Afesis-corplan, as part of a team led by CS Consulting, participated in 2014 in the development of an upgrading of informal settlements policy and strategy for the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM). The following animation video was developed as a background motivation for the draft policy:

The policy and strategy is in the process of being approved by the BCMM council. The project was funded by the National Department of Human Settlements supported by the National Upgrading Support Programme. To find out more about a similar incremental settlement approach to development have a look at Afesis-corplan’s Managed Land Settlement initiative.


In 2013, the world came to know of two young women: Jyoti Singh Pandey from India and Anene Booysen from South Africa. Both were gang-raped, brutally attacked and died fighting for their lives. If it wasn’t for their families, outraged citizens, and civil society activists, they would today be nothing more than statistics, two digits added to the alarming number of women raped and murdered worldwide.

Although the fates of Jyoti and Anene received a great deal of publicity and public outcry, they are not unique. In both countries and many more, violent acts against women occur on a daily basis, but are either widely ignored or taken as normalcy. For decades, feminists from across the globe have sought opportunities to think and act together in order to make the struggle against gendered violence a political priority.
During an exchange project implemented between 2013 and 2015 by the India and South Africa offices of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, leading academics, researchers, lawyers, journalists and civil society activists reflected on the following questions: What were the specific dynamics and circumstances that propelled the two cases into national and international prominence? Do state responses and the media adequately address patriarchal gender relations? What needs to happen to improve women’s safety?

We hope that this publication contributes to a deeper understanding of sexualised violence, which is needed to devise impactful legislation and policy. Although national contexts, societies and strategies may differ, as the case studies illustrate, both Jyoti and Anene shall remind us that violence against women has to end.  Everywhere.

Follow the link to the publication and view a thought provoking documentary by CheckPoint called ‘Two Worlds, One Fight’ which is based on this project.


17 May marks World Hypertension Day, highlighting a condition that is often neglected in mom’s-to-be, yet poses a serious threat to expectant mothers in South Africa.

This World Hypertension Day the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) and the National Department of Health would like to make all potential and expectant mothers aware of the dangers of hypertension and encourage them to 'know their numbers' by getting their blood pressures checked. Embarking on the journey of motherhood can be a pleasurable and memorable experience. However, pregnancy can be overshadowed by hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Uncontrolled hypertension prior to pregnancy or hypertension developed during pregnancy poses a risk to both mother and unborn baby. This highlights the importance of early and regular blood pressure testing.

Hypertension can affect an expectant mother in two ways: 1) She might have existing hypertension prior to becoming pregnant, or 2) Hypertension may develop in the second half of pregnancy. When high blood pressure is accompanied by protein in the urine, and swollen ankles, fingers and face; it is particularly serious and is called pre-eclampsia. For both types of hypertension in pregnancy, if hypertension is not detected and then controlled, it can cause low birth weight or require early delivery of the baby.  Hypertension and especially pre-eclampsia can furthermore be very harmful to the mother as well, by causing seizures, damaging the kidneys, liver and brain and increasing the risk of stroke. 

“We have seen a 33 percent increase in high blood pressure problems during pregnancy worldwide and an alarming 1 in 6 maternal deaths in South Africa are due to hypertensive disorders. Not only can hypertension have serious consequences for the infant during pregnancy, but it may also promote heart disease in the child during his/her lifetime” says Dr Vash Mungal-Singh, chief executive officer of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa.

There are certain factors that can put one at an increased risk of hypertension during pregnancy. Factors include hypertension during a previous pregnancy, obesity, being under the age of 20 years and over the age of 40 years, having diabetes and other chronic illnesses, and being pregnant with more than one baby. Women with any of these factors should be especially vigilant. Severe headaches and visual disturbances are warning signs that require an urgent visit to your clinic. The good news is that regular testing of blood pressure can go a long way to help control hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Therefore our aim is to improve the detection of high blood pressure by encouraging all women to have their blood pressure checked regularly, especially when considering falling pregnant and during pregnancy.

Dr Yogan Pillay, deputy director general: HIV/AIDS, TB and Maternal, Child and Women’s Health at the National Department of Health says: “Expectant mothers have a right to know what to expect when expecting. Primary health care plays a critical role in ensuring the prevention and risk reduction of hypertension during pregnancy. South African women have the right to a safe pregnancy and comprehensive antenatal care. We would therefore like to emphasise the need for all future and expectant mothers to get their blood pressure measured and urine tested.”

