Stakeholders have charged housing corporations to reposition and engage in large-scale affordable housing delivery. 

The experts also called for the inclusion of alternative materials in professional codes of practice and building codes to encourage the use of indigenous technology, while governments across all levels should promote the use of locally available building materials to make housing more affordable.

According to them, the need for more awareness campaigns and sensitisation of the public on alternative building materials is highly recommended to increase its social acceptability.

They spoke at the sixth international conference on housing and exhibition entitled, ‘Sustainable Housing Models to Solving Housing Deficit in Africa’ organised by the Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN) in Lagos.

Leading the charge, the Founder and President, of First World Communities Ltd, General Tunde Reis (rtd), argued that for housing corporations to become key players in affordable housing delivery on an unprecedented and sustainable large scale, there is a need to deploy strategic initiatives, such as enabling environment, research and advocacy, business support and modernisation of operations for effectiveness.

Speaking on ‘RE-Defining Housing Corporations for Solving the Housing Deficit in Africa’, Reis stated that the corporations should develop a vision of the future, promote new models for delivering affordable homes and improve existing homes, map out potentials and influence land release and planning policy.

To him, the critical pillars for affordable housing delivery such as accurate data, end-user segmentation, affordability gap funding and enabling regulation and policies must be put in place by the authorities.

He said they need to develop an effective and sustainable rent policy, improve political interest and support for housing to ensure that it features prominently in election manifestos, influence the allocation of resources to house in state and federal budgets and build public support.

“Operators need to map the emergence of a wider range of networks of funders and stakeholders like Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) and Family Homes Fund (FHF), as well as promote highest ethics in the development and management of housing estates,” he said.

The Director General/Chief Executive Officer, of Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), Prof. Samson Duna, explained that besides the production of suitable machinery for application, NBRRI has conducted significant research in the development of the Interlocking Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEBs), Laminated Bamboo Panel (LBP), fibre concrete roofing tiles, recycled plastic waste into composite material and supplementary cementitious materials, which is blended cement.

However, he said most alternative building materials lack government backing and are not currently included in Nigeria’s building code.

“There is a lack of technical know-how on the use and potentials of alternative building materials. The know-how for the manufacturing and use of the new technologies also limits the probability of their usage by building professionals and developers. These usually arise from a lack of information dissemination in the use of such materials. There is a high maintenance requirement of earthen walls, which are often plastered, especially during the wet season.

“This is due to the low strength of the materials that make it a requirement for the frequent maintenance to keep the building in good condition. There is the fear of the unknown and most of the new alternative building materials are not good in appearance as compared to the conventional ones,” Duna said.

Addressing the gathering, AHCN President, Dr. Victor Onukwugha, said housing challenges in Africa seem to have defied all solutions with problems ranging from lack of holistic approach to housing matters, lack of finance, high cost of building materials, high infrastructural development cost, appropriate implementation of policy direction and affordability challenge.

Onukwugha said: “Diverse housing policies have been evolved and reviewed in time past. Despite all theories and ideas that had been propagated and shared in so many fora, the challenges of housing availability, accessibility and affordability are still very much with us.”

Originally Posted on Guardian Nigeria. 

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