Statice Heights: the new green “grassroots” neighbourhood

The City of Cape Town's Environmental Resource Management Department, together with the Housing Department and the NGO Green Communities, has developed a new “green” low cost housing settlement in Kewtown, Athlone. The new neighbourhood, dubbed, Statice Heights consists of 236 houses, all of which are involved in the project. 

To facilitate this green initiative, each new household in Statice Heights was given a home garden kit which consisted of a tree, some grass and a few shrubs. When planted, along with help from Green Communities,  the greenery would help to prevent erosion, protect the foundations of the buildings and prevent rain water run-off during winter.


In addition to this, 300 indigenous trees were also planted during Arbor week last September. These trees which were placed throughout the neighbourhood, with the help of the community, will hopefully not just beautify the area, but  assist in the prevention of climate change as well.


Like the principle of teaching a person to fish, as opposed to giving her/him a fish to satisfy their immediate hunger, the City and Green Communties, knowing full well that the prevention of climate change is something that is meant to be sustained over a period of time, are also currently educating the residents on how to be more environmentally aware. They are also being trained on how to use certain green mechanisms efficiently – like utilising rain water from their roofs to maintain their home food gardens. Some of the youth were trained in solar water heater installation and maintenance so that they might be able to find employment and somehow benefit the “green” industry.


Other green initiatives that the community have embraced include recycling, composting and future plans to equip all the homes with solar water heaters.


A Greening Committee, comprising of community members, as well as Green Communties and respresentatives from the Housing Department,  has also been set-up in Statice Heights. This committee aims to monitor and maintain the various green initiatives.


One of the most recent initiatives that had a successful impact was the clean-up campaign, where the community's children collected over 200 bags of litter.


Currently, Green Communities is commencing work on an urban food garden that will provide vegetables to the 236 familes. Community involvement will be at the core of this and the various other greening interventions.


Statice Heights is currently seen as a standard for future low-cost development, and it is hoped that other green initiatives might see this as an opportunity to not only provide shelter and security for people, but help to remind them that they are also important; that the grassroots can also contribute to solving our climate troubles.