Feb 2012

Know your Minister: Each-One-Settle-One: houses for all

This has resulted in many families being forced to live in poorly constructed houses in unsuitable areas that exposed them to floods, health hazards and fire. Government has built over 3 million subsidised housing units since 1994. In this regard, South Africa is the only country with such a rate of delivery.

However, because of the increase in the number of homes needed, a decrease in the size of homes and people migrating to urban areas in search of employment, South Africa has a high number of homeless people in over 2 500 slums. This has resulted in increased overcrowding in backyard dwellings. Currently, there is a housing backlog of 2,1 million housing units which means approximately 12 million people do not have decent housing.

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale launched the Each-One-Settle-One Campaign to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange top 200 companies. The aim of the campaign is to motivate stakeholders, private sector institutions, donor agencies and ordinary citizens to help the department to reduce the housing backlog.

How will the contribution of the private sector and donors make a difference?

By participating in the campaign, the private sector, donor agencies and citizens will contribute towards sustainable human settlements by providing people with shelter and dignity. Their assistance will further help to reduce the housing backlog and in doing so increase the number of houses to the homeless. By helping to construct homes, you are not only satisfying the need for shelter but you also help stimulate the economy. Human settlement is not just about building houses, it is about transforming our cities and towns and building cohesive, sustainable and caring communities with closer access to work and social amenities.

How can companies or individuals play their part?

  • By supporting the building of houses and other programmes.
  • By devising strategies for creating jobs, while improving human settlements.
  • By donating services, expertise, building materials, time or land. This can include professional services such as engineering, accounting, architectural and legal.
  • By helping to provide permanent housing for domestics and employees residing on an employers' property.

If I don't have money, can I still help?

No contribution is too big or too small. The department is willing to accept any amount you can afford. But if you can't donate funds, simply donate your time towards helping us build homes within your community or neighbouring settlements.

I already pay taxes; why should I pay for what government is paid to do?

Unless we take responsibility to build houses for our citizens, South Africa may find itself in a catastrophic recession, similar to that of the United States. It will take about a decade to settle the current backlog of 2,3 million houses and that excludes new houses. 

By doing your bit, you are not only helping to remove the financial constraints and capacity challenges currently faced by the department, you will also help achieve the national goal to build 220 000 houses per year. In the process, you will contribute actively towards a sustainable economy.

What guarantee does the public have that the funds will be spent responsibly?

We have taken great care in ensuring that contributions are made into a separate bank account that will be overseen by an independent board of trustees.

What are the socio-economic benefits from the campaign? 

The programme presents several economic spin-offs including the creation of tens of thousands of jobs, skills development, local research and development, as well as improved individual dignity and community upliftment.

-Samona Murugan

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