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SUSTAINABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AND

COMMUNAL PROVISION OF INFRASTRUCTURES IN


ASUWAMO RESIDENTIAL ESTATE AKURE, NIGERIA
Mary Adebola Ajayi 1and Felix Kayode Omole 2
Department of Estate Management, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria

The provision of adequate housing to the citizenry has been a major challenge to
governments in both developed and developing nations of the world. Housing is a
combination of characteristics for the purpose of providing a unique home within a
given neighbourhood, thus, it is an array of economic, social and psychological
phenomenon. This paper examines the development of housing units in a residential
neighbourhood in Akure, Nigeria and the provision of infrastructures with a view to
ascertaining the sustainability of the housing environment. Questionnaires were
administered in 40% of the houses in the Estate to 63 homeowners using systematic
random sampling technique. The study revealed that for housing development to be
sustainable, basic infrastructures such as electricity, water supply and waste disposal
system had to be put in place. Considering the different models against which to
measure the sustainability of the housing environment, there is still a lot to be
achieved in the study area in the provision of basic infrastructures. The study
recommends that the communal efforts in infrastructural provision need to be
enhanced by the government by planning ahead for the adequate provision of
infrastructures as the city grows.

Keywords: Akure, community development, housing development, infrastructure,


sustainable home

INTRODUCTION
The state of housing available to the people in any nation is a fairly accurate reflection
of the quality of life in that country. It is a very important facet of the national
economy and an important element for increasing productivity and domestic capital
formation. It provides employment and fosters desirable social attitudes. Also housing
confers honour and social dignity on the owners. Housing units like other urban
projects constitute a reduction in the natural environment and the energy consumption
contributes certain percentage to the depletion of the ozone layer. This paper
examines the sustainability of housing development in a residential estate by
comparing some codes for measuring sustainable homes. It provides an overview of
the situation in Nigeria in terms of provision of housing and infrastructures by
individual, communal and governmental participation. The paper encapsulates the
need for housing infrastructure in a residential estate in order to ensure the
sustainability of the housing environment.

1
bolseg2002@yahoo.co.uk
2
fkyomole@yahoo.co.uk

Ajayi, M.A. and Omole, F.K. (2012) Sustainable housing development and communal provision of
infrastructures in Asuwamo residential estate Akure, Nigeria In: Laryea, S., Agyepong, S.A.,
Leiringer, R. and Hughes, W. (Eds) Procs 4th West Africa Built Environment Research (WABER)
Conference, 24-26 July 2012, Abuja, Nigeria, 191-201.
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Ajayi and Omole

HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL PROVISION IN


NIGERIA
The housing condition of a country is a pointer to the health motivation, economic
well-being and the social circumstances of her citizens. Housing touches on the life of
an individual as it provides the space for protection, privacy, economic activities,
recreation and livelihood. To most groups, housing means shelter but to others it
means more as it serves as one of the best indicators of a persons standard of living
and his or her place in the society (Nubi, 2003) Adequate supply of housing has
remained a mirage to all cadres of the society in Nigeria. Rapid growth in population
creates demand pressure towards shelter and efficient supply and distribution of basic
utilities and services for city dwellers. In most urban centres, the problem of housing
is not only restricted to quantity but to the poor quality of available housing units.
Nigeria is perhaps the fastest urbanizing country in the African continent. The rapid
growth rate of urban population in Nigeria since the early seventies was mainly due to
immigration induced by the concentration of the gains from the oil sector in the urban
areas. The phenomenal rise in population, number and size of cities over the past few
years have manifested in the acute shortage of dwelling units which resulted in
overcrowding, high rents, poor urban living conditions, and low infrastructure services
and indeed high crime rates. One major aspect of urban problem with respect to
housing is the poor state of the infrastructures (Ajanlekoko, 2001). A study of housing
situation in Nigeria put existing housing stock at 23 per 1000 inhabitant and housing
deficit is put at 15 million houses (Mabogunje, 2002). Research has shown that 75%
of urban housing is situated in slum conditions and indeed the quality of the housing is
poor and clearly an affront to human dignity (Olotuah, 1997; Agbola and Olatubara,
2003). An important challenge facing the country is the provision of affordable
housing and basic infrastructures. As more and more Nigerians make towns and cities
their homes, the resulting social, economic, environmental and political challenges
need to be urgently addressed (Raji, 2008).
Various authorities have proffered strategies for improving housing delivery in
Nigeria. Fasakin (1998) suggested the cooperative housing model while Omole (2001)
suggested affordable financing model. It has been observed that house ownership is
one of the first priorities for most households and it represents the largest single
investment for most people, taking up between 50% and 70% of household income.
Many developing countries, particularly in Africa, accord relatively low priority to
housing in their overall scheme of national development, and the volume of
construction generally falls short of housing demands (Van Vliet, 1990). The
approach to housing policy in Nigeria has tended to oscillate between the welfare
mixed economy and the free market model. The conventional wisdom is that
government has no business building houses, and that governments should focus on
providing favourable investment climates, infrastructure and mortgage facilities to low
and middle income families (Akeju, 2007). It has been reported that majority of rental
housing units in Nigeria which provide accommodation for majority of city-dwellers
belong to the informal private sector (Salau, 1992). This contrasts with other areas of

