• Proximity of Care Design Guide


multi-use Early Childhood Development spaces

Image by VPUU

Emthonjenis (Xhosa word for the place where water originates) are open air learning spaces for young children built around public water taps, where children along with their caregivers can access quality early childhood development outreach programmes.

The interventions are located in the informal settlement of Cape Town called Khayelitsha with challenges related to poverty and violence. The design includes a network of spaces across the settlement that generate opportunities of social interaction, improved safety and access to specific basic services.


Location Khayelitsha Informal Settlement, Cape Town, South Africa

Organisation Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) - NGO

Partner organisations Local Early Childhood Development Centres, Early Childhood Development Forum and NGOs around the different sites.

Scale of catchment City, Neighbourhood

Beneficiary Pregnant women, Children aged 0-5, Caregivers

Built environment component Public space; public water taps




A network of safe walkways link each Emthonjeni to other nodal points, such as Early Childhood Development support centres. By adding physical structure, the Emthonjeni encourages a variety of activities to extend the function of a water source.


(1) Participatory conceptualization, design, implementation, operation and maintenance are key success factors that lead to community ownership.

(2) Employment of local labour whilst at the same time working with local volunteers, who gain access to skills development is important to ensure sustainability and long-term community ownership.


(1) Early Childhood Development Spaces are located around water collection points to improve opportunities for social interaction.

(2) Prioritisation of spaces is done with the community.


To achieve lasting change in building integrated communities, it is imperative to promote community ownership, strategic partnerships, monitoring and intermediary facilitation between community and public sector.





Recent Posts

See All