Gov’t Asked to Prioritize Housing Funding

During the second Uganda Housing Symposium, Habitat for Humanity, along with its partners, called on the Ugandan government to demonstrate its commitment to housing by allocating funds for it in the national budget. The symposium, held under the theme “Affordable Housing in Urban Informal Settlements as a Driver for Economic Growth,” featured discussions involving policymakers, funding partners, beneficiaries, and various organizations, with funding emerging as a central concern.

Robert Otim, the Director of Habitat for Humanity Uganda, highlighted the organization’s efforts, such as the Home Equals Campaign and the formation of the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Housing, to address funding challenges in line with policy making.

Despite these initiatives, challenges persist, including low funding and the affordability of housing for Ugandans. Nathan Banyima, a Member of Parliament, expressed concern about the high cost of acquiring a house mortgage from Housing Finance Bank, particularly for youths who should be the target demographic for such housing projects.

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Uganda currently has 2.4 million homeless people, with a mortgage interest rate averaging between 20-30 percent, making it unaffordable for many. The nation also faces a growing number of slums, currently totaling 165 according to Habitat for Humanity statistics.

Roland Ndyomugeni, the chairperson for the parliamentary forum on housing, lamented the lack of government willpower to address the housing crisis, despite discussions and resolutions in parliament to allocate funding to housing.

Anthony Stephen Okoth, the Director of Habitat for Kenya, challenged Uganda by highlighting the success of Kenya’s partnership with the government, which erects 250,000 houses annually. Okoth emphasized Kenya’s commitment to providing public land, funding, and policy changes to reduce mortgage rates, addressing affordability and unemployment.

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Panelists at the symposium suggested that financial institutions develop practical and affordable solutions tailored to specific economic groups. Habitat for Humanity Uganda and its partners pledged to raise funds for the construction of three houses before the next symposium.

Judith Nabakooba, the Minister for Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, acknowledged the government’s struggle to provide housing for the vulnerable but affirmed its commitment to address the issue. She mentioned initiatives such as establishing a land bank, surveying and registering all land, and reviewing land policies to make housing more affordable.

In a year, Uganda constructs 40,000 good housing units in rural areas and 20,000 in urban areas. Over 40 years, Habitat for Humanity has supported over 10,000 vulnerable rural families with good housing, benefiting over 60,000 people.

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