New Resource: An Informal Settlement Upgrading Institutional Map for NGOs

Our latest resource is for NGOs who support communities in informal settlement upgrading projects. For communities
and local government to work together meaningfully, they need equal access to accurate information about the stakeholders involved in upgrading, funding arrangements, and the plans and processes that influence informal settlement upgrading at both a citywide and local project level.

This booklet intends to support NGOs and the communities they work with to understand the institutions involved in upgrading projects and better navigate related governance processes.


Informal Settlement Upgrading Matters: A submission into the new human settlements policy

Together with Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Development Action Group (DAG), Habitat for Humanity South Africa, People’s Environmental Planning (PEP), Ubuhle Bakha Ubuhle (UBU) and Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU), Isandla Institute has developed a policy submission to inform the human settlements policy and legislative review currently being undertaken by the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation.

We believe informal settlement upgrading is key to developing inclusive, liveable and sustainable neighbourhoods and addressing urban poverty and inequality in South Africa. The submission draws on the everyday practice of the contributing organisations, and makes recommendations regarding the following:

1. Informal settlement upgrading as a key thrust of human settlements development
2. Community participation
3. Local government as an ‘enabled enabler’
4. Cross-sectoral learning
5. Focus on outcomes
6. Urban land reform
7. Funding and finance
8. Investment in public space
9. Multi-stakeholder partnership
10. Security of tenure
11. Incremental housing and the right to build
12. Monitoring & evaluation and the role of data to drive good practice

 You can download the full submission below:


New Resource: Building Better Neighbourhoods through Co-Production

We are excited to share our latest resource for informal settlement upgrading practitioners and community leaders. This poster is an accompaniment to the the guide for municipalities, "Advancing a Co-Production Approach to Upgrading Informal Settlements in South Africa". It promotes communities and municipalities working together to plan, implement and monitor upgrading of informal settlements towards liveable neighbourhoods. 


Advancing a co-production approach to upgrading informal settlements in South Africa: A Guide for Municipalities

This guide navigates the various moments in the upgrading process that present opportunities for greater community participation and co-production. It identifies possibilities for co-production and the relationships between all actors in an upgrading project. The guide responds to the realities and constraints facing municipalities, and seeks to assist officials in creating the space and shifting the mind-set across all three spheres of government towards co-production in informal settlement upgrading.


Urban Citizenship Conference, 12 – 13 June 2019

Isandla Institute is hosting a national conference on 12 – 13 June 2019, entitled “Urban citizenship as a verb: Facilitating action through coalitions for change”. The conference is an opportunity for practitioners, activists and analysts from different sectors to share knowledge, practice and policy responses on how to support, expand and sustain urban citizenship.

The programme is structured to reflect on urban citizenship from a variety of perspectives, including the urban political system; urban land reform; shelter and informal settlement upgrading; employment; nutrition and the urban food system; and, environmental sustainability/resilience. There will also be a focus on the role of collaboration and urban coalitions in bringing about change.

The Urban Citizenship Conference marks the conclusion of a 5½-year project and commemorates Isandla Institute’s 20th anniversary – an occasion for reflection, celebration and forward-looking!

For more information about the conference, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Planning for Informality web tool – an Isandla Institute Initiative

The Planning for Informality web tool was developed by Isandla Institute in partnership with Open Data Durban and launched in August 2017.

Municipalities, mandated by the National Department of Human Settlements, have committed to upgrading 750 000 informal settlement dwellings by 2019. Comprehensive informal upgrading strategies and plans are important elements in achieving this goal. The web tool tracks how the major metros are progressing towards this, based on reporting and policy commitments in core annual municipal documentation. The core municipal documents include the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) reviews, Built Environment Performance Plan (BEPP), Service Delivery Budget and Implementation Plan (SDBIP), and Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

The Planning for Informality web tool determines the progress of South Africa’s response to informal settlements. A better understanding of informality in South African cities will allow for better decision-making and analysis. The web tool also opens up data about municipal upgrading plans and strategies and makes it accessible to a wider audience for transparency and accountability purposes.

We invite relevant government officials, the NGO community, concerned citizens, and community leaders to engage with the web tool.

To access the Planning for Informality web tool, visit