Exploring auto-construction in informal settlements as an alternative housing strategy in Cato Manor, Durban : a proposed incremental housing development.
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By 2030, 71% of the South African population will live in urban areas. Currently, 1 billion people worldwide live in informal settlements. Providing urban dwellers access to adequate housing is an immense challenge throughout the world and particularly in South Africa. Cato Manor is one of the oldest informal settlements in Durban, and is home to 93 000 people. It is characterised by the resident‟s struggle to claim a Right to the City. Many people have settled here due to its proximity to the city. In the South African context, the delivery and availability of housing remains a pressing issue. A long tradition of informal, self-built housing, or auto-construction has undoubtedly shaped the city, yet remains an unacknowledged resource in the strategy for housing. In order to mitigate the socio-economic problems brought about by apartheid, and address the new constitutional right for all to have „access to adequate housing,‟ the post-apartheid government implemented the Reconstruction and Development Programme to build and allocate houses. The RDP project does not fully consider the needs of people, most of which experience financial instability and under-employment. Further the ever-growing backlog for RDP homes means that the average person is on the waiting list for 15-20 years. Adequate housing entails the provision of more than just a house for residents in informal settlements. The incremental approach offers residents more flexibility, and an opportunity for their homes to grow with the family. Through an exploration of the practice of auto-construction as a resource, the aim is to suggest a more holistic approach to housing, infrastructure and community networks in informal settlements. This is achieved by improving the quality, flexibility and satisfaction of living environments for residents of informal settlements.