Eight years with no basic services in Silvertown: A photo essay

With an estimated number of 4,000 households in the area, a lack of basic services like water, electricity, and sanitation are making it difficult for residents to live safely and maintain a dignified life. All photos by Lilita Gcwabe

The inadequate and lack of services at Silvertown informal settlement near Malmesbury affects women the most.

Two men transport a generator in a wheelbarrow. Without electricity, only a handful of residents are able to find long-term and alternative sources of power to live by, leaving the opportunity to make money off this disadvantage open to the enterprising few.

The dark interior of a shack-home in broad daylight where the family sits inside to hide from the sun while having to cook outside the home with wood that community members often walk long distances to gather.


Silvertown is filled with African nationals born in different countries like Ghana and Malawi, that work on the surrounding farms. Although residents live in poverty, there is more unity in the cause of fighting their living conditions than xenophobia and exclusion.

Since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, two taps have been installed in the settlement with only one out of three that were working on the day of our visit. Community members said they often think twice before drinking or cooking with the water because sometimes it is not clean.

A young boy pulls a cart of two 20-litre buckets home from the only running tap in the area. This tap is situated opposite the bushes and trees that residents are forced to relieve themselves in on a daily basis.
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