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Sustainable and Affordable Housing in Nigeria: Myth or Reality

Editors Note: The following content has been provided by Noah Ibrahim CEO of Novarick Homes, and developer of the first solar-powered residential community in Nigeria.

Urbanization is a population shift from rural to urban areas resulting in the gradual increase of people living in urban areas. In the 20th century, the world experienced an unprecedented increase in urbanization. People tend to migrate from towns to cities to seek better living. However, the way each society responds to this transition defers. 

Based on nationally-collated census figures, combined with the UN estimates in 1960, twice as many people lived in rural settings (2 billion) than in urban areas (1 billion). In 2007, urban and rural populations were almost precisely equal at 3.33 billion each. In 2016, urban populations increased to 4 billion, while the world’s rural population had increased only marginally to 3.4 billion. UN estimates, therefore, reports that 54 percent of people in the world lived in urban areas in 2016. Using UN Urbanization Prospects projections, in 2018, this is estimated to be just over 55 percent of the world.

With particular reference to Nigeria, it has been revealed by studies that the migration of people from rural areas to cities in search of a better living is the factor responsible for the rapid and continuous growth of urbanization in recent years.

Nevertheless, meeting the needs of the increasing urban population is the sole reason developers in the real estate sector have the urgent need to bring about an adequate provision of affordable housing. Hence, meeting the needs of housing and helping to solve the affordable housing crisis in Nigeria. 

From the research gathered from Empirical studies, about 75% of the urban settlers live in slums and improper housing, which contrasts with human dignity. 

Issues and Challenges Militating Against Affordable Housing Provision in Nigeria 

Housing is one of the basic needs of man and one of the essential components of housing is affordability. In spite of the numerous efforts made by the government and even the private sector, to ease housing in Nigeria, this problem persists. The spike in the population and urban growth has not been matched by sufficient housing. 

For low-income earners, the inability to access affordable housing has always been an enormous challenge. Affordable housing refers to a situation where the cost of housing (rent or mortgage payment) is not more than 30 percent of household income for households in the lowest 40 percent of the income distribution range. This affordable housing definition has been described as the 30/40 rule.

It is noteworthy to state that the housing issue in Nigeria has to do with the quantitative inadequacy of affordable housing for low-income households.

The high cost of housing units is attributable to the rising cost of building materials, inflation rate, increased space and quality standards adopted by designers, fees of professionals involved in designs and construction, excessive profit of contractors/developers. Where the cost per unit of a building is abnormally high, only a few people can afford it. This has been the situation within big cities in Nigeria. The gap between income and shelter costs in Nigeria is vast. 

The Nigerian population is at 204,394,025, of which the urban population is 52.0%. Over 90% of the country’s population are of the no/low-income groups. The present Gross Domestic Product (GDP) equals US$405.10 billion presently nonetheless; the Per Capita Income is very low at US$2457.80 as lastly recorded in 2016, which indicates the fact that there is an unequal distribution of wealth as the level of income earned does not commensurate with the economic growth.

The formal housing sector estimated output of no more than 100,000 per year to an optimistic 200,000 per year, covering only a fraction of the at least 700,000 units required per year to keep up with the growing population and urban migration. 

Further, most new housing production caters to upper-income households, leaving an acute housing shortage for middle and lower-income families. The greatest need for affordable housing is lower-income households in urban areas. Almost 50% of the Nigerian population live in cities, and about 80% of this urban population live in substandard conditions.

One major topic which has been in public discourse in recent times is sustainability. It has been in the expansion of housing for the growing population and upgrading the quality of residential livelihoods of low-income households without compromising the housing needs of future generations.

The main goal of sustainable development is to provide for people worldwide while ensuring the availability of resources for future generations to meet their essential needs. Thus, sustainable housing is geared towards a gradual, renewable process to meet the housing needs of the present age. 

The importance of housing can never be overemphasized. Housing is meant to go beyond an abode of occupancy; it is intended to be all-encompassing that sustains the tenants, safety, health, physiological comfort, enabling and supporting inhabitants in living sustainably. 

New Approach to Sustainable and Affordable Housing in Nigeria

As noted earlier, the country is presently confronted with a relatively large deficit of housing requirements, which is more pronounced than in other developing countries. 

The challenge of providing affordable and sustainable housing can be remedied if the developers and the government focus on achieving sustainability and affordability rather than pointing out the issues associated with it in isolation.

Compelling arguments support the belief that tending to how houses are delivered will undoubtedly have restricted impacts except if the center extends to the more extensive housing area to simultaneously address the metropolitan plan, tenants, foundation, money, and real estate markets.

Results have shown that security ranks the highest and other criteria of importance. This includes accessibility, adaptability, utility, technology, community, affordability, and acceptability. 

Hence the social and environmental sustainability in housing should enhance household satisfaction by ensuring the security and welfare of its residents, adapt to its immediate environment, be acceptable, be supported with social amenity to integrate the community through participation, and, finally, manage household utility efficiently.

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