Sponsor: Department of Integrated Human Settlements

The Municipality of Stellenbosch signed a memorandum of understanding with the community of Langrug, showing its faith in the success of community-driven settlement upgrading initiatives. The document however, also places more pressure on the Municipality to be a cooperative actor throughout the endeavour. Due to this, the Municipality’s Department of Integrated Human Settlements (DIHS) arranged for WPI’s involvement in the process. The DIHS is a relatively new department with a staff of six people that are actively involved with the community programs. Our liaison within the DIHS is its Deputy Director, David Carolissen. His assignment within the department is the management of informal settlements with regard to their relation to the Municipality. This puts Mr. Carolissen very close to Langrug’s development initiatives, and he possesses direct knowledge of the key issues and achievements of the community.

The DIHS is steadily growing so that as more projects are opened and more manpower is needed, the department has the capability to respond accordingly. Currently, there are two main people we will interact with besides Mr. Carolissen within the DIHS: Harold Lamberts and Hendri Steenberg. They are the two field officers in the department, and past WPI experience has shown they will be available to work with us when needed. Beyond these important contacts, the DIHS can provide technical access to Municipality databases, maps, printers and other technological assets. Most importantly however, the DIHS can provide intial guidance within Langrug, knowledge of its groups, commitees and the general strategies currently being implemented.

The DIHS feels that the co-researcher team could be an asset in facilitating the upgrading process by providing leadership and connecting the community to the DIHS. The achievements of the co-researchers with the two WPI teams last year showed their potential, and the DIHS wishes to maintain this model for future work. Besides acting as leaders to the Langrug community, the co-researcher team can develop an understanding of the different stakeholders involved in the upgrading of the community. In turn, this can make them effective facilitators between the involved parties, communicating issues and plans both to the community and other agencies. The DIHS has good relationships with both the co-researchers and Langrug, and keeping these as strong as possible through open communication channels is crucial to the success of Langrug’s program. A strong co-researcher group can help Mr. Carolissen and the DIHS to effectively allocate available resources, provide leadership, gather information directly from the community and serve as a bridge between the community and other stakeholders.