The Committee was briefed by the Department of Human Settlements on its Gender and Youth Framework. Its Women Empowerment Programme allocated 30% of the DHS budget to women-owned projects. The Department focused on six key areas: ownership, control, skills development, enterprise development procurement, and corporate social strategy. Its outreach programmes included the Women’s Build and Youth Build.
The Chairperson stated that there was nothing new in the presentation, expect for a special focus on women and children, and the Department should have more of a focus on policy. The work of the Department also needed to focus on the needs of persons with disabilities. The Committee had received complaints about the way that the Department addressed disability. Disability should be not treated as an after-the-fact matter.
The Department of Human Settlements said it recognized it needed to focus more on policy development and integrate a strategy for persons with disabilities with its strategy for women and youth.
Women and Youth Frameworks in the Department of Human Settlement (NDHS)
Mr William Jiyana, Chief Director: NDHS Stakeholder Management, headed the delegation and Ms Seitisho Rammutla, NDHS Director: Women and Youth Mobilisation, presented.
DHS was currently focused on the implementation of its Women and Youth Frameworks. DHS looked to collaborate on initiatives that involved the Department of Women, Children, and Persons with Disabilities.
Ms Rammutla stated that DHS had developed a framework for the empowerment and participation of Women and Youth in Human Settlements. These frameworks were approved on 11 March 2010. Provincial forums were established to ensure implementation of the framework.
Women Empowerment Programme
Ms Rammutla said the goal of this programme was to promote and facilitate participation of women in the Human Settlement (HS) value chain through allocation of 30 percent of DHS’s budget to women-owned projects. The programme builds partnerships with key sector stakeholders from government, Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. It profiled women in human settlement delivery such as Builds, Human Settlements Awards, and marketing programmes. The programme also seeks to identify challenges, skills required and develop support systems for emerging women contractors as well as women service providers.
Ms Rammutla asserted that DHS derives its approach from a holistic approach to women empowerment. The goals were to raise awareness, encourage participation, promote economic access, skills development, and mobilization of women as collective.
Ms Rammutla stated that DHS was focused on six key areas. The first of these was Ownership for new entrants in human settlement construction. The goal of increased ownership could be achieved through developing newsletters, a briefing kit, resource materials, and a database.
Ms Rammutla discussed the second key focus area of Control. The priority of control was to increase representation and participation of women in key decision-making structures. Control could be developed by mobilizing resources for participation of women, coordinating participation of women at the National Conference, representing women at key decision making structures, and facilitating participation of women in leadership training.
Ms Rammutla stated that the third key focus area was Skills Development. The priority area was to develop a national capacity training programme, as well as to develop an HS Exposure Programme for Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). This could be achieved through the implementation of a national skills development programme for WIH members, implementing a mapping tool of housing opportunities, conducting a workshop and road shows on the WIHS, and coordinating a mentoring programme.
Ms Rammutla addressed the fourth key focus area of Enterprise Development. The priority area was to develop a support mechanism for women-owned enterprises. This could be accomplished by developing an incubation programme for women-owned projects, facilitating information on access to housing finance by women, developing a strategy on material sourcing, and developing a newsletter.
Ms Rammutla stated that the fifth key focus area was Procurement. The priority area was to develop and maintain a coordinated system for the realisation of a 30 percent quota for women-owned projects as well as to develop and maintain a coordinated monitoring and evaluation system. Procurement could be furthered by promoting accessibility of tendering opportunities for women, implementing a system to track women’s access to opportunities, monitoring a turn-around strategy for payment of women enterprises, and developing and updating the database of women-owned projects.
Ms Rammutla stated that the final key focus area was Corporate Social Strategy. The priority area was to support women initiatives in Human Settlements projects. This could be achieved through coordinating Women’s Build at national and provincial level, conducting follow-up visits to women initiatives, reporting on the outcomes of women initiatives, and mobilizing resources to support women’s initiatives.
Ms Rammutla said the Youth Housing Settlement (YiHS) was a service programme aimed at exposing youth to the sector, transferring skills, instilling the voluntarism spirit, and providing youth with pointers to opportunities. The programme was linked to the DHS mandate. Its general principles were to create opportunities for the youth in the Human Settlements sector, using a Personal Development and Mentorship Programme.
Ms Rammutla then discussed the goal of having 30% of the building budget for subsidy homes to be given to women. The project was three pronged. The first prong involved structured learning in the form of skills development which included accredited technical training through the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), exposure, and on the job training and learning. The second prong of the project was in-service training as construction artisans which included bricklaying, plastering, construction management, project management, and on the job training. The third prong of the project was about exit opportunities and included practitioners, formal or self employment, entrepreneurs, contractors, project managers, and professional service providers.
Ms Rammutla spoke about the DHS outreach programmes. The first was the Women’s Build which is an annual event organized to commemorate the historic 1956 Women’s March to the Union Building where volunteers participate in the construction of houses for beneficiaries in poor communities. It also raises consciousness about the construction sector and women’s role in it. The Women’s Build demonstrates how cooperative governance and partner institutions support the DHS women initiatives and promote women’s access to economic opportunities within the housing sector.
The second outreach programme was Youth Build which was conducted during the Youth Month and received overwhelming support and was highly participative. It also had Youth in Human Settlements Forum meetings which enable provinces to have focal persons who disseminate information and manage projects.
