By Andrew Masinde
Uganda will need over 3 million decent housing units to accommodate about 48 million people by the year 2020, according to Uganda Human Settlement Network report.
According to the report on Prioritization of the right to adequate housing by Shelter and Settlement Alternatives: Uganda Human Settlement Network (SSA: UHSNET), Uganda has about 6.82 million households living in 6.2 million housing units with an average household size of 5.0 persons (2012 estimate).
The average household size is 5 persons and nationwide this results in 1.1 households per housing unit, which results in a housing backlog of 710,000 housing units.
It is also estimated that 50,000 housing units are coming up every year. The current housing deficit however is 200 per annum.
The report indicates that of the existing 6.2 million housing units, about 900,000 are substandard houses (structures not fit for human habitation) thus making a total national housing deficit of about 1.6 million housing units. 211,000 of these units are in urban areas and 1,395,000 are in rural areas.
It is estimated that Kampala city alone has a backlog of over 100,000 housing units and population growth rates, currently estimated at 3.4%, and it is expected to remain high.
It is also projected that by the year 2020, the housing needs, of the country will have risen to 8.9m, and that majority of Ugandans in both rural and urban areas do not have access to adequate housing.
However according to Eddie Nsamba Gayiiyi, a consultant on land policy and land tenure, many Ugandans were still residing in swamps while others have remained homeless.
“When you see people getting into swamps it’s not their choice; they would love to go elsewhere, let’s not look at them as outcasts, they have been evicted somewhere, they are just helpless,” said Nsamba.
He said there is need for government to create employment opportunities for people and get them out of poverty so as to live a decent lifestyle.
The coordinator Mukono Multipurpose organization, Lawrence Byansi, urged government to establish a policy on housing saying that such a policy will reduce on the cost of building decent houses.
“The members of Parliament should act very fast and put in place this policy, because we cannot expect the ministry of finance to finance something which has no policy,” Byansi added.
The vice chairperson of parliamentary government assurance, also Budadiri East Member of Parliament, Isaiah Ssasaga, supported government on evictions of members of the public who encroach on public land saying they hinder development.
“If government has been good to people who have been encroaching on public land time and again, and now it is asking them to vacate, they should do so for development purposes,” Ssasaga said.
According to the Ministry of lands, housing and development’s Ministerial Policy Statement FY 2013/14 and FY 2014/15, housing is not among Government’s key priorities evidenced by the low National budgetary allocation which was only 0.020% and 0.025% in 2013/14 and 2014/15 respectively.
However, it should be noted that housing development is classified as one of the primary growth centre’s under the NDP.