Welcome to Langrug

Langrug, located on South Africa’s Western Cape, is one of the many informal settlements formed as a result of the country’s rapid urbanization in recent years (Winter 2008). Langrug is home to approximately 1800 families squatting on government land in Franschhoek on the slope of a mountain. In the 1990’s this settlement was a haven for migrants from the Eastern Cape looking for job opportunities in wine factories in nearby Stellenbosch (Kenney 2011). Today, Langrug faces many of the challenges, including poverty and a lack of adequate water and sanitation services.

Figure 1: Map of Langrug

(Informal Settlement Network 2011)

An enumeration done in 2011 provides recent data on Langrug that is useful in not only recognising the community’s needs but starting their upgrading process (Informal Settlement Network 2011). The major findings in the enumeration are presented in the figure below. The report shows that the settlement is divided into three areas, Mandela Park, Nkanini and Zwelitsha. Both Mandela Park and Nkanini have functioning sewage and plumbing systems. Zwelitsha, which is located toward the peak of the mountain, has no flush toilets and only one water tap due to the challenge of pumping water uphill. Despite plumbing and sewerage in the two lower areas, the piping network is insufficient and the drainage is often clogged with paper and food scraps from to people trying to dispose of waste due to lack of dumpsters and trash containers. A shoddy road network, along with a lack of manpower and machinery, make it difficult for the municipality to provide sufficient trash disposal which in turn caused unforeseen sanitation issues (Informal Settlement Network 2011).

Table 1: Langrug Enumeration Table

(Informal Settlement Network 2011)

In Stellenbosch, 300 formal homes are created each year by the municipality (Community Organisation Resource Centre 2012), but unfortunately this cannot meet “the demands of the ever increasing urban poor” (Community Organisation Resource Centre 2012). Thus, the community has adopted a plan of upgrading settlements rather than relocating residents, through a process called reblocking. How exactly settlement upgrading, in terms of water and sanitation and the larger range of needs that comes with it, plays out is an ongoing challenge.

One way in which the Municipality of Stellenbosch has taken steps to upgrade Langrug is to provide basic sanitation needs including toilets and water taps. Still, not all of these water and sanitation provisions are functioning properly, as seen in the above table. This has been attributed to factors such as vandalism, and improper use (Informal Settlement Network 2011). Improved communication and community involvement surrounding implementation of toilet facilities may reduce these issues.

Figure 2: Greywater Channels in Langrug

(Informal Settlement Network 2011)

Greywater control is another major issue in Langrug. Greywater is non-sewerage wastewater, often produced from washing and bathing, which can cause major sanitary issues when uncontrolled. Since Langrug is located on a mountainside, rainwater is often difficult to control making flooding widespread due to poor drainage and lack of proper flooding channels. Many of the drains are very informal and makeshift and thus often over capacitated when dealing with large volumes of water (Informal Settlement Network 2011). Greywater streams run freely throughout Langrug creating a spread of disease as a result of bacterial growth. During the rain season, greywater often overflows into citizens’ shacks, exponentially increasing the potential for spread of disease and infections. (Harris 2011).

Figure 3: Over Capacitated Greywater Channel

(Harris 2011)

In many cases, local governments will adopt a strategy of relocating informal settlement residents to combat these issues they face. Currently, innovative partnerships are underway in Langrug between the community, Non-Governmental Organisations and the Municipality of Stellenbosch. See the Cast of Characters section to learn more about the major players in the Langrug project. Unlike governments in charge of many other informal settlements, the Municipality of Stellenbosch has been working with Langrug rather than fighting. This partnership can be seen as “the first step in a new direction: an incremental, people-driven and participatory process” (Community Organisation Resource Centre 2012). Furthermore, The Cape Town Project Centre has experience working with water and sanitation designs and concepts, giving the project centre a great potential for contribution. These factors lay the groundwork for a successful water and sanitation facility, but the challenge the community now faces is being able to learn from failed past initiatives to create a unique sustainable model.

The municipality is currently planning to introduce a large-scale, multi-purpose community facility to provide approximately 1500 of the residents with well-equipped and maintained toilets and other elements that are currently readily available to much of the population (Community Organisation Resource Centre 2012). The Cape Town Project Centre will be assisting in the implementation of this multi-purpose facility as part of the larger reblocking effort in Langrug.


Key Areas of Focus