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social policy such as education and health, where governments have applied a much
more comprehensive and universal approach. The production of housing in Nigeria is
primarily the function of the private market; approximately 90% of urban housing is
produced by private developers (Nubi, 2008).
Nigerian cities are largely characterised by the public provision of urban
infrastructural services such as electricity, water supply, drainage, sewage, access road
and solid waste collection and disposal. The three tiers of government federal, state
and local are often involved in one way or the other in the provision of these services
in the urban centres (Nubi, 2003). For instance, constitutionally, local government
councils are responsible for the construction and maintenance of some categories of
roads, street drains, installation of street lighting and waste disposal. In practice,
however, the state government sometimes steps in to complement the effort of local
government councils especially in those cities that are state capitals. Power supply
lies exclusively with the Federal government through its agency, the Power Holding
Company of Nigeria (PHCN). Although the provision of infrastructures such as roads
and power supply lies with the government, communal efforts are still put together to
fast track the process of making the infrastructures reach the people. Sometimes it is
preferable not to wait for the government due to administrative bottlenecks and
sometimes corruption by government officials.
CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABILITY IN HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
In general terms, sustainability refers to the capacity of socio-ecological systems to
persist unimpaired into the future (Raskin, Chadwick, Jackson and Leach, 1996).
Sustainable development is a notion, a movement, and an approach which has
developed into a global wave of concerns, study, political mobilization and
organization around the twin issues of environmental protection and economic
development. In the words of the Brundtland Report, it is development that meets the
needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to
meet their own needs (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).
There is increasing global attention on the environment in the development discourse
and environmental concerns are now regarded as critical factors in socio-economic
development (Pasqual and Souto, 2003; Haque, 2000).
Urban infrastructure and housing provision are interwoven. Without infrastructures,
housing cannot be sustainable and hence should be treated integrally (Otegbulu and
Adewumi, 2008). An ideal urban neighbourhood should be provided with good roads,
drainage networks, electricity and portable water supply, good waste management
system and security. The condition of these services in Nigeria urban neighbourhoods
contradicts the principle of sustainability in urban housing. A sustainable housing
development would not only have environment friendly and energy efficient
buildings, it would also have access to employment, schools, shops, places of
entertainment, primary health care, and it would be accessible by public transport. It
would also be mixed in terms of tenures, incomes and age groups. Residential
development which is designed to contribute to sustainability will provide not only

