Adequate housing for the marginalised poor

Charity Begins At Home

Cement is the building block of home building
cement.jpg
Adequate housing for the marginalised poor has been a priority for the government since South Africa became a democratic country. 

Although great strides have been made to meet this basic human need, the process has been delayed by a number of factors including a lack of service delivery, budgetary constraints and, in some instances, structurally unsound homes that do not serve to rectify the problem. 

While many have been provided with homes, the issue of low-cost housing has highlighted the necessity for private companies to get involved in assisting the government to provide suitable housing and infrastructure development within rural communities. 

Building and construction businesses around the country have taken on the task and many have been instrumental in changing the social and economic dynamics within poverty-stricken areas. 

Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) is the leading supplier of cement in southern Africa, with manufacturing plants in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It is one of many examples of private companies that are committed to investing in all the communities in which they operate. 

PPC has cemented its dedication to housing infrastructure support by initiating and driving a number of initiatives including the construction of low-cost housing through the Niall Mellon Township Houses Trust and Habitat for Humanity. The project resulted in 40 homes being built and 370 people were trained in various building and construction skills. 

Every year, PPC partners with the Department of Human Settlements to build homes in support of Women’s Month. In addition, it has donated 3 000 bags of cement to facilitate the construction of early childhood development and community centres in areas near to where its plants operate. 

Murray & Roberts Construction, a subsidiary of leading construction and engineering group, Murray & Roberts, is another example of a private company that is wholly committed to partnering with the communities in which it operates to bring about sustainability and empowerment. 

Its strategy to bring about sustainability is largely focused on education, healthcare and skills development and it has adopted a number of projects aimed at making a meaningful contribution to the socio-economic and infrastructure development where the company is active. 

ArcelorMittal South Africa Limited is the largest steel producer on the African continent and operates in 27 countries throughout the world. 

It has taken seriously the need for infrastructure development, and in 2009 launched a R250-million initiative to build 10 schools in underprivileged areas throughout the country. The first community to benefit from the project is Mamelodi Township in Tshwane. 

Over 19 990 tones of steel were used to construct the Meetse-A-Bophelo Primary School, which can comfortably accommodate 1 200 learners and is complete with facilities such as a media and computer centre, library, laboratory and a nutrition centre.

Not only is ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd committed to education as a sustainable model for development, it is also creating employment and contributing to the economy of the surrounding communities. 

Skilled and unskilled labour is required to complete the projects and the company is devoted to exposing its workforce to new construction and energy technologies to maximise the potential for skills transfer and bring about lasting and significant change within the community.  

It has committed to spending R120 000 with the Wildlife Conservation Trust to boost its ongoing project of sustainable greening in poor communities. In addition, each Massbuild store has the opportunity to get involved in its local community by allocating a percentage of the store budget to development initiatives. 

Hydraform is one such company that was chosen by the Department of Public Works to complete a rural housing project in Gombani, Limpopo Province. The village is one of the most rural areas in the country and needed a cost-effective and unique solution to its housing crisis. 

Hydroform’s technology comprises manufacturing interlocking building blocks on site, using local soil, water and a small amount of cement for stability. The blocks are constructed on site, reducing the costs to transport construction materials to the area and the end result is easily constructed, structurally sound homes for people worst affected by underdevelopment and poverty. 

It has trained 12 women (from each of the families who were provided with a house) in block-making and building and has committed to providing training and a mentorship programme to these women for six months, with periodical check-ups on site thereafter.  

Private companies are making a firm and lasting contribution to the communities in which they operate by addressing the needs that otherwise plague the country and its economy. 

Their dedication to uplift, empower and bring about change is the foundation on which many more houses will be built for all the people who call South Africa home. 

Taryn Springhall
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