The Project: Profiling Community Assets in Monwabisi Park, Cape Town

Problem Statement

Post-apartheid town planning and urban management has failed to restructure cities into more “equitable habitats” for South Africa’s citizens (Huchzermeye, 2009).   The end of the apartheid era brought job seeking migrants from the rural areas of the Eastern Cape to Cape Town.  Unable to find affordable housing in the central city, many built shacks in squatter settlements on the outskirts of the city. One such settlement is Monwabisi Park in Khayelitsha.

While some progress has been made over the last twenty years towards improving the lives of those living in informal settlements in South Africa, development is difficult, slow, and uneven. The more commonly used approach is for outsider experts to identify the most pressing needs in a community, and then try to allocate resources to address the problems. This approach to redevelopment planning typically fails to build on the capacities, resources, and social and economic networks of community members.

Mission Statement and ObjectivesIMG_0776

The goal of this project was to create through extensive community collaboration a document that describes the economic, social and cultural resources of Monwabisi Park.  It is a snapshot taken in 2010 and thus serves as a baseline. It is our hope that community members and others will add new material to this book so that the changing conditions of Monwabisi Park can be more easily identified and assessed. In order to achieve this goal, we accomplished the following key objectives:

  • Conducted key informant interviews with our project’s co-researchers (see Chapter 1 for more information about co-researchers) in Monwabisi Park to identify physical and social assets.
  • Conducted interviews with the leaders of the following key assets: churches, youth groups, spaza shops, barber shops, hair salons, a community hall, the weekend patrol, and crèches.
  • Created an electronic database to record interview data and create a baseline inventory.
  • Designed a layout and templates for a Profile of Assets book.
  • Trained VPUU Community Facilitators in computer skills to help them update the Profile of Assets.
  • Created pages on the Cape Town Project Centre website dedicated to our Profile of Assets book, with a downloadable version of the book, and separate pages for each of the six chapters that include extra pictures and videos from some of the assets profiled. Also created a page dedicated to training, including the training manual given to VPUU Community Facilitators as well as locked blank templates of profile pages to add to the book.

Executive summary [PDF]