City-wide Coalitions


The City-wide Coalitions project facilitates the development of collective advocacy strategies for civil society, community leaders and activists from across Cape Town. We support these groups of people as they reimagine urban development, land reform, neighbourhood regeneration, and land and housing strategies at a neighbourhood and city-wide scale. On request, DAG provides socio- technical support to community leaders and activists working at a neighbourhood scale to develop strategic neighbourhood level development plans and prepare submissions to governing bodies on key issues. DAG has supported leaders with: navigating evictions, land and policy submissions and , housing proposals; , organising support and, the sale or re-development of strategic parcels of well-located state land and buildings; and making comments on local ward development plans. DAG also provides support to emerging and existing community-based coalitions and networks to and works with them to collectively develop and implement joint advocacy strategies. Some of the outputs of this work include but are not limited to policy submissions and comments on integrated development plans, and city and ward budgets. This support is demand-driven. Complementing this work, DAG brings together at least 120 strategic stakeholders, including civil society, community-based organisations, the private sector and national/local government to debate and discuss key developments in the land and housing sector through an Urban Dialogue Series.

What we do

11.2 CWC STS Neighbourhood DAG & the white paper-05

DAG’s neighbourhood scale socio-technical support is demand-driven includes offering support with neighbourhood enumerations, sustainable livelihoods analysis, participatory GIS research, social audits, community profiles, and local area-based planning via asset mapping.

Socio-technical Support on a neighbourhood scale

11.3 CWC STS Collective Advocacy IMG_8118

DAG provides support to coalitions and networks so that groups are better able to work together to develop and carry out impactful joint advocacy strategies. This support is demand driven.

Socio-technical support that focuses on Collective

11.4 CWC Urban Land Dialogues IMG_8095

DAG facilitates large-scale forum discussions with civil society leaders and activists, where collective advocacy efforts around pertinent land and housing issues are fostered. Each dialogue culminates in an Urban Land Bulletin, which captures the issues raised and solutions tabled in these dialogues.

Urban dialogues: City-wide Advocacy


Since 2017, DAG has provided support to 30 community- based organisations in their efforts to unlock land and improve access to basic services and infrastructure.

Over the last two years, DAG has provided support to coalitions like the Cape Town Informal Settlements Forum, the Homeless Action Coalition, and the ACTC network (established since 2017).

Since 2017, DAG has actively engaged 377 civil society stakeholders and community leaders through an Urban Dialogue Series around informal settlements and the state’s policy shift towards rapid land release.

Map of STS Partners

Socio-Technical Support Partners

The community of Bellville South faces numerous socio-economic challenges, most notably a lack of housing, significant backyarding, and high unemployment rates. Despite the area being an industrial and commercial hub,  many residents state that they have not been able to benefit from the area’s business activity. The area also has several universities and is a major transportation hub in Cape Town. 

In 2023, DAG provided support to the newly established BSRA through a series of capacity-building workshops and meetings. This included support on how to develop and submit and an objection against proposed infrastructural developments within the Bellville South area. DAG also hosted a capacity building horizontal learning workshop between BSRA and the Firgrove Economic Development Forum (FEDF). The focus of the workshop was on Development Planning Processes and Objections and it aimed to facilitate knowledge-sharing between these communities based on their experiences on these topics. Additionally, DAG sought to broaden the understanding of these communities, and strengthen their advocacy and lobbying strategies through this workshop.  Later in 2023, DAG worked with BSRA to undertake a land audit. This was completed along with a contextual and socio-economic analysis. The outcomes of the land audit were shared at a workshop with BSRA’s Management Committee (MANCOMM). There are plans to conduct an enumeration to further bolster the results of the land audit. 

