Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
Sustainable development implies that invested resources be recycled in perpetuity, but how much of the resources invested in housing are returned or replaced to enable a continuous flow of services or benefits to the unserved? Contemplation of Target 11, Goal7 of the UN Millennium Development goals: “by 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers” establishes a clear imperative for significant scaling up of, or catalysing housing delivery. Much investment by governmental or non-governmental entities in the delivery of housing tends not to focus beyond the provision of the commodity, or the utility value thereof. Seldom is there concern for the sustainability of the system which delivers such housing (recyclability of invested resources) or the sustainability of the housing and settlements itself. It is said that the real fruit of an apple tree is its seed. The flesh provides temporary benefit, but the seed represents the capacity for continued provision and for exponential growth. The seed of a housing delivery system is not the house, but the potential for the system to continue to reproduce houses. This paper advocates that (a) secondary housing markets provide a mechanism for sustainable and exponential delivery, (b) that market vitality is dependent upon sustainable communities (social and physical habitat) and (c) that the economic sustainability of such communities is in turn supported by the market. Based upon this ‘development triangle’ specific attention is drawn to social capital, and its underpinning norms and values, as a key determinant for enabling or disabling market formation and community sustainability, and catalytic delivery. The paper is premised upon anecdotal evidence of work undertaken by Habitat for Humanity International (Africa & Middle East) The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the organisation.
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