Upgrading the K2 Informal Settlement through Community Collaboration


In South Africa, townships are known as underdeveloped urban living spaces reserved for non-whites during the apartheid era. These townships were frequently built on the outskirts of major towns and cities, growing steadily in recent years as people became freer to move to seek work and opportunity (City of Cape Town, 2011). Our sponsors, Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), have worked in many townships around Cape Town on projects concerning issues such as land evictions, informal settlement upgrading, basic services, and citizenship. CORC/ISN and our team worked in K2, an informal settlement located in Site B of Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s largest townships.  K2, like other informal settlements in South Africa, presents various challenges to the people that live there such as lack of access roads, high population density, and crime (CORC, 2014). One particularly important challenge at present is that of mobilizing community members to participate in new approaches to reshaping their own community. Instead of displacing residents, CORC/ISN seeks to improve communities using incremental site upgrading by working in conjunction with community members, NGOs and local government.

CORC/ISN have been working with the K2 community over the past year to build leadership structures and conduct an enumeration report which identified needs such as early childhood development programmes, a community hall, gardening, decentralization of toilets, and partial reblocking. Upon our arrival in late October, the community decided that their most immediate need was for a community hall. Without this structure, community meetings are held outside, no matter the weather. The community’s hope was that a hall would encourage more residents to come to meetings, as well as socialize and interact with other community members to help build a sense of community. The hall can also serve as a space for future programmes, such as a computer lab, study area, church, or crèche. The decision to work with community members and CORC/ISN on a community hall was seen as a first step in encouraging K2 residents to actively participate in the process of upgrading their community.

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Team Contact Information:

WPI Team: Paul Danielson, Cameron Downey, Amy Krayer, Veronica Soto-Belloso, Justice Williams

Contact us at: ct15-k2@wpi.edu (will expire May 2017)

Contact the project centre: ctpc@wpi.edu

To cite: Danielson, P., Downey, C., Krayer, A., Soto-Belloso, V., Williams, J. (2015). Upgrading the K2 Informal Settlement through Collaboration. Worcester Polytechnic Institute Cape Town Project Centre. Retrieved from https://wp.wpi.edu/capetown/projects/p2015/k2