Know Your City & 100RC Joint Work in Cape Town

by James Tayler

This report outlines the engagements between the South African SDI Alliance and the City of Cape Town, as part of a partnership between 100 Resilient Cities and SDI’s Know Your City programme. 

Initial engagements with 100RC City of Cape Town: the Agenda Setting Workshop (19 May 2017)

The SA SDI Alliance involvement in the 100RC activities of the City of Cape Town began in earnest on the 19 May 2017 when the members of the alliance together with SDI attended the agenda setting workshop hosted by the City of Cape Town.  The Alliance presented profiling and enumeration work done in partnership with the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Department of Human Settlements in the Western Cape — the key being to reaffirm the position that community driven data collection not only produces excellent data but also places communities at the centre of their own development agendas.

At the event, the team worked in a small group with the Mayor and the facilitators took the participants through a process of identifying shocks and stresses that affect the city. This was then mapped and it was clear from this exercise that the stresses identified, when mapped, basically reproduced the spatial footprint of informality.

This event saw the naming of the CRO and Deputy CRO and laid the foundations for future engagements with the alliance around resilience issues.

Picture1Members of the SA SDI Alliance team and SDI participate in the identification of priority shocks and stresses (Mayor Patricia De Lille & CRO Craig Kesson)

The use of KYC data to engage the City of Cape Town (16 March 2018)

While this connection to the City of Cape Town 100RC process was underway, the alliance also identified another strategic objective in trying to link its strong data collection processes to resilience building in Cape Town. In particular, it was clear from the agenda setting workshop Cape Town was not equipped to address some of the fundamental daily stresses that face the residents of Cape Town’s informal settlements. From the Alliance’s perspective, the need for basic services was a critical starting point. The Alliance developed a parallel strategy, using Know Your City data as the basis for engagement with City departments.

On the 16 March 2018, the Alliance secured an introductory meeting with the Director of Informal Settlements, Riana Pretorious, which was attended by FEDUP and ISN members from across Cape Town as well as key officials from various line departments. This meeting built on the introduction that the Alliance achieved with Ms Pretorius in February 2018 at the African Centre for Cities Urban Conference where she sat on a panel with Rose Molokonae (FEDUP coordinator) and SDI affiliates from Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. This panel discussion opened up the space to discuss the power of community collected data and Ms Pretorius approached the Alliance afterwards for a follow up meeting.

The meeting on the 16 March 2018 sought to achieve the following:

  • Present a clear picture of who the SA SDI Alliance is, what it does, and how it operates
  • Present an overview of the city’s informal settlements using sub-regional reports based on KYC data.
  • Specific asks:
    • What projects can we collaborate on?
    • How do we get our communities’ projects onto the budget for the new financial year?
    • Can we target one settlement per sub-region where we try to demonstrate an effective partnership with the CoCT?
    • Is it possible to convene an inter-departmental team working with the alliance to tackle the settlements with the toughest problems in Cape Town?
  • Discuss potential exchange to Nairobi for exposure to Mukuru project
  • 100RC feedback

The biggest outcome of this meeting was to hold 4 sub-regional forums across the city where CoCT and various line departments would meet with communities from the sub-regions. This would be based around discussing data with a focus on the provision of basic services.

100RC Inception meeting between CoCT and the SA SDI Alliance (4 April 2018)

On the 5 April 2018, the Alliance met with the CRO and deputy CRO for an inception meeting to begin sharing between the CoCT resilience team and theAlliance. The Alliance used the meeting to cover all aspects of our work and from the City’s side they began to share some of the work that had been started. What was very important to note is that Riana Pretorius was also part of this meeting. The deputy CRO would be the main connection to the alliance team but it was stressed that the aim of the CoCT resilience team would not be to duplicate work already being done between the Alliance and the informal settlements department but rather to enhance it.

Out of the meetings mentioned above, a series of activities unfolded over the period April to August 2018. What follows is a table summarizing the activities and some of the key outcomes achieved.

