12 November 2012

Zimbabwe: 'Housing Backlog Statistics Outdated'

NATIONAL housing backlog statistics are outdated and in need of updating, a senior Government official has said. The last national housing backlog survey was done in 1995. The report projected that by 2008 the national housing unit deficit would be 1,25 million. Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities housing director Mr Special Sibanda said there were no national statistics on the housing backlog.

"No one knows until a survey is done. The last survey was held in 1995.

"In 2004, the national housing delivery report projected that by 2008 we would have a housing deficit of 1 250 000 units," he said.

Government, he said, was still using the 1995 statistics which had been overtaken by events.

Mr Sibanda said major issues affecting housing delivery were lack of capacity by local authorities to provide offsite infrastructure such as water, roads and sewer.

He said local authorities had failed to upgrade capacity of existing water and sewage treatment plants to cope with new housing developments.

The liquidity crunch had also affected the construction of more houses.

"Some actors like building societies have no money. So people have nowhere to borrow. The issue of affordability also plays a part," he said.

Mr Sibanda said most people were employed in the informal sector and did not have enough disposable incomes to build or to hire contractors.

He said land availability was not a problem in housing delivery.

Mr Sibanda said local authorities had not really cited land as the hindrance as they were given surrounding farms under the land reform programme. He said pro-poor housing structures that are self-aided cost less than US$10 000.

Contractors would charge not less than US$30 000 for a four roomed structure in the high-density suburbs.

Mr Sibanda said Government was pinning its hopes on housing co-operatives.

"Community-based organisations are the pillar in housing delivery," he said.

Government, he said, was preparing the Land Developers Bill to ensure land developers did not shortchange people who buy residential stands from them.

He said Government was also working through the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe for the construction of flats and servicing of housing land.

"We are also open to direct foreign investment in housing," he said.

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