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Can Zambia meet 2030 urban housing demand?

Zambia is a land-locked country with most of its 753,000 sq km land area between 1,000 and 1,400 metres above sea-level. Formerly Northern Rhodesia, Zambia gained its Independence from Great Britain in October, 1964.

The population of Zambia in 2010 was 13.05 million, up from 9.9 million in 2000, of which 5.07 million (39 per cent) live in urban areas. In 2010, the number of households in Zambia was 2.64 million of which 1.03 million were in urban areas.

Urban household numbers have increased in number by 643,207 since 2009 representing an average of 64,000 new urban households every year.
It is a reality that providing adequate housing to millions of low income households globally and particularly in urban centres is one of the greatest challenges facing society.

To address the challenges in the housing sector, the UN-Habitat welcomed
the initiative of the Government of Zambia to join other countries such as Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi or Tunisia on the review of the housing sector using the UN Habitat’s housing profiling tool.

Launching the housing profile the Minister of Local Government and Housing Professor Nkandu Luo stated ‘The vision of the Government of the Republic of Zambia in the housing sector is, “to have planned settlements with adequate, affordable and quality housing by 2030”. The question is can they meet that target?


Until recently, Zambia was classified as a “Highly-Indebted Country” with very high levels of poverty, low GDP per capita and declining conditions of urban living. Following debt relief, the foreign debt of ZMK29.82 trillion in 2004 was reduced to ZMK2.1 trillion in 2005. With a Gross National Income per capita of USD1,070,6 it is now classified as “Lower-Middle Income Country”

According to the Economic Commission for Africa, poverty is firmly embedded in Zambia though the poverty incidence was down from 78 per cent in 1996 to 67 per cent in 2003. Overall poverty includes those who can afford to meet basic nutritional needs but cannot afford their non-food needs.

In 2006, 34 per cent of the urban population and 64 per cent of all Zambia fell into this category. Extreme poverty is defined as those whose standard of living is insufficient to meet their basic nutritional requirements even if they devote their entire consumption budget to food.
These constitute 20 per cent of the urban population and 51 per cent of all Zambia.

Per capita annual incomes are below USD1,300, placing Zambia among the world’s poorest nations.
There is no compulsory education in Zambia although the first seven years of education are free. Infant mortality rate is 84 per thousand live births. UN Habitat report shows 62 per cent of urban households receiving ZMK800,000 (USD200)30 or less per month and a mean monthly urban income of ZMK950,000 (USD190) in 2006.

Wages are still low for most workers in Zambia.
The rent element seems inappropriate as it is unlikely that any household which is restricted to ZMK800,000 a month for food will live in a medium cost dwelling.
As identified, the inadequate availability of affordable and decent housing in Zambia is one of the major challenges that the Government is facing in its quest to provide municipal services to its entire people.

This is exacerbated by the fact that the actual shortfall remains unclear and government has to rely on very rough estimates in order to plan the necessary interventions.


National Housing Profile can be the first step to inform and engage policy and decision-makers, and provide them with the evidence needed to design their choices and support critical decisions.

UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos says developing a Housing Profile needs to be seen as the basis for a broad housing sector reform that aims to improve its overall performance.

Clearly, the performance of a nation’s housing sector, its impact on cities and towns, and the living conditions of poor households is a key concern not only of national public policy, but it is also central to the agenda and international mandate of UN-Habitat.

Any shortfall in the housing sector could trigger severe negative impacts on social welfare, the environment and on the general performance of the national economy.
On the other hand, good housing, especially when security of tenure is in place, can make a significant contribution to the way households respond to an illness, care-giving and death cycle. If the home is secure, it is an asset which can ensure greater economic independence.

By: Samuel Mantey
Property Express


July 27, 2012 - Posted by | SETTING THE NEWS AGENDA

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