Africa Water and Sanitation Local Authorities Network
  • 26% of Africa's population (244 million) has a piped water connection on their premises.
  • Almost 20% of Sub-Saharan Africa relies on a water source that is more than 30 minutes away from the household.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for over a third of the world's 884 million people who still do not get their drinking water from improved sources.
  • Africa has 9% of global freshwater resources, but 15% of the global population.

Genius of SPACE (Systems for People’s Access to a Clean Environment) Project, Langrug, Franschhoek, South Africa

Genius of SPACE (Systems for People’s Access to a Clean Environment) Project, Langrug, Franschhoek, South Africa


Decreasing Berg River water pollution and reducing solid waste pollution are the main goals for the Genius of SPACE Project in the Langrug informal settlement near Franschhoek. The project is an initiative of the Western Cape Government Departments of Human Settlements, Economic Opportunities and Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. The project aims to uplift and improve the area’s socio-economic development, through the provision of a cleaner environment and more dignified conditions for the members of the community, with the support of Stellenbosch Municipality. 

The lack of sufficient basic infrastructure services (such as water, electricity and piped sanitation) causes residents to be exposed to contaminated domestic grey water. This greywater comes from household cooking, washing, bathing and also sewage which flows in the streets and the environment of the settlement. The contamination of stormwater poses a significant risk to the Berg River, with potential to seriously impact on health risks to the human and other residents of the surrounding ecosystem. 

After the first phase of scoping for how biomimicry could be applied to the Berg River Improvement Plan, the project then focussed on developing a dynamic model for the upgrading of informal settlements, using biomimicry methodology. The context had to be understood and the key issues of water, wastewater, stormwater and solid waste management were explored by the team. This took place through site visits and direct engagement with the community. Then the team started to design solutions such as living drainage channels for stormwater, interconnected tree gardens and wetlands for sub-surface greywater treatment, and the use of ecomachines (ecological water systems containing all 5 kingdoms of organisms) for treating stormwater. 

After the design phase which lasted between 2013 and 2015, the implementation phase started in September 2015. Construction of the greywater prototype began in January 2016. The aim is to learn as much as possible in the operation and implementation phases. Learning by doing is an important part of the project, given the innovative approach being adopted. This learning includes monitoring and research by postgraduate students of Stellenbosch University (funded by the Department of Science & Technology and the Water Research Commission). 

Besides co-designing and implementing social, technical and green infrastructure, the project focuses on the goals of engaging the community, providing an opportunity for high impact investment, infrastructure innovation, reduction of source pollution, improvement of health, development of ongoing community micro-enterprises and providing research opportunities. 

 It is the objective and intention of the project to be able to demonstrate the benefits and opportunities for green infrastructure to increase environmental protection, improve liveability of settlements and begin to address the need for greater resilience capacity in further urban development upgrades and planning. The consultant team of the project consists of the following companies and organisations: 

  • BiomimicrySA
  • Greenhouse Systems Development
  • In/formal South (now called Actuality)
  • Isidima Design and Development
  • Maluti GSM
  • WaterLove Projects
  • CORC; and
  • John Todd Ecological Design