Bo-Kaap, the historical Malay precinct has been under significant pressure from various property developments in and around their neighbourhood. Many homeowners have sold their ancestral homes as they are not able to afford the cost of owning property in the inner city.In 2017, DAG started providing socio-technical assistance to the Bo-Kaap Civic and Residents Association (BoKCRA) around their facilitation of the Public Participation Process initiated by Heritage Western Cape. Later in 2021, DAG provided support to BoKCRA as they strategically thought through the establishment of a land trust. In 2022, DAG assisted the Bo-Kaap Civics and Ratepayers Association (BoKCRA) with two major activities to tackle the affordable housing crisis in this inner-city neighbourhood. The first activity involved conducting a land audit in Bo-Kaap. This activity aimed to find out how much vacant City-owned land was available. The second activity focused on organising an enumeration to scope out the housing needs of the neighbourhood. The enumeration had close to 300 households who were captured in the database. The urgency of their housing needs was clearly seen by the way that Bo-Kaap residents stepped up to drive the process. The project wrapped up at the end of the year with a community meeting where DAG reported back on the initial findings of the enumeration.
In recent years, upmarket developments have expanded in the vicinity of Firgrove. Gentrification is imminent if the neighbourhood does not ensure that they benefit from the development. The FEDF was founded with a mandate to represent Firgrove by pursuing economic opportunities that hold benefits for the community living in the area. As of 2022, DAG started supporting the FEDF by identifying and connecting with relevant development stakeholders so that the FEDF is able to participate fully in development conversations.
The Gatesville Flats site was the first provincially owned property earmarked to have ownership transferred to the property’s current tenants. Dating back to 2018, DAG worked alongside the Gatesville Flats tenants to critically explore several key concerns about the planned sectional titling of the flats. These concerns included a need to safeguard the rental stock so that it is not lost to the market after transfer, and thus to ensure that this transfer process does not result in the displacement of current residents. Another key consideration was the need to support Gatesville tenants to understand the complexities of creating a sectional title management scheme for the flats. During DAG’s partnership with the Gatesville tenants, a number of peer-to-peer learning sessions were held, including capacity-building workshops to support the Gatesville tenants as they navigated the ownership transfer process.
Over the last few years, Cape Town’s inner- city has been experiencing major regeneration, yet we have continued to see a persistent a lack of access and affordability within this space. The Grande Parade, an open public space and a provincially graded heritage site in the inner- city has been identified as a priority asset by the City of Cape Town to ensure its preservation. In 2017, with improvements to the Grand Parade, there was a significant threat that existing merchants on the site would face extended relocation or possible evictions. Many of these merchants have traded on this site for generations and provide important services for the working-class population of the inner-city. Over the five years that DAG provided support to the Grande Parade Merchants Association we worked to ensure that these historic traders were not displaced by the City of Cape Town when they undertook renovations and that their new shop rentals were affordable. In partnerships with the Legal Resources Centre, DAG worked alongside the GPMA to gather data and develop an advocacy position on the issue of new rental lease agreements.
In 2018, many residents were frustrated with the quality of Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses being developed on a turnkey basis. One such instance of this was in the Heideveld housing project. Heideveld residents had issues with the contractor that was responsible for building of their government subsidised houses. After undertaking an assessment, including site visits and a meeting with the contractor responsible for the building of the houses, the DAG team gave the Heideveld leaders options on how to effectively deal with the contractor. The DAG team also informed the community on the specifications required for subsidy- financed houses as some of the improvements and finishes that they were calling for were outside of the subsidy specifications e.g. internal plastering. Whilst the leaders appreciated DAG’s advice and approach, they continued to question the validity of low cost housing specifications. A big lesson for DAG has been the lack of homeowner’s education that was conducted pre- and post-occupation of the units.

In 2021, DAG worked alongside homeless sector stakeholders to support the launch of the Homeless Action Coalition (HAC). On request, DAG facilitated a series of participatory workshops with street-based individuals to facilitate their involvement in the establishment of the HAC. DAG similarly worked alongside the HAC committee to develop their constitution and to establish an interim Board of Directors. In August 2022 the coalition held its AGM with close to 100 participants in attendance.

In 2022, DAG provided socio-technical support to Intlungu Yasematyotyombeni (IYM) – a collective of leaders from “new” informal settlements in Khayelitsha and Mfuleni. These settlements were all established during the 2020 lockdown period and are all still either mostly or entirely unserviced. 

IYM identified a number of priority issues, including: recognition from the City of Cape Town; basic services; local economic development; early childhood development and safety and security. In late 2022, DAG hosted an Urban Dialogue where IYM participated, along with two other informal settlement organisations. The outcome of the Urban Dialogue was a call for the City of Cape Town to establish an insituitionalised platform for informal settlement communities to engage directly with the City.

In 2017, DAG provided support to KFM C.S.J in partnership with Architecture Sans Frontiers (ASF) via the Change by Design workshop. This support continued in 2018 when DAG supported KFM C.S.J. with brokering and facilitating a number of strategic meetings and workshops. The outcome of these engagements was an increase in community support and buy-in for KFM’s crime prevention initiatives and youth development programmes. This community momentum culminated in a community peace-walk where a memorandum was handed over to the Kensington SAPS.

Many civic and community-based organisations (CBO’s) struggle with internal governance and drawing up comprehensive strategies. In 2018, DAG provided socio-technical support to assist organisations who are struggling with these and other issues. For instance, the Khayelitsha Peacebuilding Team (KPBT), an NGO based in Khayelitsha approached DAG for assistance with facilitating an organisational strategy workshop aimed at supporting a fully-fledged strategic plan. Consequently, DAG facilitated an engaging and highly informative workshop on understanding the current operations of their organisation, supported a visioning exercise and conducted a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. KPBT is a fairly new NGO and two of their executive members participated in DAG’s 2018 ACTC course. With the focused training and support, KBPT has started mediating several conflicts in Khayelitsha.

