Housing in Sub Saharan Africa has doubled in quality since 2000, new report finds

Housing in Sub Saharan Africa has doubled in quality since 2000, new report finds

A new study has revealed accurate estimates of urban and rural housing quality in Sub Saharan Africa for the first time.

The study, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London and Malaria Atlas Project, University of Oxford has revealed that improved housing had doubled on the African continent between 2000 and 2015.

Researchers used state of the art mapping technology to identify the transformation of the area analysed. Between 2000 and 2015, the amount of improved housing increased from 11 per cent to 23 per cent.

These are strides in the right direction, however, the report reveals that 53 million still live in slum conditions.

Lead author Dr. Lucy Tusting, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who conducted the work while at the Malaria Atlas Project, University of Oxford, said:

“The housing need is particularly urgent in Africa where the population is predicted to more than double by 2050. Remarkable development is occurring across the continent but until now this trend had not been measured on a large scale. These results are a crucial step to reaching sustainable development goals as quickly as possible, and show that African housing is transforming, with huge potential to improve human health and wellbeing.”

Adequate housing is a human right and essential for ensuring positive health outcomes in respiratory disease, diarrhoeal disease, and vector borne diseases, such as malaria.

To produce these new estimates, the researchers combined data from 661,945 households from 31 countries into a model using an innovative technique that allowed the prevalence of different house types to be mapped across the African continent. Houses were considered improved if they provided access to water and sanitation, sufficient living space, and built in a durable condition.

Researchers on the study say the data will be vital in achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which aims for universal access to adequate, safe and affordable housing and to upgrade slums by 2030.

Areas with the highest improvement of housing quality included Botswana, Gabon and Zimbabwe, whereas South Sudan saw the lowest improvement rate.

Senior author Dr. Samir Bhatt from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London said:

“These findings highlight that poor sanitation remains commonplace across much of sub-Saharan Africa, which may be holding back progress to improve living conditions. Our study demonstrates that people are widely investing in their homes, but there is also an urgent need for governments to help improve water and sanitation infrastructure.” 

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