Better Living Challenge


Needs analysis research phase


During the Needs Analysis research phase of BLC2, close to 400 questionnaires were administered with a response rate of 70%. Of those interviewed, 80% of respondents lived in an upgraded dwelling (e.g. minor improvements to existing dwelling, re-blocking, IDA beneficiary). Respondents were asked to share their level of skills in undertaking tasks associated with upgrading their dwellings. Of those interviewed who did upgrades,

  • 70% had no building skills
  • 53% gained skills through work experience
  • 42% gained skills through community observation

A follow up question was asked which sought to gauge the level of skills most desired or required. These skills included,

  • Site Management
  • Bricklaying
  • Electrical
  • Roofing
  • Woodwork


Visual and spatial literacy


Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image, extending the meaning of literacy, which commonly signifies interpretation of a written or printed text. By producing toolkits we are addressing visual literacy. Spatial literacy is the competent and confident use of maps, mapping, and spatial thinking to address ideas, situations, and problems within daily life, society, and the world around us (toolkits’ in context of the incubator and as interactive process).


Objectives of toolkits


The objectives of these toolkits for spatial and visual literacy was to:

  • Consolidate research and resources generated during the needs analysis phase;
  • Provide options and “how to’s” for upgrading informal housing;
  • Develop toolkits in the context of the BLC programme; and
  • Deliver to Primary User and observe how they are used for ongoing improvement.

An iterative approach


The BLC team continues to refine the technical content and visual communication through a range of sector engagements. To date, these have included a three-hour workshop with Aurecon (7 September) and Green Building Council of South Africa’s (GBCSA) Green Building Conference (9 – 11 October 2017). The purpose of these workshops is to problem-solve and ideate around existing challenges and problem-areas related to informal building. A wide range of participants were invited including NGO programme managers, professional teams, small scale contractors, and government officials.