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close this bookTraining Human Settlement Workers in Eastern & Southern Africa (AFSC - Mazingira Institute, 1981)
close this folderWorking group discussions
View the documentWhy self-help projects?
View the documentPolitics & training: Mobilization versus control
View the documentTypes of organization
View the documentTypes of human settlements workers
View the documentTraining of community development workers
View the documentTraining methods
View the documentWorking conditions
View the documentTraining & the role of women

Why self-help projects?

All the countries from which participants came have insufficient resources to provide infrastructure and services for their population. Self-help means people making immediate use of the limited resources that are available with skills that are easy to acquire; this enables more people to gain access to affordable shelter and infrastructure. Direct self-help means people using their own labour, to dig trenches or lay water pipes for example, while assisted self-help means some basic infrastructure, institutional support and even training is provided by the State, as in site service or core house schemes. Experience shows that much self-help input is indirect in practice people may contribute capital rather than labour, by hiring and supervising other labourers. This is particularly the case in site and service schemes where income criteria must be met and therefore most people have jobs. Direct self-help prevails in poor communities where, as in Zambia for example, the community could compete against contractors for excavation work, thus earning income in the process.

Self-help may be only at the level of labour, or at the level of planning and decisionmaking, or both. Numerous examples were presented in the Workshop of people's participation in planning and decision making. Various types of training are applicable to self-help projects: training of residents and leaders, political mobilization of communities and public servants, skills training for productive employment, and the training of administrative, finance, technical and community development workers to staff assisted self-help projects. All of these were discussed in several dimensions by Workshop participants.