How can women with existing hypertension prevent problems during pregnancy? Firstly, it is important to control your blood pressure, and speak to your doctor or nurse when thinking about falling pregnant. Discuss with your doctor how hypertension might affect you or your baby and how to adapt or change any current blood pressure medication. Continue to monitor blood pressure regularly throughout your pregnancy as advised by your doctor or clinic. Ensure that you are eating healthily, limiting salt intake, being active and avoiding alcohol or tobacco products. In addition, taking calcium supplementation can prevent pre-eclampsia.
How can women be sure not to get hypertension or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy?  Regular visits to the doctor or clinic are important to ensure a safe pregnancy. For a healthy pregnancy one should:

  • First and foremost ensure that you are in the best possible health before thinking of falling pregnant; including managing a healthy weight, being physically active and not smoking.
  • Get early and regular care from a doctor.
  • Follow all the doctor’s recommendations.
  • Do what you can to help manage blood pressure. Eat a healthy diet including plenty of fruit and vegetable, daily dairy, and limit intake of salt and salty foods.
  • Take a calcium supplement as advised and directed by your doctor.

Hypertension has no symptoms or warning signs, therefore checking blood pressure regularly throughout pregnancy and beyond is important to monitor the health and well-being of mom and baby.  This World Hypertension Day, we encourage all women to know their numbers by visiting their nearest clinic, GP practice, nearest pharmacy or obstetrician to get their blood pressure checked.
Information sources available for interviews:
Dr Vash Mungal-Singh
Chief Executive Officer
Heart and Stroke Foundation SA

Christelle Crickmore
Science and Programme Development Manager
Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa

Prof. Karen Sliwa-Hahnle
Professor of Cardiovascular Research and Director
Hatter Institute
University of Cape Town

Prof Susan Fawcus
Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Mowbray Maternity Hospital

About The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa plays a leading role in the fight against preventable heart disease and stroke, with the aim of seeing fewer South Africans suffer premature deaths and disabilities. The HSF, established in 1980 is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation and has NPO and section 21 status.

For more information, contact the Heart and Stroke Health Line on 0860 1 HEART (43278) or visit For any Salt Watch inquiries e-mail us on or visit, you can also find us on and
For more information contact:

Nuraan Cader
Public Relations & Communications Officer
The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa
Tel: 021-422 1586

For more about the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, refer to

To view other NGO press releases, refer to

 Brian Sokol/MSF

The rain has started to fall in Nepal: monsoon season has begun. Within two weeks it will pour heavily for two full months. All the cracks in the slopes of the mountains will be filled with water and will create more landslides and mudslides to deal with.

Soon all the villagers we have been trying to rescue for the past two weeks will be faced with yet another nightmare. This terrain is surely the most complicated and violent I have worked with.

The earth moves every day – the aftershocks are quite large. On the ground floor of a hotel in Kathmandu, we are sleeping with headlamps, whistles around our necks ready to rush out every time we feel an aftershock.

My entire field experience is put to the test in this environment, on a daily basis.  We need to be creative, fast and extremely prudent and cautious with what we do and the way we do it.

The earth moves everyday – aftershocks are quite big. Located on the ground floor of a hotel in Kathmandu we are sleeping with headlamp, whistles around our neck ready to rush out each every time it is happening.

Helicopters have replaced cars in this mission and we are flying with two or three helicopters every day. But this multiplies the risks daily - especially in the Himalayas when the weather is unpredictable and volatile from one hour to the next.

The wind in the valley is our worst enemy. Even though Nepali pilots are reputed to be the best in the world, this country has the world record of flight accidents. The Himalayas are feature a paradox: its beauty to me is one of our world’s wonders, but the Himalayas are also a dangerous mistress – unpredictable and violent.

 Brian Sokol/MSF

Yesterday, we landed on a slope of a mountain with no more than just enough space to land the helicopter. After offloading the mobile team and cargo, a sudden loud noise occurred above our heads: a landslide. A rock the size of a car stopped 50 metres from myself, the pilot and the helicopter. We were lucky. It is not an easy terrain to navigate and we are learning everyday.

The large MSF response involves 120 international staff on the ground, working in four districts heavily affected close to the epicenter by the quake. Most of the members of our teams are from Latin America, and they are all used to working at high altitudes.