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warm, dry and healthy homes and reduce the need to travel, but also a setting which
enhances quality of life from generation to generation and which integrates people
into society at large. It will maximise the effectiveness of housing investment and be
crucial to the building of cohesive communities.
Housing development is a system that can be defined, and its sustainability assessed,
if the definition of sustainability presented by Gilman (1992) is adopted. Gilman
stated that sustainability is the ability of a society, ecosystem, or any such ongoing
system to continue functioning into the indefinite future without being forced into
decline through exhaustion or overloading of key resources on which the system
depends. Using Gilmans definition, Foley, Daniell and Warner (2003) outline that for
a system to be sustainable; all of the resources upon which the system relies must be
managed appropriately, including natural, financial, social, and man-made
(infrastructure) resources. Appropriate management requires knowledge relating to the
system boundary, system resources, interactions between adjacent systems and
allowable limits, or thresholds, for each resource. Each of these elements will be
unique to the particular system under consideration, and each system must be assessed
on its own merits. However, the process of assessment should be consistent for every
system. This general systems approach to sustainability can be applied more
specifically to an urban development by viewing each urban housing development as a
unique system. Considering a complex urban housing development system, the key
resources, processes and interrelations of a housing development can be defined in
terms of six interrelated models, namely water, carbon dioxide (CO2), waste,
ecosystem health, economic, and social.
the water model incorporates all the water related processes of the development,
including rainfall runoff, infiltration, and potable and non-potable water use;
the CO2 model accounts for both embodied and operational energy use, calculated as
an equivalent mass of CO2, which incorporates the effects of building materials,
infrastructure, electricity and gas use, and occupant transport use;
the waste model accounts for all solid and liquid waste, both produced on site, and
leaving the site, including sewage, compost, waste to be recycled, and waste sent to
landfill;
the ecosystem health model encompasses environmental aspects of the development
such as biodiversity and land use changes, as well as air and water quality;
the economic model accounts for both the microeconomic processes of each
household based on income, expenditure and corresponding levels of debt, as well as
the macroeconomic processes which affect the housing development, such as inflation
and interest rates; and
the social model incorporates levels of occupant satisfaction relating to comfort, living
conditions, access to services (transport, health, education, shopping), employment, as
well as equity amongst occupants.
The Code for sustainable homes employed in the UK measures the sustainability of a
home against design categories, rating the whole home as a complete package. The
design categories included within the Code are: energy/CO2, pollution, water, health

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and well-being, materials, management, ecology and waste (Department for


Communities and Local Government, London, 2006). Sustainability of the housing
environment in the Nigerian context with regard to these models will be assessed
using the study area as a case study.
THE STUDY AREA AND RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Akure is a city in south western Nigeria and capital of Ondo state. It lies between
latitude7o 13 and 7o 15 North of the Equator and longitude 5o 10 and 5o 12 East of
the Greenwich Meridian. The city is surrounded by extensive tracts of tropical forest
reserves and supports a large timber industry. Agricultural products include palm oil,
cocoa, cassava, and wood products (Stock, 2007). The population of the city
according to the 2006 Population Census is 353,211 (Federal Republic of Nigeria,
2007). The population increase in Akure in the past three decades could be attributed
to its administrative function as the state capital, location of tertiary institutions of
learning, discovery of mineral deposits in parts of the state, increased banking and
commercial activities. The pattern of land use in Akure is changing rapidly and
includes a transformation of the old dwelling units at the city centre to commercial
properties such as banks, shopping complexes and fast food restaurants. At the
suburban periphery, land use pattern is being changed from agricultural to residential
land use by new entrants such as government workers, bankers and business men and
women.
The selected neighbourhood for this study is Asuwamo Residential Estate, Aule which
is a rapidly urbanising private residential estate located at the suburban periphery of
Akure. The Estate consists majorly of owner- occupied houses due to its distance from
the city centre. It was the cocoa farmland of the Asuwamos family which was
transformed to a residential estate due to increased demand for housing units.
Through communal efforts, access roads within the Estate are graded but not tarred
and with no drainage. The power supply is being provided by the government while
the maintenance and distribution are done through communal efforts. Each landlord at
the time of packing to the house has to pay a compulsory community development fee
of N21,000 which is meant for road upgrading, purchase of poles and wires for
connecting to the electricity supply from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria
(PHCN) and for any future repairs of damaged electric poles and wires by rainstorm.
The occupied houses in the estate are at different stages of completion; only few
houses are finished to taste. The building material employed in housing construction
in the study area as in other parts of western Nigeria are hollow sandcrete blocks
which have the advantage of reducing the heat radiation into buildings. Corrugated
iron sheets are common although alloyed aluminium roofing sheets are now gaining
popularity because of its heat reduction and aesthetics. The roofs of most houses are
designed in a way to gather rain water run offs to augment their household water need.
These building materials and methods contribute to the sustainability of the housing
environment with respect to water and heat emission. Primary data were collected
through the use of structured questionnaires that were administered to 63
homeowners. There were 155 plots of land in the Estate out of which approximately
40% had been developed and inhabited accounting for the 63 respondents. The data
got are presented in the next section.
DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
Data from respondents through questionnaires include their socio-economic status
(occupation and income), sources of housing finance, length of housing project, state

