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A consistent theme running throughout all of DAG’s work – past and present – remains the importance it places on building and maintaining partnerships with a range of key stakeholders. During its existence DAG formed many new partnerships and continue to strengthen strategic partnerships built over the years with CBOs, NGOs, social movements, academic institutions, urban development practitioners and various government departments.
Community-based groups: Over the years DAG has cultivated good working relationships with numerous community-based groups through its site specific projects, programmes and related activities. The process of building and managing new and consolidating established relationships is a continuous thread running through all DAG interventions. As DAG has moved more deeply and strategically into a more city-wide and comprehensive urban planning approach, its network of CBOs and citizen groups has expanded exponentially. In alignment with the theme of re-imagining Cape Town, CBOs and citizen groups spread across the City of Cape Town are considered by DAG to be strategic partners.
Government: Interaction with government is very important for DAG and its traditional constituency (the urban poor) in terms of its advocacy focus, and has been consistent at both project and policy levels. At a national level DAG continues to have a good working relationship with the Department of Human Settlements. This has especially revolved around housing programmes and policies, such as the Enhanced People’s Housing Process. DAG is also working closely with the department to develop the concept for a National Human Settlements (Urban) Forum. As concepts like ‘human settlements’ and ‘urban forums’ expand in practice, DAG foresees a parallel process unfolding regarding the scope of government departments and considers it important to work together with them.
DAG land access and housing projects involve regular facilitation of interactions with local and provincial government around tenure, planning, accessing subsidies, service installation and construction. For example, the work in Khayelitsha and various informal settlements has strengthened the working relationship between DAG, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements (WCDHS). DAG’s interest in partnering with the WCDHS on the work undertaken in Khayelitsha was strategically selected to better understand why People’s Housing Process (PHP) projects get blocked; how to facilitate active and more effective participation of project stakeholders in the process of unblocking PHP projects; how to design and implement technically sound and socially appropriate interventions that result in quality housing and community development opportunities; and to better understand the impact that blocked projects and the unblocking process have on people’s livelihoods.
NGOs: In the course of its day-to-day work, especially through the Participatory Urban Governance Programme, DAG interacts with a range of NGOs. For example, some significant strides were made in developing closer working relationships between DAG and its sister organisations in the urban sector, such as Afesis-Corplan, Built Environment Support Group, Project Preparation Trust and Planact. As a member of the Good Governance Learning Network, headed by ISANDLA Institute, DAG also interacts on a regular basis with members of this dynamic network, including organisations like the Community Organisation Resource Centre, the Shack Dwellers International and the Black Sash. DAG remains committed to strengthening these partnerships and exploring opportunities to develop new ones relevant to its area of work.
International and academic institutions: DAG has continued to consolidate its relationships with international development agencies and academic institutions in South Africa and globally. This has included sustaining partnerships with experts in the urban sector from the Development Planning Unit at University College in London; the Institute for Housing and Urban Development in the Netherlands; African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town; various departments at the universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch; and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. There are plans afoot to extend these valued partnerships in the future.