Informal Settlements

Our last day in the Western Cape. We spend time this morning in the informal settlements. Informal settlements are housing areas that are often illegally built on municipal land. In South Africa, these settlements are found in a variety of areas and are home to a large percentage of the country’s impoverished population. Many informal settlements in South Africa are connected to the Apartheid era, when government policies systematically segregated people based on race from housing, education and job opportunities. This in turn led many non-white citizens to leave the cities for informal townshipsin surrounding areas. In 1994, the Apartheid system was dismantled and a reformed democratic system was adopted. Despite the fact that Apartheid is no longer in existence, extreme barriers still exist in South Africa. Many cities such as Cape Town, exhibit a clear line between wealth and extreme poverty. For this reason, informal settlement continue to exist today Perhaps the biggest issue faced by informal settlements in South Africa is the insufficient access to running water and health, education and wellness. There are usually very few, if any, resources available to the residents of the communities in terms of sanitation and hygiene. A fresh water faucet like the one shown above is the only service for hundreds of people in the townships. Water sources and government-provided facilities are often ill maintained, and therefore underused. In general, informal settlements do not have the resources to support facilities such as the one in Langrug, where maintenance requires a great deal of time and money.