By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)
It is a pleasure to announce FEDUP’s award for best enhanced People’s Housing Process (ePHP) project at this year’s national Govan Mbeki Awards ceremony hosted by the Department of Human Settlements in Cape Town. FEDUP national coordinator, Rose Molokoane, received the award for the Mafikeng 200 housing project on behalf of FEDUP North West on 13 August 2015.
Govan Mbeki Awards
The annual award ceremony (established in 2006) aims “to promote and inculcate a culture of excellence within the human settlement sector in the delivery of quality human settlements and dignity to South Africans” (Reference). It acknowledges excellent achievements on a Provincial and National level in order to showcase the department’s work at both tiers and to promote best practice. (Read more here.)
FEDUPs partnership with Human Settlements
This is FEDUP’s fourth consecutive Govan Mbeki Award since 2012 and its first national award for ePHP, following provincial Govan Mbeki awards for housing projects in the North West (2012 & 2013), Kwa-Zulu Natal (2012), Gauteng (2013), and Patrick Magebhula Hunsley’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2014). The string of awards is testament to the partnership FEDUP has been building with various tiers of Human Settlements since democratic transition. Particular milestones in FEDUP’s advocacy with government are marked by government’s adoption of the People’s Housing Process (later ePHP) as a policy approach in 1998 and the Department’s long-term subsidy pledge to FEDUP in 2006. FEDUP, uTshani Fund and then national minister of housing, Lindiwe Sisulu, signed the pledge for 1000 housing subsidies per province in South Africa.
FEDUP’s partnership has thus been key in instituting an alternative approach to housing provision: the ePHP is community-centred and community–driven, activating communities as central role players. It outperforms developer-built subsidised housing in size, cost and quality, generates employment and construction skills and elevates the voice of the urban poor. Read more here. The remainder of this blog will detail FEDUP’s Mafikeng 200 housing project and explore what a continuing future partnership with the Department could like.
Mafikeng 200 project in North West
The Mafikeng housing project is a result of FEDUP’s 2006 pledge agreement with the national department. Within the pledge, the North West provincial department had allocated 1000 housing subsidies to FEDUP of which the movement decided to use 200 in various settlements in Mafikeng. FEDUP entered negotiations with the provincial government, preparing a contract, business plans and geo-technical investigation. At first, the geo-technical report deemed the ground in one of the Mafikeng settlements as too dolomitic for house construction. After FEDUP members engaged in further negotiations construction was approved. Molokoane recounts,
“Although we had challenges with the Department, our partnership is strong, especially with the regional manager who helped us bridge challenges, guiding us and giving us relevant people to correct our mistakes. We are not saying that we are perfect in building houses. But the good thing is that it empowers our communities, gives confidence and grows trust between communities and government”
At the core of the project and the strong partnership with the provincial department are daily savings – a tool that brings communities together, enabling individuals to identify and share challenges as well as find solutions. This was particularly the case in the North West where FEDUP members used their community savings (housed in FEDUP’s Urban Poor Fund), to attract more members, to leverage government support and create a sense of ownership.
“When we talk of a community owning a project we are referring to Mafikeng. Mafikeng members have now formed seven savings groups, and spend their own savings on monthly gatherings: hiring transport, equipment and cooking food.”
(Rose Molokoane, national FEDUP coordinator)
Future Partnership on Upgrading
For Molokoane, the Mafikeng 200 project won the Govan Mbeki Award due the partnerships FEDUP had established with Mafikeng Municipality, the North West and National Department of Human Settlements.
“The partnership between these four stakeholders illustrates that working together, we can do better. The Department realised Mafikeng is a good example of PHP and ePHP because people are doing it for themselves. National government supports this because with some there is still a dependency syndrome that obliges government to provide. Through FEDUP we try and change this mind set: government should do it with us, not for us.”
In looking ahead, Molokoane speaks about the significant alliance between FEDUP and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) as well as the necessity for all tiers of government to recognise informal settlement upgrading in its own right and as clearly distinct from housing projects.
“People have the right to basic services over and above getting a house. Government needs to recognise the need for security of tenure and basic services for communities in informal settlements. If they give us [the SA SDI Alliance] the space to do this [informal settlement upgrading], people can change their conditions and the face of their communities. We have a long way to go with government, so we need to join hands as poor people. Our vision is basic services, security of tenure, providing an opportunity to build, then people should organise themselves to build their own houses.”