Hein Boshoff, the City of Cape Town’s head of electricity distribution northern area talks about the City of Cape Town’s Backyarder Electrification project.

In South Africa, 13.6% of the population lives in informal housing including backyards. Due to the widespread occurrence of informal dwellings in the backyards of houses in formal townships and suburbs, the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, saw the need to improve the circumstances of the many so-called backyarders living on council property. In October 2011, the City Council gave the green light to continue with three pilot sites, namely Factreton, Hanover Park and Langa. The latter was later withdrawn due to consumer resistance.

According to Hein Boshoff, Head: Electricity Distribution Area North at the City of Cape Town, a total 188 backyarder dwellings in Factreton have so far been provided with electricity, while 984 dwellings in Hanover Park have been connected. Reflecting on the challenges, Boschoff explained that communities were concerned that they would not be part of new housing developments should they accept backyarder electrification.

However, through constant communication in the local media and community meetings, the City of Cape Town assured backyarders would still be considered for new housing options. Another challenge was around accessibility to the dwellings behind rental units requiring constant design rethink to accommodate the best alternatives available.

What services are you providing to backyarders and who pays for these services?

The services provided by Council are electricity, water and sanitation, and waste removal. All Backyarder projects are funded through the Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG).

What infrastructure did you have to put in place?

In Factreton we had to move the midblock supply to street front. A new design was necessary to account for the increased demand in supplying up to three backyarder dwellings per CRU with electricity. This resulted in the strengthening of the backbone….

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