Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
Are the poor worth investing in? Sustainable development implies that invested resources should be recyclable indefinitely. Contemplation of Target 11, of the UN Millennium Development Goal7 - to improve the lives of 100 million slum dwellers, establishes an imperative for the significant scaling up of shelter delivery, and, theoretically, having met the target the habitat established would, not fall into disrepair over time, or become unsafe to live in. What guarantee could any investor obtain, that the habitat established under the initiative will be sustainable? Investments made by governmental or non-governmental entities in the delivery of housing tend not to focus beyond the utility value of the shelter provided, and this often only in the short term, and seldom are they concerned with the sustainability of the delivery system, i.e. the recyclability of invested resources. It is often stated that the real fruit of an apple tree is its seed. The flesh may provide temporary benefit, but the it is the seed which represents the capacity for sustainability and for exponential growth. What is the seed of a housing delivery system: a house? or the potential to reproduce houses exponentially. Housing delivery has to satisfy more than a primary market. This paper advocates that a creation of a secondary market for housing is essential for scaling up delivery, furthermore, it asserts that a successful secondary market is the evidence of sustainable development, economically, socially and environmentally.
The paper is motivated by evaluations of work undertaken by Habitat for Humanity in Africa and the Middle East. It does not purport to be a scientific assessment of the subject, rather it is intended to stimulate dialogue and direct further research in the arena of culture, social capital and sustainable housing delivery.
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