Difficult access to land and real estate loans at the origin of housing deficit estimated at over a million in Cameroon; a daunting challenge government strives to surmount.
Being lodged decently or capable of affording one gives almost all citizens cherished peace of mind, the possibility of ascertaining good health and by extension giving man the right frame of mind to stand up for himself and the nation.
As good as this sounds, it may not be true for many who battle under the weight of mounting hurdles to lodge themselves and families. In fact, it is estimated that the housing deficit in the country; at least decent ones, run into millions.
The rate at which citizens defy government instructions to construct in marshy areas; for those who can even afford one and the means to put up something there, coupled with the number of people squatting therein, is telling of the growing housing needs in the country.
The situation is further compounded by the difficult access to land in the country owing to its individual-land ownership policy which deprives many of the precious development tool. Raising money to buy the scarce land, whose prices grow by the day and especially in accessible and environmentally-friendly localities, is not an easy task. Even those who work for so many years to acquire a piece of land spend sleepless nights reflecting on how and where to go for substantial loans so as to put up a structure.
With all the hurdles, those who can go through the very narrow loan-acquisition hole to construct houses either end up with everything but a decent lodging or well attained objectives only to give out the houses at cut-throat prices so as to refund the borrowed money. In the midst of these, a government of the people for the people absolutely needed to sit up.
The idea to jump in with the construction of Lowcost Houses in all the ten regions of the country was therefore in response to the growing decent housing needs. Understandably so as taking people off the difficult living areas helps in pre-empting life-threatening catastrophes and illnesses inherent in filthy lodging. News that apart from Yaounde and Douala, Cameroon’s eight other regions will in the near future benefit 100 social housing units each (800 in total) within the framework of Government’s Triennial Emergency Plan announced by President Paul Biya is therefore hope-raising.
Going down memory lane, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Jean-Claude Mbwentchou, disclosed during the February Cabinet Meeting that the project is on course. In his presentation on the theme, "progress of the low-cost houses building programme and related public facilities under the three-year emergency plan to accelerate economic growth," it emerged that the programme consists in the construction of a total of 800 houses, with 100 houses per Region, with the exception of Yaounde and Douala which already benefit from other programmes related to social housing. But the challenge remains ensuring the affordability of the houses by those supposed to occupy them.
This begins with their conception, the manner of construction and materials used. These play a great role in the final acquisition price, for; the higher the cost price, so too is its selling rate. The powers that be may also consider reviewing the acquisition procedure. Low-cost by their name entails belonging to citizens of a certain social class. Once their construction and acquisition procedure elbow them off the chain, it singles misplaced priorities.