Creating a caring society, by Michael Sutcliffe

In our struggle against apartheid we placed a premium on creating a caring society in which there would be housing for all.

This is a massive task.

In the year 2000, with the launch of our democratic local government, more than two million people were still inadequately housed in eThekwini. And the matter is exacerbated virtually every week with whole communities flattened by fires in informal settlements.

There is nothing worse than seeing the hopelessness of people whose few possessions are wiped out because a candle blew over or an illegal electricity connection sparked a fire.

We have, however, come a long way in providing water for all and in providing about 15 000 housing units a year to the truly poor. We often don’t appreciate how remarkable that achievement is, but in fact we are world-beaters in this regard.

I have yet to find any Municipality in the world where 15 000 housing units are provided for free to the truly poor every year

But we still have much to do and we are working hard on a plan to accelerate the provision of housing so that by 2012 we will have effectively eliminated the existing backlogs.

Every month our Council’s Executive Committee is asked to approve funding for further housing projects and this past week was no exception. Because each project takes time to package and approve, we have decided to go ahead and start the work to bring forward the date of delivery. We approved more than R275m for housing developments in one fell swoop.

These projects are in Amaoti, eTafuleni, Ntuzuma, KwaMgaga, Magabheni, Umlazi, Umnini, Mpoala, Emalangeni, KwaDinabakubo, Burlington and many more areas, Rural and urban areas are covered. Former black townships and other suburbs are covered.

We are upgrading some areas while clearing slums in some areas through relocating people to newly built housing.

There are nearly 500 informal settlements scattered across eThekwini, but it's great to see that slowly but surely we are addressing one of our most urgent issues: providing housing and comfort to those who have very little.

None of us will be able to feel truly safe and free while so many still live in poverty. The more we help to bring shelter to all, the closer we will get to our goal of being a truly developmental state.

By Michale Sutcliffe, eThekwini Manager
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