South Africa is a country of contrasts, in both its landscapes and deep social disparities. Langrug, is an informal settlement, or slum,in the Franschhoek valley close to Cape Town and a testament to those inequalities. A product of urbanisation, Langrug was formed by migrant workers seeking employment in the affluent Franschhoek area at nearby farms and boutique wine estates. The Langrug community faces many barriers to development, including insufficient infrastructure, services and public facilities.

Despite these challenges, the story of Langrug is one of determined settlement dwellers who have persisted in improving their livelihoods and having their voices heard. Habitat for Humanity South Africa advocates for this community and others while empowering the people to drive their own development.

Facing the reality that over 12 million South Africans lack a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity South Africa realised that building homes isn’t enough. In order to address the overwhelming need for housing in South Africa, we needed to make a larger impact. That’s why we have shifted our focus toward facilitating holistic community development and empowering communities – the people of Langrug and our other partner communities – to take charge of their own development process. We facilitate workshops, trainings and learning opportunities to equip the leadership and community partners with the tools, knowledge, skills and partnerships they need to create the community of their dreams.

We are also champions of Solid Ground. One of Habitat’s four global advocacy priorities in the campaign is to promote informal settlement upgrading through community-led development. This is an essential part of who we are and what we do in South Africa. Communities understand their own needs and development priorities and should be encouraged to define their future. We partner with communities to make this a reality.

We firmly believe people come first and, as such, we stand up for those living in informal settlements at local, national and global forums. As Habitat III, the third United Nations conference on housing and sustainable urban development, approaches, we will continue to be the voices for participatory and inclusive slum upgrading.

At the Habitat III Thematic Meeting on Informal Settlements in Pretoria this week, Habitat for Humanity South Africa is advocating for informal settlement upgrading through community-led development, a practice in which settlement dwellers are an active and equal partner in the upgrading and planning process. Together with governments, civil society, and private actors, we will explore different strategies, approaches and policies to improve the livelihoods of informal settlement dwellers in South Africa and around the world.

We’ll bring our grassroots expertise from Langrug and other partner communities to the table to influence policies and systems. What will you bring?

Whether or not you’ll be in Pretoria this week, you can make a difference in the lives of slum dwellers around the world by joining Solid Ground. Donate your signature to the cause, then learn more about our projects in Langrug and other communities.