EVOLVING HOUSING POLICIES IN UGANDA SINCE THE COLONIAL TIMES

The inclusive Growth Policy Note, “Planning for Uganda’s urbanization” defines Housing as a basic human right, essential for the well being of all mankind. The 1995 constitution of the Republic of Uganda, under the general social and Economic Objectives guarantees to fulfill the fundamental rights of all Ugandans to social justice, economic development, enjoying rights and opportunities and access to clean and safe water, health and decent shelter among others

Perhaps to better understand the background of the polices we need to look to the policy evolution of the colonial Housing Policy prior to World War II. These policies in these times only cared for Europeans and to a lesser extent Asians. Housing was characterized by physical separation of Europeans (senior quarters) and Asians (junior quarters) Ugandans and other Africans provided their accommodation at the periphery of the Urban areas which subsequently led to the development of informal settlements.

At the end of World War II, the remaining soldiers who had been exposed to the western World started agitating for political space and better Housing conditions among others which led to establishment of the East African Royal Commission [1953-1955].One of the recommendations of the commission was the establishment of African Union Urban Homing. The policy had two major comments direct public Intervention characterized by construction of workers houses in areas such as Naguru, Nakawa and Ntinda, and the relaxation of building standards in areas such as Kiswa and Ntinda in Kampala and other parts of the country. After independence in 1962, houses which accommodated colonial expatriates were takeover by senior Uganda Civil Servants while the general public remained uncatered  for,

 The post independence housing policy emphasized housing for low income people, and in 1964 National Housing corporation was established with the following objectives among others, catering for low income people by building houses both for sale and rent at affordable prices and rents, and sale at reasonable  cost building materials to individuals for their own construction.

The Housing policies of the 70’s and 80’s did not yield much due to political and Economic liability very little was done to review and implement the housing policies. Some of the few programs that were designed during this time either did not achieve their intended goals or were abandoned before completion such as the low income housing scheme in Namuwongo  (kampala), Kasese, Entebbe and Jinja , An attempt to draft a comprehensive National Housing  policy commenced in 1978 but process was not completed due to change of government

However subsequent Governments immediately after the 1979 war did not continue with the policy development process but pursued interventions  aimed at among others achieving the following : improving access  to infrastructure and services at affordable rates,  upgrading schemes for spontaneous settlements which resulted in the implementation of Namuwongo upgrading and low cost Housing pilot project (1987) and Masese self help women’s project 1989 reviving of the Housing industry  by rehabilitating building materials, industries restarting mortgage schemes, retooling and human resource development and reconstruction and development of the war ravaged areas of Mbarara, Masaka  and Arua.

The National Shelter strategy (NSS) was adopted in 1992 as a policy frame work to guide housing development in the country. The National shelter strategy had been premised on the enabling strategy as the main approach for delivery of housing in the country. Its adoption in 1992 came following the UN   General Assembly Resolution NO 41/190 of December 1987 on the international year of shelter for the Homeless. Its formation had two major encompassing objectives, to formulate viable shelter strategies which are conducive to full mobilization of local resources to improve shelter and living conditions, and to strength policy making and housing programming capacities of the Key Actors in housing delivery at all levels of administration

 The “Enabling approach” which was employed by NSS was to support individual house holds the private sector, individual households, NGO’s and CBO’S to operate effectively and efficiently to provide decent and affordable shelter. This strategy also had a 10-year implementation plan, part has been implemented while the other hasn’t due to change perception over time or inadequate resources

The housing impact on the economy is diverse it has the potential of becoming the engine that drives the process of sustainable, social, economical development in any country if deliberately targeted. Current contribution of housing to Uganda’s economy and GDP is estimated at an annual average of 5% of GDP over the last decades. This is the part of the 13% construction sector to GDP

It should further be noted that investment in housing enhances macroeconomic stability as the resources are spent on capital rather than consumptive expenditure on building materials, revenues from premium, rentals or property taxes and other fees.

It has also been observed that housing development has significant backward and forward linkages with capacity to generate employment and enhancement of household income through, creation of industries in production of building materials, building construction, maintenance and related services. The bank has established that everyone (1) USD approximately invested in the housing sector, generates an economy -wide multiplier effect of between five (5) to twelve (12) USD

According to the Housing Policy development 2016, it is estimated that Uganda has 7.3 million households living in 6,2 million housing units with an average household size of 4.7 persons. The national occupancy density is estimated at 1.1 house hold per housing unit, giving a total backlog of 710,000 housing units. There is also an estimated backlog of 900,000 housing units as a result of substandard houses and structures which were never meant for human habilitation.

Therefore against this background, the current and revised National Housing policy is intended to address the various critical issues and challenges facing the housing sector. These include among others addressing problems of inadequate housing and housing backlog arising from inadequate house construction and the increasing population as well as a growing housing demand, deteriorating housing conditions as manifested in overcrowding, development of slums and proliferation of informal settlements characterized with lack of basic infrastructure and services within virtually all the urban sectors.



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