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A F R I C A N U T I L ITT Y W E E K PRACTICAL LESSONS from City of Cape Town’s unique Backyarder project 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. 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 of the network and substations. New street lighting was also installed. How many people are receiving municipal services now? In Factreton a total of 188 backyarder dwellings were provided with electricity. In Hanover Park we ended up with 984 dwellings connected. Is this an on-going project? The two pilot Backyarder projects, each with their own challenges, proved to be successful and Council is continuing with this approach in areas where the community is willing to accept these improvements. The Electricity Department will be attending to two other areas for Backyarder supply: Parkwood and Bonteheuwel. How have these initiatives changed people’s lives? a) Improved safety around their homes, as no more dangerous wiring is needed from the main dwelling to the Backyarder. b) Social upliftment is achieved through the EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) providing work opportunities on the project. CLEAN POWER AFRICA c) Improved living conditions – alleviating poverty through subsidised electricity connections and other municipal services. d) No more exploitation by the main occupants as Backyarders receive services directly from the City. What has surprised you about working on this project? The support and positive acceptance of the project by the consumers in the areas. How people had organised themselves in their collective state of poverty prior to the services they now receive. What will delegates learn during the African Utility Week site visit? The delegates will see how we configured the Backyarder supply from our network, and during my presentation at the conference we will discuss the design parameters that we used. Whilst on-site they will learn how we had to overcome certain access problems and that the community really enjoyed the whole process and supported us in this venture to uplift the social environment for them. ESI ▼ I n South Africa, 13.6% of the population lives in informal housing including backyards. Due to the wide- spread 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. OPINION: The Backyarder project is a wonderful opportunity to provide social empowerment through improved living conditions. However this project is only available to council rental units. Should it be extended to all backyarders and would it be sustainable? What are the alternatives? @ESIAfrica 12 – 14 May 2015 Cape Town, South Africa