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Europe Informal Settlement Water Point Upgrade
Cape Town, South Africa
image: Amy Thompson | © all rights reserved
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Location:
Cape Town, South Africa
Category:
infrastructure
Phase:
construction preparation
Updated:
23 August 2021
This project makes use of placemaking principles of infrastructural interventions to support livelihoods and wellbeing of informal settlement residents. With the pilot intervention currently breaking ground, upgrades to existing waterpoints and improved drainage will improve access to water and safe circulation for 1600+ households who rely on the daily walk to collect water for consumption, cooking and cleaning. 
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Introduction
Europe Informal Settlement was established when a landfill was occupied in the late 1980’s, due to its proximity to employment opportunities. The site  is poorly serviced and approximately 1600 households share 40 waterpoints. The waterpoints are largely located along circulation routes and form much needed social and service infrastructure. However some points no longer function and additionally the drainage around these water points is poor, resulting in residents often dealing with long term pooling in the heavy Western Cape rains and associated health and safety risks. 

Europe forms part of a focus area by the provincial Human Settlements Department and is considered well-located as a result of the expanding airport and adjacent commercial corridors. It is one of 11 informal settlements that make up the airport precinct. 

The community of Europe has an established community leadership structure and while there are plans to relocate the residents within 5-10 years, housing development projects are typically slow to reach relalistion in South Africa. The leadership have sought strategic partnerships to work on incremental improvement projects. The project to date acts as a prototype for how the upgrading of the drainage system, channels, and pedestrian network can improve the health and safety conditions along circulation routes, and in effect formalises water points and circulation routes as social spaces, something informal settlement residents critically benefit from.
The main plaza and its waterpoint.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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Impact
Standing water dangers. 
The dangers of stagnant water in circulation spaces are threefold; dirty water becomes physically hazardous (slipping and falling) particularly given the lack of lighting in the spaces, it attracts disease and pests, and it makes movement slow through narrow walkways causing congestion on a normal day and deadly delays in case of an emergency. 

Drainage channels serve a practical function in removing still standing storm water but also act as a trafficable surface and wayfinding element to make circulation safer. In addition the project pilots a greywater diversion system where households can dispose of domestically produced discharge to be treated through an on-site S.U.Ds system. This reduces pollutants that currently flow within the main stormwater system and contributes to the creation of a healthier environment. 

Access to water. 
Access to water & sanitation is both a universal human right and a priority of the UN SDGs. Potable water is provided to the settlement at the ratio of 1 tap to 40 households. Realistically, however, the ability of governments to provide adequate access to water and sanitation for most of its citizens leaves much to be desired. The intervention seeks to improve access to water by repairing faulty points and introducing new water collection opportunities. 

The pilot project has increased the no. of functional waterpoints from 2 to 5. The full project will increase this to 9. The project will also introduce additional benches and ledges around the waterpoints, enabling residents to perch and fill buckets in a more ergonomic manner.

Placemaking theory
The benefits of infrastructural projects as placemaking strategies have been well documented and there is limited room for dispute. Though the community structure is established it remains patent. It is in our public spaces that public life and democracy come to life. That is why, despite this project’s progress towards improving access to clean water and sanitation and safe urban spaces, the project simultaneously provides support infrastructure to community led agendas of special development and advocacy for the realisation of housing rights. 

When the daily walk to collect water becomes safer and more enjoyable the act of collecting water becomes a ritual in itself. This acupuncture of energy and occupancy of the third space, the space in between the home and the functional act of collecting water, where publicness manifests. Here neighbours can share stories, offer advice and support each other's hardships; contributing to the critical need of human connection in the face of adversity that truly encompasses wellbeing. 
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Core team
The project was conceived with Africa Unite, a local NGO who've been working in Europe for 20+ years. The community identified water and sanitation as a critical problem needing urgent attention. They worked with community leadership to to tackle these issues. In June 2019 Africa Unite partnered with Weert Rotary to scale their efforts.The local Rotary Clubs of Newlands and Noon Gun and Africa Unite undertook a community scoping session in August 2019 where community leaders identified site challenges and opportunities. The team and the community workshopped various responses and decided on the proposed site on the grounds of it having the most impact. The Europe Waterpoint upgrade is led by a team of Architects and Landscape Architects from the Rotary Club of Noon Gun who specialise in community-centered projects within complex informal environments. Civil Engineering input is provided by JG Afrika.
 
Europe Community Leadership:
Bonakele Dyasi - Chairman
Richard Mavuka - deputy chairman
Asanda Bikwe - Secretary
 
The professional team:
Amy Thompson; a professional landscape architect who has worked closely with the community of Europe for 8 years .
Jackie James;  an architect skilled at intervening in complex environments having worked on key social upgrade projects throughout Cape Town.
Benjamin Biggs; a civil engineer who specialises on the implementation of Sustainable Drainage Systems.
Funding and Additional Support:
Claire du Trevou: Architect
Duane Perersen: Civil Engineer
Rotary Clubs Weert and Newlands
City of Cape Town: Hilton Scholtz
Ward 40 Council member: Bongani Ngcombolo
SSOme members of the professional team and community leadership.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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Image gallery
Europe Informal Settlement is located South of the Cape Town International Airport.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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The site, Europe Informal Settlement.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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The intervention site within it's context.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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The existing water channel running in the middle of the primary walkway.

image: Amy Thompson | © all rights reserved
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An existing waterpoint, retrofitted to improve water collection.

image: Amy Thompson | © all rights reserved
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The existing water channels are filled with polluted stagnant water.

image: Amy Thompson | © all rights reserved
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The main plaza, an existing emergent public space, forms the focal point of the intervention.

image: Amy Thompson | © all rights reserved
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An axonometric view of the intervention.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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Stairs along the walkway with a water platform.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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The newly paved plaza.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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Site systems.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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Technical drawings
Project site plan.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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Infiltration soak away system

image: JG Afrika | © all rights reserved
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Paving details.

image: JG Afrika | © all rights reserved
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Gulley detail.

image: JG Afrika | © all rights reserved
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Suds planter trench.

image: JG Afrika | © all rights reserved
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Concrete seat detail.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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Waterpoint detail.

image: Rotary Noon Gun | © all rights reserved
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Help bring our project to life!

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Help bring our project to life!
Where are we now
To date, the project has the necessary financial and professional support for construction to begin. This first phase of the project constitutes roughly 70% of the intervention. However, with financial support more materials and professional services can be procured, and additional participatory workshops and training sessions can be hosted with the community. 
An indication of our team’s capacity:
85% funding already raised
85% expertise already found
85% materials / equipment already found
100% builders already found
Finance: € 11,000
The project is due to begin construction very soon. To complete the second phase, some funding is necessary for further professional fees, as well as workshops with the community and of course for more materials. 
  • Building Materials
9,000
  • Professional Fees
1,000
  • Community Participation Workshops
1,000
Stuff: Materials
Although the project has already been generously supported, the donation of vegetation and trees will improve the quality of the space and further stabilise the soil. 
Help bring our project to life!
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