Since 2017 DAG has partnered with the Maitland Garden Village Housing Forum and other local civic organisations in their efforts to advocate for affordable and well-located housing. These efforts are in response to the community’s overwhelming housing crisis, which is characterised by large scale backyarding. Over the last couple of years, DAG has collaborated with the Maitland Garden Village Housing Forum to co-design an inclusive 10-year housing strategy. This strategy aims to speak to backyard rental accommodation issues and new affordable housing developments, whilst also responding to issues of heritage and local livelihoods. The strategy was developed through interactive and community-driven participatory research processes, including enumerations, land audits, neighbourhood profiles and site development plans and will be a critical tool for the MGV Housing Forum as they establish key partnerships with the City of Cape Town.

Mamre is a historic mission station established over two centuries ago. In 2021, DAG assisted the Mamre Community Property Association (MCPA) in two areas. The first involved the hosting of a Heritage Learning Tour, which brought the MCPA together with the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association (BOKCRA) and the Salt River Heritage Society. This Learning Tour allowed the MCPA to learn about the challenges and opportunities of development in a heritage neighbourhood, from civic associations that have experience in this sphere. The second area of support involved assisting the MCPA with conceptualising a strategy for the re-development of the broader Mamre community.

The Mitchells Plain United Residents Association (MURA) is an umbrella organisation, that aims to address issues in Mitchells Plain and to promote the quality of life of residents alongside its partner organisations. DAG first partnered with MURA in 2018 with a focus on three major themes: land and housing, economic development, and safety and security. The partnership has strengthened MURA’s capacity to engage with the City of Cape Town to affect meaningful change in Mitchell’s Plain. One of the big priorities for MURA in 2021 was ‘Re-Imagine Eastridge’, a participatory research project that aimed to unpack the issues in this precinct and develop local interventions on issues of land and housing, economic development, and safety and security. The research was finalised in 2022, which led to numerous stakeholders coming together to co-design a neighbourhood plan. They eventually became the Re-Imagine Eastridge Task Team. Throughout DAG’s partnership with MURA, we have collaborated with the organisation to facilitate a number of workshops, vacant land audits, neighbourhood development plans, municipal budgets, and comments on District Plans.
Since 2022, DAG has been providing socio-technical support to MARRC, an organisation based in Pietermaritzburg. Our support to MARRC has included several workshops and meetings to support the association’s leadership with developing community-based plans and influencing local ward budgets. Priority areas for MARRC include infrastructure maintenance and upgrading, rates rebates and the misuse of funding for local municipal projects.

In 2022, DAG prepared a submission on the City of Cape Town’s Draft 2023/2024 budget, in partnership with the informal settlements from Ward 34 in Khayelitsha and Philippi. Later in 2022, DAG collaborated with the Philippi Development Forum to workshop and prepare a comment on the Philippi Local Spatial Development Framework which was submitted to the CoCT. This comment raised crucial issues around the exclusion of Ward 80 and Browns Farm from plans for future development, and expressed concern about the lack of focus on issues of safety and security and the distinct lack of public consultation and collaboration in drawing up the plan. 

The Village Heights informal settlement is supported by an organisation known as Women Hope for the Nation. In 2018, DAG was asked to assist the organisation to determine how the settlement would be incorporated into the City of Cape Town’s upgrading plans. DAG obliged and started the process of helping the community to understand how their settlement was incorporated into the 2018/19 Budget of the City. The leaders were dismayed to realise that the messages communicated by the Ward Councillors were in stark contrast to what was prioritised in the Budget. In one of the meetings residents questioned this discrepancy and insisted on a formal platform to engage about the plans for the settlement. When the settlement’s leadership met with City representatives, the City agreed that despite not being priorities in the City budget, plans to develop and upgrade the settlement would continue. During 2018, DAG continued to support this community by building capacity to engage meaningfully in meetings with key officials and politicians.

In 2021 DAG was informed that the Witzenberg Municipality was targeting poor households by sending its representatives to threaten households who are unable to pay municipal bills and telling them that they will automatically lose the government support they qualify for if they do not approve the municipality’s installation of pre-paid water management devices (WMDs). In response to this, the Fighting for Witzenberg Justice Coalition (WJC) in Witzenberg organised themselves and took a position against the municipality’s approach. The coalition conducted door to door visits, warning indigent households not to give consent to the municipality for the installation of these devices. DAG provided capacity building support to strengthen the community leaders’ knowledge and understanding of municipal processes and implications. DAG continued to support the WJC in 2022 when it received funding from the Open Society Foundation. DAG was appointed as the fiscal host and provided support with strategic planning in order to help the project to achieve the outcomes of the funded programme.