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14-08-2018 | Issue 1/2019

Urban Forum 1/2019

Searching for More Than Just a House? The Extent to Which Government Provided RDP Housing Compared to Self-help Housing Empower Poor Communities in South Africa

Journal:
Urban Forum > Issue 1/2019
Authors:
Lerato Sekoboto, Karina Landman

Abstract

For the past 20 years, the government in South Africa provided low-income communities with RDP (subsidy) houses to improve their quality of life and the places in which they reside. These houses have, however, been criticised regarding their location, construction locality, user participation and overall sustainability, while self-help housing has been highlighted as a method to ensure greater community involvement and choice. This paper reports on a study to determine to which extent government provided RDP housing compared to self-help housing empower poor communities in South Africa. The study compared a RDP and a self-help (People’s Housing Process) project in Botshabelo, a large settlement in the central parts of the country, by utilising a set of indicators and determinants of empowerment. The findings indicate that while some determinants lacked, others were equally evident in both projects. Yet, the self-help housing project allowed greater opportunities to the residents for participation, skills development, improved self-confidence and control over the final product (house). Consequently, it becomes important for planning and housing policies to also incorporate social development, in the form of community empowerment, into their desired outcomes.

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