Work gets underway on Human Settlements White Paper

Pretoria – The North West Department of Local Government and Human Settlements says it is optimistic that the White Paper on Human Settlements will help it to improve its provision of integrated human settlements in the province.

The department held a two-day policy consultative workshop, which will contribute towards the creation of the Human Settlements Act.

The objective of the provincial workshop is to reach consensus on the human settlements policy and legislative proposals, determine what requires improvement and develop new proposals where necessary.

The North West department, along with other provincial departments, is making proposals to the national Department of Human Settlements for the development of policy and legislation on human settlements.

The workshop was attended by the national department, sector departments and local municipalities. Other targeted structures for consultation include government agencies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, academia, civil society and professional bodies.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop on Thursday, Chief Financial Officer of the department, Mandla Magwetyana, said: “Twenty-one years into the development and implementation of housing and human settlements reforms, the legislative framework, policies and programmes require new thinking and strategies that respond to the latest and emerging challenges while addressing future needs.”

Various investigations, research, reviews and evaluations on human settlements policy and programmes have identified numerous shortcomings in policy and divergence in the programmes implementation.

Among the challenges identified are the high cost of well-located land for human settlements development; inability to adequately respond to the diverse needs of low-middle income households; escalating costs of development for government; poor quality of construction and lack of civil society involvement.

Other matters to be considered in the drafting of the act are dolomitic areas, remote rural areas, economic sustainability in the mining areas, bulk infrastructure, the role of municipalities and lessons from other countries.

The Human Settlements Act is envisaged to come into effect in 2017.