Kenichi Serino – South Africa’s Wave Of Discontentment March, 2014. Sebokeng, South Africa – In the early hours of March 10, in a small town in South Africa called Sebokeng, about 100 people gathered to protest their imminent evictions from government housing. They blockaded the road – a major route into Johannesburg known as the “Golden Highway” – with stones and burning tyres. They sang songs in defiance of the eviction orders, promising they would die in their houses before they left them.

The Sebokeng protest did not make the news, except perhaps in the odd traffic report announcing the road closure. It was just one of hundreds of demonstrations by South Africa’s poor and marginalised, which in recent years have become increasingly common – sometimes with fatal results.

So-called “service delivery protests” often take place in semi-urban areas, far from South Africa’s wealthier and more affluent urban districts. About one-quarter of these protests turn violent, according to police estimates, sometimes leaving shops looted or libraries and clinics burnt to the ground.

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History – Matt Pearson – State Library Archives Reveal A City Under Seige As Bubonic Plague Sparks Panic And A Mass Cleansing Of Sydney Slums


Photo: State Library NSW

Bubonic plague outbreak in Sydney killed 103 people in eight months
Mass cleansing of city saw vast tracts of housing, slums razed in CBD
Further 12 outbreaks occured between 1900-1925
Significant urban renewal resulted from demolition of inner city slums

Panic and dread swept through Sydney when the bubonic plague arrived in 1900 and authorities, knowing the ravenous potential of the disease, were ruthless in their attempts to control it.

These stunning pictures from the online archives of the State Library of NSW, uploaded to its Flickr Commons account, document life in the city when the plague arrived.

State Librarian Dr Alex Byrne said the photos told a unique Sydney story, but pointed out that even in the tragic circumstances of 1900, some good still came through.

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Greg Arde – Durban Moves Its Slum-Dwellers Into Converted Office Buildings March 2014. In a high-rise apartment in downtown Durban, Tizzie Gomba surveys her tidy little home with obvious satisfaction. It’s modest, clean and safe. Best of all, it allows the 43-year-old office worker and single mother the opportunity to raise her teenage daughter, Noel, with dignity.
It’s a world away from Gomba’s former dingy flat on a block not far from here.

Most inner-city residents in Durban consider themselves lucky. They don’t live in one of the city’s 500 squatter settlements, the informal favelas that have mushroomed around the city as a crush of rural-to-urban migrants seek jobs in town. The city says there are about 300,000 shacks in Durban, each home to an average of four people, which means over 30 percent of Durban residents live in a shack. Conditions in these slums are appalling. Running water and proper sanitation are scarce. Electricity is illegally connected, leading to frequent electrocutions. Flash floods can wipe out entire settlements overnight.

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The Chartered Institute Of Housing

illustration-houses-bwFrom Octavia Hill to Octavia House
The history of housing management, and the Chartered Institute of Housing, was sparked by the work of pioneers of social reform opposed to appalling housing conditions in the second half of the 19th century.
In 1884-1885 the Royal Commission on the Housing of Working Classes published a report that detailed with shocking clarity the poor conditions in which many people were living. At the same time, forward-thinking social reformers like Victorian socialist, philanthropist and educationalist Octavia Hill, recognised the need for improved housing for the poor and the reform of housing in England began.

Octavia Hill (1838-1912) initiated the profession of housing management, first managing two small groups of dilapidated houses in Marylebone, London in 1865 and 1866. She rented her properties on weekly or short-term tenancies, employing trained female housing managers, who were equipped to deal with repairs, welfare issues and rent accounting, to collect rents in person.
She continued this pioneering work throughout her life and in 1916 women who had trained under her founded the Association of Women Housing Workers. The Association grew and changed its name to the Society of Housing Managers in 1948.
In 1931, a group of local government officers from housing departments in the West Midlands established the Institute of Housing. The roots of CIH were in the Institute of Housing, which held the first Housing conference in 1931, developed its own qualifying examination and published the first issue of Housing magazine in 1938.
The Institute worked alongside the Society of Housing Managers until finally the two groups merged on 24th February 1965, forming the Institute of Housing Managers. This marked the start of the modern era for CIH.

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Al Jazeera – Sri Lanka Improves Housing For Tea Workers

A new housing project aims to improve conditions for impoverished workers in Sri Lanka’s tea industry. The industry earned more than one point five billion dollars last year, but plantation workers – who are the backbone of the industry – remain among the country’s poorest. Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez reports from Talawakelle, Sri Lanka.

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Mariana Vazquez (Cordaid) – Why Housing Projects Fail – And How To Succeed

logo-cordaidCordaid, March 11, 2014. Haiti is not the only country where many efforts to house the slum dwellers have failed. Why is that? Cordaid’s Mariana Vazquez, an expert in long-term development in slums, shares her perspective.

‘Four years after an earthquake in Haiti that made 1,3 million people homeless and despite massive international efforts, 200,000 people are still living in tents. In some areas, houses have been built, but many stand empty and vandalized. For some reason, people preferred to stay in their old houses, in crowded rooms, without water or electricity and in highly stressful and dangerous circumstances, rather than in the houses built especially for them. And Haiti is not the only country where efforts to house the slum dwellers have been challenging.’

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