Provision of affordable housing for low income groups in Tamale Metropolitan Area through self-help housing approach

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Rapid population growth in developing countries and cities around the world in the last three to four decades has had serious challenges and consequences particularly on urban housing. Increasing urban growth in Sub-Saharan Africa means that providing housing and other services for urban residents, especially the low-income, will be a major issue for urban managers and governments. In Ghana, there is severe shortage of adequate and affordable housing for most of the urban population especially the low income groups. Households continue to provide their own housing through other strategies. These households produce housing through self-help approach - the construction of houses by private individuals for their own occupation mainly through incremental housing strategies. . The Government of Ghana has recognized the significance of this type of housing strategies but it is faced with monstrous task of how to clearly articulate and refine the process in such a way that, it can be implemented on a nation-wide basis. The study examined the characteristics of self-help housing developer. It further examined how incremental housing development achieves affordability and the effects of land tenure, infrastructure and financing on the incremental housing process. The study employed quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection from both primary and secondary sources. Questionnaire survey at household and institutional levels, key informant interviews and Focus Group Discussions were some of the techniques used to collect the data. The study revealed that progressive housing developers fall within the income category of GH¢100.00 and GH¢300 a month with majority employed in the private informal sector of the economy. The main source of financing housing development is personal savings and because of this, the building process takes between 5 to 8 years to complete the core house. The physical characteristics and conditions of incremental houses depend on the income levels of the developers/home owners. The very poor low income families start the process of home acquisition with less permanent materials of constructions – mud and swish constructions with thatch roofs. This gradually gives way for more permanent building materials as the income levels rises. In the light of these findings, it is recommended that the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly partner with microfinance institutions like the MASLOC to introduce innovative housing finance of housing microfinance to provide phased small and affordable loans to help self-builders acquire land and construct houses. The Assembly in conjunction with its development partners could set a revolving loan fund that with the object of providing affordable housing finance to the low income groups. Though the market base housing microfinance has been proven to successful, it has also been criticized of charging high interest rates. The Assembly in conjunction with the Regional Lands Commission and Town Country Planning Department should embark on vigorous educational campaigns to educate developers on the need for land registration and building permits and the process that are involved. Besides, The Public Works Department (PWD) of the Metropolitan Assembly should educate prospective house owners on local building technologies that have been developed in the country.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Land Economy, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Land Management, 2009