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Unpacking the strategies for upgrading housing used by women informal settlement dwellers in Namibia stop 8 settlement, eThekwini municipality.

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During the Apartheid era, women were not granted equal opportunities compared to men regarding access to land or housing. To address this state-orchestrated disparity, the South African Constitution of 1996 and The White Paper on Housing of 1994 and new policies that built from it emphasised sensitivity with respect to gender, race and religion. The Enhanced People’s Housing Process is one approach used by the government to ensure involvement of prospective homeowners from constructing their own homes through housing delivery processes. However, the involvement of women is still unclear in most of these policies and programmes, deepening the historical discrimination of women which continues despite the post-apartheid dispensation. In this analysis, a case study of Namibia Stop 8 informal settlement to examine the strategies used by women to upgrade their informal dwellings and determine the effectiveness of methods in delivering adequate housing. This qualitative study employed literature reviews, interviews, focus groups and observation methodologies to elicit data to properly investigate the key question. The findings of the study revealed that the women of Namibia Stop 8 contended with several housing access problems by pooling resources together i.e., group savings, mutual building, beyond engagement with the authorities. Moreover, women were empowered by demonstrating agency in formulate solutions to their housing problem. Recommendations from this study include local municipalities programs introduce skills development and training for beneficiaries, equipping them before the implementation of housing projects. This will strengthen communities and social capital and in turn mainstream mutual building and group savings as a key strategy not only for women household heads but the growing population with an unmet need for adequate housing in informal settlements in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.