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of completion on moving into the house, housing infrastructure and planting of


vegetation around the house to maintain a balance in the ecosystem.

Table 1: Occupation and Monthly Income of Respondents


Response Frequency Percent
Home-based enterprise 5 7.9
Trading 25 39.7
Artisan 3 4.8
Private sector employment 10 15.9
Civil service 20 31.7
Total 63 100.0
Monthly income (N)3
10,000 and below 13 20.6
11,000 - 30,000 10 15.9
31000 - 70,000 20 31.7
71,000 100000 5 7.9
Above 100,000 15 23.8
Total 63 100.0

The occupational and income status of respondents are shown in Table 1. The
predominant occupation of the respondents was trading (39.7%) and 31.7% was
employed in the civil service. Another 7.9% was employed in home based enterprises,
which points to the importance of housing to the economic well being. Also, 31.7% of
respondents in the study earned between N31- 70,000 per month. This means that
most respondents were middle income earners who have to devote a good chunk of
their income to build house instead of perpetually paying high rents.

Table 2: Sources of Housing Finance and Percentage Contribution to Housing Development


Response Frequency Percent
Personal equity 5 7.9
Loan from cooperative society 20 31.7
Housing loan from government or
employer 10 15.9
Bank loan 0 0.0
Contributory savings scheme 28 44.4
Total 63 100.0

Table 2 shows that most respondents (44.4%) got finance for the housing project
through contributory savings scheme also called Ajo. It is a scheme in which
contributions are made daily, weekly or monthly depending on the type of job. Each
contributor received the payments back at a predetermined date as a lump sum to use
for investment or any capital outlay. Cooperative society loans are very popular
among respondents too (31.7%) while no respondent got loan from bank. This could
be due to the stringent eligibility criteria of bank loan such as provision of collateral
securities which are usually beyond the reach of the middle income class as
predominant in the study area.

3
US$1 equals approximately 155 Naira, as at October 2011.

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Table 3: Length of Housing Construction and State of Housing Completion as at the time of Moving in
Response Frequency Percent
Less than a year 5 7.9
1-2 years 10 15.9
3 -5 years 48 76.2
Total 63 100.0
State of Housing Completion as at the
time of Moving in
Furnished to taste 5 7.9
Fully plastered 15 23.8
Inside plastering 25 39.7
No plastering 18 28.6
Total 63 100.0

Due to the high cost of building projects and low level of income, majority (76.2%) of
home owners sampled in the estate revealed that it took up to between three to five
years to complete their housing to a habitable state. Also, only 7.9% of the houses
were furnished to taste before moving in while 28.6% did not even plaster any part of
the house. This constitutes a health hazard to the occupants as dust would frequently
be inhaled. To avoid this situation 39.7% of respondents plastered the inside of the
building leaving the outside till they would be able to save enough money to complete
the work.The major requirements to make a house habitable include availability of
water and power supply, toilet facility and waste disposal. 76.2% of houses in the
estate had wells as their source of water supply while 22.2% depend on public water
supply which runs every other day and with long queues of jerry cans and buckets.
1.6% resort to fetching water from a nearby stream for domestic uses and purchase
sachet water for drinking. There was no house with a borehole due to the capital
intensive nature of drilling one. Electric power supply from the PHCN has been erratic
not lasting more than four hours a day and there were days in the week when there
would be no supply at all. Hence, only 4.8% of houses sampled relied only on supply
from the government through PHCN. 87.3% of houses had electric power supply from
both the PHCN and power generating sets. The noise and air pollution arising from
the use of generating sets are at the peak at nights. None of the houses sampled use
power generating sets only due to the cost of gasoline.

