Cast of Characters

In order to understand the communication network in Langrug, it is necessary to learn about each of the involved stakeholders.  This will allow us to understand how and in what order information is shared, and to determine where there are communication gaps for which we could potentially implement a situation. This network is visually represented in the following diagram:


The co-researchers are a select group of individuals chosen by WPI, SDI/CORC and the DIHS that implement various upgrading projects in Langrug. They serve as a bridge between various stakeholders: they are members of and advocates for the community in which they live, liaisons for SDI/CORC, and members of ISN. Co-researchers work directly with WPI project teams on various settlement upgrading projects and continue the projects after the WPI teams leave. The co-researchers put their work on hold in August 2012 after internal conflicts interfered with their work.. As of September 2012, they are back to working on their projects which include work in sanitation, HIV/AIDS, and other upgrading initiatives.

The co-researcher model is an important strategy in informal settlement upgrading projects. In Langrug’s case, each stakeholder interacts with the co-researchers directly or indirectly. This allows for active community participation in projects and a medium through which the remainder of the community can stay informed.


Langrug Community

The co-researchers must work in and work for the community of Langrug. That is, they are subject to the restrictions of their community, may they be cultural, societal, or logistical. The co-researchers are also working in order to improve the community, so the needs of other community members must always be kept in mind during upgrading projects. In the above diagram, the community literally envelops the co-researchers, providing the environment in which they work. Interactions with other stakeholders may be facilitated by the co-researchers, but these interactions also permeate through the entirety of the community. (See “Setting the Stage” for a detailed description of the Langrug community)


Department of Integrated Human Settlements

Within the Municipality of Stellenbosch is the Department of Planning and Development. This department organizes and funds urban planning projects throughout the Municipality, including Langrug. The Department of Integrated Human Settlements, a branch under the Dept. of Planning and Development, specifically targets urban planning in informal settlements like Langrug. This government agency has played a large role in the reblocking of Langrug and the deliverance of other services, such as funding for water and sanitation projects. Mr. Carolissen is the Manager of Informal Settlements for the Municipality. Mr. Carolissen is working alongside SDI/CORC to help upgrade and reblock informal settlements, and Langrug is the pilot project of this government/NGO alliance’s process. The budget for the Department of Integrated Human Settlements comes directly from Municipality funds. DIHS staff members work in Langrug on a weekly basis, interacting mainly with co-researchers and SDI/CORC in addition to other community groups.


Municipality of Stellenbosch

The Municipality of Stellenbosch is the overarching governing body that concerns itself with Langrug, as Langrug is unofficially situated on Stellenbosch property.  The Municipality includes the cities of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Pniel and the surrounding areas.  The Municipality itself falls in the Cape Winelands  District Municipality, which is in turn part of the Western Cape province of South Africa.  There are over 200,000 people in the Municipality, 26% of which are Black African, 55% are Coloured, and 19% are White. The official language of the Municipality is Afrikaans, although Khayamandi (a suburb of Stellenbosch) and many informal settlements principally speak Xhosa. Currently the Democratic Alliance (DA)  is in power, and Conrad Sidego is the mayor. In the above diagram, the Municipality sits on the border of the permeable membrane surrounding Langrug. This is meant to demonstrate its passive role in Langrug upgrading projects: while politics and internal restructuring may indirectly impact the work done in Langrug, the DIHS is the main connection between Langrug and the Municipality. It is important to understand that DIHS funding comes from the Municipality, and that Langrug is situated on Stellenbosch property.



