Better Living Challenge


Informal settlements in the Western Cape

Census 2011 revealed that there are more than 300 000 households are living in informal dwellings in the Western Cape. Of these households, approximately 35% live in informal backyard dwellings and 65% in informal settlements. Around 74% of the informal dwellings are located in the City of Cape Town and 10% in the Cape Winelands District. More than 95% of these households have an income below R6 400 a month and a head of household aged between 18 and 59.  In terms of affordability, using 2011 income and expenditure data, it is likely that more than 230 000 households spend less than R400 a month on their dwelling(s).


What is BLC?

The Better Living Challenge (BLC) is designed to surface local innovative solutions to pressing or persistent socioeconomic challenges, through stimulating innovative products, services and systems that can catalyse change and bring about better living.

The BLC 1 was designed around a competition model. It ran from 2014 to 2016, and focused on creating innovative and sustainable home improvement products. The current BLC 2 uses a cooperative challenge model, and runs from 2016 to 2019. It explores ways of supporting incremental upgrades of homes within informal settlements.


The BLC is a project of the Craft and Design Institute (CDI) and is funded by the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements (DoHS) and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT). It was launched under the Western Cape Government’s 110% Green programme, and consists of a series of challenges.


Take me there // BLC 1 | BLC 2


Why CDI?

Innovation using design-led processes and thinking methodologies is a key part of how the CDI helps people develop solutions. It’s a user-driven approach – focusing on problem-solving and solution finding for systemic change – and the CDI is pioneering it locally to the benefit of communities through the BLC.


The BLC concept is embedded in a framework aimed at learning while testing solutions to solve real-world problems. This practical approach includes the development of methodologies and processes which are replicable and scalable.


Western Cape Design Strategy

The BLC ties in with the Western Cape Design Strategy, which aims to facilitate the use of design processes and tools to stimulate increased competitiveness and efficiencies for socio-economic development in our economy.


In 2012, DEDAT collaborated with the CDI and other key role-players to develop a Western Cape Design Strategy to unlock innovation in the province. The CDI has been tasked with driving the implementation of the strategy with a wide range of stakeholders. A first for South Africa, the Western Cape Design Strategy broadly aims to achieve four things:


  • Design-ready businesses;
  • Business-ready design practitioners;
  • Design in the public sector; and
  • Involved citizens.

The BLC is one of the key projects of the CDI and it is part of the Western Cape Design Strategy. The aim of the Design Strategy is to unlock innovation through design-led processes and thinking, and the BLC as a flagship project highlights how good design can improve lives.