Thursday, 7 June 2012

Everyone deserves a home

A lot has been said on the topic of housing in Ghana. Ghana has a 1 million house deficit. Greater Accra is the most densely populated region as it is the smallest region accommodating just over 4 million people.

The rest of the country outside of Accra bar the regional capitals of the Central, Western, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions remain pretty underdeveloped. So migration pushes more people into Accra where housing (whether bought or rented) is very costly. The most recent census (2010) found that people will leave houses in the Northern regions to sleep rough in Kumasi or Accra because they must hustle for more money - the money they do make still not enough to find accommodation. So Ghana needs housing fast! This has given rise to slums like that found in Old Fadama, nicknamed Sodom and Gommorah. Not surprising that S&G is a hub for the hustler's life, most slum-like areas in cities around the world often are. But Ghana is now trying to project an image of safety, a morally guided nation and a beacon for its African peers. So these slums, that threaten this image need to go. Clearly in this context housing is an urgent issue.

Housing has also come into discussion via the collapse of the (South Korean) STX contract and revelation of the new (South African) GUMA contract despite the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA)'s petition against the former contract on grounds that local contractors should be given a chance. I supported GREDA in their petition on patriotic grounds, although 500 houses out of a million is a drop in the ocean. GREDA should have also asked themselves whether the houses that they create are really solving a market need, or whether they intend to build more "low cost" which are actually-quite-pricey houses in the belief that government contracts mean guaranteed money in the bank?

Another thing I have found from visiting many a developer's website, is that Ghanaian developers are building bungalows. Wasting land. Land that is not cut very generously at all in comparison to Ghana's neighbours. I do like bungalows, my Grandmother lives in one, but there comes a time, when a bungalow is not appropriate for the task at hand. So how to we build cheap, ecologically responsible, land maximising, housing to accommodate many people but avoid the creation of Ghettoised housing (and just more permanent slums) in a speedy manner? The answer for me is clear, prefabricated housing. Prefabricated apartments of 10-16 dwellings in each block. "Prefab" as it is known is quick, some really big houses have been erected in a week, and a recent office block in China took 9 days to be ready for occupation. I think we could be erecting 20 a week, which equals to 1040 each year. Within one term of the next government, assuming just one company is involved 4160 houses could be built. When the numbers look that beautiful, it's a wonder we haven't embarked on it already. If by the time I complete my Master's no one's started, I think I'll do it myself, thanks!

No comments:

Post a Comment