Durban’s current pattern of informal settlement
is largely a product of apartheid factors during the second half
of the 20th century. The 1913 Land Act alienated Africans from most
of the land, forcing them wholesale into wage employment for survival.
During the 1930s, massive informal settlements formed just beyond
the urban fringes. In addition, the creation, during the 1960s and
1970s, of ‘independent states’ adjacent to city boundaries,
and including formal African residential areas, further spurred
the growth of informal settlements along the urban edge. Informal
settlements grew as a result of a lack of housing alternatives,
as well as the devastating drought of the late 1970s and early 1980s,
which forced people to seek livelihoods in urban areas.
Newer settlements that emerged during the late 1980s
and early 1990s have tended to be smaller, and more clandestine
land invasions closer to the city centre – often within former
Asian residential areas or on marginal land at risk from floods
or landslides. In many cases, these newer settlements were developed
by households who fled political violence.
Recent estimates have suggested that approximately
35 per cent of informal structures are located within pockets of
formal settlements; 55 per cent are located on the periphery of
formal settlements; and 10 per cent are periurban in location.
Slums are defined as erstwhile formal settlements
that have degenerated to such an extent that there exists a need
to rehabilitate them to acceptable levels. While there is no clear
definitive statement of what an ‘informal settlement’
is, factors taken into consideration when ‘classifying’
an area as such comprise an evaluation of the nature of the structure,
land-ownership, tenure situation, size of structure, access to services
and land-use zoning.
The predominant form of inadequate housing in the
city comprises informal settlements – characterized by construction
of varying degrees of permanence, with a variety of materials, including
corrugated iron, plastic, timber and metal sheeting, or built with
more traditional wattle and daub – that have developed on
apartheid ‘buffer strips’: marginal land within established
areas, or land that formerly lay beyond the city boundaries. Informal
represent about 75 per cent of the metropolitan gross housing backlog
of 305,000 units. The population living in informal areas is overwhelmingly
African; indeed, nearly half of the African population of the entire
municipal area lives in informal dwellings. Another form of inadequate
housing comprises the dilapidated and crowded hostels developed
to house and control (usually) male workers.
No data is available on the tenure in slums. Security
of tenure is calculated from the general association of tenure with
dwelling type and geographical location in the metropolitan area.
It is estimated that 75 per cent of the households in Durban live
in formal areas and have full security of tenure. Of the remaining
25 per cent, approximately 20 per cent (41,000 households) have
a level of security of tenure derived from tribal land allocation
systems; the rest (150,000 to 195,000 households) have little or
no security of tenure. All informal dwellings that were in existence
in Durban in 1996 were granted some status and security from arbitrary
eviction by the local authority. The municipality resists new settlements,
and attempts are made, with varying degrees of success, to keep
vacant land free from occupation.
The 33 per cent of Durban’s population who live
in informal areas are overwhelmingly African. 44 per cent are male,
56 per cent female and 27.9 per cent of the households are female-headed.
Informal settlements tend to be popularly regarded as incubators
of vice and disease, harbouring ‘those too lazy to work’
and groups regarded as the ‘undeserving poor’. The violence
that erupted during 1984 in the slums was, in part, a struggle for
the control of land, largely linked to the national struggle for
Between 1986 and 1992, 3228 people died of politicized urban violence
in Durban; increasingly, these deaths occurred in informal settlements.
The city has expanded its boundaries a number of times,
largely driven by the regulatory impetus to gain control of burgeoning
informal settlements that abut its borders and to protect and secure
the economic privileges of the white population. Since 1996, there
has been a dramatic transformation of local government focusing
on issues of equity, including integrated development planning based
on local-level community participation to develop a framework for
better governance. The Long-Term Development Framework focuses on
a development vision for the next 20 years; the Integrated Development
Planning Process seeks to achieve better coordination; and the organizational
transformation process of the council seeks to better reflect its
development and democratic priorities. These initiatives, however,
are still at an embryonic stage.
Critical reflection on housing, urban development
and other policies reveals a failure to adequately address the spatial
and socio-economic legacies of the past, and highlights the absence
of policies that specifically deal with the issues they raise. Given
lower-than-anticipated housing delivery rates and rapid population
growth, a significant housing backlog remains the issue of the future.
This is partly because responsibilities for implementation lie across
different tiers of government, and partly because of the complexities
associated with achieving coordinated public policy. Sectoral public
policies that are pro-poor have far less impact when they are not
implemented in a coordinated manner.
has been extracted from:
UN-Habitat (2003) Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, The Challenge
of Slums, Earthscan, London; Part IV: 'Summary of City Case Studies',