The impact of rural housing development in South Africa : a case study of Isimahla in Ugu District Municipality.
The study is about the impact of housing development in the KwaZulu-Natal traditional authority areas under the ownership of Ingonyama Trust Board. These pieces of land are under administration of the Chiefs (Amakhosi). A case study of Isimahla Rural Housing Project had been utilised to reach provable findings. It was one of the first rural developments established on the basis of the Additional Rural Guidelines (as amended) that advanced to an implementation stage; approximately 500 houses or top structures were constructed by 2007. The researcher has chosen this topic because it has an involvement of the elements of systems theory and complexity. Through complexity something new is normally established because complex systems have a way of self-organizing and change could be intentional or unintentional. Another reason for choosing the topic is the researcher’s working experience where rural housing development is a key performance area. Rural Housing Development is one of the main priorities of the MEC for Housing in KwaZulu-Natal. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Housing developed the guidelines for rural housing in 2003 to enable the delivery of housing in the deeper rural areas. There were concerns from the traditional leaders with respect to their authority and powers. Concerns included the alienation of land, ownership of the project and the role of the traditional council. There was confusion regarding the initiation of rural projects. In addition, major causes of concerns amongst traditional leaders were based on the planning process. There was a perception that a setup like urban township settlements would be formed. To overcome the abovementioned concerns the Provincial Department of Housing created a partnership with the chiefs and all other relevant stakeholders involved in rural development. The Additional Rural Guidelines (2003) were then amended to accommodate such a partnership. The amended guidelines mainly focused on the following elements: - The acknowledgement of the existing functional tenure as an acceptable form of tenure for rural housing developments - The housing norms and standards do not apply to the level of services in rural developments, but do apply to the top structures - The introduction of the Global Positioning System (GPS) as an acceptable methodology for positioning beneficiary sites - The National Home Builders Regulations Council (NHBRC) registrations do not apply to rural development - Outlining the roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders in the rural development process. There were a greater number of projects approved by Department of Housing (DoH) in almost all the municipalities of KwaZulu-Natal after the launch of the Additional Guidelines, but in 2008 some of them had not yet advanced to the implementation stage. The Isimahla Rural Housing Project, based at Vulamehlo Municipality under the Ugu District Council has outshone the other rural projects. The study was to get an understanding as to whether rural development creates job opportunities for the local people, equipped local community beneficiaries with necessary skills in building and administration addressed land tenure issues and brought about sustainable development. Briefly, the utilization of Checkland’s epistemology on soft systems methodology assisted to reach some findings in the complexities facing rural housing development. What came out clearly is that integrated development needs to be vigorously implemented for rural development to be sustainable, managing of partnerships and stakeholder participation, utilization of project management principles and adherence to the principles of spatial development planning. There should be training and development, homestead gardening and subsistence farming to achieve sustainable development through integrated development planning by the municipalities of KwaZulu-Natal. The findings could help rural housing stakeholders in improving the practice and improve delivery. It could also assist in the current debate on rural development that is part of the policy review by the Provincial Department of Housing KwaZulu-Natal. Due to tight schedule to complete the study the findings could not be implemented as per Checkland’s soft systems methodology, but they could be of use in the future.