Backyard shacks, informality and the urban housing crisis in South Africa: stopgap or prototype solution?

Rapid urbanisation in the South has contributed to the growth of informal housing on a large scale. South Africa’s experience is somewhat unusual in that the growth of informality appears to have taken the form of backyard shacks in established townships rather than free-standing shacks in squatter settlements. This is potentially important for household well-being (e.g. better access to services) and for the efficient functioning of urban areas. The paper develops a framework for assessing the impacts and applies it to the country’s leading metropolitan region, Gauteng. It finds that people are slightly better-off in backyards than in shacks elsewhere, although the wider benefits for urban areas are equivocal. In some respects backyard shacks are a stopgap for poor households desperate for somewhere to live. In other respects they represent a kind of prototype solution to the urban housing crisis. The government could do more to improve basic dwelling conditions and to relieve the extra pressure on local services.

Source: Housing Studies via Taylor & Francis Online (subscription required)

Photo Credit: eplowman


Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher Housing Studies (Taylor & Francis)
Year 2015
Author(s) Ivan Turok, Jackie Borel-Saladin
Other Numbers Housing Studies (2015): 1-26.
DOI 10.1080/02673037.2015.1091921
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