Ms Rammutla talked about the envisaged programme outcomes which included:
▪ 1956 housing units built by women contractors,
▪ sector stakeholders partnerships (public-private partnerships),
▪ Sustainable Human Settlements were delivered at speed by young people,
▪ Accredited training of young people in construction and related skills at various NQF levels.
Ms Rammutla again spoke about the 30% quota system developed to monitor progress in the allocation of projects to women, youth, and people with disabilities.
The Chairperson thanked DHS. There was nothing new in the presentation, expect for a special focus on women and children. All of the projects presented today were ideas that the Committee had been seen before. The presentation needed to focus more on policy issues. If there was not a policy framework to back up the projects, DHS should create one.
The Chairperson stated that her second issue with the presentation was that the projects only targeted women and youth. Why did the presentation not address disabled people? If the goal of DHS was to assist in the empowerment of disadvantaged groups, the disabled need to be focused on. This group could not be excluded. DHS should look to include disabled persons into the projects through policy.
The Chairperson asserted that her third issue was about the budget. The presentation stated that the goal was to contribute 30% of the building budget to projects constructed by women, but how much was the total budget?
The Chairperson asked if DHS had done a skills audit? Housing was not a new topic; it had been ongoing since 1995. In the process, women and youth had been involved, but to what extent? It seemed as if DHS was trying to start afresh. Had a skills audit been performed nationally? DHS should operate nationally.
The Chairperson next addressed “fronting.” When there was a document that gave ownership of a home to a woman, how did one know 100% that the home belonged to the woman?
The Chairperson stated that her overarching question for the presentation was how sustainable was the entire project? Some of the projects discussed would not even last for a year. After these projects were over, what happened? Labour was not always transferable and thus a project in one provinces might not always be able to be moved to another province.
The Chairperson asked what was the relationship between the Extended Public Works Programme and DHS? What was the relationship with DHS and the Department of Education? Issues about Human Settlements should be introduced into the curriculum, beginning in Grade 11.
The Chairperson stated that she was interested in the 30% subsidy housing. While there should be a focus on developing labour skills, such as bricklaying, the DHS should look at elevating the status of women further by giving women the opportunity to have a sustainable business. Women should have more control in their projects.
Mr D Worth (DA; Free State) stated that he would like to see some of the projects presented in action. He asked DHS for the places in the communities where the projects were taking place, so if a member of the Committee was in one of the communities, the Committee could evaluate the work.
Mr Jiyana thanked the Committee for its questions. In terms of the departmental programme, there was policy in place. However, for the programme presented today, there was less of a concern with policy, and more of a concern with physical action.
Mr Jiyana addressed the DHS’s relationship with learning institutions. There would be the first degree focusing on Human Settlements. This would be a completely new degree that would diverge from what other engineering programmes had offered in the past.
Mr Jiyana related issues of sustainability to the Emerging Contractors Support Programme, which was directly linked to the presentation today. Sometimes it was difficult to separate women from youth and youth from women. The Emerging Contractors Support Programme addressed exactly the issues of sustainability that had been raised. Construction by nature was an ongoing project. At one point there was discussion about exporting skills to other areas. For example, there were projects going on in Angola that required many skills.
Mr Jiyana returned to the issue of policy and said that he recognized that there were areas where the policy framework was weak. For example, the inclusion of policy relating to disabled persons was particularly weak. This needed to be addressed.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee had received a complaint about the way that DHS addressed disability. The complaint stated that DHS treated policy toward disabled persons as an after-the-fact matter. Issues for disability need to be better integrated into the projects that DHS carried out. When houses were built, consideration for disabled persons had to be present. Integration was key.
Mr Jiyana stated that integration to DHS was holistic. DHS must take everyone into account. DHS wanted to focus on the physical implementation of assisting disabled persons. There were frustrations with policy about disabled persons. When a policy was approved, provinces responded very slowly. A programme related to disabled persons was usually lumped into a greater policy project and was deemed a special programme. The result of this was that the original policy piece about disabled persons lost its detail. Provinces must make the programmes aimed at disabled persons more specific.
Mr Jiyana addressed budgetary issues. The annual budget was R21 billion. This was the total pool that was distributed to provinces. The expectation was that 30% of this budget went to women and youth who carried out the projects. DHS wanted to get young people involved and excited about construction and building projects. DHS was not getting the desired reaction. DHS had a youth scholarship programme. Last year, the intake of scholars was at its lowest and it only took twenty students. There was something that DHS was missing, which needed to be addressed. When we look at the applicants, we need to look at specific profiles. The proportion of women that were applying was very low.
Mr Jiyana talked about suppliers. The entire programme was about suppliers. From digging the foundation of a house to owing a business, suppliers were incredibly important.
Ms Rammutla referred to the skills audit stating that it was part of the framework that the DHS had created.
The Chairperson stated that when the Committee visited communities, there were more complaints about DHS than compliments. When DHS did go to the provinces, she asked that it please gave the Committee the data. In that way the Committee had more to work with. The quality of leadership was not in question, and strides had been made. These programmes had created opportunities for all types of people, those with degrees and without degrees. The DHS should please follow up with the Committee. The DHS should return in the future to present its progress.
Mr Jiyana stated that before the meeting closed, he wanted to note that the DHS did extend invites. The challenge was that the DHS was not receiving much support.
The Chairperson stated that she had not received an invite, but this could be due to confusion amongst committees. In future, the Committee would welcome invitations to support DHS.
Mr Jiyana thanked the Committee for allowing it to present its work.
The meeting was adjourned.
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