Shack Dwellers International is the primary non-governmental organisation working in Langrug. SDI/CORC  has a direct alliance with the DIHS concerning the settlement upgrading projects. SDI has access to information, case-studies, and resources from SDI Worldwide, which conducts similar projects globally. Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) is a specific organisation within SDI that works directly in South African informal settlements. Its members work on the ground in Langrug alongside the co-researchers, the DIHS, and community members. The basis of SDI upgrading strategies is community-driven development. (Detailed information about SDI/CORC can be found in the Research Topics section)



The Informal Settlement Network (ISN) is a committee of representatives from numerous informal settlements that regularly meet and discuss daily life, upgrading projects, grievances, and successes. Trevor Massiy, Langrug’s leader, serves on this committee. The ISN creates opportunities to connect communities that are undergoing similar upheavals and restructuring; it serves as a bridge between Langrug and other informal settlements. Langrug community members can both learn from successes in other areas and provide models of their own upgrading triumphs to other communities.


Other informal settlements

Other informal settlements indirectly affect the work conducted in Langrug. These settlements serve as sources of knowledge but also as distractions from Langrug. While members of other communities do not frequent Langrug or take an active role in the upgrading there, the network of informal settlements (ISN) provides a pool of knowledge from which the co-researchers can learn. However it is necessary to realize that there are other informal settlements besides Langrug; these settlements could be working with the same stakeholders as Langrug, including SDI/CORC and the DIHS. The resources that these stakeholders provide are not all focused primarily in Langrug, but are instead distributed among various informal settlements. Mr. Carolissen of the DIHS, for example, divides his time between multiple informal settlements in the Stellenbosch area alone.


Cape Town Project Centre Teams

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will be returning to Langrug for the second year in 2012. In addition to the Communications team, another team will be continuing the WaSH UP project that was initiated in 2011. WPI teams serve as information bridges between various stakeholders, particularly between their sponsors (DIHS and SDI/CORC) and the co-researchers. The teams work directly with the co-researchers on various upgrading projects and provide outside insight and research. Students on these teams attempt to provide further external resources and connections to the Langrug community as it undergoes upgrading.


Scott Jiusto and Robert Hersh

Scott Jiusto and Robert Hersh are advisors to the WPI teams. Scott in particular connects the WPI students to the co-researchers in Langrug and members of SDI/CORC. These advisors maintain contact with CORC, the community, WPI, and (less so) DIHS. Having conducted research in the Cape Town area for multiple years, they are sources of knowledge for the WPI teams as well as familiar faces to the consistent actors at the WPI Cape Town Project Center.


External Factors

Outside of the permeable membrane surrounding Langrug lies various external factors. These include the media, vineyards, politics, and history.

  • The media, although somewhat utilized in Langrug, operates through various forms of technology that community members may not have access to. Langrug was recently featured in the media for winning an award.
  • Vineyards are owned by wealthier (usually white) citizens of Stellenbosch. These are a source of employment for the people of Langrug but also a source of potential conflict. The greywater runoff from surrounding vineyards has already been identified as a sanitation problem in Langrug (Overton, Momose, Kates, & Harris, 2011).
  • Blacks in South Africa generally associate with the African National Congress (ANC), but the Municipality of Stellenbosch is primarily governed by the Democratic Alliance (DA). Since Langrug is a black Xhosa community, this discrepancy in political representation is a potential source of conflict. There have been recent protests in the Western Cape that have political motivations behind the unrest (Phakathi, 2012).
  • The apartheid history in South Africa left blacks at a disadvantage economically and educationally. The consequences of apartheid are still felt throughout the country, particularly in poor black communities, like Langrug. Due to the apartheid regime, black communities were forced to live in impoverished settlements with little opportunity for economic or social advancement. After the regime was overrun, the majority of the black people left the oppressed townships outside of Johannesburg and flocked to Cape Town, which could not physically support the influx of people. Because of this, informal settlements were formed on the outskirts of the city.

Xhosa Culture

Xhosa culture exists on the inside of this permeable membrane. It is an overarching feature that is necessary to understand the relationships between various stakeholders. All stakeholders are somewhat influenced by Xhosa culture; interactions between various actors may be hindered or amplified because of cultural stipulations. (See Setting the Stage: Langrug for detailed cultural information)