Evaluation of the work of the People’s Dialogue and South African Homeless People’s Federation

3. Assessment of Organizational System and Consideration of Future Needs

3.1 The structure of both the PD and the Federation and their relationship with each other is sound and works well. However, there are a few problems which both organizations are aware of and which should be addressed.

The uFunde Zufes are providing assistance to the savings schemes in savings and loan processes; exchange; enumeration; land issues; training; technical assistance; and uTshani fund matters. Given the scale of the programme and the nature of most communities, it is unlikely that the savings schemes will be able to deal with issues related to land and the requirements of the local bodies independently. Also, in issues related to map making, manufacturing of building components and effective supervision of houses, the communities will also have problems. Necessary support and supervision to such a large area cannot be provided effectively by the uFunde Zufes either. The management and operational constraints will be considerable. The choice is between curtailing the programme to suit the capacity of the uFunde Zufes or to develop entrepreneurs and para-professionals who can provide these services to the savings schemes at a cost. This concept will require a slight re-structuring of the process.

3.2 The Federation’s house building process has reached a stage where the major problems encountered by it can only be removed with the support of correct analysis leading to the development of policy and procedural alternatives in government processes and the development of pro-poor physical city plans. For this, the PD professionals and the Federation leaders will have to link up with interest groups who can help them in this process and with public opinion makers.

3.3 A number of cheap technologies and designs for housing have been developed in many Third World countries. The PD professionals will be freed from much of what they are doing at present if the concepts presented in 4.1 and 4.2 are followed. They can then carry out research on new technologies and designs and involve relevant organizations in South Africa in this process. This will not only reduce costs but may well lead to the development of better homes, neighbourhoods and infrastructure.

3.4 What the PD and HPF are in the process of doing is an anti-thesis of conventional planning. Their concepts and objectives can be explained to politicians and it is possible that they will be supported, and it is also possible that they may become policy. However, if such policy is to be implemented then it will require non-conventionally trained planners, engineers, architects and bureaucrats who are knowledgeable about and sympathetic to the concepts being promoted. Such professionals can only be produced if universities and professional institutions become involved in studying and supporting the Federation’s housing process and the larger political, social and economic issues that are related to it. If this does not happen, the Federation’s housing process will not receive the nature of support it requires to become a national programme supported by the state.

3.5 There is a feeling among the PD and Federation leadership and the older savings groups that with the expansion of the savings schemes and the establishment of rules and regulations, the innovativeness of the process has been stifled. Singing, dancing, slogan raising and the sense of belonging to one big family has been considerably lessened. However, this happens to all programmes when they institutionalize their initial work. With the nature of de-centralization that the PD and HPF are planning, it will be possible to maintain cohesive groups.

3.6 Certain clarity is also needed so that the original objectives of the PD/HPF concept are maintained. Most house builders do not want that persons who have acquired developer-built housing should be part of their savings schemes or that they should receive uTshani funds provided to them for extending their houses. However, the majority of the developer-built house owners are also from among the poor.

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