One in five people in Joburg, Cape Town, live in informal housing – report

The report highlights the important role played by the informal sector in job creation.

  • The South African Cities Network has released its latest report on the state of South African cities.
  • According to the report, around one in five people in some of the country’s largest cities, including Johannesburg and Cape Town, live in informal housing.
  • Of the nine municipalities taken under the microscope, Nelson Mandela Bay had the smallest percentage of people in informal housing: 6.1% of its 1.2 million residents.

According to the 2021 Report on the State of South African Cities published by the South African Cities Network (SACN), around one in five people in some of the country’s largest cities, including Johannesburg and Cape Town, live in informal housing.

The report took a closer look at the nine largest municipalities in South Africa.

It also found that in Cape Town and Johannesburg, nearly half (45%) of residents lived on less than 300 rupees a month in 2016. In terms of food security, Cape Town was the worst, with around one resident on four who had adequate access to food in 2018.

In other municipalities, many residents were even further below the spending threshold. In Mangaung 36.6% of people lived on less than R714 per month, while in Ekurhuleni 35.9% of people lived on less than R992 per month.

But urban populations are still growing. Johannesburg’s population has grown by just under 30% since 2011 and housing remains a challenge. In the city of Johannesburg, 21.7% of its 5.7 million residents lived in informal settlements by 2018, down only marginally from 22.8% in 2015.

Of the nine municipalities taken under the microscope, Nelson Mandela Bay had the smallest percentage of people in informal housing: 6.1% of its 1.2 million residents.

But it also had the highest unemployment rate at 35.7% in 2020.

In Msunduzi, which includes Pietermaritzburg, about one fifth of the residents live in informal housing at 20.9%. In Gauteng’s Ekurhuleni city, 19.9% ​​of its 3.8 million residents lived in informal settlements by 2018; in Cape Town, Western Cape, this applied to 19.3% of its 4.5 million residents.

The report also found that in the city of Tshwane, 16.8% of its approximately 3.6 million residents were living in informal housing by 2018, followed by Mangaung (11.7%) and the city of Ethekwini (13%). ).

Tshwane was the safest for food, with 91.3% of its residents reporting adequate access to food.

Nosipho Hlatshwayo, executive director: Programs for the SACN, told Fin24 the report’s findings showing that the government cannot be the sole custodian of urban development in South Africa. Partnerships with the private sector and participation from all spheres of government will be needed, Hlatshwayo said.

He flagged ongoing unemployment as the biggest crisis. All cities showed an increase in unemployment between 2016 and 2020, with the exception of Cape Town and Ekurhuleni.

“It appears these were the two cities that focused on local economic development, including city-facilitated employment programs,” he said. “It is also worth mentioning that these two cities appear to have the greatest stability in political terms, which in turn helps investor confidence.”

The study found that in 2020 Nelson Mandela Bay had the highest unemployment rate at 35.7%; followed by Msunduzi (34.2%), Johannesburg (32.6%), Mangaung (32.5%), Ekurhuleni (32.3%), Buffalo City (29.7%), Tshwane (29.1%) , Cape Town (22.5%) and Ethekwini (22%).

The important role played by the informal sector is reflected in its 22% contribution to employment in Buffalo City, the report noted. In Johannesburg the informal sector contributes 21% of employment, followed by 18% in both Nelson Mandela Bay and Mangaung, 14% in Ethekwini, 13% in Ekurhuleni, 12% in Cape Town and 10% in Tshwane . No data are available for Msunduzi.

Cape Town residents appear to be living longer – at 65.6 years in 2020. In Johannesburg, Tswhane and Ekurhuleni your life expectancy is 63.7 years, while it is 59.6 years in Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City. Ethekwini and Msunduzi arrive at 57.1%, while life expectancy in Mangaung is the lowest at 54.5%.

Nelson Mandela Bay is the municipality studied with the highest percentage of its population – 21.6% – receiving social grants (including grants for seniors), followed by Buffalo City (20%), Mangaung (19%) and Ethekwini ( 14.6%), Tshwane (9.7%), Cape Town (9.3%), Ekurhuleni (8.1%) and Johannesburg (5.9%). No data are available for Msunduzi.

Turning to environmental issues, the report found that garbage removal and litter issues are a big problem for many residents – for 68.2% of Mangaung, Buffalo City residents (48.4%), for 46.8% of Johannesburg and Ethekwini residents, and for 42% of Nelson Mandela Bay residents.

Problems with soil degradation pose a challenge for 52% of Mangaung residents and 27.3% of Tshwane residents.