The right to housing is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This makes it imperative that government quickly moves to put in place mechanisms to enable Ugandans acquire decent housing.
A housing value chain study, which was carried out in 2010 by Ayani Inclusive Financial Sector Consultants with funding from Habitat For Humanity International revealed that Uganda had a housing deficit of about 1.6 million units.
The urban areas had a housing deficit of 211,000 units while rural areas had a deficit of 1.4 million units.
At the time the study that was aimed at nudging financial institutions working around the housing sector to provide housing loans to people with monthly earnings of less than Shs750,000 was carried out, Uganda’s population stood at 32,608,271 people, but it is projected to have since risen to 40,953,469 people. This has exacerbated the housing problem.
While National Housing and Construction Company (NH&CC) was established in 1964 by an Act of Parliament to increase the housing stock and encourage Ugandans to own homes in well planned environments, among others, it has not been provided with adequate funding.
Seven years ago, the government made a commitment to “capitalise National Housing Corporation to be a lead agency in providing housing in urban areas”. That has not happened.
In the circumstances the Corporation has had to borrow from commercial banks and at commercial rates, which makes it practically impossible to implement housing projects at the kind of pace that it would have required to summarily deal with the housing deficit.
Use of commercial banks’ money also means that the cost of housing units available is much higher than it would have been if government had provided seed money to enable the Corporation to implement housing projects nationwide.
With National Housing Corporation incapacitated, individuals have been trying to bridge the gap, but as can be seen in many of Kampala’s neighbourhoods, the developments are not well planned.
There are usually no proper roads or service lanes, which makes it difficult for them to be accessed. The properties have no plot number, which makes it difficult for one to locate a particular place. This mess and the housing deficit in general can only be fixed if government provides National Housing with funding.