16 January 2013

Nigeria: Stakeholders Identify Factors Against Affordable Housing

The group, in a communiqué issued after the meeting, noted that the current practice and bureaucracy affecting the issuance, titling and ownership of land for housing development is a key challenge to the provision of housing to the poor which needs to be appropriately reviewed.

The communiqué further states that there is inadequate household data available for policy makers and researchers to enable them to design evidence-based policy recommendations that could lead to effective housing schemes for the urban poor.

It noted that there is lack of long-term cheap funding for housing for the urban poor and other private-sector stakeholders as well as insufficient local content in the construction and real estate sector (labour and input supply) resulting in high costs of building and uncompleted houses.

The communiqué reads in part: "There is limited diversity or alternatives of building materials (mostly cement) available for building; the urban poor is faced with very limited housing options. Poor implementation of housing plans for urban cities (especially in the FCT) results in frequent demolitions and forced evictions of households. Government's previous efforts have been focused more on the provision of 'affordable' than 'social' housing. The proposed 'Centenary City' should include provisions for social housing to cater for the housing demands of the urban poor."

Participants in the forum also suggested the following as possible solutions to mitigate the challenges affecting housing delivery for the urban poor: "Access to the capital market to generate funding for housing finance - the government can provide a subsidy to offset the difference between the interest rate of the money market and that of the Federal Mortgage Bank to make housing easily affordable and accessible to the urban poor.

"The government should aim to increase the housing stock by upgrading and integrating already existing settlements. This would also reduce the number of families forcefully evicted from their homes.

"Alternative housing options such as built-to-fit, incremental housing, mass housing, mixed housing and enterprise-housing should also be explored as possible solutions to housing for the urban poor.

"Empowering the urban poor to be self-reliant and self-sufficient so that they would not have to rely permanently on funds or grants from donor organizations and the government in order to own homes.

"Relevant key stakeholders and prominent individuals should make active demand on the Senate to pass the Social Housing Bill into law and to the President for his assent.

"Developers should be encouraged to incorporate the development of multi-storey blocks of flats as opposed to numerous bungalows in order to maximize space, especially in areas where land is scarce."

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