TITLE

"Normal" Informality in Low-Income Settlements of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa

AUTHOR(S)
Ojo-Aromokudu, Judith T.; Loggia, Claudia
PUB. DATE
July 2016
SOURCE
Loyola Journal of Social Sciences;Jul-Dec2016, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p191
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Housing delivery remains a major burden on the South African government. The ever-increasing backlog of delivering standard housing to the low-income sector remains, and unwanted informal settlements continue to increase in urban areas. For many migrant urban poor, the informal has become the "normal", despite the challenges of spaces for daily activities -- especially the lack of space for social and cultural practices. For households that have received the standard subsidised houses, challenges of space limitations still exist. This is evident with innovative extensions being carried out by households in the state subsidised housing settlements, in a bid to accommodate various socio-economic and cultural activities. These extensions often contravene municipal norms and standards, and can lead to slummed environments, if not controlled. This paper seeks to investigate how households deal with socio-cultural practices in informal and formal low-income settlements. The study advocates more flexible and contextual policies based on grassroots' approaches which are layered and multifaceted -- with not just socio-economic, but also socio-cultural imprints essential to meet the urban poor's needs. A theoretical approach, combined with a pilot study based on observations and interviews with inhabitants, is applied to narrate the daily activity of households and to understand their characteristics of 'normal informality' in some low-income settlements in KwaZulu-Natal province. The overarching aim of the research is to re-examine informal settlements through the "normal" lenses of the community. The study starts by investigating the meaning of 'informal settlement' - questioning normality and informality. It argues that, in-fact, informal settlements can be said to be normal, at least for many of the urban poor. The intended 'normality', based on predefined standards, is compared with the indigenous normality, and the pilot study's findings suggest the need to incorporate the latter into policy and upgrading programmes. A shift from rigid and standardised norms towards more flexible and contextualised policies, informed by grassroots approaches, is suggested for more responsive and participatory upgrading processes.
ACCESSION #
120485430

 

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