Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
ABSTRACT: Community participation represents a voluntary action carried out by community members who participate with each other in different kinds of work to achieve desired goals. Participation includes people's involvement in decision-making, in implementing programs, sharing in the benefits of development programs and their involvement in efforts to evaluate such programs. (Cohen and Uphoff, 1977). The United Nations defined community participation in 1955 as being synonymous with community development, which is viewed as a process which creates conditions of economic and social progress for the whole community with its active participation (Chambers, 1980). According to Muhammad, community participation, known locally as nafeer or fazaa, is a deeply rooted ancient phenomenon in the Sudanese culture and has been common especially among traditional people in rural areas and villages, where it is usually men's domain (Muhammad, 1975). In rural areas people are accustomed to plan and build their houses and neighborhoods in conformity with their tradition, culture and their living environment, and it is affected by religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural backgrounds as well as laws, political environment and economic situation. While in urban areas peoples' participation depends on different factors such as cultural backgrounds, economic situation, social relations, history and age of the neighborhood. In southern Sudan for instance, which is inhabited mainly by animist African tribes, people participate in building their huts. First women prepare the circular wooden frame, with the help of their family, friends, and neighbors, but when it comes to the upper conical part, it is usually prepared on the ground by the men of the family, then friends and neighbors collaborate to lift it on top of the wooden frame, that has been prepared earlier by women, later women gather to do the finishing touches of the hut. – e.g. plastering it with mud and cow dunk.
In the northwest, which it is mostly inhabited by Arab nomadic tribes, tents form their buildings, and since their economy depends on livestock herding, wool is used as the main building material, and it is prepared and woven all year long by women, then fixed by men, after that women decorate the tents with handicraft items they make. The present paper discuss community participation in Umbadda, a newly planned poor neighborhood in Greater Khartoum the capital of Sudan, which has a population of 5.5 million inhabitants growing at an annual rate of 5.6% per year. Data collection was based on a filed research carried out by the author in the summer of 2002 through intensive interviews with community leaders, and a structured household questionnaire.