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An evaluation of the effectiveness of mutual self-help housing delivery model : case study of Habitat for Humanity, Piesang River and Sherwood housing projects in Ethekwini municipality, Durban.

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This research evaluated the effectiveness of mutual self-help housing delivery model of Habitat for Humanity focusing on two case studies, Piesang River and Sherwood housing projects, to determine whether or not the model can be replicated by Habitat for Humanity in other projects or by other Non-Governmental Organizations. The study used three approaches; mutual self-help; enablement approach grounded on neoliberal theory and a mutual self-help approach applicable to the housing policy of South Africa. The mutual self-help approach called for housing beneficiaries to mobilise their human and financial resources to improve their conditions. In the three approaches, the role of the state is limited to creating an enabling environment for market actors to function while providing only basic services, infrastructure and support. Mutual self-help in the context of the study refers to beneficiaries’ collective action in their own housing construction and assisting others for the benefit of all while also getting assistance from a support agency. The critical role of Habitat for Humanity as a support agency was examined and proved to be an effective model that can be replicated in other projects. The criteria used by the researcher to evaluate the effectiveness of the Habitat for Humanity model in the selected case studies was based on indicators of strengths and weaknesses in terms of dweller satisfaction with access to land and security of tenure; community participation; empowerment; sweat equity (including voluntary labour); access to housing finance (the Revolving Fund for Humanity) and affordability; availability of building materials; impact of project location; technical and management support; provision of infrastructure and services and role of partnerships in housing delivery. The study argues that partnerships between private, public and civil society organizations can help improve housing delivery to low income households. Civil Society Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and others can assist low income households through partnerships to leverage additional resources to access decent and affordable housing. The study established that with the combination of savings, housing credit, subsidies and sweat equity contributions and support to the community, a Non-Governmental Organization and government contributed to the success of both projects studied. The study’s main finding is the assumption that a combination of different sources of housing support, including subsidies from government, service and infrastructure provision by the municipality, housing credit from Habitat for Humanity, beneficiary savings, capacity building to community members, all contributed to the success of the Habitat for Humanity model of mutual self-help housing delivery. The study established that in order for the mutual self-help housing model to be replicated by Habitat for Humanity in other communities or by other Non-Governmental Organizations, it would be more effective if driven by the community but supported by the municipality, provincial government, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders, facilitated by a Non-Governmental Organization. In the two case studies, for example, the provision of infrastructure by the municipality, subsidies from both the municipality and provincial government, cash and in-kind donations from the private sector, and labour contributions by volunteers all contributed to building bigger and good quality houses compared to Reconstruction and Development Programme houses by private contractors.


Master of Housing. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College 2015.


Theses--Housing., Housing subsidies., Public housing--South Africa--eThekwini Municipality Metropolitan., Self-help housing--South Africa--eThekwini Municipality Metropolitan., Low-income housing--South Africa--eThekwini Municipality Metropolitan.