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Nabakooba launches campaign to support people living in informal settlements in Uganda

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KAMPALA-The Minister for Lands and Urban Development and Habitat for Humanity have launched a five-year campaign dubbed Home Equals. The campaign is seeking policy changes at the local, national and global levels to increase access to adequate housing for people living in informal settlements.

As part of the Home Equals campaign, Habitat for Humanity Uganda is advocating for increased collaboration with settlers of informal settlements, accessible quality basic essential services and improved land governance and leadership by local government land committees.

About 60% of Uganda’s urban population, or 6,840,000 people total, live in informal settlements, according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics, UBOS 2021 and UN-HABITAT.

“Informal settlements are becoming the most urbanizing areas of our cities. Their residents are playing an incredibly important role as they find employment and housing solutions for themselves,” Robert Otim, the National Director of Habitat for Humanity Uganda said.

“With the right collaboration, partnerships and policies; their efforts can accelerate development and open the door to a better future for many more people who deserve an opportunity to live in a safe, secure home,” he said.

“When I look at a home, it doesn’t matter where it is as long as it can meet the requirements and as long as it can address the social and emotional feelings for the person,” Nabakooba said.

She said it is in a home that we build our self-esteem among the family and communities. As a government we have put up a lot of focus on the home as the best starting point for all our interventions. Government has put up programs such as Parish development models to address the socio economic well-being of the people who live in households.

A pilot study for this Campaign undertaken within selected zones of Kampala Central, Kawempe and Nakawa divisions indicates that access to essential basic services such as clean water and safe sanitation facilities is a great challenge. This is worsened by the limited engagement of the communities to better their living environment, as most of them are tenants.

Previous studies on water provision and resilience within informal settlements in African cities for instance indicate that up to 71% of settlers in informal settlements access water from a public tap, spending up to 10% of their income on water.

At the global level, Habitat for Humanity is calling on G7 member states to recognize equitable access to housing as a critical lever for development progress and commit to addressing housing needs in informal settlements as a way to advance international development priorities in areas such as economic growth, health and education.

The economic and human development gains from improving housing at a massive scale in informal settlements would be substantial, according to a report released recently in support of the Home Equals campaign. The first-of-its-kind report from Habitat for Humanity and its research partner, the International Institute for Environment and Development, or IIED, modeled the benefits that would be realized – in terms of economic growth, income, health, and education from those housing improvements.

The report found that GDP and income per capita would increase by as much as 10.5% in some countries and that roughly 730,000 lives could be saved each year globally more than the number of deaths that would be prevented annually by eradicating malaria. As many as 41.6 million additional children would be enrolled in school, according to the modeling. That’s one out of every six out-of-school children in the world.

“This report adds to the evidence that ensuring people living in informal settlements have access to adequate housing isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said Jonathan Reckford, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “Through the Home Equals campaign, we and our partners are committed to taking action so that, when it comes to the places we call home, the more than 1 billion people living in informal settlements are truly treated as equals.”

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