In line with the National Resisance Movement manifesto and the National Development Plan on creating opportunities and interventions for decent housing, one of the priority needs is to address the unplanned growth of cities and the urban sprawl in Uganda.
While there is still a relatively low level of urbanisation, the urban growth rate is estimated at 5.1% per annum with a population growth rate of 3.2%. With this growth, it is projected that by 2050, Uganda will have a population of more than 100 million of which 40% will be in the urban areas. This will have serious implications in terms of land, housing and food security.
Due to inadequate capacity to plan, guide and manage urban growth, development has preceded planning, resulting into widespread rural/urban migration. This increases congestion, causes pollution and increases cost of infrastructure development among others.
It has also resulted into growth of slums. The country has a national housing backlog of about 1.6 million housing units of which 211,000 are in urban areas and 1,395,00 are in rural areas. The backlog provides an opportunity to invest in housing development. This has a multiplier effect as housing has links to other sectors such as the transport and energy industry.
The Government recognises that land is scarce and expensive and needs to be utilised. It has, therefore, embarked on sensitising the public to utilise land by constructing high- rise residential housing units.
To solve this challenge, the Government has negotiated with development partners to establish low- cost housing facilities to enable low income earners access affordable housing.
Capacity to use alternative building technologies will soon be unveiled which ensure quick construction as well as reduction in the cost of delivery of housing units.
The lands ministry is promoting the establishment of housing cooperatives so as to enable the public access adequate housing.
The cost of mortgaging and the rate at which properties are going under fore closure is of concern. A team from the lands ministry and private sector is studying this unfortunate development in order to come up with solutions to the problem. These interventions are aimed at ensuring that the NRM's pledges on housing are delivered to the citizens.
The writer is the Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development