The impact of urban renewal on the health status of the community of Evaton

Tlhabanelo, Malebo Philemon (2011-03)

Thesis (MPA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Urban renewal is fairly new in South Arica compared to North America where the concept was introduced around 1949. Some urban areas in South Africa lacked basic subsistence needs while others had deteriorated into slums. That prompted the present government to act against such living conditions and make environments conducive to its motto of “better life for all”. One such area was Evaton within Emfuleni Local Municipality in Gauteng. The semi-rural centennial settlement is one of the few that enjoys freehold land tenure in South Africa. Unfortunately, that contributed to its underdevelopment as the politics of land release before 1996 prevented any development by the regime. The situation led Evaton developing into a slum without basic needs such as proper infrastructure, proper sanitation, refuse removal system, adequate water supply and social amenities. The situation manifested itself in poor community health status. The health status of the community was also influenced by the prevailing socio-economic conditions such as unemployment and poverty. Communities depended on home farming and animal husbandry to support their households. Unemployment and poverty resulted in crimes of stock-theft, house robberies and muggings. Gangsterism became the lifestyle of hooligans which made life difficult for vulnerable community members. Moreover, environmental health conditions were appalling. Water was drawn from improperly covered wells. Pit latrines and ash dumps were used for sanitation thus causing fly-breeding and rodent habourage. Animals roamed about while backyards were overpopulated with shacks instead of decent housing. Fossil fuel fires used inside mud houses with poor ventilation caused carbon monoxide poisoning. Particulate matter from dusty streets polluted the air. Diseases spread easily due to dust, overcrowding, and poor ventilation and sanitation. Families could hardly afford proper medical care which was scarce, remote and expensive. The intended urban renewal project aimed to improve the living conditions in Evaton. Improved housing was provided where possible, sewerage reticulation system was widened, electricity was installed and some service roads were tarred. More clinics were built to provide better and free health services to the community. Modern shopping malls were built. Municipal health and other essential services were partly delivered. The prospects of improved health status were beaming. Unfortunately, the project was hampered by obstacles such as politics of resistance to land release by landlords, which retarded housing progress. Funding was problematic and allegedly misused. Housing, roads and sanitation remained poor. Air quality remained poor as fossil fuel continued to be used due to high electricity costs. Animals were still kept and unemployment rate remained high. Research findings revealed that suspicions regarding clandestine land release deals were abound. Residents blamed leaders for offering jobs to friends and associates. Provision of affordable housing was rather too slow and made tedious by squabbles over management issues. Local economic development crucial to job creation and poverty alleviation needed strengthening to encourage self-reliance. It would be recommended that the situation in Evaton be afforded urgent intervention by government, with the support of strong community participation, which is crucial for smooth implementation of processes meant to improve living conditions in Evaton. Regeneration, with its envisaged prospects, needed the co-operation of all stakeholders. All suspicions regarding projects and processes had to be overcome. It would be important to employ persons with appropriate expertise, preferably from the local community; to strengthen project management for positive outcomes that would impact on the health status of the community was important.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Stedelike hernuwing in Suid-Afrika is ‘n redelike nuwe konsep in vergelyking met Noord- Amerika waar stedelike hernuwing reeds vanaf 1949 plaasgevind het Sommige stedelike areas in Suid-Afrika het agteruitgegaan as agtergebuurtes met ‘n tekort aan basiese lewensbehoeftes. Hierdie situasie het die huidige regering aangemoedig om aksie te neem teen hierdie lewenskondisies en ook beheer oor hierdie agtergebuurtes te neem ter ondersteuning van die regering se slagspreuk: “Beter lewe vir almal”. Een so ‘n area in Gauteng is Evaton, wat onder beheer van Emfuleni Plaaslike Munisipaliteit is. ‘n Honderd jare oue semi-plaaslike plek het vrye besitreg van eiendom in Suid-Afrika bepaal. Ongelukkig het hierdie bygedra tot onderontwikkeling aangesien politiese besluite rakende grond ontplooiing en ontwikkeling in Evaton negatief beïnvloed was deur die beherende bewind van daardie tyd. Hierdie situasie het ook bygedra dat Evaton in ‘n agtergebuurte verval het sonder voldoening aan basiese behoeftes soos aanvaarbare infrastruktuur, sanitasie, vullisverwydering, genoegsame water voorsiening en sosiale geriewe. Hierdie omstandighede het gevolglik aanleiding gegee dat Evaton gemeenskap onder andere lae gesondheidstatus geniet. Die gesondheidstatus van Evaton gemeenskap is verder ook beïnvloed deur heersende sosioekonomiese kondisies soos werkloosheid en armoede. Die gemeenskap was dus afhanklik van selfonderhoudende landbou- en veeboerdery ter wille van oorlewing. Werkloosheid en armoede het gevolglik ook aanleiding gegee tot misdade soos veediefstal, huisinbrake en rooftogte. Bendewese het ‘n leefstyl geword van straatboewe wat die lewe verder bemoeilik het vir kwetsbare gemeenskapslede. Walglike omgewingsgesondheid kondisies het gevolglik ook verder die oorhand gekry. Water is uit onbeskermde putte getap en buite toilette en ashope is vir sanitasie geriewe gebruik. Vlieë het uitgebroei en knaagdiere het daar begin aanteel. Vee het vry gewei en agtererwe was vol oorbevolkte krotte instede van aanvaarbare wonings Vure van fossielbrandstof is binne-in modderhuise met swak ventilasie gebrand en dit het tot koolstofmonoksied vergiftiging by inwoners gelei. Stofdeeltjies van stofstrate het lugbesoedeling veroorsaak. Siektes het vinnig versprei as gevolg van stof, oorbevolking, swak ventilasie en onhigiëniese sanitasie. Gesinne kon skaars geskikte mediese behandeling bekostig wat ver, skaars en duur was. Die stedelike hernuwingsprogram beoog om lewenskondisies in Evaton te verbeter. Beter behuising is verskaf waar moontlik, ‘n wyer rioolnetwerk is voorsien, elektrisiteit is voorsien en sekere dienspaaie is geteer. Meer klinieke is gebou om sodoende beter asook gratis gesondheidsdienste aan Evaton gemeenskap te voorsien. Ongelukkig was daar struikelblokke wat die stedelike hernuwingsprogram vertraag het. Die behuising projek kon nie volgens beplanning verloop nie aangesien grondeienaars onwillig was om hul grond af te staan. Fondse was nie genoeg nie en volgens aantuigings misbruik. Behuising, paaie en sanitasie bly nog swaak. Lugbesoedeling is steeds hoog aangesien fossielbrandstof steeds gebruik word as gevolg van hoë elektrisiteitskostes. Vee word steeds vrylik aangehou en die werkloosheid syfer is steeds baie hoog. Hierdie situasie in Evaton eis onmiddellik intervensie. Suspisies rakende grondhervorming moet oorkom word. Voorsiening van bekostigbare behuising moet verskerp word. Plaaslike ekonomiese ontwikkeling wat noodsaaklik is vir werk skepping en armoede verligting moet aangespreek word om sodoende self-versorging aan te moedig. Intervensie van die Regering, met goeie gemeenkap deelname, is noodsaaklik vir gesonde lewenstandaarde in Evaton. Hervorming met beplande vooruitsigte sal dringend verskerp moet word sodat die impak van gesondheid standaarde op Evaton gemeenskap positief beïnvloed kan word.

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