Columnists Features

House demolished, family left in cold

LACKSON Sakala’s grandchildren outside the house being constructed for them by Habitat for Humanity with the help of Stanbic Bank Zambia.

CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
IN THE middle of the affluence of Foxdale township in Lusaka is a tent in which Lackson Sakala, his wife and eight grandchildren live.
They found themselves there after they were displaced from his house which was razed down due to a wrangle over land.
According to Mr Sakala, he moved to Foxdale area in 1969 and built a house where he lived with wife and 11 children, out of which four have passed away.
It was in 2010 when the family lost the house. It was demolished by a woman who claimed to have bought the land.
“The woman used a squad to demolish my house on a morning when no-one was home.  We returned home to find our house was no more. My family was in for a rude shock,” he said.
Mr Sakala was not ready to give up his land. He began a court battle and in 2011, the court ruled in his favour.
But according to him, he was not shown the court ruling and instead, he was informed he had lost the case.
The family put up  another structure which was again allegedly demolished by the same woman. Despite losing  a house the second time, he remained put on the land.
To keep a hold on the  piece of land, he put up a tent, in which the family braved the wind, rain and cold.
Meanwhile, the court case remained active. Mr Sakala appealed to the Supreme Court  and with the help of Mandevu member of Parliament Jean Kapata, Mr Sakala was able to meet legal fees.
In the Supreme Court, Mr Sakala’s file, which was said to have been missing, was retrieved from the Legal Resources Foundation and to his surprise, it was discovered he had won the case. That was last year.
Ms Kapata helped Mr Sakala engage a lawyer and now he has title to the land, but he is not in formal employment.
He grows maize to sustain his family. Some of the crop is sold to generate income to meet other household expenses.
From their earnings, the family can afford two meals a day comprising mainly nshima and vegetables.
Mr Sakala’s family accesses water from a pump within their yard. It was installed by the area councillor about 10 years ago.
Luck has now smiled on Mr Sakala and he can saygood-bye to his tent.  Habitat for Humanity has   engaged Stanbic Bank Zambia to build the family a house.
Habitat for Humanity Zambia board chairperson Douglas Katengo believes  there is need to help  government to increase access to adequate, safe and affordable housing for the less privileged in Zambia.
Habitat for Humanity realises that escalating prices of houses sold by the private sector and the limited access to land and housing finance have made it difficult for many, especially the poor, to access decent  housing.
“There is need to make land legally available to people, especially the less- privileged in Zambia so that the housing system does not remain vulnerable to corruption,” Mr Katengo  said.
Habitat for Humanity Zambia recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Stanbic Bank to the tune of K400,000 to cover a five-year period to provide low-cost housing to vulnerable families in Zambia.
The MoU will see vulnerable families like Mr Sakala’s benefit decent shelter and ventilated and improved pit latrines. The families will also be facilitated to acquire title to land to ensure land tenure.
At the ceremony to start the construction of Mr Sakala’s house, Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Ronald Chitotela stated that the financial sector’s role in providing shelter for the less- privileged in society is a prerequisite for Zambia’s economic development.
He supported a partnership of communities and the private  with government in an effort to ensure the less-privileged are provided with decent accommodation.
Zambia is currently facing 1.3 million housing deficit and it is projected to reach over 3.3 million by 2030 if the situation is not improved.
“Access to a decent shelter is the first asset an individual should have to secure their future. It also contributes to the long- term health outcomes of marginalised families who are the most affected or infected with transmissible diseases,” Mr Chitotela said.
The minister pledged government’s commitment to providing policies that will provide a conducive environment for the built environment to flourish.
Stanbic wants to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged.
“We are here to make a difference in the lives of Lackson and his wife Agness and their grandchildren who have been living in a tent for the past six years,” said Stanbic Bank Zambia head of human capital Eve Nkumbula.
For the bank, decent housing plays a vital role in removing barriers to opportunity, success and health that might have been part of a family’s life for a long time.
Despite the sharp increase in the population in the Foxdale community, Mr Sakala’s family will now have decent housing and their grandchildren can be sheltered, a Christmas present from Habitat for Humanity and Stanbic.

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