For developing countries like Nigeria, urban growth is synonymous with economic development. The West African nation is known as one of the fast urbanizing countries globally. If the government do not act to match this fast pace of migration with the provision of more housing infrastructures or push more developments to rural areas than it is currently, it will lead to more harm than good. Pushing more development to rural areas will create a balanced equation between the urban and rural settlements.
It seems most cities in the country were planned for exclusion, that is, concentrating more in developing cities and having little or minimal time for the development of rural areas. Most of these cities, unknowingly, were planned to be unfriendly to the poor or average citizens, whereas, developments should spread across the whole place, plans for areas are to be made equal.
When authorities give more infrastructural attention to rural places than what is obtained today, maybe, no one will see urban areas as the only places that can develop or make a man grow. This has a chance of reducing the increasing rise of slums.
The country’s capital, Abuja was planned several years back, most plans for the city are yet to be implemented. The city and other satellite towns around it keep having huge influx of migrants with the mindset that their path to riches is in the city and the satellite towns that surrounds it. They come in their numbers to get employed in the city and look for an accommodation in slums. As a result, many of these slums have worsened housing situations.
It is possible to say that habitants of slums make up the bulk workforce in the city. In fact, having densely populated slums around a city negatively affect some sectors of the economy like transportation. It leads to terrible traffic as can be seen in Abuja, Lagos and some other states in the country.
This reveals more how important, affordable housing in cities, are for low income earners. When housing cannot be afforded in the city by low income earners, it sends huge numbers to find slums as solace, huge that they outnumber the size of population in cities. Today, there is every day traffic and the authorities keep widening roads, thinking that is the solution but, it is not.
One of the solutions lie in making well planned housing affordable and in good quantity, in organized environments in cities so that the low income earners can have a feel of been part of a city. This will reduce or totally eliminate the number of slums across the country.
They are supposed to be a place for economic development and growth for all, instead, major cities are becoming known for mass inequality, private economic interests outweighing public benefits.
Affordable housing, a process, not a product.
Provision of affordable housing should be seen as a process and not an end product, there need to be a change of approach, an integrative approach. That is, channeling more focus, creating better policies for the processes that can lead to affordable housing as a product.
Maybe, the country need to deviate or come out from the colonial siege and create its own identity. Concentrating more on city development, such plan creates a ‘privilege’ impression in the minds of many, like it is the ‘privileged and rich’ that are meant to dwell in cities or benefit from the resources, luxuries and space that a city offers, leaving the poor or average masses with thoughts that they are constrained to live in slums.
It is time for the government, the real estate developers to do more, help develop affordable housing, link up with the slums and develop sustainable cities.
It is advised that instead of concentrating on the provision of affordable housing, the authorities should pay more attention to the processes that will ease the developing of affordable homes, especially, putting subsidy in the context. This will make the channels towards having good affordable housing easier for the masses, the low income earners.
It is possible that housing may not be directly subsidized, probably, due to huge costs of resources but, the government can help subsidize materials, create favorable or friendly policies or options for the masses to build their own homes with basic facilities included. This will further enhance improvement in health, reduce or stop the spread of communicable and other environmental diseases, improve security in the area, among other benefits.
Raising awareness and advocating for this change can make a difference for low income earners across towns and states in the country. It means giving the poor and average masses a voice that will ensure that their families have a decent home to live in.
There is still time and hope for the Nigerian authorities to turn the country’s urbanization problems to development or progress.