Disturbed that Nigeria lacks accurate data on housing that can help policy-makers address problems in the sector, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has announced plans to work with other agencies on the development of a national housing profile for the country.
With the impressive growth in the housing sector, little had been done to collect adequate data on the growth and challenges in the sector. Developers and investors are at loss on how to identify the appropriate areas where there is a need for housing or even pieces of land that we can buy for development.
In most cases, data collected around the country often fails to reflect the key areas with housing problems as it only dwells on a broad and general analysis of the problems.
In a meeting with United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat), the Managing Director, Professor Mohammed Al- Amin confirmed that the authority was embarking on the project because of the unreliable nature of the available housing statistics in the country.
He told UN-HABITAT Programme Officer, Mr. Kabir Yari, that although an attempt was made to incorporate a housing census into the 2006 national headcount, the data obtained from the exercise was unreliable.
That failure, he said was due to the defective nature of the tool designed for it as enumerators were only trained on how to capture data on individuals and not housing units.
He noted that the lack of reliable housing data had hamstrung proper planning and called for concerted efforts to address the situation.
The FHA chief executive expressed doubt about the authenticity of the famous 17 million housing deficit for Nigeria being often referred to in various quarters because no scientific basis has been shown for it.
He said the authority was in touch with the National Population Commission (NPC), which he said had indicated that it would embark on a proper housing count during the next population census. He, therefore, urged the UN-HABITAT to make its expertise available to ensure the success of the exercise.
Al-Amin also told his host that the Authority wished to participate in the implementation of the resolutions of the just concluded Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development held in Quito, Ecuador. Expressing regret that Nigeria had not been taking full advantage of platforms opened to it by international organisations, he said FHA was poised to participate in the follow-up activities to Habitat III at the national, sub-regional and regional levels.
The Managing Director said his visit to UN-HABITAT was part of the efforts to attune the Authority’s programmes with international best practices.
He said FHA also wanted to work with the United Nations agency on critical housing issues such as slum development and the rising housing deficit in the country with a view to improving the quality of urban life.
Responding, Yari said UN-HABITAT had helped many nations to develop their housing policies but expressed regret that monitoring and implementation had been the bane of policies in Nigeria.
Yari said a nation should, with available statistics, be able to project into how many houses it would need for its populace in the short, medium and long term. He said his agency and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) had projected that the population of urban dwellers in the world would rise to three billion by 2050.
In view of that projection, he said it was important for policymakers to be on guard to ensure the availability of adequate waste disposal facilities and sustainable use of resources.
Yari noted that low-income earners who formed the bulk of the housing need base got their housing mostly from the informal sector, which he said, was usually characterised by acute lack of infrastructure.
He said if nations could get it right with pro-poor housing, they would be able to reach majority of those who needed housing. Yari who pointed out that the UN-HABITAT was not a funding agency, promised to provide technical assistance to the FHA in the execution of its programmes.
He later presented some of the agency’s publications to the Managing Director who in turn gave an FHA commemorative plaque to his host. Al-Amin was accompanied on the visit by the Executive Director (Business Development), Mr. Aniedi Akpabio; the Acting General Manager (Commercial Housing), Ms Hajara Kadiri; Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Tunde Ipinmisho and the MD/CE’s Technical Assistant (Commercial Housing), Mr. Gabriel Baba.
Originally published in The Guardian