Month Activities
April ·       Lead up to first sub-regional forum with the CoCT – alliance prepared sub-region with analysis of data, overview of projects, budget workshop with the help of the IBP to unpack the specific City budget for the specific sub-region

·       18 April – first sub-regional meeting held in Blaauberg. Alliance.

Outcomes of meeting and action items 

1) Quick wins – 4 settlements for basic services

  • Joe Slovo: Marikana and Siyahlala
  • DuNoon: Ezulwini and Soweto
  • Action item: arrange walk about on DuNoon and Joe Slovo site
  • Follow up discussion: toilet issue

2) Settlements under threat of evictions – win-win solutions

  • Joe Slovo: Siqalo
  • DuNoon: Ekupholeni and Soweto
  • Follow up discussion: evictions / demolitions / land invasions / planning together

3) Detention pond settlements and pilot project

  • Joe Slovo: Ekuphumleni, Siyahlala
  • DuNoon: Soweto , Ekupholeni
  • Follow up: 
    • Ekuphumleni as case study / pilot project
    • Set up a team of relevant officials to find solutions to above settlements

4) Other action items:

  • Mtshini Wam retaining wall
  • Exploring the realities of joint profiling and enumeration between Alliance and City for settlements that are not yet recognised by the City
    • How can the Alliance assist the City with service mapping – e.g. manhole mapping
    • Use Alliance enumeration data to identify who works close to the railway line in DuNoon (as Riana indicated that relocation of some people is likely)
  • Backyarder discussion: How does the Alliance engage with backyarders?
  • Who to contact to set up a walk about
  • Update from city about potential sites city is planning to acquire in DuNoon

5) Way forward:

  • City and Alliance to complete other regional meetings
  • Once we’ve done a round trip in all areas we create a list of action items
  • Today’s focus: basic services (easier to get on to budget)
  • Longer term focus: discuss alignment of budget and timeframes when it comes to in situ upgrading (tougher to get on to budget)
  • 23 April 2018 – Follow up meeting to present Preliminary Resilience Assessment for Cape Town to SDI – City Resilience team presented the PRA which revealed some of the main focus areas and how the city was rated in each area.
May ·       Lead up to second sub-regional forum with the CoCT – alliance prepared sub-region with analysis of data, overview of projects, budget workshop with the help of the IBP to unpack the specific City budget for the specific sub-region

·       8 May – second sub-regional meeting held in Mfuleni

o   Mfuleni settlements with no basic services including solid waste managements and electricity

o   Mfuleni settlements with inadequate basic services including solid waste managements and electricity

o   Settlements under and on servitudes

o   Settlements under eviction threat

o   Pilot projects appearing on BEPP

o   Proposed pilot projects

·      Lead up to third sub-regional forum with the CoCT – alliance prepared sub-region with analysis of data, overview of projects, budget workshop with the help of the IBP to unpack the specific City budget for the specific sub-region

·       16 May – third sub-regional meeting held in Khayelitsha

o   Overview of the region

o   Basic services, Electricity, water and sanitation, solid waste, settlements on servitude or wetland, public lighting, access roads, data collection, proposed pilot projects

June ·      Lead up to fourth sub-regional forum with the CoCT – alliance prepared sub-region with analysis of data, overview of projects, budget workshop with the help of the IBP to unpack the specific City budget for the specific sub-region

·       11 June – fourth sub-regional meeting held in Central sub-region

o   Settlements with no basic services

o   Settlements with inadequate basic services

o   Settlements under servitudes, detention, retention ponds

o   Pipeline projects

·       Official from Resilience Department attended engagement between CORC and Informal Settlements Dept. in Central Sub-region

·       Alliance members attended 3 focus groups for the development of the City Water Resilience Framework (CWRF)

·       22 June 2018 – Alliance hosted a site visit and engagement with community members for the consultants developing the CWRF

July ·       12 July – Consolidation meeting between Alliance and the CoCT around all discussions covered in the 4 sub-regional meetings, action plan developed tracking activities across 75 informal settlements, 7 thematic areas identified for follow up that would be developed into either forums, city wide programs or once off workshops.

