Adopting Organized Self-Help Housing Approach in Low-Cost Housing in Davao City, Philippines

Rowena Santos-Delgado


“If dwellers participate in the design, construction and management of their housing, the process and environment thus created, stimulate individual and social well-being. If not, the project may become a barrier to personal fulfilment and a burden to the economy”. John Turner

Self-help housing approach has long been applied by societies in general.  At a time when professional services (such as that of architects and engineers) were not available, communities built houses and buildings based on customs, beliefs and traditional systems of building. This manual highlights organized self-help housing where a “facilitating organization both assists the household that have chosen self-help housing and that bears a responsibility to authorities and financial agencies.” (Rodriguez, Astrand: 1996).  Despite resistance from target recipients, organized self-help housing has proven to benefit communities in terms of social, economic, educational and developmental aspects.

A major factor that influenced the writing of this manual is the successful execution of organized self-help housing projects by the Fundacion Promotora de Vivienda (FUPROVI), a national housing organization for low income families in San Jose, Costa Rica, through their Habitat Program for 20 years.  Incidentally, a local model that serves as evidence for the potential of self-help housing approach in the country is Gawad Kalinga’s GK777 Project that has brought about “beautiful, humane and quality but inexpensive houses” for the extremely poor families throughout the country, built through the people’s “sweat equity” and a firm communal faith in God (GK Tatag Manual).

This manual recognizes shelter provision as one of the priority programs of the present administration of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who himself has actively supported the projects of the Gawad Kalinga.  However, it also acknowledges housing demand, not just by the extremely poor constituents in the city, but the low-income families as well.  Hence, it is aspired for in this manual that organized self-help housing for low-income families is carried out in the low-cost housing projects, with the cooperation of both government and non-government housing agencies in Davao City.

Full Text: