[DAG strengthens civil society to co-design and demonstrate local neighbourhood development planning through socio technical support, active citizen training and contractor support. Through these, and related support mechanisms, over 100 000 households were assisted with securing community services over the last 30 years. DAG supports active community engagement that facilitates self-empowerment of citizens.]

Active Citizens Programme

DAG aims to strengthen, skills and capacities of a wide range of stakeholders to collectively frame a propoor strategy that promotes leadership throughout all forms of governance in Cape Town. It supports leadership that understands the legitimacy of rights, and responsibility of roles , in order to participate in the democratic management of the city. In this programme, community leaders identify well-located vacant land and buildings to demonstrate best development practices and financing models for sustainable human settlements that place priority on the needs of the urban poor. The above forms the basis of the programme. It occurs through a series of courses focused on enhancing Civil-Based Organisations’ (CBOs) knowledge, skills and capacity to design and lobby for pro-poor development at both the local and city level. The programme will be facilitated using action learning and participatory approaches that will build alliances, capacity and confidence of community leaders, activists and change agents who will work with DAG in co-ordinating research, policy and advocacy and lobbying. In addition, the Active Citizens Programme is in the process of developing a set of accessible popular materials. These draw on local examples in order to assist citizens in understanding the land-market, land management and the role of municipalities and other stakeholders within the process. Popular materials will form an important part of this programme and will be distributed widely, through Active Citizens Programme events, as well as other DAG programmes, to a range of civil society actors to develop their grasp of the right to the city further and support their advocacy and lobbying activities, and engagement with the State.


Socio-Technical Support

Grand Parade Merchants Association
The GPMA has been in existence for approximately 50 years. This association has a simple constitution guiding membership and operational running of the GPMA. Over the last 20 years, the GPMA have experienced many challenges, including the violent riots which broke out around ‘94’ – where many of their stalls were vandalised, burned and even destroyed. Many of their 100-year lease agreements were lost in this process as well as other important historical records disadvantaging their security of tenure. There have also been waves of maintenance undertaken by the City of Cape Town which in the past has been managed with little disruption to the traders, including the 2008 upgrades and the pre 2010 world cup upgrades. However, recently the CoCT issued a notice to the GPMA to vacate their kiosks. To carry out interior renovation forming part of a bigger plan to revitalise the Grand Parade.

• Supported the undertaking of a stallholder survey on the Grand Parade
• Mapping institutions on the Grand Parade, and their power dynamics
• Undertook a desktop analysis of frameworks/ plans in place influencing developments on the Grand Parade and surrounds
• Investigating historic tenure status of status on the Grand Parade and unearthing the history of traders on the Grand Parade
• Served as a liaison between the GPMA and LRC, for administrative purposes

Kalkfontein Backyarders
A group of Backyarders from an outlying area known as Kalkfontein approached DAG for ‘socialtechnical support’ around the development of sustainable communities. Backyarding is a common practice that stems from housing stock shortages and a lack of economic opportunity and up-ward mobility in far flung communities. Living at the rear of a property comes with many social problems as well as tenure security issues. DAG hosted 6-8 community leaders for a three day workshop which was aimed to capacitate leaders. Common issues that backyarders face were surfaced along with possible solutions. Various housing typologies and tenure arrangements were unpacked in order to capacitate the group to lobby for the development of available land parcels in areas where there are existing social and communal networks. The workshop covered questions such as; where are our community assets and liabilities?; How community issues can be addressed?; Which vacant land parcels are suitable for development?; What are the positives and negatives aspects of various housing typologies?; What subsidies produce these typologies?


Internal Capacity Building

The Internal Capacity Building Programme provides internships and mentoring for volunteers and interns who join DAG in order to gain experience and thus develop capacity within the broader urban sector. The programme includes Organisational Learning events and Staff Development for the ongoing development of DAG staff members, ensuring that staff members are kept abreast of the most recent trends and developments in the sector on a regular basis.


Supporting Local Contractors

The demand for housing in Khayelitsha is still a daunting challenge as the wards in the upper side of Khayelitsha are pre-dominantly informal settlements. In 2005 Development Action Group (DAG) was commissioned by the People’s Housing Partnership Trust (PHPT) to assist with unblocking PHP projects that had ground to a halt in Khayelitsha. Subsidies had been approved and released and construction had commenced but the programme was terminated mid-stream. DAG worked from 2007 to 2011 to put in place the necessary financial and institutional systems for the project. It had to strike a fine balance between communication and facilitation among multiple stakeholders and the technical aspects of preparation for construction. The lengthy pre-construction period saw the closure of the PHPT and also a major shift of power in the Western Cape government from the ruling ANC party to the DA party. Eventually subsidies to the value of R64 million for the benefit of 2173 households in Khayelitsha were released in July 2011 and construction commenced later that year. In 2015 DAG successfully completed the construction of the Khayelitsha Enhanced People’s Housing Project allocated to DAG. However, a small number of houses remain incomplete as they were classified as RED Flags, homes whose owners refused to cooperate with the DAG team on the ground.

This is mainly because some of the owners were calling for things outside of what the subsidy moneyprovide for i.e. room extensions and burglar bars. DAG worked with 10 local contractors who partneredwith private material suppliers to deliver 2000 incomplete PHP houses and nearly 200 new built PHPhouses. The Khayelitsha housing project has demonstrated best practices and the benefits ofcommunity-driven housing. For instance, it illustrated how Government spending in humansettlements can effectively address the other pressing socio-economic challenges of unemploymentand depressed local economies in townships. The Khayelitsha PHP housing project improved the livingconditions of more than 8500 people in Khayelitsha. A total number of 140 building workers wereemployed over the construction period that injected an estimated R6.55m into the local economy.

DAG employed innovative approaches during the implementation of the Khayelitsha PHP project andthese innovative approaches were specifically aimed at fulfilling a range of policy objectives. As part ofthe PHP project, DAG designed a 16 step construction project management system with customizedarrangements for planning, implementation and controls supporting start-up contractors from thecommunity to build and complete on time and on budget, and to a high quality. DAG trained andprovided support to ten local builders and start-up contractors. The support programme resulted inthree contractors becoming registered with the NHBRC and CIDB.


Urban Professionals

In moving towards an equitable built environment, urban professionals serve as invaluable assets that daily influence the outcomes of development which impact the lives of many. Thus, DAG places significant emphasis on enhancing the capacity of urban professionals, with the aim of developing more socially-conscious professionals that are equipped with the tools to bring about long lasting propoor change. We understand, doing so, requires constant engagement with those professionals in all sectors, governmental, non-governmental, institutions and private firms as well. Some of the ways we influence urban professionals are through the following:

  • Young Urban Professionals, that includes Global Citizenship Programme and UCT Community Development MPhil, see Resources – Programme Information hyperlink
  • Guest lecturing at various universities such as the University of Stellenbosch on urban matters
  • Municipal Officials training at UCT
  • A hosting organisation for the Social Enterprise Academy

In 2015, DAG partnered with a range of local and international academic institutions to support young urban professional capacity building, including the School of Engineering and the Built Environment; Development Planning Unit (DPU) at the University College London, University of Fort Hare; Stellenbosch University School of Public Leadership; London School of Economics; UNISA International Honours Programme (USA) and the University of Fort Hare. In addition to a number of guest lectures and interviews with students, DAG partnered with the Centre for Innovation, Learning and Teaching (SILT) at UCT on the Civil Engineering Social Infrastructure, a one month winter school course, to host the community engagement process of the module, including exposure learning opportunities and site visits to projects on the ground. DAG played a specialized role in facilitating and coordinating the exposure learning opportunities with four CBO partners. DAG also partnered with UCT on the MPhil programme in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management: Community Development module. Throughout the year DAG supported the capacity building of some 200 young urban professionals. DAG also began discussions with the National Department of Human Settlements concerning their Capacity Building Programme.