simon_sizwe_mayson_sanitationPlanact Project Officer Simon Sizwe Mayson joined board member Prof Marie Huchzermeyer for a housing workshop hosted by the ADD school at Nairobi University in Kenya, from 8-11 March 2012. The workshop featured the launch of Prof Huchzermeyer’s two most recent books, ‘Cities With Slums’ and ‘Tenement Cities’ – results of her in-depth research in the ‘slum’ areas around Nairobi. Attendees at the workshop included researchers, government housing officials, private architectural and housing development firms, and local community organisations.

Simon presented research on the informal rooms/ spaces for rent typology common accross inner city Johannesburg and other African cities. Given the seemingly expansive supply and demand for this subdivided/ communal accommodation type, it is essential that policymakers and development organisations know more about how it works. Planact is developing a pilot project in organisational development and ‘bad building’ upgrading in the Joburg inner city.

In addition to the workshop, Marie and Simon visited a ‘decant site’ where residents of the Kibera settlement had been moved, Huruma tenements where Marie performed much of her research, as well as a community-initiated and run sanitation project. It was very interesting to see people initiating projects entirely on their own, without the external support that poorer communities often get in South Africa.

Simon would like to thank the Wits International Office for their genererous funding that facilitated the visit.