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By : Jo Noero

The author's experience of low-income self-help housing in South Africa provides some cautionary lessons on the difficulties likely to be encountered in attempting to implement Community Asset Management. Where communities have seen the State co-opt them into accepting responsibility for those services and support for which the State has been traditionally responsible, the result has typically been resistance by the community and ultimately the failure of otherwise finely conceived policies. Only where the community hold the freedom to choose how to shape their lives in terms of those issues which form the basic stuff of life will it be possible to engage the energy, enthusiasm, imagination and commitment of local people to take charge of their own lives. Further examination suggests that blockages exist that will need to be taken into account if Community Asset Management is to be taken forward; these include: a mismatch between the expectations of funding agencies and the needs of local community groups; competing systems of delivery; the idealisation of the capacity of local communities to both manage and maintain community facilities over extended periods of time; unrealistic expectations of communities; the failure of development professionals to both understand and act on behalf of divided and competing interest groups; the inability to design for rapidly changing social, economic and political environments both locally, regionally and nationally; and a mismatch between noble intentions and end products.
Keywords : Co-Option, Self-Determination, Expectations, Marginalisation, Conflicting, Time, Change

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