The urban housing problem for low income groups with special reference to the city of Lusaka: A social legal perspective

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Matibini, Patrick
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The University of Zambia
This study is intended to contribute to the debate on the urban housing problem for low-income groups in Zambia. Low-cost housing has always been considered a difficult problem, even an insoluble one. The numbers of persons to be housed increase annually while the cost of housing construction is increasing faster than incomes. During the last two decades, it has been realized that the Conventional solution; viz, rental housing is not appropriate. It is however now generally accepted that the nation's scarce resources cannot match the housing demand. Consequently, aided self-help housing is viewed as the viable alternative. This strategy aims at increasing the supply of building plots with basic supporting services. However, site and service schemes have not been able to accommodate all home seekers. To this end, the President Dr. K.D. Kaunda in his 1975 "Watershed Speech" remarked as follows: "...townships have sprung up virtually from nowhere in many cities and towns as well as in the country side. In the future, these will create immense social problems of which we already have enough. Therefore, from now onward, local authorities must see to it that no unauthorized buildings are erected within their areas of jurisdiction. You have the powers use them...". However, notwithstanding policy pronouncements, and the enactment of Laws to prescribe the continued growth of unplanned settlements, the same continue to proliferate seemingly unabated* The basic theme of this dissertation is that the urban poor have in the main been left out of the Main Stream of legal housing. In the process, they are building houses, and establishing settlements where they can, largely illegally. This house building by the poor over-whelms the efforts of city administrators, planners, health and building authorities. The term low-income group is not easy to define. The Third National Development Plan (TNDP 1979-1983) suggested the following monthly income categories: (a) very low-income group; K0 - 60 for rural areas and traditional huts outside the rural areas. (b) Low-income group K61 - K100 for house built on fully serviced site and serviced plots using permanent building materials; (c) Lower-Middle-Income group K101 - 160 for houses built on fully serviced site, and serviced plots using permanent building materials; (d) Middle-Income group; Kl6l - 250 for Council- owned Conventional rental housing; and (e) Upper Middle-Income group K251 - 500 for Conventional Medium cost housing. Affordability levels was based on the proposals of the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements (UNCHS) which suggested monthly cost recoveries not exceeding 20 - 25 per cent of monthly incomes. At that time, (1981) K15.00 for the Low-income target to K25.00. These were considered side by side with the cost of constructing a one room house whose building materials were estimated at K800.00. The effect of the Kwacha/USD relationship has also increased the incomes. The all-items low-income group consumer price index rose from 231.3 in 1981 to 738.9 in April, 1986, indicating an increase of 507.6 per cent. Using this increase, the following corresponding income groups were determined: (a) very low-income group: K100 - 220. (b) Lower-income group: K221 - 330. (c) Low-income group: K331 - 440. (d) Lower Middle-Income group 441 - 650. (e) Middle-Income group K650 + The term low-income groups in the context of this dissertation is compatible with the first two categories, the average monthly incomes are also not only low but unreliable. It is further submitted that illiteracy is mostly prevalent amongest the very low-income groups. This factor may account to some extent for their lack of access to legal housing and housing finance. It is hoped that this dissertation will highlight some of the salient factors that contribute to or cause the shortage of housing particularly for the low-income groups. Most of the information and views on which this dissertation is based was collected in Lusaka between September, 1985 and January 1988. During that period, the author was employed by the Lusaka Urban District Council as a Council Advocate cum Council Registrar of the Council's Deeds Registry on the Staff of the Legal Secretary. Some of the information contained in this dissertation was therefore, obtained by the method which is popularly referred to as participant observation. However, the opinions expressed are the author's own and should not in any way be considered or construed as reflections of official council thinking. This dissertation is organized as follows: Chapter One introduces the urban housing problem. It discusses the problem generally in the context of the regional, continental and global housing problem. Chapter Two offers a general historical back-ground of the housing problem. The Chapter briefly traces the establishment and growth of some of the present major urban centres. The \apter also discusses the housing policies pursued by the colonial government and the measures taken and laws enacted to ensure compliance with the policies. Further, the origins and nature of the unauthorized settlements are discussed. In addition, there is a discussion of the housing strategies adopted by the Independent government. In this regard the chapter notes the shift of policy from rental housing to aided self-help housing. In this connection, emphasis was placed on development of site and service scheme and squatter upgrading programmes. Chapter Three is an examination of the Legal Aspects of Aided Self-help housing. Although the site and service schemes were initiated in the immediate post-independence era, it was not until 1974 that a legal framework was provided in the form of the Housing (Statutory and Improvement Areas) Act, Chapter 441 of the Laws of Zambia. The chapter discusses some of the salient provisions and the general administration of the Act. Chapter four is on housing and planning. It is the basic theme of the Chapter that housing and planning are inseparable. It is argued, that one of the major contributing factors to the proliferation of unauthorized settlements is that the authorities are not planning for the absorption of the rapidly growing urban population. It is submitted that one of the major element in this absorption process, is the allocation of land for housing development for especially the low-income groups. Chapter five, addresses itself to the question of management of aided self-help housing. The chapter explores the management implications of the site and service schemes and squatter upgrading approaches. The Chapter notes the fact that institutional involvement has by and large become an integral part of housing for the low-income groups. The chapter underscores the importance of identifying the structural organization of modifications which are necessary to design, implement and manage low-income housing. Chapter six, is on housing finance for the low-income groups. The chapter notes the fact that, although provision of adequate shelter for all has since the First National Development Plan (FNDP) 1964-1968) been included in the National Development Plans, financial resources remains one of the crucial constraints in attaining that goal. The financial constraint results not only from insufficient resource mobilization but also from uneven allocation of resources. Presently, only high-income and middle-income households have access to conventional housing finance on affordable terms. This failure to provide finance for housing to low-income groups even extends to government agencies and financial institutions which have been set up for that very purpose. The chapter examines the major housing and financial institutions which have the potential of contributing to the provision of finance for low-income groups. Finally, chapter seven consists of conclusions and makes specific recommendations regarding national housing policy, the future of aided self-help housing, cost recovery, land delivery, and the proposed Zambia Housing Development Limited.
Housing --Zambia--Lusaka , housing--Law and legislation--Zambia--Lusaka , Public housing , City planning