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urban housing crisis in Nigeria

The Urban Housing Crisis in Nigeria

Housing is a basic necessity of life without prejudice for economic condition. In spite of this, suffice to say that an urban housing crisis exists in Nigeria, not forgetting the fact that housing problem is universal. In this article we take a look at the urban housing crisis in Nigeria

One of the basic needs of man is shelter and to most groups this means housing. In developing countries, poor housing delivery has been attributed to inadequate mechanisms and systems for land allocation, funding, mortgage institutions and infrastructure.

Nigeria is perhaps the fastest urbanizing country in the African continent, while Lagos remains the fastest growing city in Africa. However, one of the most important challenges facing the country is the provision of affordable housing.  Simply put there seems to be an urban housing crisis exist not only in Lagos –Nigeria’s most famous city but everywhere else in the country

In Nigeria, housing crisis exists in urban and rural places. Housing problem in urban places takes the form of slum dwelling, homelessness, overcrowding, squatter settlements and substandard housing units.

In the rural areas, poor housing quality, deficient environmental condition as well as inadequate infrastructural facilities are the order of the day. The causative factors of this problem include: Poverty, Population increase due to Urbanization, High cost of land, Non-implementation of the housing policies, Failure on the side of the government, High cost of building materials and Corruption

As more and more Nigerians make towns and cities their homes, the resulting social, economic, environmental and political challenges need to be urgently addressed. House prices and rents, on the other hand, have grown ahead of general inflation.

Making matters worse, the composition of houses for sale and rent on the market has been inexorably shifting towards very expensive house.

The problem of adequate housing is not peculiar to Nigeria. According to the UN Habitat, 30 percent of the world’s urban population live in slums, deplorable conditions where people suffer from one or more of the following basic deficiencies in their housing: lack of access to improved water; lack of access to improved sewage facilities (not even an outhouse); living in overcrowded conditions; living in buildings that are structurally unsound; or living in a situation with no security of tenure (that is, without legal rights to be where they are, as renters or as owners).

The same report says that 35 per cent of the world’s rural population lives in unacceptable conditions. Overall more than two billion people are in desperate need of better housing. A major impediment to the construction of housing units in Nigeria however, is the high cost of land.

To meet Nigeria’s need of over 17 million housing units would require at the minimum about 17 million plots of land. When converted to a more common unit of measurement(square kilometer), that would amount to approximately 11,470 square kilometres, roughly the size of Rivers State, or three times the size of Lagos State.

All these bottlenecks make the urban housing crisis in the country inevitable

Though housing deficit is one of the major problems suffered by urban and rural areas in the country and the main causative factor is poverty, the urban housing crisis situation is not a dead end.

To fully solve the urban housing crisis in Nigeria, the following must be effected:

  1. The government should ensure that the target set by their housing policies will be fully met, because until the housing sector challenges are fully tackled, the economy of the nation would not grow much. Policy instrument is one of the best ways of tackling housing problems but implementation is our problem.
  2. Poverty eradication programmes within the country should be well implemented, monitored and periodically evaluated for success level determination.
  3. To make housing more affordable in Nigeria, the government should start taking-off the hurdles and hitches in getting land and the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy.
  4. The private sector should be encouraged to collaborate with the government in provision of housing for Nigerians. Invariably developers should be motivated to invest in mass housing provision as this will help in reducing the deficit in the housing sector.
  5. The Federal Government should also tap into the opportunities provided by technology to speed up the level of housing construction in the country, while efforts should be made to reduce time of construction and cost of building.

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