Housing law and management of human settlements in Zambia

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Mutale, Goodwin H
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This research is aimed at generating an understanding of the legal framework within which human settlements are built and managed in Zambia.It will also examine the manner in which the Zambian Government endeavours to implement its housing policies.It is therefore intended to: (i)identify the legal arrangements under which human settlements are built and problems an individual involved in building a shelter encounters and particularly, those settlements that are created under legislation. (ii)analyse and attempt to evaluate the success or otherwise of the various housing policy alternatives that have been employed in the establishment of human settlements. Several policy statements have been made, all of them well intentioned, in National Development Plans, in circulars, seminars and at human settlements conventions outlining the steps to be taken in order to eliminate the national housing shortage. Whatever action the government takes concerning the building of human settlements, is invariably expressed either in legal regulations or in the activity of government officials within the legal system broadly conceived. Like many other governments, especially those in developing countries, the Zambian government lacks the capacity to gather data.It may be argued that this has in the past led to inadequate decisions concerning housing.It is therefore necessary to develop better and more informed methods of tackling the legal, political, social and economic problems involved in housing, hopefully, with corresponding benefits to public officials responsible for planning and implementing housing development.Despite determined government effort in this sphere, the problem of the shortage of housing particularly,in the urban sector persists and increases in magnitude every year. Stressing this point at a recent housing seminar held at Kalingalinga Squatter compound in Lusaka, District Governor, Mr Simon Mwewa,is reported in the Times of Zambia to have stated that: "The demand for houses in Lusaka between 1953 and 197U was 56,7 00 but the Council only managed to provide 6,9 34 homes. Because of this, and out of sheer necessity, squatters put up a mortley number of 2 7,000 shelters. In doing so, the squatters were either conscious of the fact that they were breaking the law or it did not occur to them that such a law existed at all.In recognition of the enormous demand for urban housing. Council was forced to upgrade squatter areas by providing basic services such as gravel roads, water, street lighting, schools and clinics. Squatting, he said, was primarily a legal concept and involved the occupancy of land or building without the permission of the owner." Times of Zambia dated 2 5th April,1983. Indeed to most squatters, the question of legality about putting up one's home does not arise.This anomaly arises from the fact that in some tribal areas of Zambia where urban squatters come from, it is not necessary to obtain permission to build a house.In areas where tribal custom requires a chief's permission, rules and procedures are not so stringent as they are in urban setting.In any case, these settlers resent the derogatory reference to them as squatters; they feel better of,with a roof over their heads.It is a question of which side of the fence one happens to be. NATURE OF RESEARCH The study deals, as stated above, with legal arrangements, that have been involved in the building of human settlements.Laws of any country are designed to promote the building of adequate and the sale of housing for its population.The rules and laws adopted are usually a means to this objective rather than an end in themselves. Zambia's problem is seen as one involving rules that facilitate the building of adequate and safe accommodation for its people thereby raising the levels of living standards of Zambians. With regard to the issues that will be discussed, no "strictly legal" study is possible.The problems of housing laws in Zambia are related to political, economic and social questions, so that any "detached" legal scrutiny is both impossible and meaningless.To study housing law meaningfully and usefully in Zambia or indeed elsewhere one has to be constantly aware of non-legal factors involved. SOURCES OF INFORMATION For preliminary information, the study relied on Library and archival sources and official reports and documents. For the information concerning legislation,the study relied principally on acts of parliament and city bye-laws.For information concerning the daily working of the Institutions established to develop human settlements^the study examined the reports of these institutions.To supplement the sources of information mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, I visited and interviewed Senior officials of the National Housing Authority. The Authority and its predecessor the Zambia Housing Board have played a predominant role in the initiation and implementation of housing policies.Section 19(1) of the National Housing Authority Act vests in the Authority important housing functions and reads:"It shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be the object and general duty of the Authority to keep under continuous review housing conditions in the Republic and the needs of the Republic with respect to the provision of further housing accommodation and to provide, or to secure and promote the provision of, such housing accommodation for the Republic and to take all such steps as it may appear to the authority requisite or expedient in those respects".A study of this nature would be incomplete without obtaining first hand information from officers of the Authority who are involved in the day to day implementation of housing policies.The Managing Director and his staff are in a better position to experience at first hand practical problems faced in the task of providing human shelter. For this reason, interviews at the National Housing Authority gave me an insight of the true nature of these problems. The shortage of housing in the third world is acutely felt in urban areas. This is equally true in Zambia where urban populations have increased since independence at such a rapid rate that available housing resources could not cope with this unprecedented increase. This has led to unauthorised squatter settlements in urban areas. Urban local authorities have therefore become overburdened with squatter and other urban housing problems.Any measures proposed to overcome or mitigate hardships arising from acute housing shortage have to be administered and implemented by urban or rural local authorities.For this reason, it was necessary to interview those council officials who were closely involved in the implementation of the various housing policy directives.My reason for choosing to interview officers in the Lusaka Urban Council was that the Council appeared to have successfully implemented site and service and squatter upgrading schemes through the Housing Project Unit.The Site and Service Project which is nearing completion is financed by the World Bank. Officers, particularly the Project Director and field staff in the Housing Project Unit have valuable experience, information and literature that have accumulated during the implementation period and proved a useful source of material for my research.Ndola and the Copperbelt towns have equally experienced similar influx of population from rural areas.Although they have not yet enjoyed financial assistance to the extent that Lusaka has, they are trying to resolve housing problems in their own way and visits to officers dealing with housing in those areas proved useful.Reports and articles read on this subject, indicated that whilst rural emigration has created urban overcrowding and other attendant problems of unemployment and increasing crime rate, rural areas were experiencing problems of a different nature.Rural areas have been robbed of able bodied manpower. Villages are sparsely populated.As a result, the village re-grouping projects within the context of the Intensive Development Zones have failed to take root because rural leadership potential has emigrated to towns. The migration to urban areas has a bias towards young people who were supposed to be the backbone of the development projects mentioned above The elderly population in the villages cannot provide the manpower necessary for projects implementation. Whilst squatters in rural towns may experience similar problems, it is unlikely that the intensity of such problems will be to the same extent as those experienced in urban areas It is not uncommon to find workers in rural towns being accommodated in nearby villages.A study of the European Development Fund (EDF) which is earmarked for the financing of plots and housing in rural towns pinpoints the fact that squatter settlements have sprung up in rural towns and the fund is meant to help solve this problem.
Human settlements -- Zambia. , Housing policy -- Zambia. , Housing -- Law and legislation -- Zambia