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Cape Town focuses on plan for 'backyarders'

by Martin Pollack
on 15 Oct 2010
City of Cape Town
City of Cape Town

With thousands of families living in backyards across the Cape Metropole, the City of Cape Town has identified Hanover Park, Langa and Factreton as pilot areas in which to initiate a plan of action to meet their basic needs.

According to a sample survey conducted by the City's Housing Directorate, about 41 000 families live in the backyards of the City's rental properties.

Councillor Shehaam Sims, Mayoral Committee Member for Housing, says: "The survey found that the average backyard household consists of four members and that over 90% have a monthly household income of R3 000 and less. Backyarders also expressed their wish for access to own water, sanitation and electricity".

"It is clear that the scale of the backyarder phenomenon has been under-estimated. Results have also shown that solutions must be tailored to the particular needs of each area and that these need to be phased-in gradually," she says.

The City of Cape Town is the first metropolitan authority to launch a plan to address the plight of backyard residents in its own rental properties.

The plan has been created over a number of months. The first workshop to address the issue was held on 24 February 2010. In June, the City established a task team to drive its backyarder strategy. This was followed by a second workshop in September, at which the results of the Hanover Park survey were discussed.

"Short term proposals focus on access to basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity and refuse removal, whilst the medium to longer term proposals include legal, policy, regulatory, health and management issues. Key suggestions include a roll out by Solid Waste of a wheelie bin, black bag and waste room proposal per area, as well as the establishment of area committees in the pilot areas to update communities on progress," says Sims.

The task team will now appoint a service provider to survey the three pilot areas and recommend proposals which can be implemented in the rest of Cape Town.

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