Trends in urban housing development : a case study of Lusaka City, Zambia

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Kanyense, Jeff
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Given the increase in the population of Lusaka City from 266,245 in 1969 to 1,138,460 in 2000, there had been pressure on the government to provide adequate and decent housing to the growing population, especially the people in the low-income group. This prompted policy makers and programme planners to formulate and implement relevant responses to the urban .housing deficit. However, despite the efforts made in this regard, it was apparent that the government failed to resolve the urban housing crisis. The main purpose of this study was to explain why the problem of urban housing persisted in Lusaka City despite the formulation and implementation of various policies and related programmes. The study employed qualitative, quantitative and content analysis methods of investigation. Purposive sampling was adopted to select key informants concerned with housing development while systematic random sampling was used to select respondents for whom the urban housing initiatives were intended. Secondary data was collected from official documents of the institutions visited while primary data was collected through interviews with key informants and through household survey of the sample randomly selected. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyse data collected from the survey. An examination of housing policies, programmes and strategies revealed that, from the institution framework point of view, the main organ of government charged with the responsibility of promoting shelter improvement was the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH). The Lusaka City Council (LCC) was responsible for the management and provision of council-owned housing and unplanned settlements. The National Housing Authority (NHA) advised government on housing matters and taking an active role in the housing development by constructing houses for outright purchase and for rent. These institutions together with the private housing sector developers, the Zambia National Building Society (ZNBS), the Pan African Building Society (PABS), the Finance Building Society (FBS), international agencies and individual home developers had been implementing activities aimed at increasing decent housing stock. On the question of housing development programmes, the research findings showed that the government was involved in conventional housing, the site and service and the squatter upgrading programmes. The site and service and the squatter upgrading programmes were implemented in collaboration with international agencies. The private sector housing development involved the private formal and private informal sector housing developers. An assessment of the impact of the urban housing policies, programmes and strategies that were implemented over the years indicated that Lusaka City had approximately 267,000 households and 245,443 housing units. Analytically, if all households were to be housed with each household occupying one housing unit, there would be 21,557 (267,000 minus 245,443) households without being accommodated. It was therefore concluded that there was an imbalance in the demand and supply of urban housing. This was a clear indication of housing deficit. Other than the non-availability of sufficient houses, the majority of the houses were of poor quality. In explaining why there was a housing deficit in Lusaka City, institutional linkages were examined. This examination revealed that there was no clear allocation of responsibilities among various institutional players involved in housing development. The findings were that it was mainly MLGH, LCC and NHA who were,at the centre stage. The role of the private sector and individual developers was not considered in the overall development process. Therefore, there was no common strategy to harmonise the inputs of various key players in the industry. Firstly, even though there were 'housing policies' under which various housing programmes were implemented, there was no comprehensive housing policy from 1964 to 1996 that should have clearly stated the dimensions of housing problems and the priority that should have been given to housing provision in the overall economic development. Due to the non-availability of a comprehensive housing policy, the technical, financial and administrative framework needed to carry out housing programmes was not defined. In the same vein, some agents, both public and private who should have been responsible for implementation were not identified, especially those from the private sector. Secondly, investment in housing development was inadequate, both public and private. From the point of view of public sector housing investment, over the years, there had been a reduction in government expenditure on housing from K100 million during the First National Development Plan (FNDP) to K95 million during the Third National Development Plan (TNDP). Similarly, over the years, investment in housing as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated to have fallen from around 3 percent in 1969 to less than 0.5 percent by 1992. This investment was not adequate when compared to other countries with an investment in housing representing 3.6 percent of GDP. In the same vein, Zambia's investment was well below the United Nations (UN) and World Bank minimum requirement of investment in housing representing 5 percent of GDP. From this discovery, it was concluded that there had not been a progressive increase in public housing investment. In this respect, there was no meaningful increase in houses to match the rate of population growth. The findings also showed that the private sector equally failed to provide adequate housing finance to fill up the gap left by the public sector. An assessment of the impact of building societies revealed that only a small number of people managed to access mortgages for outright purchase and construction of houses. This means that the contribution of the private sector to housing did not make any impact at all. The other notable bottleneck to housing development was found to have been non¬availability of land for private individual developers. LCC had failed to meet the number of plots applied for by the majority of the applicants. This made it difficult for individuals to build their own houses. The research also established that the cost and supply of building materials proved to be a major constraint. As a result, the people in the low-income group, therefore, could not afford to build houses. The non-availability of housing finance also proved to be another problem as many potential developers could not access the funds needed for housing construction. Finally, the housing legislation equally contributed to housing development problems. The National Housing Authority (NHA) Act Chapter 426 of the Laws of Zambia gives NHA the sole responsibility for the management of the housing portfolio, and the housing policy. This does not provide for the participation of other agencies in housing development. The Housing (Statutory and Improvement Areas) Act Chapter 441 of the Laws of Zambia also precludes other laws from applying to areas of its jurisdiction. This situation makes it difficult for other stakeholders to effectively contribute to housing development. The Land (Conversion of Titles) Act Chapter 289 of the Laws of Zambia is another piece of legislation that has created problems with regard to land delivery for housing development. The problem with this Act is that land alienation and deed processing procedures have remained centralised and cumbersome thereby making it difficult to access land for housing development as alluded to above. The reasons given above explain why Lusaka has had problems in housing development.
Housing development -- Zambia , Urban homesteading -- Zambia , Cities and towns -- Growth