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Planning for Informality - Isandla Institute's new webtool

Isandla Institute is excited to announce the going live of its new webtool, "Planning for Informality".  Acting as an Open Data intitative, Planning for Informality aims to provide the public with greater accessibility to information around cities strategies which address issues and opportunities presented by informal settlements, in order to foster even greater transparency.

In the past decade South African human settlement policy with regards to informal settlement upgrading (ISU) has undergone a major shift. In a broad sense, policy around ISU has shifted towards more ‘participative, integrated, flexible and incremental approach’ to housing delivery. Along with this shift in policy, overarching strategies and policies such as the Integrated Development Framework as well as the National Development Plan (Vision 2030), requires municipalities to development robust strategies that address challenges associated with informal settlements.

However, it is evident that looking at the current South African urban landscape, that policy doesn’t always seem to translate into practice as smoothly and as democratically as one would wish.

It is with this that Isandla Institute identified a twofold need with regards to advocacy. Firstly, to track and assess national government commitments and secondly to critically evaluate delivery in relation to informal settlement upgrading in eight South African metropolitan cities. As a result, we recognised a unique opportunity for knowledge-sharing and engaging in meaningful dialogue through a web-based tool called the Planning for Informality tool. 

 The development of the Planning for Informality tool began with the analysis of each of the eight cities core municipal documentation, which can be accessed on the Treasury website. Following the analysis, ± 40 indicators were developed and categorised in a database. This evidence was then used to design a scorecard system that gauges performance and commitments of metropolitan municipalities. This methodology is meant to package important information in a more digestible and accessible manner to cater to a broader user-base, because municipal documents tend to be lengthy and difficult to understand. However, in no way is this a qualitative assessment of city strategies, but rather a packaging of information in a useful manner.

The Planning for Informality tool’s key functionalities include:

  • Data index categories and indicators are presented and accessed according to evidence obtained from core municipal documentations;
  • City profiles offer descriptive city profiles for all eight metropolitan municipalities, as well as key demographic information and statistics;
  • Insights provide access to relevant blog posts and encourage engagement through meaningful commentary and sharing on other media platforms; and
  • Contribute sections that allows for users to provide additional information on programmes/projects related to residential informality in their municipality. This information to be accompanied by credible evidence.

Webtool data is to be updated on an annual basis, and will feature regular blog posts to keep up with relevant dialogue around residential informality. Isandla Institute hopes that the Planning for Informality tool will not only be used to gain a better understanding of cities upgrading strategies, but will advance a progressive human settlement agenda.

Isandla Institute invites you to engage with the tool, as well as forward your feedback on to us!

For more information, please contact Palmira de Almeida on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 021 683 7903.


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Sharing the common goal of promoting participatory, effective, accountable and pro-poor local governance, the network strives to provide an interface for civil society organisations to network and share information towards strengthening local democracy in South Africa.