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On 30 July 2015, the Housing Development Agency was invited to a Youth Housing Seminar hosted by the Nelson Mandela Metro University as part of the university’s introduction to the Chair for Education in Human Settlements Development and Management under the leadership of Associate Professor and Head: Professor Sijekula Mbanga. The “Chair” portfolio carries the mandate of the National Department of Human Settlement in leading the provision of advice and technical support in an effort to professionalise the sector and all related activities.

The HDA − as an important player in the human settlement sector − was thus identified as one of the organisations relevant to the work and therefore required to collaborate with the office of the Chair, particularly in the tasks of development and implementation of the research agenda for the sector. Our participation in the research seminar was regarded as one of the ways of cementing this relationship.

The seminar was well attended by other important players in the sector: the National Department of Human Settlement, Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, the universities of Johannesburg, Free State, Fort Hare, Nelson Mandela Metro, the NURCHA, NHBRC, non-governmental organisations and civil society, the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council and municipalities from across the country.

The presentations covered diverse areas including institutional research themes that are linked to human settlement and the Medium-term Strategic Framework agenda; a perspective on human settlement sector trends, constraints and challenges and South African post-graduate doctorate (Ph.D) projects and collaborative research programmes.

Notably, to accelerate delivery and transformation in the human settlement sector, the seminar recognised that for implementable policies, there was a need for further development and to launch a common research agenda for the country. This should guide the institutions of higher learning, together with their strategic partners such as the HDA, to unlock bottlenecks believed to have held back housing delivery over the past five years.