Economy, society and municipal services in Khayelitsha

Type Report
Title Economy, society and municipal services in Khayelitsha
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Publisher Centre for Social Science Research
City Cape Town
Country/State South Africa
Established in 1983, Khayelitsha has grown into a set of neighbourhoods with a population of about 400,000 people, approximately one half of whom live in formal houses and one half in shacks, mostly in informal settlements rather than backyards. Most adult residents of Khayelitsha were born in the Eastern Cape, and retain close links to rural areas. Most resident children were born in Cape Town. Immigration rates seem to have slowed. The housing stock – formal and informal – has grown faster than the population, resulting in declining household size, as in South Africa as a whole. A large minority of households are headed by women. The state has an extensive reach across much of Khayelitsha. Access to public services – including water, electricity and sanitation – has expanded steadily, but a significant minority of residents continue to rely on communal, generally unsatisfactory facilities. Children attend schools, and large numbers of residents receive social grants (especially child support grants). Poverty is widespread in Khayelitsha: Half of the population of Khayelitsha falls into the poorest income quintile for Cape Town as a whole, with most of the rest falling into the second poorest income quintile for the city. The median annual household income in 2011, according to Census data, was only about R20,000 (or R6,000 per capita). The low employment rate and especially a high unemployment rate underpin this poverty. More than half of the young adults in Khayelitsha failed to complete secondary school, and face poor prospects of finding stable employment in a labour market characterised by the paucity of unskilled employment opportunities. Khayelitsha is not homogeneous, however. Unemployment and poverty are more pervasive in informal settlements, and in the northern (and oldest) and southern (and youngest) parts of Khayelitsha than in the central part. Khayelitsha is differentiated economically: people who have completed secondary school face better prospects of accessing skilled or semi-skilled white-collar employment; there are also opportunities for professional or semi-professional employment for people with tertiary educational qualifications. Crime is a major constraint on self-employment. Khayelitsha’s streets are dangerous at night, and in many cases are considered dangerous in daytime also. The police are not trusted and there is considerable dissatisfaction with them – but mistrust is widespread generally, and residents are dissatisfied with many public services.

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