Implementing environmental policy requirements in low-cost housing in South Africa : a case study of Msunduzi Municipality.
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In 1994, the South African government set in place an ambitious plan to reduce the housing backlog and eradicate slums by 2012. The delivery of housing is subject to the South African National Environmental Management Act of 1998 that seeks to ensure sustainable resources use towards sustainable development of all activities. However, the question is whether or not reality matches the policy’s vision. One concern which arises is that the high demand for housing and the speed with which delivery of low-cost housing is occurring may compromise the environment. This study examines the challenges of implementing environmental policy requirements in low-cost-housing, using the case study of Ambleton in the Msunduzi Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In attempting to assess the challenges of implementing environmental management policy requirements of the housing policy of 1994 and NEMA of 1998, four key challenges were identified: understanding environmental policy requirements, institutionalising capacity and cooperation, resolving conflict of values among stakeholders, and recognising budget constraints. The key participants in the study were officials from the provincial departments of Housing and the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, Msunduzi Municipal officials who implement the policy, including the Ward Councillor of Ambleton and the Service Provider. The methodology used to gather data was observation, in-depth interviews, and document review. It was revealed in the study that the understanding of policy requirements amongst key stakeholders is limited and that the institutional capacity is limited in terms of skills, coordination, and physical capacity. Different priorities of stakeholders play a major role in budget and priority setting by government, which affect the implementation of environmental policy requirements. It was pointed out by municipal staff that there is a shortage of funds for meeting all environmental policy requirements. Also explored were possibilities for improving environmental policy implementation. These include making environmental policy requirements in housing and NEMA more explicit to enhance stakeholders’ understanding, and enforcing compliance by environmental monitoring and audits. There is also a need for increased capacity building as well as improving coordination for better implementation of environmental policy requirements in low-cost housing.
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