What and Where is Diepsloot?
Diepsloot is a densely populated township in the north of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is made up of fully government-subsidised housing, brick houses built by landowners, partially government subsidised houses as well as shacks. (These shacks are built on any piece of land with nothing already on it. Some landowners charge rent to others to stay in a shack on their land.
Diepsloot is now home to over 350,000 people; many of them live in shacks 3 meters by 2 meters assembled from scrap metal, wood, plastic and cardboard. Some families lack access to basic services such as running water, sewage and rubbish removal.
Residents use paraffin stoves and coal for cooking, and candles for light. Some shacks have electricity and use a prepaid meter, but this is becoming increasingly expensive and is used sparingly. City officials estimate that half the population in the settlement is unemployed.
Despite its socio-economic challenges, Diepsloot is a vibrant neighborhood with residents that are optimistic and determined to make better lives for themselves. There are a number of active community development organisations in Diepsloot including The Diepsloot Community Development Forum, Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network, WASSUP Diepsloot, Diepsloot Youth Projects etc.
Diepsloot is one of Johannesburg’s newest towns. It was established in 1994, as a relocation area for informally settled households from Zevenfontein. In less than 20 years Diepsloot has grown into a bustling neighborhood covering approximately 5 square kilometers with a population of more than 350,000.
Life in Diepsloot
There are an estimated 50 000 plus shacks alongside more than 8 000 formal housing units, such as RDP (RDP houses: a house that was built as part of a government-funded social housing project) houses, self-built houses on serviced sites, and a small number of bank-financed houses. The formal dwellings are mostly brick structures on separate stands, with access to electricity, tap water, flush or chemical toilets and refuse removal at least once a week.
Diepsloot formal housing unit
The informal part of Diepsloot is densely developed with informally constructed homes (mostly built with corrugated iron sheeting) that are serviced through communal taps and toilets, and roads that are in a poor condition.
What the Personal Achievement Centre is doing
The South African Police Service Youth Desk and the Personal Achievement Centre came together and formulated the Diepsloot Youth Programme. In this Programme, 6 young people with different talents from different backgrounds were recruited and trained in the subjects of DRUG EDUCATION, STUDY TECHNOLOGY, YOUTH FOR HUMAN RIGHTS and BASIC MORAL CODES. These Facilitators now go into the communities and schools, developing skills and empowering youth to better their lives, embrace education, believe in themselves and reduce drug abuse.