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Housing IV _HOUS402

Lecture 06: Self Help Housing

Name: Lawrence Ogunsanya
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Self Help Housing: Definition

It can be defined as specific and largely unrelated

actions, in which an individual or group takes partial or

full responsibility for organizing and carrying through
the installation of a particular work , building and
financing their homes. It also involves services and
maintaining an object (House) (Ward, 1982).

Self Help Housing: Attributes

Spontaneous illegal housing developments
Uncontrolled, unauthorized, unplanned, self-generated

and marginal settlements

Squatter settlements, which have arisen by land invasion as
well as subdivisions of land, which lacks services, and title
Erection of dwellings is in the hands of individual
households (sweat equity). Homes are built, improved and
added on progressively.
Use of empty or redundant buildings that the owners are
willing to make available for a limited period on licence or
lease at minimal cost.
Building materials are simple , basic and affordable

Self Help Housing: Typologies

Sites and services schemes.
Informal settlements and upgrading
Core Housing (Incremental housing)
Sites and services schemes: is a technocratic approach to
provision of houses, the government acquires a land and services it
by providing infrastructure like roads, water, electricity and
Then the land is subdivided into different plots with top structures
(foundation) with some kitchen and toilet appliances. These are
then allocated to poor to personally complete their houses.

Self Help Housing: Typologies

Informal settlements and upgrading: its aim is to
upgrade informal settlements by providing a secure of tenure for
inhabitants and providing necessary infrastructure into the
settlement such as roads, water and electricity.

Self Help Housing: Typologies

Core Housing (Incremental housing): This is when
the government provides services, infrastructure and a basic
housing structure that can be increased or added on,
progressively by the owner . Also known as a starter pack

Self Help Housing:

Theories and Debates
The term Self-help housing as conceived by John F. Turner.

in the 1960s-70s while researching on low income

settlements in South America. His Observations and
theories include:
The poor, with scarce resources, were able to produce good
quality dwellings, more cost effectively than the government
i.e. they optimized scarce resources;
The poor can organize themselves and improve their

own economic conditions;

Management issues can be done through collective
Cost savings can be realised through sweat and
management equity.

Self Help Housing:

Theories and Debates
There is a need for the third sector, i.e. Community Based

Organisations, Non Governmental Organizations, etc, to act

as go-between the government and the community;
The role of the state should be an enabling one. The state is
meant to create conditions suitable for the actualisation of
self-help, hence the use of the term state-assisted self-help.
This includes:
Planning and allocation of land for purposes of housing
Tenure reforms to guarantee security and transferability.
Investment in the elements, namely: land, finance and
infrastructure, rather than in components (core housing) or
assemblies (complete buildings).
Generation of alternative finance for low income housing,
especially short term unsecured loans instead of long term
mortgage schemes;

Self Help Housing:

Theories and Debates
Turners work had a lot of criticism from various people and

researchers that created debates about Self help housing. His most
vocal critic was Rod Burgess.
Burgess views self help as : an instrument of reproduction of
labour. In a capitalist mode of production, this lowers the cost of
Self-help housing results in a commodity with both use and
exchange value, consumed by those with the power to purchase.
Other critics : It legitimises poverty (Kerr and Kwelle, 2000: 1315)
It further ignores renting as an option of alleviating the housing
problem. (Kerr and Kwelle, 2000: 1315)
It is incorrect to assume that housing is a priority to everyone (see
Chambers, 1995: 173-203, Alder, 2002).

International promoters of
self help housing
The World Bank has incorporated self-help housing

into the wider realm of global macroeconomics,

founded on neo-liberal theories.
The United Nations, through its various agencies, is
also seen to promote self-help housing. Chapter
Seven of the Agenda 21, (UNCED, 1992), came up with
several principles some of which are seen to directly
promote or benefit self-help housing
Habitat for Humanity
Self Help housing is used as one of the tools to
alleviate housing problems all around the world
especially in third world countries.

Self help Housing

in South Africa
In South Africa there are four main types of self-help delivery

systems namely:
Unaided self-help: This refers to illegal or officially not
sanctioned user initiated programs such as backyard shacks,
land invasion and illegal squatting.
Supported self-help: This refers to the in-situ upgrading of the
housing conditions that emerge out of unaided self-help with
the support of the state and other development agencies. There
are 3 types- Rollover upgrading, Community sensitive upgrading
and Community initiated upgrading
Project initiated self-help : This category of delivery system
refers largely to programs initiated by the state, private sector
and NGOs, which are located on Greenfield sites (usually on the
urban periphery).

Self help Housing

in South Africa
Conventional housing: This type of delivery includes housing

units that conform to the national building regulations and which

are subject to public authority approval. This form of housing
provided ranges free standing houses to townhouses and small
and large blocks of flats.
The South Africa Government has used self help strategies to
provide housing to the poor through:
The Peoples housing process
Sites and service schemes
Core housing: (RDP houses)

Self help Housing in South Africa

Self Help Housing

Problems & Challenges:
Affordability and adequate funding is common problem

to all housing deliveries.

Most of the housing schemes are located far away from
employment opportunities and other urban facilities
(education, health, commercial) and
The range of core housing types delivered is very narrow
and dont allow for future increment
Lack of effective training of the community
The NGOs take over the development, ignoring the needs
of the community
Access to Land and provision of infrastructure.
Fraud and Corruption.
Ineffective planning and provision of services and

Self Help Housing


It costs the Government less to provide services and

infrastructure only.
Self-help housing, especially in squatter settlement and slum
upgrading schemes, attain more desirable results, than
'greenfield' projects.
This is because the former tends to occupy land close to
economic advantages, near good transport infrastructure and
tends to have greater social cohesion than the 'greenfield'
Self-help housing has been known to strengthen community
ties, because of its participatory nature.
It has tended to sharpen the communitys strategic survival skills
and has increased the role of gender in housing delivery
It also enables the community to prioritise their housing needs,
secure tenancy and manage their communal affairs better.