|The Courier N° 160 - Nov - Dec 1996 - Dossier Habitat - Country reports: Fiji , Tonga (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)|
by Christine Thompson
The provision of basic amenities for the urban and rural poor rank high on the agenda of the EU's aid policy towards South Africa. In this respect, European cooperation has been tailored to fit with the government's own Reconstruction and Development Programme.
The European Programme for Reconstruction and Development (EPRD) is the name of the current EU development assistance package to South Africa and it seeks to help improve living conditions for all South Africans. The programme earmarks ECU 125 million a year until 1999. It has evolved from the so-called 'positive measures' programme launched in 1985 to help counter the negative effects of sanctions and to help the victims of apartheid.
Under a Declaration of Intent drawn up with Minister Jay Naidoo, then at the helm of South Africa's Reconstruction and Development Programme, it was decided that EU aid should be channelled to the key sectors of education and training, health, rural development, water supply, urban development, economic cooperation, trade and investment promotion, and the promotion of good governance and democracy. In each of these areas, the EU actively encourages a partnership effort between governmental structures and NGOs.
2.5 million homes wanted
Over 60% of South Africa's population is urbanised. The apartheid government's restrictions on home ownership in urban areas for the past four decades resulted in a housing backlog estimated at 2.5 million units, with demand growing by 200 000 units per year. Estimates vary, but approximately seven million people are believed to be living in informal settlements throughout South Africa on land occupied both legally and illegally.
Improved housing and sanitation are seen as priority areas in urban and rural development. Between 1991 and 1996, the EU has funded 18 projects in the urban development sector valued at approximately R303.1 m (ECU 52m). The Urban Sector Network (USN) and the Cato Manor Development Programme are typical.
The EU is providing the USN with a total of R26.2m (ECU 4.5m) between 1995 and 1998. The USN is a national network of nine affiliate NGOs, and its aim is to improve living conditions for the urban poor. The beneficiaries of the programme are city dwellers earning less than R2000 (ECU 344) a month and there is a particular emphasis on households with monthly incomes of under R800 (ECU 137) a month.
Through integrated, community-based development, the USN and its affiliates provide technical support and service provision to urban development projects, focusing on housing, local government transformation, skills transfer, project planning, facilitation, information dissemination, education and training.
The Cato Manor Development Programme received funding in 1995, also for a three year period. The EU has contributed R117.6m (ECU 20.2m) to the project. Cato Manor, an area in Natal near Durban, was the location of the largest forced resettlement scheme implemented under apartheid. Today, it is the first area targeted for integrated housing in a former white township.
The overall objective of the programme is to improve living conditions through a policy that strengthens the delivery system for infrastructure and housing. The programme anticipates providing the community with primary and secondary schools, sports fields, community halls, libraries and a community health centre. Access to housing finance will be improved and opportunities for income generation provided through a vocational training centre and small-scale industry workshops. In addition, provision is being made to improve management and general policy-making capabilities. By continuing to fund such projects, the EU is working with the South African government to improve the living conditions of the urban and rural poor.