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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

Types of human settlements workers

Since official self-help projects are new in most countries (some don't even have them yet) there is a need for training at all levels so that government machinery can cope with them. The Workshop identified the following types of personnel (both new and existing) who needed such training:

Building assistants/advisors
Clerks of works
Community Development workers
Social workers
Health workers
Public officials and policy makers in related fields.

Even in countries which already have integrated self-help housing institutions there is still a constant need to train people to staff not only these departments but new ones as they are created in different towns, and other departments of government whose actions impinge on them.

Human settlements workers in the field on self-help projects need a wide range of skills, some may have primarily technical tasks, assisting with setting-out foundation trenches for example, while others are more like social workers.

However, in practice the actual people in the field often have to deal with problems which are both social and technical, as well as financial and managerial. A technical advisor does not work like a foreman, building inspector, or clerk of works on a conventional building site; in self-help construction some social skills are necessary as well. Similarly, the community development worker is called upon to help families solve problems relating to the management of construction and funds. Therefore, one of the fundamental questions in training is where to draw the line between social and technical skills: should they be vested in the same person - a generalized "human settlements worker" - or in specialists with knowledge of the skills of others they collaborate with?

The experience of Workshop participants was almost entirely with specialised workers who learned interdisciplinary skills on the job. Workers trained in social techniques are often the best at conveying information. In Lesotho it was found they were better at demonstrating the advantages of technical changes than the technicians. However, they are often not trained sufficiently themselves in construction, sanitation, reading plans or using models, while the technical staff are likewise not trained to communicate, and may treat self-help builders dismissively as "ignorant". On the other hand, it generally seems easier for the finance and technical workers to be specialized and get their jobs done, whereas the community development workers are the true "front-liners", having to deal with everything at once.