Evaluation of the approach of eThekwini Municipality in delivering low income housing in the context of urbanisation.
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Urbanisation is a powerful force that has radically altered and shaped the form and development of urban areas in the 21st century. In the South African context, the demise of apartheid had a significant influence on the urbanisation process as once discriminatory laws were abolished, African people began moving to urban areas in search of a better life. Post-apartheid housing policy, introduced in 1994 aimed to address the wrongs of the past by focusing on the large scale delivery of low cost housing. The post-apartheid ANC government was initially able to deliver housing at an exceptional scale. However, the continued growth of the urban population and the decompression of residents from crowded townships have had a profound impact on the ability of municipalities to meet their mandate of providing housing and delivering basic services. The challenge of delivering adequate housing and services to a growing population is most profoundly evident in the mushrooming of informal settlements and the increase in service delivery protests within the urban context. It has become clear that there is a need for a fundamental review of the housing programme. The research examines the reasons for the deficiencies in the housing delivery programmes, which has hindered the provision of housing to low income households, and recommends possible revisions which could be taken into consideration in reviewing the housing and urbanisation conundrum. The study was based on housing delivery and progress in the eThekwini Municipality, South Africa. Qualitative data, sourced through interviews conducted with professionals involved in the low-income housing arena, was utilized for the study. The findings revealed that housing delivery within the municipal area is confronted with a number of challenges, which has in turn led to a decrease in delivery over the years. Housing backlogs will continue to be a moving target unless there is a fundamental shift in government thinking, urban planning and the increased participation of the private sector and communities in the housing process. In conclusion, it was recommended that a new approach to housing is required if we are to deal with the conditions of people residing in informal settlements or sub-standard housing. The assumption that the mass delivery of housing will reduce the backlog is problematic as is evidenced from the past. There is therefore a need for a more flexible and responsive approach to housing delivery in line with the municipality’s drive to be Africa’s most caring and liveable city by 2030.