Informal settlements often grow in a disorganised manner. New settlers must locate and erect their shacks as fast as possible in whatever open space is available in order to avoid eviction. This haphazard process often ignores accessibility to services and safety considerations (Gasparre 2011).

Many solutions to this problem have been attempted, but recent work by CORC and their partners in South Africa has shown promise in the development of an upgrading model known as reblocking. These communities are found to be more dignified and safe living environments where groups of shacks are clustered together into blocks sharing a common entrance and a courtyard-like area. Each home faces the courtyard where a single entrance ensures that no unwanted individual can intrude on the block. Additionally, reblocking projects rebuild improvised shacks with sturdier materials that can withstand fires and bad weather. All of these improvements generally come with a necessary financial contribution from the community. See the Mtshini Wam Project Page for more detailed information on Reblocking.

Planning with the Langrug Working Team

After exploring the proposed reblocking project in Langrug, we discovered significant technical and financial issues with the community-developed planning process and documents. The plans for the reblocked cluster showed inaccurate scaling and measurements and did not include a cost breakdown. We decided to obtain new measurements and double-check the information on F-section residents with the Working Team.

To assist the community, we broke down the reblocking process into three aspects:


After explaining the importance of accurate data collection to the Working Team, they were able to better understand the Municipality’s concerns regarding the readiness of the community to reblock and were able to move forward with the planning process. As this work progressed, a guidebook was developed to introduce a systematic approach to the previously undocumented reblocking process.