Located some 10km from central Durban, Cato Manor was vacated in the 1950’s following apartheid forced removals. Thirty years later some 93 000 residents began informally occupying the area. There have been significant upgrading initiatives in the area by the public sector, private sector and the community, however, with high unemployment and social fragmentation it continues to house some of the poorest of the urban poor
Back in August, I was given a tour of the area by its previous councillor, Councillor Mpume Chamane, who continues to reside there. She shared some of the geographical and social opportunities and constraints.
The geography of the area is not flat, which has caused flooding and structural stability problems, particularly for informally built homes. Government funded houses, which have a more secure foundations are slowly replacing some of these homes.
There is a range of RDP housing, from the small ones built in the 1990’s to the larger, more recently built homes.
In addition to housing investment, there has also been business investment with the creation of manufacturing incubators as part of the economic development strategy started by the Area Based Management initiative. (Rows of grey buildings in the picture below)
Councillor Mpume Chamane introduced me to a local resident who used a vacant plot of land to build a vegetable garden. The plants were neatly lined and abundant. The gardener is using the earnings from selling the vegetables to put her daughter through university.
Vegetable garden with view of University in the back…