Sheffield Road residents drew a physical representation of the settlement, including houses, shops, pathways, water points, and electric poles. Visualizing the physical situation enabled them to plan and prioritize improvements. Maps provide detailed, accurate, firsthand knowledge, effective for planning, mobilizing, and negotiating with local authorities. The survey and map identified 167 shacks, five shops, 542 people, seven functional toilets (78 people per toilet), and no showers (people bathe at home or in public). Another SDI tool, community enumeration, calls for slum residents to count themselves, creating a detailed socioeconomic profile that mobilizes the community and is key to sustaining upgrading projects.

The most urgent need residents identified was sanitation. The city consulted with the community on where to place new taps, drains, and toilets. The alliance, with community residents, re-blocked a portion of the settlement, demolishing and rebuilding shacks in different positions. The first cluster of twelve 15-20-square-meter (161.5-215-sq.-ft.) houses was completed in 2010. Brick thresholds protect the structures from flooding and new safe courtyards provide open space for play and washing.

Sheffield Road settlement community and SDI alliance: Community Organization Resource Centre, Informal Settlement Network, Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor, Ikhayalami. Philippi, Cape Town, South Africa, 2009–present.

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