Water closet was the generally accepted toilet system and 84.1% of houses had this.
There was no house with a pit toilet. The respondents of houses with no toilet facilities
packed in without completing the water closet system due to financial constraints and
in the meantime use short put method by which faeces was thrown to undeveloped
bushy sites close to their houses. This constitutes a serious health hazard as cholera
and dysentery can easily be spread through such action. Solid wastes generated were
disposed of by burning (31.7%), taking to dunghills or incinerators outside the estate
(23.8%) or dumping in undeveloped sites within the estate (44.4%). The government
waste management authority that is saddled with collection and disposal of waste is
yet to extend its services to the estate. Through burning of refuse, CO2 is released into

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the air while illegal dumping not only constitutes an unpleasant sight but provides
breeding grounds for disease vectors.
Table 4: Housing Infrastructures
Response Frequency Percent
Water supply
Borehole 0 0.0
Well 48 76.2
Public water supply 14 22.2
Stream 1 1.6
Total 63 100.0
Power supply
PHCN only 3 4.8
PHCN and power generating sets 55 87.3
Power generating sets only 0 0.0
None 5 7.9
Total 63 100.0
Toilet facility
Water closet 53 84.1
Pit 0 0.0
None 10 15.9
Total 63 100.0
Waste disposal
Burning 20 31.7
Dunghill or incinerator 15 23.8
Dumping in undeveloped sites 28 44.4
Collection by Waste Management Authority 0 0.0
Total 63 100.0

Planting of vegetation ensures the maintenance of a rich Oxygen content in the air
around residential buildings. However, people plant vegetation around their buildings
for various reasons. The responses on the type of vegetation and motive for planting
are shown in Table 5.
Table 5: Type and Motive for Planting of Vegetation
Response Frequency Percent
Fruit trees 28 44.4
Shrubs 5 7.9
Flowers 5 7.9
Total 38 60.3
Missing system 25 39.7
Total 63 100.0
Motive
Food supply 23 36.5
Wind break 5 7.9
Aesthetics 10 15.9
Total 38 60.3
Missing system 25 39.7
Total 63 100.0

Many occupants of the estate were well informed on the importance of tree planting
and conservation of the natural environment. 60.3% of the houses had one form of
vegetation or the other ranging from fruit trees (such as banana, plantain and orange)
accounting for 44.4% to shrubs and flowers accounting for 7.9% each. The primary
motive for planting includes household food supply (36.5%), aesthetics (15.9%) and

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wind break (7.9%). Plantain and banana trees especially serve as good wind break
because of the broad leaves.
POLICY GUIDELINE AND CONCLUSION
Since majority of the respondents were low income earners, it is recommended that
more government empowerment programmes be extended to them directly and
government should get more involved in the provision of basic infrastructures such as
road and water among others on which parts of the income of the respondents were
being spent. The study has established that the major sources of housing finance were
contributory saving schemes and loans from cooperative societies. Available funds in
the cover of these agencies are usually low and not readily available. Along this line,
an indirect involvement of the government should be sought to increase available
funds, payable over a long period of time. The paper has revealed that for housing
development to be sustainable, basic infrastructures such as electricity, water, waste
disposal system had to be put in place. Considering the different models against which
to measure the sustainability of the housing environment, there is still a lot to achieve
in the study area. In countries where sustainability codes were introduced into housing
development, the government is at the forefront in such drives through provision of
basic infrastructures especially good access roads with drainage, electricity, water
supply and good waste disposal system. The communal efforts in infrastructural
provision need to be enhanced by the government by planning ahead for the adequate
provision of infrastructures as the city grows.

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