By Racheal Nabisubi
Housing expert Robert van Kats from The Dutch Alliance for Sustainable Urban Development in Africa (DASUDA) has asked government and housing investors to consider developing quality affordable houses whose large market has not been served.
"Uganda has large demand for affordable housing. Uganda and generally, the African population requires quality housing which depends largely on good urban design and planning," Kats said.
He added: "The African population is growing. African cities and villages are fast expanding. The economies are growing at a precedented pace, creating a new class of professionals and families with an international taste and lifestyle, yet proudly African.
Kats was delivering a lecture at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, (CEDAT), conference hall at Makerere University recently to enable students, link theory with practice.
"The traditional building and planning industry is unable to keep pace with this growth which results into an Africa-wide housing backlog and poor quality delivery," he said, citing an example where one can build a bad house with expensive building materials.
He, however, does not spell doom to the sector for Uganda.
Kats said "there is a large market for quality affordable houses, but that market is hardly served. There is a great gap between demand and supply. This opportunity should not be left untapped. Butterfly Housing, for instance, addresses precisely this market gap by offering a range of different house types within the same family of design".
Van Kats added that there is need to create diversity and spatial quality by teaming up with a vast network of African and international planners and urbanites, providing the knowledge and know how for a healthy, safe and green infrastructure.
He emphasized the need for considering stakeholder and beneficiary engagement for acceptability and relevance, adding that the planning should look at housing as functional and sustainable neighborhoods and not just houses.
Alex Kamukama of Kakungulu Satellite City in Uganda, and Vice Chairman, Shelter and Settlements Alternatives (SSA-USHNET), said building affordable houses is possible in Uganda if the proprietor plans to solicit services of building professionals and acquires building materials wisely but without compromising quality of the product.
Speaking on behalf of SSA, Kamukama said they are presently implementing a low cost housing initiative for women which is funded by a Swedish organization and is a unique model. They are a total of 34 homes on 2 acres and will be sold at a total cost of about sh26mn.
The purchasers will pay installments of about sh250, 000 monthly, (which they are currently paying in inadequate housing) and the payments will cover a period of about 20 years.
The project which also has space for income generating projects for the house owners is situated in Bujuuko in Wakiso District.
The public lecture host, Amanda Ngabirano said they intended and will continue to expose students to the real challenges with an inclination to physical planning, with an aim of making a contribution towards safe and pleasant living environment in Uganda.