A comparison of three public projects that included community participation to determine the total value add
Keywords:building and construction projects, community participation, empowerment, infrastructure development
Some of the most pressing and challenging problems facing South Africa are unemployment, poverty, urban redress, infrastructural decay, under-education, and the transformation of the landscape left by apartheid. In an effort to address these problems, the successive democratic governments embarked on a number of initiatives that were aimed at providing relief through building and construction projects, which require the participation by, and employment of local community members. To facilitate the desired redress, various programmes were launched and a number of projects undertaken. Some of these projects were flagship projects that were lauded by the architectural profession and attracted wide publicity. The socio-economic benefits to the community and local area, the extent of skills transfer to the community participants, and the long-term benefits they brought to the community participants are less obvious. This article revisits three such projects as case studies, with the aim of determining the extent to which they helped address the aforementioned problems and the extent of the benefits they brought to their physical and social contexts. This is done through a literature review supported by semi-structured interviews of relevant role players and an observational visit to each, in order to make recommendations suggesting how future projects could be configured to maximise the long-term benefit they could bring to their physical and social environments while addressing the national challenges. It is recommended that infrastructural development programmes such as the Extended Public Works Programme must prioritise the socio-economic upliftment and sustainable empowerment of people and configure projects with this as their main aim.
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