Municipal Institute Of LearningMILE - Municipal Institute Of Learning
International Learning Exchange kicks off at Princess Magogo Soccer Stadium!
Cllr Gumede welcoming the-
delegates at the peer exchange

Over 40 planners and urban professionals working in the built environment from Dar es Salaam, Dakar, eThekwini, Porto Alegre, Nelson Mandela Bay, Cape Town and non-governmental organisations gathered in Kwa Mashu yesterday to compare notes and learn from each other about how the quality of life can be improved for people living in informal settlements.

Councillor Nigel Gumede, Chairperson of the Housing Portfolio Committee opened the international learning exchange hosted by MILE, Imagine Durban and Sustainable Cities, urging professionals to be introspective and apply their minds, reminding them of their mandates as civil servants. He challenged the planners too asking them to identify, at least one concrete learning and to implement this in their respective cities.

The morning was spent debating the extent to which planners are creating and enabling an environment for informal settlement residents to improve their lives. It was felt that; generally, municipal approval processes for housing developments were long drawn out, often frustrating the poor in urban areas. It was agreed that there was a need to lobby for policy changes in this regard.

During site visits of new housing development projects in KwaMashu, Ntuzuma and Emtshebeni in Inanda, colleagues from other African cities were amazed at eThekwini’s approach of delivering top structures- something unfamiliar elsewhere on the continent where the focus is more on the provision of basic services. At the same time, critical questions were raised about creating more liveable environments like parks, playgrounds, schools, instead of just focusing on housing.

Delegates enjoyed lunch overlooking the Princess Magogo football pitch which was used as an official FIFA training venue for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The afternoon session was spent reflecting on the day’s learning’s and engaging on a presentation made by Dar es Salaam on an integrated housing project implemented in partnership with a local NGO.

Exhausted after an intense day one, delegates continued their discussion in a more relaxed setting during dinner at Ushaka Marine World after a short address by the Durban City Manager.

Watch this space for an update of day two of the learning exchange.

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