Andrea Bolnick

Ashoka Fellow
Cape Town, WC, South Africa
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Andrea Bolnick was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
As people migrated in increasing numbers from rural areas, and South Africa became home to refugees from Zimbabwe and other African conflicts, Andrea realized that government efforts to move people into durable subsidized housing were not going to come close to meeting the large and growing demand for “dwellings with dignity.” With new informal settlements sprouting up, and older ones expanding as new migrants crowded in, the shack dwellers only goal was “a roof over one’s head”—even if the walls were a fire hazard and the dirt floors pooled with water when the rains came.

While government subsidized housing schemes have focused on removing people from such informal settlements altogether, Andrea is focusing on improving the housing stock available to build and renovate the shacks in shanty towns. Founding Ikhayalami in 2006 with representatives drawn from informal settlements in and around Cape Town, Andrea created prototype dwellings constructed with fire-safe walls (made of corrugated aluminum and zinc), proper drainage, and the flexibility to add other features as services to the settlements improved. These renovations were designed to be done without the need for government funds or intervention, and in fact, the community is asked to play a leading role in both the design and financing scheme. More importantly, after a considerable process of community consultation and agreement, a broadly applicable renovation process has been created—and can be accomplished in a single day. From removal of existing shacks to regrading and drainage modification to assembly and erection of new cluster dwellings in the same location where people live, Ikhayalami’s model essentially allows people to move their effects out of a dilapidated home in the morning, and move them back into a safer, nicer home the same evening.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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