Challenges of Reblocking


After our initial meeting, we broke up into three different groups. In the reblocking meeting, we discussed the different types of information that the community needs to put together to present to the Municipality. Two members from the WaSH team and two from the communications team were working with Trevor, Sizwe, Amanda and Scott to start identifying what needs to be collected and written to be submitted to the Municipality.


Trevor, Sizwe, Amanda, Scott, Juan, Brittany, Tim and Caryn


Wendy house on the afternoon of 23 October 2012


This meeting started with the WPI team asking the working group what had already been accomplished in terms of gathering information and what information was still needed. One of the first items discussed was how the written permission from each of the homes being reblocked should be kept together in a packet to be presented. Obtaining the drawings and measurements of the proposed reblocked section will also be important to give to the Municipality.

The biggest thing currently needed for the community to move forward with reblocking is the knowledge of how much the entire process is going to cost. There are three main partners working to push forward this process: the community, the Municipality and CORC. The people whose homes are being reblocked need to pay for a portion of the cost total cost. In order for them to officially sign off on a reblocking agreement, they need to know and agree to the individual cost they must pay. The community will be providing their own roofs for their new shacks, which will affect how the reblocked homes will be priced. The families have also stated that they only want help pay for the physical materials but not for the labour cost for construction. There are also other important costs that occur at a cluster level, such as land preparation, service facilities and professional consulting. Some additional expenses may also include the demolition of the current shacks and the temporary relocation of the families. All of these factors in the process require a certain percentage of financial participation from the affected shacks.

The second group of people that need to be informed of the cost is the Municipality.  The Municipality has agreed to help pay for the reblocking process. They cannot commit to a financial contribution until they know how much the process is going to cost.  This was one of the biggest factors holding the reblocking process back. Trevor and other reblocking team members presented a house-by-house breakdown of the costs. However, it did not show where those numbers came from and lacked the cluster-wide costs of the project.  While the community could move forward with the process on their own if they really wanted, they would not receive future help from the Municipality. This would also hurt their partnership in the long run.

The last partner that requires a cost figure for the reblocking process is CORC. Currently, CORC has agreed to fund 30% of the reblocking process. This amount may change depending on the future actions of the Municipality and the community. CORC had two representatives present during the meeting, and their experience, both technical and empirical, provided important insight and support to our discussion.

The most productive part of our meeting was when Sizwe got out a piece of paper that everyone could see and started to make a list of what we needed to price out for these reblocked homes. These parts include the walls, the roof, the wood frame, the plastic (DCP) flooring and the nails. We also discussed how optional amenity prices should be included to present to the Municipality.  These include things like insulation, electrical boxes, sand and rocks for a concrete foundation. The working group has talked to different members of the community that are being reblocked as well as priced out different foundations that could be used for these homes. They came to the conclusion that using a cement foundation would cost too much and would take too long to be a feasible option, yet Sizwe urged the group to reconsider foundation options since flooding is an issue that can be prevented with reblocking. Instead of individual foundations, a possible solution to this could be raising the whole cluster a few centimetres above the ground and channelling the floodwater throughout the sides. This, however, would be an extra cost in the process that might not be possible for the families to sustain.

During this meeting, we could see that Trevor was worried about presenting the foundation idea to the Municipality because they would want to go forward with this option and involve other professionals in the process.  If professionals are brought into the process, Trevor is worried that the reblocking would take much longer to get started, which would stifle any community momentum. The second problem with the foundation that was discussed was that cement foundations would add to the time it takes to construct new homes. Since these families will have to leave their shacks when they are being torn down and rebuilt, keeping the build time as low as possible will be crucial for this project’s success.

Even though these foundations are not wanted for the new homes, the importance of including this information in a report for the Municipality was talked about during the meeting.  One of the worries about not including the information for the foundation is that the Municipality will assume that no one thought about this critical aspect and will most likely hold up the reblocking process to look into using foundations. Other options, like the prices of insulation and electrical boxes, should also be included for the Municipality to look at for the same reason.

Through this meeting, all participants were able to gain a better understanding of what had been done so far and what steps need to be taken to start the reblocking process. With the community’s urgency to reblock, it will be important for these planning procedures to be almost done within a week or two so that the Municipality can make an agreement on funding. It will be important for our two teams to work together with the working group to form a spread sheet with the breakdown of cost for each new home and the total price of the project. After this, a proposal would be given to the Municipality for approval. Hopefully, a quick positive response will be given and Langrug can finally begin its reblocking process.


It was frustrating and a little confusing that the working group thought they were ready to reblock if only they had the funds when they had never done a cost analysis or other key steps in the process. This highlighted the major issue of needing a guidebook of some sort to formalise the reblocking process so communities are clear on the steps. A big issue that remains after this meeting is the cause of Langrug’s stagnation. Why did Mshini Wam, an informal settlement in Cape Town, reblock 11 clusters in under a year while Langrug has not started the first one after two years of work? What differences are seen in the two settlements that account for this?