Human settlements play a central role in determining the progress of a country; housing is an indicator of wealth or poverty. In developing countries, satisfactory housing is often the exception to the rule.
The people living in poor conditions are not merely a marginalized part of the population but the vast majority. This housing poverty is best exemplified by the sprawling slums and informal settlements on
the peripheries of almost every city and town.
In this paper, a proposition for the improvement of housing quality in one of these informal settlements is made, thus focusing on the poor and informal housing situation of the 1.2 billion people
worldwide who are living in poverty – with particular reference to the situation in South Africa.
Despite restricted opportunities squatters form an unrecognized, unexploited economic base. The transformation of informal settlements into quality neighbourhoods with socio-economic strength, will
not only benefit the target population but will also strengthen society as a whole. This approach supports current policy directions in South Africa, with a view to “in-situ” upgrading of squatter
settlements rather than demolishing and relocation and is also supported by global agreements and approaches such as the Millennium Development Goals. Pro-poor policies mean that all efforts are
being directed towards a large percentage of the population that is at present being excluded from environmental and economical developments.
Thus, this paper starts by identifying the context, analysing current building techniques and proceeds to offer a proposal of how to develop shacks (or zozos) as they are being constructed in the township of Mamelodi in Pretoria, South Africa.
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