Ghana’s housing deficit of an estimated 1.7 million units could worsen despite interventions of the state and private sector especially, with current rising cost.
That’s an assessment by the Centre for Settlement Studies of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
“Since independence, Malaysian Settlement has built over 3,000,000 houses, Singapore about 300,000 and even South Africa which officially gained independence in 1994 has built about 3,000,000.
“If you take the all statistics from 1957 to now Ghana government has not built up to 100,000 houses,” he said.
Head of the Centre, Professor Divine Ahadzie, says the situation can get better only if attention is given to alternative and cheaper materials.
Unfortunately, Ghana’s housing situation remains acutely inadequate. Most of the homeless fall within the low income group which urgently needs relief.
The Affordable Housing project initiated in 2006 to provide 2000 units has suffered serious setbacks for which work is yet to be completed.
“It means that if it comes to housing situations, Ghana is in a very critical situation,” he said.
Laterite has been used for building construction since the beginning of time.
Ghana’s rural areas continue to depend on it as the main component of building material. Availability is never in doubt as about 70 percent of the country’s total surface area is made up of laterite.
The Centre for Settlement Studies is convinced it has the answer to Ghana’s housing challenges. An experimental mud house built in 1970 at the centre is a testimony.
Many are however still skeptical about the durability of what is locally known ‘Atakpame’ house because it easily gives in to the weather, especially, heavy rains.
Henry Kwaku Boafo is architect and research scientist who, together with other colleagues, has developed new methods to deal with the defects. It involves the combination of sand, cement and bitumen instead of only sand and cement.
“The foundation and walls are protected with this combination,” he said.
Officials at the centre believe besides affordability, the technology holds much for the environment.
“When you build the same laterite one room, you can save up to 62% and you can see the effect should you build a larger mud house.”
“With laterite you don’t use much energy in terms of production and at the construction site.”