The development of Cato Manor has demanded an approach that moves beyond the provision of housing to address the pressing social and economic needs of the populace. Housing, however, remains a primary focus of the CMDP, which ultimately targets the delivery of 25 000 housing units in Cato Manor, to accommodate up to 150 000 people.
Housing projects are primarily funded through existing state sources. Working with its key partners, the KZN Department of Housing and the eThekwini Metro Housing Service Unit, the CMDA is currently approaching the delivery of 5 000 completed housing units.
Underpinning the housing programme is a development strategy which aims to gain the highest possible number of housing opportunities out of the available land; to broaden the ranges and variety of housing; to ensure that a high proportion of housing is affordable to low and middle income earners; and to avoid the creation of monotonous and environmentally unsustainable housing estates. Integral to the housing programme in Cato Manor is the supply of electricity and water reticulation to dwellings and the provision of a water-borne sewage system.
Housing Project Types
To create a residential environment in Cato Manor that encompasses a variety of housing opportunities, the CMDA identified four broad housing project types: Informal Settlement Upgrading Projects, Greenfields Incremental Projects, Social Housing and Credit-Linked Housing. These housing types and the way that projects have been packaged relate to social and economic factors and vary according to local needs.
Informal Settlement Upgrading Projects
Three of the settlements have been substantially upgraded and the approach being taken by the CMDA on the balance of the upgrading projects involves installing access roads and bulk services, relocating families displaced by this intervention into Greenfield Projects (developed in parallel) and providing better transport links and more efficient waste management. Development options are then discussed with small groups of 50 to 100 families at a time. Upgrading takes place on a 'block by block' basis.
Greenfields Incremental Projects
As an area characterised by a legacy of urban poverty and dislocation, Cato Manor has often presented a highly charged social and political environment, impacting directly on the CMDA's ability to proceed with housing programmes. Delivery has also been hampered by the emergence of powerful shacklords who benefit from crowded settlements. An exodus of skilled professionals from KwaZulu-Natals low-income housing industry over the last two years, apparently because of the high risks and relatively low returns of low-cost housing projects, has necessitated the cultivation within the CMDA of dedicated housing capacity. Establishing and mentoring a network of local emerging contractors to build houses for the upgrading projects has been a key aspect of this endeavour. The difficult topography and complex geo-technical conditions that prevail across much of the development area have provided further challenges to housing delivery.
Incorporation into the eThekwini Municipality
In view of the pending closure of the CMDA and the incorporation of its housing programmes into the eThekwini Municipality next year, individual housing projects are being consolidated into programmes to ensure streamlined and co-ordinated management. The preparation of new housing projects continues in order to ensure that the momentum of housing delivery is maintained during and after the incorporation process.
Avoiding the creation of a dormitory suburb has been a key objective of housing delivery in the context of the CMDPs multi-sectoral development process. The CMDP has demonstrated that it is possible - and indeed essential to transform housing projects into living environments. Optimism is palpable within Cato Manors communities; pride in home-ownership is clearly evident in the way peope are investing in the improvement of their properties. Ultimately, they will need to be more appropriately supported by public policy. Involving the communities from the outset of the project, as opposed to producing a pre-packaged 'product', demonstrably instils amongst people a sense of genuine ownership of the development process, of the completed structure and of the future.