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Making Popular Participation Real

African and International Experiences


Edited By György Széll and Dasarath Chetty

The onset of democracy in South Africa provided South Africans with the opportunity to build a truly democratic, non-racial, non-sexist society in which there would be opportunity for all to make material, social and intellectual progress. This vision was enshrined in a Constitution intent on deepening democracy by treating people with dignity and ensuring that democratic participation was not restricted to a trip to the voting booth once every five years. To give democracy real meaning, the Constitution declared that municipalities, in particular, must facilitate public participation for true legitimacy in its development endeavours. Various mechanisms have been put in place to achieve this objective, but the process has not been without its impediments and difficulties. This book reviews the context, approaches and challenges to the public participation process using international comparisons.

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Women’s Participation in Planning and Construction of Their Houses: A Case Study of the Piesang River People’s Housing Project at Inanda, Durban


Phumelele Khumalo and Ndwakhulu Tshishonga

Abstract: The article explores the pathway created by People’s Housing Process (PHP) project for women in the planning and construction of their own houses at Piesang River in Inanda. Historically, women’s participation in South Africa is generally fraught with exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation as multiple burdens. These burdens include restriction in employment opportunities, balancing of household and employment duties, patriarchal organisational culture, gender-blind service delivery and gender-blind participatory processes. The most frequent reason why women suffer the effects of poor planning and construction of their housing is their limited involvement during the planning processes. Poor participation of women during planning and construction of their houses has led to a lot of challenges including not only lack of empowerment but also the lack of appreciation and ownership. The article used qualitative research methods to identify the level of women’s engagement in planning and construction of their houses in the People’s Housing Process (PHP) project. The findings of the study revealed that the Urban Poor Fund (UPF) savings system, together with the government subsidy for housing, empowered women to participate in planning and construction of their houses at Piesang River. Moreover, the findings concluded that through direct involvement in the planning process, women benefited from the transfer of skills; skills are transferred from the facilitator to the community and from the community to the facilitator.

Since 1994, the South African government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academics and international donors have been advocating for improved...

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