Good Governance – Civic participation and planning for housing

Providing affordable, safe and comfortable housing is an essential aspect of service delivery for local governments.

Housing forms one of the basic democratic rights. South Africa however, faces a housing crisis for the poor. Local municipalities like Buffalo City are still battling with informal settlements (shacks) and there seems to be no real progress on speeding up housing delivery. The delivery of houses is affected by land issues, reliability of contractors to deliver, cost of materials, community needs versus realities of types of houses that can be delivered and sometimes the internal municipal processes.

The South African Government makes a subsidy available for low or no income earners but the quality and standard of houses delivered can be questioned. These are the issues that plaque politicians, and although civic participation within the housing delivery processes is rather high, it still takes a long time, and the quality of houses is seriously compromised. Sweden on the other hand delivers housing according to demand and usually of good quality. However in Gävle, whilst houses are delivered the civic participation in planning for housing or other municipal matters has declined in recent years.

The project aims at examine, trends, obstacles and the possibilities that lies in civic participation that are affecting both Buffalo City and Gävle communities and civil society.

By examining the trends one would be able to better understand people’s needs and hence increase the chances to deliver according to these needs and within the grants or subsidies provided by government. But more importantly examine how people need to participate in matters relating to the crucial aspects of housing. The aim is to pilot the project in three wards/areas of Buffalo City and Gävle. Studies through questionnaires would be conducted in a sample population of these wards/areas and interviews will be conducted to understand what people expect in terms of housing delivery and the types of houses they require.

The objectives of the project are:

  • To increase civic participation in the chosen three wards/areas of both Buffalo City and Gävle pertaining to housing.
  • To establish structures that will enhance participation for housing delivery. E.g. ward committee in Buffalo City.
  • To conduct a study through questionnaires to understand people’s needs and expectations in terms of housing.
  • To find solutions and strategies to improved housing delivery