The impact of peripherally located low income housing projects in Ethekwini municipality : a case-study of slum clearance project, Welbedacht East.
Sokhela, Sandile Chrizostomas.
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The study was conducted in the community of Wellbedacht East in eThekwini Municipality. Welbedacht East (WE) is located north-east of Umlazi Township and west of Chatsworth and also expands into the eNgonyameni Traditional Authority. WE is about 23 kilometres from Pinetown, 43 kilometres from Durban, and 15 kilometres from Chatsworth Centre. It is one of the development projects undertaken to spearhead the very ambitious programme of slums clearance, in order to confront the challenge of informal settlements in the eThekwini Municipal area. The study area has been chosen because it is one of the largest slum clearance projects in eThekwini Municipality (Durban) and it is peripherally located. Due to its peripheral location, transport services, and facilities such as schools, a clinic, a police station, churches and shops are either scarce, or non-existent. A systematic sample of 60 households was drawn from a population of residents whose characteristics had been considered to reflect those of the larger population. The project has 5000 sites and 3000 beneficiary households were relocated to this project from the inner city areas. The study is aimed at examining the impact and effects of relocation on beneficiary households in peripherally located low-income housing projects, to determine whether or not transport costs are higher in peripherally situated settlements than in more central locations, and whether residents in peripheral settlements are less able to access the benefits of urban living, including economic opportunities and social networks necessary for survival. It argues that the relocation of informal settlements to peripheral sites promotes an urban sprawl, and thus deviates from the eThekwini Municipality's goal of promoting development as a 'compact city'. The findings in this study are that, firstly, there is clear evidence to suggest that relocations to peripheral areas can cause significant harm to relocated beneficiary households' livelihood strategies, and secondly, that the municipality's failure to coordinate its relocations plan with other spheres of government involved with social service delivery, especially the departments of health and education, resulted in medium-term deprivation of access to social services. The conclusions drawn from the findings are that a holistic and integrated approach to housing development needs to be enforced, whereby the minimum facilities, such as schools, clinics and other social amenities are prioritised if the project is poorly located. The study therefore recommends that low-income housing projects be located closer to the economic nodes, in order to eliminate transport costs and other social difficulties associated with peripheral location. The compact city settlement design epitomised by higher residential densities and the development of multifunctional habitats would, to a greater extent, reduce the need to travel, and improve quality of life and access to urban goods and services.