World Habitat Day is an international annual event observed worldwide by all member countries of the United Nations family. In Uganda the preparation for the celebrations is spearheaded by the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development.
The United Nation General Assembly for which Uganda is a member passed Resolution number 40/202A of 17th December 1985 which designated the first Monday of October each year to be observed worldwide as World Habitat Day.
This is the day when all UN-member countries and communities worldwide take time to reflect on the state of their human settlements with particular emphasis on the weaknesses, gaps and successes encountered during the year. It is also the day when all stakeholders in the sector renew their resolve and determination to overcome challenges and register positive growth of the sector in the following year. It is a moment of enhancing public awareness in our villages, local communities, national and international levels of our collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.
Every year World Habitat Day is marked on a specific theme selected by the UN-Habitat Secretariat and countries are encouraged to choose their own local themes. Uganda has chosen “Adequate Shelter for All” which rhymes with the vision of National Housing Policy.
This year’s World Habitat Day is slated for Monday 3rd October 2016. The Global observance will take place in Mexico, while the National celebrations for this year’s World Habitat Day will take place in Kampala, the climax of which shall be the launch of the National Housing Policy by the Right Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.
Prior to the actual day of cerebration there is the “Habitat week”. During this week various stake holders involved in Housing and Human settlements embark on different activities to show case their work. This year the highlight of the “Habitat week” will be the handing over of Decent Living Housing Project to Kwefako housing cooperatives located in Bujuko. The beneficiaries of the project are a group of widows and it is being implemented by a Civil Society Organization called “Shelter and Settlements Alternatives”. It was launched during 2015 World Habitat day cerebrations by the then Minister of State for Urban Development.
RELEVANCY OF THE THEME
In Uganda especially in urban areas the majority of the people are struggling with a housing deficit that is increasing each year. The recent housing census report shows that Uganda has a total of 7.3m households with a backlog of approx. 2 .1 million housing units. The majority of the 7.3m households (i.e.84%) is for the poor and made of temporary dwellings.
The majority of urban residents are low income earners and currently live in unplanned slum neighborhoods that consist mostly of informal rental housing.
Slums in Uganda are characterized by:
- Unplanned development with poor housing facilities sitting on prime lands;
- Lack of planned and developed infrastructure such as roads, water, sewerage services;
- Un health conditions;
- Widespread urban poverty;
- Insecurity and crime;
- An increasing urban sprawl;
- Congestion; and
- Pollution and inadequate supply of social services.
The majority of private developers who build new housing estates only provide units that are affordable to the minority of the wealthy leaving out the majority of the urban population.
The objective of Government’s interventions therefore shall:
- Increase the production of adequate housing for all income groups;
- Improve the quality of the existing housing stock;
- Increase access to affordable housing;
- Improve security of land tenure; and
- Improve mechanisms for development & management of real estate industry.
The implementation of this Policy stems from other Government development programs such as; the National Development Plan II Vision 2040; and the NRM Manifesto 2016 – 2021 and other development agendas with regard to contributing towards achieving the sustainable development goals of this country.
The Policy also seeks to promote progressive realization of adequate housing for all and is premised on the principle of partnership, between Government, the Private sector, Land owners, financial institutions, cooperatives and individuals.
The role of Government shall be to provide a conducive policy, legislative and regulatory framework for policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation and its periodical review for effective and efficient policy implementation.
Under the partnership framework on policy implementation, the Government shall support the provision of key inputs such as serviced land with access roads, electricity, water and sewerage, as well as leverage access to affordable financing for housing development.
In order to kick start the implementation of the policy, in the interim, priority will be to mainstream the construction of houses for the Army, Police, Prisons, Teachers and Medical workers. This will be under the institutional housing arrangement.
The Policy also gives priority to the establishment of a mortgage revolving fund to enable public servants access mortgages and concession interest rates. The funds for this will come from the accrued funds from the sale of pool housing currently with Housing Finance Bank of Uganda.
The Policy also promotes Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in housing development where the land owners are encouraged to provide private land for mass production of housing as well as real estate development. Through PPP, the private sector investors and financial institutions are also encouraged to provide funding and technology for Housing Development/ Real Estate development.
The Ministry is keen to have enough funds to promote housing development in the country because it has economic multiplier effects on economic development of the country through employment generation; poverty reduction; boosting of building materials industries; and promotion of a secure tax base for Government.