Assisting Women in Construction in South Africa

Assisting Women in Construction in South Africa

Janis Reek | VIP Assignment, May 2000

Like millions of South Africans with a lack of adequate housing, members of the East London community needed to address poor conditions created by apartheid. As one initiative to support residents, the Amalinda cooperative housing project in South Africa developed nine individual housing cooperatives, each containing approximately twenty-two small homes. CHF, Afesis-Corplan, and partner organizations worked together in developing a system to establish and maintain the individual housing cooperatives and their governing body. As community members were preparing to develop and manage their own property, Janis G. Reek, a housing developer and manager, served as a Visiting International Professional (VIP™) with CHF. Through this project, Janis participated in workshops with the residents, discussed methods for building homes, shared her experiences as a woman in construction, and offered encouragement to the families building homes as part of the self-help construction effort. She also presented information on how the South African government could support the involvement of women in construction and the development of small contractors. In addition, she herself worked to get women involved in the construction industry and to join the local chapter of South African Women in Construction.

Janis Reek’s main goal during her tenure in South Africa was to describe and explain self-help construction methods to the organizations leading the Amalinda project. She developed a manual that presented an overview of the development process, the steps in building a house, information on methods of building, and encouragement for those involved in the project, specifically for would-be homeowners.

Janis Reek described her work in South Africa as “a productive and enriching experience.”She also said that her experience was interesting and educational, and that she was impressed by the people working on the project.

Region: South Africa
Area of expertise: Cooperative Development