The government has expressed deep concern over the widening housing deficit in the country, which currently stands at 2.4 million housing units amidst a growing population.
This, according to the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Judith Nabakooba, is a huge stumbling block to achieving the blueprint vision of 2040 if no urgent interventions are implemented.
She made the remarks ahead of World Habitat Day celebrations scheduled for Friday. This year’s theme draws attention to the growing inequalities and vulnerabilities that have been exacerbated by the triple ‘C” crisis Covid-19, Climate and Conflict.
Nabakooba said this year’s theme is very relevant to our situation as the country grapples with challenges of climate change as evidenced in floods especially in the mountainous areas.
Nabakooba said the pandemic and recent conflicts have reversed years of progress made in the fight against poverty, resulting in the emergence of newly poor people who would have exited poverty in the absence of the pandemic but remain poor, and those who have fallen into poverty on account of the pandemic.
She said the Covid-19 global pandemic has also shed light on slums and the dire living conditions of those who call them home, saying it is providing an unprecedented opportunity to make cities more inclusive and resilient.
“As government, we are focusing on housing in slums to help them as communities not only to survive the health crisis, but thrive in the world that comes afterward, “she said.
According to the UN-Habitat’s World Cities Report, the number of people affected was between 119 and 124 million in 2020 and between 143 and 163 million in 2021 tackling urban poverty and inequality have become an urgent global priority.
Working with the private sector plus other legal frameworks, she said the government hopes to reduce this deficit, adding that the government is planning to implement the national slum upgrading strategy and Action plan to improve the living conditions of slum dwellers.
The plan, which also targets informal settlements in urban areas, seeks to create affordable housing in the country.
“This deficit has to be addressed from a multi-sectoral approach. Various players including Financial Institutions, Real Estate developers, Civil society and Community based organizations, Housing Cooperatives, SACCOs, Investment and community savings groups are very critical in mobilizing both formal and non-formal housing finance for affordable housing, “she said.
She however said housing delivery alone is not the ultimate solution, saying that land use planning is very key so that they don’t only provide the housing but it must be located appropriately through efficient land use planning.