Cast Of Characters

The Partnership:

Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) – Project Sponsor


Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), a nongovernment organization, seeks to address the needs of impoverished communities through partnering grassroots organizations, private individuals and collectively mobilized communities. By acting as a breeding ground for these partnerships, CORC provides an increased flow of knowledge between groups and communities attempting to accomplish urban and rural community development. Bringing forward thinking individuals and communities together, CORC also attempts to “create solidarity and unity” (CORC Mission Statement) within the community. This aids the community in many ways including more effective bargaining with government entities. CORC also emphasizes the need for these partnerships to pursue environmentally sustainable development while achieving their goals.

Role in Our Project:

CORC was a key part of our project work, having already established a trusting relationship with community leaders.  Additionally, they were ready to integrate us into the partnership work and its intricacies, so that we might be of use to improving Mtshini Wam’s reblocking process.  Utilizing their technical and organizational backgrounds, we worked collaboratively to provide the community with benefits in reblocking and community initiatives, which are detailed in our ‘Project Work’ and ‘Beyond Reblocking’ pages.

To learn more about CORC, click here

South African Alliance Shack/Slum Dwellers International SDI – CORC 

Important Contacts:

Our CORC Liaisons are Sizwe Mxobo a CORC Mtshini Wam Project Manager and Adi Kumar, a technical coordinator and a CORC Langrug project manager. A special thanks goes out to both of them for all their support and assistance.


Informal Settlement Network (ISN)


The Informal Settlement Network (ISN) consists of community members of informal settlements from across South Africa. Regional leaders are grouped in teams, and there is also a national coordinating team. Partnered closely with FEDUP, the ISN members work to get the methods of informal settlement upgrading to be used by those who are responsible for improving the situation in informal settlements (SDI 2012).

The ISN believes in learning by doing, working with communities on planning and also empowering them, and they believe in building on existing assets and catering the planning to the capacity of the community, resulting in a very customizable upgrading approach. They also believe in inspiring poor communities, and getting them to realize that they are citizens and therefore have a say, and have rights that need to be fought for (SDI 2012).

The ISN has three objectives. The first is to get the communities organized and united, where they will be given the knowledge and skills coupled with the scale of the now united communities to make real change. ISN is also building a national urban network of the poor for learning and lobbying so that the communities have the ability to affect a city or national agenda. Cities will have to consult communities when planning redevelopment, and communities have the ability to hold authorities accountable for their decisions. The ISN also wants to change the way that planning happens, and change the way that public funds are used, giving more power and say to the community members (SDI 2012).

Role in Our Project:

ISN was able to provide help to our student project in the form of meeting facilitation, often assisting to translate from Xhosa to English and explaining our standpoint toward community work in more depth.  They were also able to provide us with aid on getting the community workers’ reblocking certificates well fashioned, so that the 45 members of the EPWP employment scheme would have additional credentials in the search for economic opportunity following reblocking.

Click here to learn more

The City of Cape Town


The City of Cape Town, South Africa was founded in 1652. It was home to many European influences as well as local cultures. Today the City is a melting pot of culture and language. Spoken languages include Afrikaans, Xhosa, English, Zulu and Sotho, representing its rich diversity. Cape Town boasts a large harbour, airport and a network of modern infrastructure. Tourism also supplements the City’s economy even when not hosting the World Cup as was done in 2010. Three public universities lay within Cape Town, supporting the graduates of the province’s primary and secondary schools. The Executive Mayor states in her mission statement for Cape Town that addressing poverty and exclusion issues are the top priority for the City. Within the City of Cape Town, there are many agencies that are crucial for informal settlement upgrading, most importantly is the Department of Human Settlements.

Role in Our Project:

The City of Cape Town played a vital role in the success of our project work during our 7 weeks in Mtshini Wam. We were able to hold multiple meetings with City Representatives from the Department of Human Settlements in order to gain a better understanding of the reblocking process in place in Mtshini Wam, and the role that the City plays in the partnership. With the completion of reblocking in Mtshini Wam, the Municipality will be moving forward in surrounding informal settlements for upgrading; thus, providing the City Officials involved with a guidebook on efficient reblocking will prove tremendously helpful to their housing projects.

To learn more about the City of Cape Town’s local municipal chapter, click here

Important Contacts:

A special thanks goes out to Leon Poleman, Project Manager in the Department of Human Settlements, for his generous and extensive work with our group to increase the quality of life for the people of Mtshini Wam.

The Community Reblocking Team


Either employed by the South African Extended Public Works Programme for the duration of this project, or simply volunteering their time to make Mtshini Wam a true home, these are the community members that most influenced our project. Many are team leaders and have assumed increased responsibility for assuring a successful reblocking project. Meet the Reblocking Teams.

Touching The Earth Lightly

Overview: Touching the Earth Lightly is an innovative organization working to create conservation, job, and design opportunities to the urban landscape.  Led by Stephen Lamb, the group strives to build people, employ women, create low-tech solutions, and utilize recyclable materials in the effort to enhance the quality of life with easily accessible resources.

Important Contacts:

“Stephen was recently invited to design and build the entrance pavilion to the 9th Shanghai Biennale. He collaborated with Andrew Lord to create the inverted hanging mushroom garden Liter of Light pavilion.

Here they collaborated with the Liter of Light Foundation in the Phillipines.” (From TEL’s website,