South Africa

Ofc 201 Pine Park
1 Logan Way
Cape Town ZA- 7405 ZA
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Quick Facts

  • When Habitat started in South Africa: 1996
  • Individuals served through construction in FY16: 285
  • Other interventions: 3,264*
  • Volunteers hosted in FY16: 1,963
  • Housing solutions: Participatory community development, Advocacy and awareness raising

* individuals involved in training and/or community engagement

Other facts:

  • Capital: Pretoria
  • Population: 54.3 million
  • Urbanization: 64.8 percent live in cities
  • Life expectancy: 63.1 years
  • Unemployment rate: 26.8 percent
  • Population living below poverty line: 53.8 percent

Find more country facts on: CIA The World Factbook – South Africa

Habitat for Humanity South Africa

Founded in 1996, Habitat for Humanity South Africa is dedicated to the long-term development and sustainability of South Africa’s low-income housing sector and is focused on building thriving communities. With the support of active citizens and stakeholder partners, we empower communities through leadership, skills development and self-belief to take the lead in their own development. 

The housing need in South Africa

Between 2002 and 2014, the percentage of South Africa’s urban population living in informal settlements dropped from 17 percent to 11 percent, according to Statistics South Africa. During that time, however, the percentage of households living in informal dwellings dipped only slightly. This was due to an increase in the numbers of “backyard dwellers” — those who have built shacks in the backyards of other people’s homes. The country’s housing backlog, meanwhile, stands at 2.1 million. That’s despite the government having delivered a reported 4.3 million housing opportunities — including houses, serviced sites and “social housing” units — since 1994. The gap is a simple one: Cities in South Africa and beyond simply cannot keep up with the demand for housing — at least, not using traditional methods. 

How Habitat addresses the need in South Africa

While providing a home addresses the immediate need for decent shelter, this cannot be built in isolation from employment, public transport, social services and a supportive environment. In response to these challenges, Habitat for Humanity South Africa has expanded its core focus from building individual houses to building entire involved communities.

Habitat’s community development strategy is built around a People- Public-Private-Partnership (P4) Model to achieve integrated and sustainable human settlements. Keeping the community’s voice and engagement at the center, our model allows for strong partnerships between the people (community), government, the private sector and civil society. 

Here are some examples of Habitat projects in South Africa:

Community development strategy

  • People
    The community’s active participation is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty within a human settlement. Through continuous engagement and participation, the community and Habitat co-produce action plans and implement sustainable development projects. 
  • Public
    Habitat is committed to work with government at all spheres. Our grassroots interventions support our advocacy work with knowledge and experience. Using this expertise, we will demonstrate new models and financing options and promote the effective roll out of integrated and sustainable human settlements programmes.’
  • Private
    Habitat builds bridges between communities that have identified their resource gaps and private sector stakeholders who want to be part of the South African solution. We are also expanding the role of the volunteer by connecting corporate donors and trustees with communities through various context-specific initiatives.
  • Partnerships
    We are uniquely positioned to advocate on behalf of marginalised community partners and drive forward innovative practices and new models. We are also committed to building sector capacity in our partnership model, recognising the interdependencies of various actors.

Community building success story

As Habitat’s community building strategy moves beyond home construction to holistic community development, we are re-engaging with the Orange Farm community and Gauteng stakeholders. The people of Orange Farm were motivated to build an economically thriving and functional community beyond housing development.

In collaboration with Habitat, the leadership identified the areas of need within the community and ideas to improve their quality of life. After examining their priorities, they decided that the neglected Isiboniso Combined School was at the top of the list. The school, attended by students from child-headed households who are unable to access formal education, was built by the community over 30 years ago. It remained a shell with one pit latrine for 150 children for many years. 

This year, the community, together with Habitat, donor partners and their volunteer staff prepared trenches and laid foundations for 12 flushing toilets in the school. This met the essential need for adequate sanitation and water. Volunteers also worked together to fill in cracks and paint the walls and ceilings of the school building. Rechargeable classroom lights and street lamps were generously donated, along with two early childhood development classroom containers, fully equipped with furniture, toys and learning materials. Now the 150 children of Isiboniso Combined School have a decent learning environment for the first time.

What you can do

You can help South African families improve their living conditions by taking one or more of the following actions:

Donate: Go to and designate your gift to Habitat South Africa.

Volunteer: Join one of the scheduled Global Village trips to South Africa or lead your own. Contact us to learn more.

Tithe: Establish a strong and rewarding tithe partnership to help build houses globally! Quote 865300, SOUTH AFRICA on your checks sent to: Habitat for Humanity International, Attn: Affiliate Tithe, 322 West Lamar Street, Americus, Georgia 31709-3543.


To learn more about Habitat projects in South Africa or in other parts of the region, please contact us.

Habitat for Humanity South Africa
Adrienne Burke, Marketing Manager

Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa
Cyrus Wataku, Director Program Operations

To learn more about volunteering opportunities in South Africa, please contact Please include your name and country of residence.