Scene 2: First Trip to an Informal Settlement

Friday, October 31st


After the Early Childhood Development forum, the Energy Team has been waiting for a response from Rina; we are waiting to hear about the crèche leaders interested in buying Wonderbags and those interested in distributing them in order to move to the next step. At the same time, we are very eager to go to the informal settlements in person to observe the energy situation since we have not been able to do so yet. We talked to our advisors, Scott and Steve, about our idea of visiting an informal settlement and determined its benefits to our project. Therefore, we went to Langrug with the WaSH-UP groups on Friday.

Cast of Characters

WaSH-UP Business Group is coming up with the means of WaSH-UP (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Upgrading Programme) facilities and programs to be self-sustaining through entrepreneurial efforts at the Langrug facility.

Langrug Savings Group is a collection of individuals dedicated to improving the community of Langrug


The Energy Team went to the informal settlement of Langrug. This is a community located 45 minutes outside of Cape Town, near Stellenbosch. There are roughly 5,000 people living there. Only part of the settlement has official power, the rest has makeshift connections. The homes are all small shacks, approximately three meters long and two meters wide. There is a new WaSH-UP facility being constructed in the upper part of Langrug, where there is no power. The image below shows the informal Settlement of Langrug. The new WaSH-UP facility is in the early stages of construction. The cement has been poured around the support posts and the chemical bathrooms have been constructed. There is no plumbing or flowing water in this part of Langrug; therefore, the facility has several chemical toilets.




The plan for the trip into Langrug was to meet with community members and ask them about their energy usage, energy sources, and how much they spent on them. This would have required someone who worked at Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) or another member of the community who spoke English to act as a translator. Since these leaders were either in a meeting or working on the new facility, we were unable to speak with the community members.

These obstacles created new opportunities for us to explore. The group who was not in the meeting did speak some English; however, it was limited. Therefore, we helped them as they began work on the new WaSH-UP facility. The women were attempting to level the dirt underneath the foundation. These were harsh working conditions, due to the lack of shade, hot sun, and lack of water. After the WaSH-UP Business group introduced us to the workers, both WPI groups took over working for the women. This picture shows Steph, a WaSH-UP Business group member, working with Jing, Rachel, and Tati to level the ground. This was strenuous work, as there was a steep slope which required a large volume of dirt to be moved. Due to the tiring work and the lack of work space, we took turns leveling the area.

Tati, Rachel, and Jing working on the new facility

Tati, Rachel, and Jing working on the new facility

This allowed Rachel and Tati to play with some local children who came to watch us work. The next image shows Rachel, Tati, and the three children. The picture below that shows Rachel with the kids. They sang several songs with the children. Also, Tati showed them how to count to five using rocks and taught them how to play thumb war by demonstrating with Rachel first. The kids learned quickly and seemed to have enjoyed spending the day with the group members.

This work took over two hours, as long as the WaSH-UP Service’s meeting. The timing worked out well because everyone was ready to go at roughly the same time. Since we finished slightly before the meeting got out, the WaSH-UP Business group walked back to the bus and told us about the community, its members, and about the surrounding location.

Rachel and the Kids

Rachel and Tati with the children

Rachel and the Kids 2

Rachel with the children

Reflection and Learning

We had hoped to talk to community members about their energy usage and costs. However, since the team we accompanied had a meeting with the leaders we could work with, we were unable to accomplish our goal. Despite this, we were able to get valuable insight from our trip. We were able to get a feel for what an informal community looks like and see what the electricity set up is like. Half the community had formal electricity connections, while the upper half tapped into their neighbors connections. This raised many questions amongst us and prompted another visit to analyze these energy practices. We also got to interact with community members, especially little kids. This will be extremely useful when it comes to going to crèches and spending time with the kids and employees there.

Scene 3: Looking for New Products