Many developing nations such as South Africa have a formidable housing crisis. The cost of housing is usually beyond the reach of what the urban poor can afford. Because of the great variety of ethnic groupings in South African communities, the future housing options need to be culturally as well as socially and economically more appropriate than those generated by theories of housing development which are deeply rooted in Western industrial society. The environment must be appropriate to the needs of those it is being planned for and should respond to the employment needs of the residents and, if possible, help to support an informal economic sector. Participation in housing can be seen as a continuum where the user helps to shape a building by acting as a client of an architect while at the other end the users actually build for themselves. People must stay involved throughout the process and take responsibility with their professionals to see that there are results.