Cato Crest Enumeration and Housing

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Focus Areas: Housing

This project aimed to fund the construction of 25 housing units in the Cato Crest settlement in the Cato Manor community in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Construction was pre-financed by uTshani meaning construction costs are re-paid by housing subsidy funds of the Consolidated Housing programme. There was a particular focus on the community-driven enumerations and surveying preceding construction. This was the third community-based enumeration and mapping initiated by the South African Alliance. Housing was used as a means to push formalizing land tenure for residents, increasing the state’s engagement with community organisations and attention to community demands. Land accessed for development had the potential for construction of 6 commercial sites and 24 residential sites but Government delays meant it was invaded (discussed below), thus only 3 model housing units were built. The last house was completed in June 2000 but potential for further development exists if the Federation lobbies Government for subsidy funds owed. The housing units were not of great use to the community but positive impacts were made in Cato Crest through the sustained Federation presence. Project activity showed that there are better alternatives to state options. Ripple effects of this include the 2008 agreement with the City and Federation to do a high-density development on a vacant plot in the settlement. To date this is not completed. Government prevarication and obstruction prevented progress for a prolonged period with the result that the land was invaded. This highlights the challenge of the pace of Government delivery, which includes the 15-year and counting delay of Government subsidies to be paid. More recent social movements have faced similar challenges with Government neglecting to take community demands seriously.

Location: Cato Crest, Durban, South Africa
Bunita Kohler (+27) 21 689 9408 View Website
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Project information updated: 15 May 2014

Project in depth

Detailed Information

This project was funded by the South African Alliance of the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and uTshani, the national urban poor fund started in February 1998, with support from the Nsimbini, Phaphamane, and Cato Crest savings groups. The Durban Federation has a fairly large membership in the inner-city informal settlements, but is strongest in Inanda. The project was a continuation of activity that started in the Cato Crest settlement in 1993 with the surveys of 989 families– two-thirds of Cato Crest’s total population at the time. Cato Crest is one of six settlements in Cato Manor and is located along the ridge of Cato Manor and close to the Durban central business district. Riots in 1949 led to the fleeing of the Indian population from the area and the subsequent forced removal of residents left the settlement vacant until the 1980s. Due to its proximity to central Durban and associated employment opportunities Cato Manor steadily became repopulated. From late 1993 the settlement has been typified by profiteering and shacklording where informal tenant landlord relationships involve inflated rental prices. The Federation set up savings groups in Cato Crest and Cato Manor in 1995, conducting mapping and enumerations to facilitate dialogue with City Government. This lead to the decision to build three houses as a model of community participation to further encourage participatory development processes.
The three demonstration models have not been useful for the community. Due to the inability of the project to recover subsidy money the project stagnated. Loan repayments by members were adversely affected by this dysfunctional subsidy environment. The Federation is in an ongoing process to secure government and donor funding for this and similar projects.

Funding Information



Fully funded

Implementing Partners



South African SDI Alliance