Upgrading for Growth: Implementing the Breaking New Ground Policy within Ekurhuleni’s City Development Strategy



Approval Date
Actual Completion Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type
South Africa
Lesson Learned for Cities Alliance Members and Partners
• The focus group discussions were significantly enhanced by choosing the venue of group discussion with care. Community participation in the form of focus group can be used as a learning tool. Several focus group participants reported that the participatory tool used in these discussions enhanced their understanding of their needs, available options and the choices they make. • At every community consultation held by the Mayor throughout Ekurhuleni, housing was at the forefront of community needs and dominated discussions. Housing is also perceived as an economic opportunity. • It was evident from the land use and housing legislations review that prevailing legislations and policies created a significant barrier for South African municipalities to deliver sustainable human settlements. The outcomes from the review will be a key consideration in the design of National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP). The NUSP is supported by another Cities Alliance grant. • The story of Upgrading for Growth is one of how difficult it is to undertake informal settlement upgrading (otherwise referred to as ‘slum upgrading’) though an incremental and integrated response. Recent policy shifts towards a central state response to provide subsidized top structures have critically weakened local government’s capacity to undertake and/or play a leading role in creating sustainable and inclusive communities as well as to link the creation of housing assets to economic development. Despite the fact that planning at local government level takes places in a more integrated fashion, cross-sector collaboration is lacking at operational and implementation levels. • Livelihoods creation is not considered a critical development outcome in housing development. • Institutional challenges extend beyond the metro borders. The ‘unfunded and constitutionally conflicted mandate’ problem, including reconciliation of local, provincial, and national strategies and plans, and their execution, afflicts all municipalities. The implementation plans will have to weigh up the need for long-term policy and legislative reform, which is absolutely necessary, against the imperative to deliver in the short to medium term. • Local Government’s role in LED is to be the hub and facilitator of this network and dialogue, and to make targeted investments in public infrastructure and public goods (e.g. economic data) that spur and support private actors of all sizes to create and seize economic opportunities. • Local economic development still remains an underdeveloped sector within local government with significant capacity building and professionalization of the sector required. There is very little established practice and experience around linking local economic development and slum upgrading.


Ekurhuleni, the third largest city in South Africa, is a manufacturing hub that contributes more than 20% of the gross geographic product of Gauteng province. In spite of the wealth created, the city still struggles to translate the success of its robust economic base into development and growth of sustainable communities. The major challenge for Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality is to rapidly and equitably provide housing and basic services to all its residents. The past initiatives of upgrading and low cost housing provision in South Africa has had limited success in creation of wealth and employment opportunities for beneficiaries of upgrading. Recognizing this, EMM’s Upgrading for Growth strategy aims to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring development of human capital is the core outcome of the upgrading process. Instead of focusing solely on housing for slum residents, the Upgrading for Growth approach involves providing opportunities for economic growth that meet the livelihood and social needs of the poor within Ekurhuleni’s informal settlements.
• Harness the informal settlement upgrading process as the driver for sustainable human settlement development • Make development of human capital a core outcome of the upgrading process • Ensure that beneficiaries of upgrading have access to opportunities for economic growth, creation of wealth and employment • Ensure that the framework of household social assets and networks is strengthened through the upgrading process • Conduct upgrading processes in a highly participatory and coordinated fashion
1) Growth opportunities analysis which focus on macro-microeconomic connectivity process, identifying mechanisms for linking existing skills with unfilled needs in the formal manufacturing and agriculture sectors 2) Growth constraints analysis to inform Upgrading for Growth Strategy’s implementation, including improvements in institutional arrangements and innovations in provision of infrastructure and services 3) Institutionalization of a multi-stakeholder process.
Expected Impacts and Results
• Increase in the number of households receiving housing and basic services on a priority basis • Enhance institutional framework to supportive stakeholder networks to assist communities as they use newly available resources to both improve physical environment but also to make use of new economic opportunities • Improved understanding of linkages between formal and informal economies • Enhanced infrastructure planning and social investments that can be leveraged to increase the economic well-being of poor households in EMM • Community led decision making process for development of upgrading plan • Consistent input into strategic planning by all segments of EMM community with including Low income residents • Improved planning across government departments responsible for providing other socio-economic amenities e.g. health, education and LED to ensure alignment of plans and implementation of the Ekurhuleni CDS • Improved service delivery policies informed by continuous input and upgrading experience in EMM