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Reforms to ease housing deficit, says Minister

MINISTER of Local government and Housing John Phiri (left) with his Permanent Secretary Stanford Musichili (middle)and Director of housing, Infrastructure development Mischeck Lungu during a press briefing yesterday. COLLINS PHIRI.

KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka
MINISTER of Local Government and Housing John Phiri says Government has embarked on reforms to enhance the capacity to provide adequate housing for the majority citizens.
Dr Phiri said housing is a basic human need that is critical for social welfare as it provides a safe, healthy and comfortable environment for living.
He said this during a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday.
“The rapid population growth will certainly compound the housing deficit. This is the reason Government is undertaking the necessary reforms that will enhance the capacity to provide adequate housing for the majority of the Zambian people,” Dr Phiri said.
The minister said it is estimated that Zambia’s population will grow from the current 13 million to about 23.5 million by 2030.
Dr Phiri said Zambia’s population growth rate of 2.8 percent per annum is amongst the highest in the world and is raising the demand for housing.
“As a signatory to the United Nations and regional treaties protecting human rights including housing provision, the Government recognises the huge challenges it is facing to provide housing for all and is therefore eager to have a functional policy that will guide sustainable housing development in Zambia,” Dr Phiri said.
He also said Government is aware of the unfavourable factors that hinder successful housing development such as inadequate housing finance, high interest rates, inadequate access to land, unaffordable building materials and mortgages.
Dr Phiri also said Government has embarked on reviewing the 1996 National Housing Policy in a bid to make it relevant to the prevailing challenges as a way of reducing the housing deficit and associated challenges.
He said Government is encouraging coordinated mixed land use, compact and densified developments that will take the municipal services closer to the people.
He also said that the Ministry is committed to strengthening National Housing Authority to enable it focus on housing resource mobilisation, coordination and monitoring of activities in the housing sector.
Dr Phiri urged local authorities to get into public-private and citizen’s partnerships that will broaden the actors, finance base as well as enhance technology and innovative ways of generating revenue for development.
Meanwhile, Government says it is committed to stopping the illegal allocation of land and developments taking place in most parts of the country.
Dr Phiri said Government has experienced rampant illegal allocation of land and developments in the country.
The minister also called on local authorities to streamline the land allocation system and follow laid down procedures in allocation of land and plots.
He warned councils to desist from allocating land to themselves but to instead give it to the poor majority in the cities.
Dr Phiri also directed local authorities to implement the policy direction of allocating 30 percent of land and plots to women and vulnerable groups to ensure the poor access land and participate in housing developments.

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