Durban: Software tycoon Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have donated $10-million for the improvement of the living conditions of the urban poor in South Africa.
The South African Federation of the Urban Poor Thursday disclosed this in a statement saying the money was donated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The money would be directed through the Slum/Shack Dwellers International, which is based in South Africa.
“The money will go directly to grassroots groups who are members of the Federation and SDI,” said the Federation.
“The Federation has constructed more than 13,000 housing units and provided tenure security to an additional 20,000 families since 1995. The fund is a breakthrough for slum dwellers to achieve their dreams and improve their housing, water and sanitation.”
It said the Federation and the SDI had signed a memorandum of understanding in 2006 with South Africa’s national housing department in which the department pledged USD 40-million worth of subsidies to the federation.
“We believe the fund will also help to build local dialogue and sustainable solutions,” the statement said.
Since 1994, all the cities and towns in South Africa have become burdened by the emergence of huge shack or informal settlements. In Durban alone, more than two million people are reported to be living in informal settlements in and around the city.
The Government and the local municipalities built thousands of low cost housing complexes to cater for the slum dwellers but are unable to meet the expectations of all the shack dwellers.