Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 695–714 | Cite as

Exercising the right to access adequate housing in Joe Morolong Local Municipality, Rural South Africa

  • Thato Rapelang
  • Verna NelEmail author
  • Thomas Stewart


Among the rights in the Bill of Rights contained in the South African Constitution is the right to access adequate housing. This right is bound up with other rights in the Constitution, including the right to have human dignity respected, and the right to, inter alia water and health care. The right to adequate housing is also included in several international human rights declarations including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. However, the right to access adequate housing is more than just shelter but includes a number of other elements such as security of tenure, and access to basic services and facilities. Housing must be affordable and accessible. It must be safe and habitable and be culturally acceptable. Moreover, adequate housing is well located with respect to economic and other opportunities. The provision of housing and basic services has been the focus of the ANC-led government since 1994, and a major portion of municipal resources has been dedicated to providing water and sanitation to particularly the poorest households, while over 4.3 million state-subsidized housing opportunities have been delivered. whereas the scale of delivery has been impressive, has it really impacted on the lives of people in remote communities? Research conducted in the Joe Morolong Municipality in the Northern Cape Province regarding the realization of the right to access adequate housing reveals that the right to adequate housing has at best, only been partially realized. In addition to interviews with office bearers and municipal officials, 120 households were interviewed (of which half were from self-built houses and half were residing in “RDP” houses) regarding their interpretation and experience of the right to access adequate housing in the municipality. The study reveals that the structures do not meet the criteria for adequate housing and the provision of water and sanitation remains a challenge. Access to health and education facilities is poor, due to the low densities and vast distances between settlements.


Right to access adequate housing South Africa RDP housing Rural housing 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Urban and Regional PlanningUniversity of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa

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