Ruo Emoh Greenfield Development, Cape Town

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The Ruo Emoh development is a medium density (50 dwelling units per hectare) housing development aimed at providing houses and services to backyard dwellers in the Mitchell’s Plain area. This project, which began in May 2011, sees the South African Alliance of the Community Resource Centre (CORC), the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and uTshani Fund work towards the development of an integrated medium-density development in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town. The development will include forty-nine (49) housing units, a small commercial enclave, small public open space which serves as a playground and meeting point. There will be a variety of housing typologies including double storey, semi-detached and free standing houses. 

Location: Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, South Africa


The construction of forty-nine (49) housing units. 

Community capacity:

Project activity began in May 2011. However, the project has been in the works, so to speak, for over a decade. It began in 1998 when a community, composed largely of backyard dwellers, who wanted to build their own houses in Colorado Park, Mitchells Plain  identified a piece of land that was then purchased by uTshani Fund for this purpose. Instead of waiting on the City’s ever growing housing waiting list, the group formed the Ruo Emoh (Our Home spelt backwards) Housing Saving Scheme, part of the South African Homeless People’s Federation and FEDUP, and saved their money to build their houses. 

Federation processes have been and continue to be followed throughout the course of this development. The community, through the Ruo Emoh Savings Scheme, is at the forefront of all decision making related to this development. Together with some professional support, the community have had the land rezoned and subdivided.


This project is one of two projects in which State resources have been used to for a housing development on land that is privately owned. The project should be able to recover costs through Government subsidy funding. Once work has been completed and the development is handed over to the City of Cape Town, the relevant government body will release the funds.

Based on the FEDUP model and FEDUP’s current experiences nationally, this development has the potential to be scaled up, provided land and the necessary capital investment is available. As an integrated development, this development is able to cross-subsidise the shortfall beneficiary homes through the sale of some of the plots on the portion of the land reserved for commercial activities on the open market. This cross-subsidisation approach could also pave the way for future FEDUP developments. 


This is one of two projects in which Government resources have been used to supply houses on private land. This project, thereby, affirms the precedent that was set by the first project in which this was done. Furthermore, through this project, the beneficiaries now have secure tenure and dignified homes and access to services.

Bunita Kohler (+27) 21 689 9408 View Website
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Project information updated: 20 March 2014

Project in depth

Detailed Information

Cuff, S. (2010). RUO EMOH (Our Home): A Sustainable, Eco-friendly and Community-driven Development in Cape Town, South Africa. [Online]. Available:
Die Burger. (2011). Unhappiness over Low-cost Housing. [Online]. Available:
Ehrenreich, T. (2011). Open Letter to the Mayor. [Online]. Available:
Peoples Environmental Planning. (n.d.). Ruo Emoh. [Online]. Available:

Funding Information



Funding type:

Grant funding

Implementing Partners

Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP)

Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC)

uTshani Fund