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

4. Recommendations

4.1 The Political Objective

The PD/ HPF must not forget their political objective of capturing and expanding the political space that is available to the disadvantaged groups in South Africa. This can only be done by linking the work of the PD/ HPF with that of formal sector organisations but on terms that are subservient to the lessons that have been learnt through the PD/ HPF work and to the interests of the poor. The possibility of Federation members contesting local body elections as councilors at some stage should be kept in mind.

4.2 The Structure and Role of the uFunde Zufe

In training and exchange for savings and loan issues and uTshani fund matters, the uFunde Zufe is playing an appropriate role. However, in matters related to dealing with local body requirements for building plans and related documentation, there is heavy reliance on the PD professionals as there is in matters related to building component manufacturing and supervision of layout and construction. Experiences from other countries suggest that It is unlikely that the savings schemes will be able to play this role successfully. Nor can the PD give the necessary support to the savings schemes on these matters, without becoming a big bureaucracy and consuming large sums of money. Such a role for the PD will be in conflict with its basic objectives. It is therefore recommended that

  1.  The PD at the uFunde Zufe or at an appropriate government institute should arrange for the training of a few community members in designing and making survey layouts, building plans, infrastructure drawings and completing the necessary documentation for the local bodies. The persons who are chosen for this training must already have some skills that are related to what they are being trained for. A list of these para-professionals should be provided to savings schemes when they reach the building stage. These professionals should be paid by the savings schemes for the services they render and their work should have the stamp of approval of PD professionals so as to satisfy the local bodies. Alternatively, changes in the procedures of local bodies should be aimed for in the long run so that the work done by these para-professionals is accepted by them. These para-professionals can be housed in the uFunde Zufe to begin with and initially they can be given a small credit so that they can establish themselves.
  2. For the purposes of providing building components and technical advice the uFunde Zufe should give credit to appropriate persons who can then become entrepreneurs in this field. These entrepreneurs should be trained to manufacture, sell and manage a block making yard and to give advice and technical support to construction by site supervision. They should be encouraged to employ masons from the savings schemes and the labour for block making should also come from the savings schemes. In this way, the savings scheme members will gets job and income and cheaper blocks at the same time. These entrepreneurs should be permitted to manufacture blocks commercially for use by non-saving scheme members and organizations such as developers. This again will generate incomes for the community.In addition to block making, the possibility of setting up a small joinery unit with an electric saw should be explored. Discussions of the evaluation team with a few schemes and house owners suggest that un-sawed timber is about half the price of sawed timber. If this is correct, costs of roof and window construction can be reduced considerably and again, jobs and incomes can be generated.
  3. To accommodate the building component’s yard it will be necessary to allocate a parcel of land. How this can be done and paid for by the entrepreneurs needs to be examined.
  4. The building yards should be provided with vibrating block making machines mounted with a small half KV generator where there is no electricity. This will produce better blocks, with less physical labour and faster, and with larger profit margins. In addition, the yards should purchase hand-operated concrete mixers.
  5. A research and extension programme to inculcate the concept of affordable and/or incremental housing, needs to be initiated so that a change in the attitudes of prospective house-builders takes place. The research aspect can be undertaken by a university, with support from PD professionals. Prototypes of such houses should be put up as demonstration models.
  6. With the development of building entrepreneurs and paraprofessionals, the PD professionals can use their time in research and development of new models and in pursuing policy issues.

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