Improving housing conditions in South African townships

One of Saint-Gobain South Africa’s the first social housing initiatives took place in Diepsloot, a township northwest of Johannesburg. Diepsloot was founded in the mid-1990s, when other informal settlements were cleared.

saint gobain affordable housing diepsloot

Diepsloot in context

Since the end of apartheid, South Africa has faced substantial migration to cities. This, combined with a resource-poor population, has resulted in a housing deficit of nearly 2.5 million units.

This housing crisis manifests in a growing number of townships similar to Diepsloot. Today, 13 per cent of the South African population still lives in informal housing.

Located in northern Johannesburg (South Africa), Diepsloot was formed soon after the transition to democracy in 1994. It began as a temporary informal settlement.

Over the years, people have continued to pour in and about 200 000 people are now crammed into Diepsloot. Violent, overcrowded Diepsloot, with its record unemployment rates, broken roads and limited infrastructure, contrasts dramatically with its wealthy surrounding suburbs.

Diepsloot has been declared a formal township. This means that it has been recognised by the local municipality as a legitimate settlement.

Thousands of houses were built in Diepsoot as part of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and there are also bank-financed houses. However, many residents still live in shacks.

Building homes, not just houses

In 2012, Saint-Gobain Initiatives Foundation partnered with Habitat for Humanity, the People’s Housing Process Directorate, the City of Johannesburg, the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing, and the Diepsloot community to build 40 homes in the area. The Group contributed about R4.7 million and 300 contributors worked an average of eight hours per day to complete the project.

Saint-Gobain’s approach was to identify those households that qualified for a housing subsidy by being registered with the National Department of Human Settlements, and those currently living on a serviced site (with access to water, sewage and electricity).

The houses were built from Saint-Gobain solutions, combined with traditional methods (bricks and cement for exterior walls and siding).

  • Saint-Gobain Gyproc provided ceilings and easy-to-install plasterboard interior walls.
  • Saint-Gobain Isover provided insulation systems, Saint-Gobain DONN provided metal framing and Saint-Gobain Weber provided tile adhesive.

All of these solutions deliver greater safety and better thermal comfort in all seasons than traditionally South African building methods would. They can reduce the typical electricity bill for such a home by up to 35 per cent.

Habitat for Humanity is an international non-governmental non-profit organisation dedicated to building simple, decent and affordable housing. Houses are built using volunteer labour and are sold without profit. non-profit organisation dedicated to building simple, decent and affordable housing. Houses are built using volunteer labour and are sold without profit.

Did you know ?

All of these solutions provided by Saint-Gobain can reduce the typical electricity bill for such a home by up to 35 per cent.