Unreblocked shacks in Mtshini Wam.

A housing crisis currently exists throughout South Africa, and as a result, millions of citizens are living in shacks in areas known as informal settlements. These environments pose many health and safety risks, including limited access to clean water and sanitation, coupled with the risk of floods and fire. Despite these conditions, over 3.6 million South Africans reside in informal settlements, which have grown rapidly in the post-apartheid era (Hasselhorn 2012).

The racial policies of apartheid forced many non-white South Africans far from the economic opportunities of the city. In 1994 apartheid ended and the constitution was heavily revised, lifting the geographic restrictions placed on non-white citizens. In response, migration to urban centers in the pursuit of financial opportunity accelerated, and settlements comprised of salvaged material shacks began to develop on both public and privately owned land, including flood plains, road reserves and dumpsites. With the rising number of informal settlements and new constitutional requirements to provide housing and services to all South Africans, informal settlements were finally recognized as a critical state issue. To provide housing opportunities, the government typically proceeded in a mass eviction, relocation and housing subsidy program. Only recently has the City of Cape Town partnered with the Informal Settlement Network and Community Organisation Resource Centre to practice a very new and innovative method of informal settlement improvement, called reblocking.

Read more about Reblocking and its benefits.