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Human Settlement Development project delivers community upliftment

Human settlement development, City of Mossel Bay, South Africa

30 September 2013 - An integrated human settlement development for the City of Mossel Bay, South Africa has received a Special Merit Award from the Southern African Housing Foundation (SAHF) during its 2013 International Conference.

Commencing mid-2008 and completed in August 2012, Aurecon was responsible for all the project management, consulting civil and structural engineering as well as the community liaison, dispute resolution and subsidy application administration for the project. The development was funded by the Department of Human Settlements of the Provincial Government of the Western Cape through state funded programmes and capital contributions by Mossel Bay Municipality.

Project history
Great Brak River, a former municipality was merged into the greater Mossel Bay Municipality. Over time, a few densely populated informal settlements (Gauteng, Klipkop, Brandjesnes and Wolwedans) emerged on the periphery of the then formal township area. Suitable land for the further development of formal low cost human settlements is virtually non-existent due to the extremely hilly topography of the area and the very high cost of private land. Resettlement of the households to housing projects in the distant Mossel Bay was never an option and innovative solutions to the in-situ development challenges had to be found.

The aim of this in-situ incremental upgrading of informal settlement interventions were:

  • Optimum utilisation of the available land parcels in and around the then formal township
  • Optimum gearing and utilisation of funding sources
  • Optimum collaboration between all relevant sectors of government and the local community
  • Innovative township layout planning to enhance integration and a sense of place, to minimise development costs due to the steep slopes as well as to kerb storm water run-off damage
  • Minimum inconvenience to all the beneficiary households during the construction and relocation processes
  • Maximum involvement of the resident communities (capacity building) and the total eradication of the informal settlements, its informal top structures/shelters and the unhealthy living conditions, etc.

The scope of the development was the provision of 675 fully serviced sites with 40m2 houses (two bedrooms complete with bathroom, solar water geysers and electricity). A full level of municipal services infrastructure was installed and due to the steep slopes and related soil conditions, three foundation typologies had to be designed. They included re-enforced raft foundations on platforms, conventional strip footings with re-enforced plinth walls and rib-and-block floor slabs on columns.

Human settlement development, City of Mossel Bay, South Africa“Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) principles were employed to the optimum during the development of the services infrastructure and the contractor employed for the construction of the houses made use of local sub-contractors, with batches of houses allocated to these sub-contractors,” said Francois Theron, Project Leader; Land Development Services. “This process resulted in a high level of employment of local people throughout the development period, and building/transferring skills within the community.”

This approach required special measures which had to be instituted to ensure skills development and quality control. Special features of this project included:

  • The establishment of a well-functioning Beneficiary Liaison Committee and a local Human Settlement Development Forum which contributed to the successful completion and integration of the project
  • Very challenging geotechnical and topographical conditions warranted innovative town planning, civil engineering and structural solutions during the planning and construction stages
  • The incremental development of the 675 plots (sites) and houses was done in-situ in the informal settlements as well as on adjacent ‘greenfields’ land parcels. Most of the beneficiaries came from the informal settlements with the result that an intricate relocation programme as well as logistical procedures had to be implemented and managed throughout and up to the resettlement of the last beneficiary household. Part of this extreme challenge was that there was no space to establish a temporary re-location shelter area during the construction stages, firstly resulting in all prospective beneficiary households being relocated onto the first ‘in-situ’ 210 sites in their informal structures and eventually 70 partially completed top structures (basic shell with toilet) being utilised as a ‘transition accommodation’ facility before they could occupy their new permanent houses.
  • A subsequent project to enhance land stabilization, through further EPWP interventions, will be implemented as soon as the necessary funding has been secured
  • Free ‘Product Enhancements’ from the top structure contractor, in the form of free solar geysers and plumbing installations, electrification of the houses and the establishment of a community facility (multi-purpose hall/building)

Winning this award is a testament to the teamwork portrayed by the Aurecon project team, the Mossel Bay Municipal officials and the funders, the Western Cape Provincial Department of the Human Settlements, under the leadership of Francois Theron.

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