Chilean NGO rescue local community in dire need

2008-07-27 00:00

A South American organisation has come to the rescue of a local community made up largely of grandmothers and single mothers who have been waiting in vain for more than 10 years for the Msunduzi Municipality to make good on a government housing subsidy project.

The community of about 190 families were moved from an informal settlement they had established in the Peter Hey/Woodstock Road area in Mountain Rise. They had agreed to be re-located to Glenwood 2 on the understanding that they would get subsidised housing.

However, 10 years on, their make-shift shacks falling down around them and surviving on chemical and pit toilets with a trickle feed of water to communal standpipes that run dry, they had all but given up hope.

Community members contacted local NGO the Built Environment Support Group (BESG) for help.

BESG secured a grant of $20 000 from Chilean-based NGO Selavip, which offers humanitarian aid to communities in distress in other southern hemisphere countries.

The money has been used to buy building material to assist 40 of the neediest households to repair or replace their shacks so that they will be protected from wind and rain, until they receive houses from the state.

According to BESG project manager Chris Sithole, a German-based donor, Misereor, is providing funding to cover staff support costs and the employment of a building adviser and administrator employed by the local community.

Sithole said the leadership within the community identified the most vulnerable families — child-headed households and shacks belonging to the elderly who could not build for themselves.

They organised volunteers to help these families. He added that there have been no conflicts over who benefits from the project, and people have willingly volunteered to help. “The project has brought hope and progress to the community and work … is due to be completed by September,” he said.

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