For 600 million urban dwellers, without government or NGO support, basic services and infrastructure seem out of reach. But some people are taking action: these are the stories of three disparate communities' unorthodox and inspiring approaches to accessing water and sanitation.
Finance for land, infrastructure and housing has originated from three sources over the past 20 years: NGOs, governments and microfinance institutions. NGOs have largely concentrated on supporting community groups for collective action to negotiate for infrastructure and building projects; government agencies have run subsidized land and housing programmes for poverty alleviation, and MFIs have begun to offer housing loans, finding housing to be a profitable new market. This article outlines the three approaches, and suggests the way ahead.
Much emphasis has been placed in microfinance on organizational sustainability. An alternative measure of success is related to the benefits generated. This paper assesses and discusses the successes of the South African Homeless People'sFederation to achieve housing delivery for the poor. The Federation works with locally established savings groups, facilitating their access to housing (and the state housing subsidy) with both loan finance and skill sharing through community exchanges. The authors argue that the successes of the policy should be understood in terms of the assets that have been created for and by the poor.An estimated benefit of R540 million (net present value) has been secured mainly as a result of the improved housing constructed, and the emphasis on savings and loan finance is now being considered for replication by the state. The approach is not without its own limitations, however. The pro-poor stance has been weakened by the role of the state housing subsidy system and its approach to housing construction and management.