Based at 3 500 metres high we are surrounded by amazing landscapes and some of the highest peaks in the world – all above 8 000 metres. Of the 10 highest peaks in the world, 8 of them are in Nepal – as relayed by the guides who accompany us.

Working at the Tibetan border in the Manaslu Conservation Area offers striking surroundings. There is water everywhere: torrents, streams, cascades and water falls. Monasteries are everywhere at the outskirts of the villages. They dot the foot paths, lining the trails to the top of every peak.

The Nepalese have now gone from being an already remote and isolated population, to an almost completely abandoned one. Very few people - almost none – have arrived in the area to come to the aid of the people of Nepal.

It is devastating to land and see the scale of the disaster, but we are almost considered as heroes. We have been blessed so many times by the people living here.

I have even collected an assortment of sacred scarves: every time I head to the helicopter to descend to base camp 1000 metres below, I am adorned with the scarves placed around my neck by those peopled wishing us well.

MSF updates from Nepal

This past month has been an insightful journey here at The RealStart Trust, starting with the first phase of our Entrepreneurship Programme. It’s great to get the theory down, but as all well know, the real learning starts when you get practical.

Walking with the students as they critically engage with perceptions around their own skills and dreams, business and the opportunities in their communities, has not only brought some valuable insight to the table, but also raised interesting questions.

Questions of creating true value, finding motivation and bringing people together. From making bow-ties, headbands and sling bags from scraps of material, to interviewing business owners from various nationalities in their communities, the students are being challenged to step outside their comfort zone and discover their entrepreneurial abilities.

I must admit, when giving the first homework assignment to our students to identify a gap in the market in their community, I was expecting easy answers. Selling a straight forward product to make a quick buck. However, the feedback was surprising and thought provoking. Without exception, each business idea had its roots in addressing a social need.

Although the business models may still need some work, this is an inspiring testimony to a new generation of youth that are aware of the needs around them and are willing to work towards building a better future in South Africa. This is not just a nice-to-hear reflection from one youth development programme, I believe this is an urgent call for all in South Africa to actively focus on nurturing and equipping the youth of our nation. I also believe that a mere programme is never enough, we are called to get our hands dirty through relationship to truly see lives change.

Reading the Huffington Post article, The Solution to Unemployment? Turning Job Seekers into Job Creators by Sunnie Groeneveld this morning, the reality of a worldwide call to action struck me harder than my Monday morning caffeine fix.

I think we should be wary to take a cookie cutter approach to applying entrepreneurial lessons learnt in a first world context to the dynamic, and sometimes unpredictable, South African context, but the golden thread appears to run true through all continents. Worldwide there is an unemployment crisis and the need to critically engage with the entrepreneurial climate of your country and community is as big in America and Greece, as it is in George and Gugulethu.

Groeneveld refers to Peter Vogel’s book Generation Jobless? Although the book is still on my next-to-read list, the article already gave me a good bite to chew on. Entrepreneurship is not only an answer to youth unemployment, but it can be an exciting, challenging and innovative answer to all unemployment. Groeneveld draws three specific reasons for the importance of youth entrepreneurship development from Vogel’s book:

  • Entrepreneurship creates employment opportunities for those that start the businesses as well as those that they employ, particularly because young entrepreneurs are more prone to hiring other young people.
  • Entrepreneurship helps develop new skills and professional experience that, in turn, can enhance general employability.
  • Entrepreneurship revitalises local communities through new products and services and keeps otherwise young and idle people occupied, which is always better than not having anything to do, leaving them feeling useless and without hope.

The words that personally stand out to me are ‘feeling useless and without hope’. May we fight against the hopelessness that so often knocks at our door in South Africa. Although international books and articles offer valuable insight and knowledge to draw from in this fight, we here at RealStart believe strongly in the power of homegrown stories.

Everyday stories of hope, hard work, community and growth. Through this blog series we will share some of the proudly South African stories that are inspiring our students to becoming change agents, but we also invite you to share the stories that are inspiring you too.

Simple testimonies of ground level entrepreneurial success to big impact organisational best practices. We are excited to share and discover with you to build a hopeful community, working together to enable youth and change the nation.

Share your story below or on Twitter (@realstart) using the hashtag #HomegrownEntrepreneur.



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