Home Headlines Ghana is a failed society – Prof. Ahadzie

Ghana is a failed society – Prof. Ahadzie

Social Technologist Housing Pix
Social Technologist Housing Pix

Professor Divine Kwaku Ahadzie, Head of the Centre for Settlement Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), has bemoaned the inconsistencies in Ghana’s housing policy.

“We are a failed society,” he said, adding that any society where housing was seen as a preserve of the elite instead of being considered as a need and basic right, was bound to be confronted with varied challenges.

“What is the public policy for the vulnerable and socially excluded? What is the public policy on housing for informal workers with irregular incomes? What is the public policy on housing for the elderly? What is the public policy on housing for single mothers? Which housing welfare scheme is in Ghana?” he asked.

In a paper delivered at the Professorial Inaugural Lecture at the KNUST, Kumasi, Prof. Ahadzie described the housing supply targets in Ghana as a “joke” compared to what the country’s peers were delivering on the continent.

Giving a scenario of the formal housing supply in the country with reference to 1952-2009, he said a total of 61,226 dwellings were supplied by institutions such as the State Housing Company, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Tema Development Corporation and Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA).

Citing statistics from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), Prof Ahadzie noted that about 70 per cent of households in the country had inadequate sleeping rooms,

He argued that the housing policies had failed to achieve their intended objectives of providing adequate and affordable housing to the people.

Delivering the lecture on the topic: “Winning the Real Impact Award: A Reflexive Journey through Housing, Environment and Community-flood Resilience”, Prof. Ahadzie indicated that a substantial number of the people also lived in kiosks, wooden structures and makeshift containers.

He cautioned that the environmental and socio-economic impact of the unresolved housing challenges could be devastating for the nation in the coming years if measures were not instituted to address the problem.

Prof Ahadzie wondered whether the public policy on housing was considered a matter of priority within the context of the nation’s development agenda, particularly against the backdrop of the fact that several housing policies had been implemented in Ghana since independence in 1957.

Housing provision by the post-independence governments of Ghana through several housing policies and strategies had an insignificant impact on housing delivery, affordability and access by the poor and low-income households in the country, he said.

The state housing institutions have not been effective conduits for housing development, as housing in the country is characterised by inadequate housing stock, overcrowding and congestion.

Prof. Ahadzie placed emphasis on the need for the State to make public Ghana’s housing philosophy and declare the State’s position on its housing welfare scheme.

He said it was worrying, the fact that housing, which remained the single largest sector of the construction industry in Ghana, had very limited coverage in the academic curriculum.

The lecture took a retrospect of the country’s housing policies as against the aspirations in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11.

The Goal advocates sustainable cities and communities, with safe and affordable housing being one of its main targets.

The vision is that: “By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums”.

The Goal addresses slums, human settlement management and planning, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and urban economies.

It represents a shift in international development cooperation from a focus on poverty as a rural phenomenon to recognising that cities, especially in the global south, are facing major challenges with extreme poverty, environmental degradation and risks due to climate change and natural disasters.

The right to housing is regarded as a freestanding right in international human rights law, which was clearly stated in the 1991 General Comment on Adequate Housing by the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

It is the economic, social and cultural right to adequate housing and shelter, and duly recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

The aspects of the right to housing under ICESCR include the availability of services, infrastructure, materials and facilities, legal security of tenure, habitability, accessibility, affordability, location and cultural adequacy.

Prof. Ahadzie, in his submission, said the development of the nation partly hinged on the availability of an efficient housing sector capable of delivering adequate housing to meet the dwelling needs of its citizens.

He said housing sufficiency was imperative in providing shelter and ensuring the well-being of people, economic growth and social stability.

According to the human settlement expert, a vibrant housing sector was a prerequisite for the sustainable development of Ghanaian society.

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