Upgrading informal settlements in South Africa: A partnership-based approach


Liza Rose Cirolia (ed), University of Cape Town; Tristan Görgens (ed), University of Cape Town; Mirjam van Donk (ed), Isandla Institute; Warren Smit (ed), University of Cape Town; Scott Drimie (ed), University of Cape Town


Informal settlements are a pressing urban challenge in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. Intervention and investment are needed, not only to improve material conditions, but also to combat social and political exclusion and marginalisation.

What would a progressive upgrading agenda for informal settlements entail, and how could it be achieved? This has been widely debated in South Africa and internationally. In Upgrading informal settlements in South Africa: A partnership-based approach, the editors argue that approaches which are participatory and incremental offer possibilities which are both radical and attainable. This agenda departs substantially from conventional housing delivery models, requiring a reassembling of policies, programming, practices and – most importantly – power.

The 26 chapters of this book are written by researchers and practitioners from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, and explore various aspects of participatory and incremental upgrading. They cover a wide range of topics, from alternative infrastructure technologies to redesigned fiscal frameworks. Together, these chapters articulate an agenda as contested and complex as informal settlements themselves.

This book documents, synthesises and reflects on a strong body of innovation and reflection that can inspire policy-makers, practitioners and researchers to continue to improve and transform approaches to upgrading informal settlements in South Africa and beyond.


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Cover image showing a drawing of a group of people having a meeting in an informal settlement.


4 August 2022


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