·       16, 17, 18 July – Alliance attended the SDI hosted Resilience learning exchange in Cape Town. Director of informal settlements from CoCT in attendance along with deputy CRO from the CoCT. Deputy CRO agrees to a strategic follow up session for a deeper dive into the City Resilience Index tool

August ·       22 August – Meeting between alliance and deputy CRO for deep dive into CRI tool and mapping way forward for collaboration

o   Alliance to assess tool

o   Deputy CRO to share questions that build up the tool

o   Alliance to attend the CoCT PRA launch 21 September 2018

·       29 August 2018 – strategic review meeting between alliance and CoCT informal settlements department to discuss way forward.

September ·       3 – 8 September 2018 – alliance members to travel with Riana Pretorius from CoCT and David Ali from Provincial human settlements department Western Cape to attend a learning exchange in Sierra Leone.


Way forward

With respect to the interactions with the Deputy CRO the following way forward was agreed to:

  1. Alliance review of CRI tool and identify what questions were missing
  2. Look at identifying potential projects that could be done in partnership, exploring innovation around resilience building.
  3. Alliance to attend the launch of the Preliminary Resilience Assessment in September.
  4. Alliance resilience team and deputy CRO to meet once a month to track progress. Produce critique of tool and improve it to better reflect realities of cities with large amounts of informal settlements. Plan would be to link with other SDI affiliates who are linked to resilience cities and begin to develop a tool that factors in informality.
  5. Look at time horizon of three years – when the CRI could be run again but using our improved version – look at how KYC data could feed into this process.

With respect to interactions with the CoCT department of informal settlements using KYC data as a locus around which communities engage the city on resilience the following way forward was agreed, including concrete steps to deepen the partnership and the upgrading strategies in order to deepen and broaden impact.

Challenges and lessons learnt

It must be noted that the partnership between the CoCT and the Alliance is currently going through a rebuilding phase. This process has meant re-establishing trust and learning from the mistakes of the past. City officials in these engagements know the Alliance but have not held the space when changes in strategic leadership happened inside the city. A strategy needs to be developed to ensure that the partnership has ways of withstanding major institutional shifts.

From the city official side, it was noted that at times the city did not want to have communities present but through a process of building trust and creating safe spaces for sharing, officials began to understand that communities are a critical part of the alliance process.

From the Alliance, side the engagement of over 75 settlements across the city could be difficult to manage and at times leaders who were not fully up to speed with the rebuilding of the relationship used other forums of engagement to attack the city – this had the potential to set things back – but these issues were tackled between the Director of Informal Settlements and the Director of CORC as well as leadership from ISN and FEDUP.

On the CRO front, the challenge is to manage the expectations of the city who have put a lot of work into their  development framework without using the Alliance as a major stakeholder. This is shifting, however, and from the PRA it can be seen that informality has been prioritized within the city plans. The key is to develop clear lines of communication, dedicated teams assigned to specific tasks from both sides and a broad understanding of the strategic direction the partnership wants to take.


The resilience work in Cape Town has followed a two-pronged approach by developing a partnership with the CoCT resilience team as well as the Department of Informal Settlements and Backyarders. This does not exclude the building of relationships with various line departments in the city. The Alliance has learnt to develop these relationships at various levels to ensure that the changing of officials in strategic positions (which happens often in the city) does not derail the process. It is hoped that the relationship with the CoCT resilience team will help establish protocols of engagement that would withstand the institutional shocks that come along with municipal reshuffling and in particular try to drive a community process to the centre of municipal processes so that community engagement can be embedded inside the city and withstand the onslaught of the national elections next year.