Botswana: Housing Policy, Related Programmes Under Review

Gaborone — Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development is in the process of reviewing the National Policy on Housing and low income housing programmes.

Addressing the media on the occasion of World Habitat Day in Gaborone yesterday, the minister, Mr Mmusi Kgafela said the reviews were in line with the belief that households dignity and wellbeing had to be sustained through provision of adequate housing in a sanitary environment.

He said urban planning and prudent land management played crucial roles in the provision of housing and basic services therefore needed to be proactive, responsive and inclusive.

"This therefore requires our planning policies and standards to facilitate delivery of housing. To this end, there is more emphasise on densification and mixed use, particularly in urban areas, to optimise utilisation of available serviced land for housing," he said.

Mr Kgafela said it was necessary to adopt an integrated development approach that not only focused on the provision of houses but also encompassed environmental conservation and social facilities.

He reiterated government's concern about individual actions that counteracted efforts to improve access to adequate housing.

Citing the sale of plots by beneficiaries of government housing programmes, he said such actions were retrogressive and undermined efforts to meet housing needs and empowerment of marginalised households.

Mr Kgafela said much as it was government's responsibility to facilitate housing delivery, each individual had a responsibility in achieving sustainable human habitat and communities.

On World Habitat Day, he said yesterday marked its 16th anniversary at national level.

Mr Kgafela explained that it was a day set aside by the United Nations to raise awareness on issues affecting human habitat.

The commemoration, he said, provided a platform to objectively and openly discuss as well as share ideas on how best to tackle key challenges constraining access to adequate housing and sustainable human settlements development.

"This year's theme; 'Housing for All: A better Urban Future' emphasises the centrality of housing to urban planning and development. It also underscores the importance of social inclusion and equity in providing access to adequate housing and basic services, supported by holistic legislation, policies and housing programmes and projects," he said.

In Botswana, the day was normally commemorated at various districts as a means to be as broad and inclusive as possible in the ministry's efforts to share information and create awareness across the country, said Mr Kgafela.

However, he explained, the advent of COVID-19 had disrupted the norm.

For his part, UN resident coordinator in Botswana, Mr Zia Choudhury said the purpose of the day was to reflect on the state of towns and cities as well as the basic right of all people to adequate shelter.

"This year the focus of World Habitat Day is on the importance of housing as a driver for sustainable urban development and this year's theme is particularly critical in light of the ongoing pandemic," he stated.

Mr Choudhury said planning extensive public transport networks and protecting green spaces for access to healthy leisure areas required forward thinking by planners, lawmakers and developers.

Source : BOPA

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