A couple of weeks ago, Paul Onyebuchi, our Program Manager visited a friend close to ICT park in Owerri. The sight of a slum inside the heart of Owerri city was a big shock . Paul went into the slum area to speak with some of the squatters. There were 28 very poor families in all with an average of four children. All of them live in substandard housing deprived of adequate services. These families live in «extreme social emergency» precarious and unsafe conditions and places, and exposed to evictions. All these poor families cannot dream of accessing conventional housing programs. Poor housing conditions here refers not only to inadequate facilities (such as electrical, plumbing, carpentry etc.), bad walls, floors, roof or ventilation within individual houses but also refers to the whole neighborhood which may be characterized by incessant noise, excessive traffic congestion, pollution and unsanitary conditions, lack of basic utilities and social amenities.

SAID decided after deliberations with these poor families to do something to address the need of this special category of homeless poor and those others living in precarious housing conditions: mostly widowed mothers shouldering responsibility of the family with mean resources. This project will be sited on an existing parcel of land measures approximately 4.5 plots of land situated at Umuguma, Owerri North on which we have already built more than 8 units. A total of 12 single room units in blocks of 4 semi-detached studio flats each will be built in accordance with the agreement, each with a bathroom & kitchen. The buildings will be constructed using local building materials of cements, mortars and bricks. There will be conduit electrical work & wiring and provision. The roofing covering will be done using trimmed lite span. We hope to implement this project in partnership with SAID Sweden and SAID UK. This is where you our readers and supporters come into the picture. Whatever amount you donate or give in support of this project will be greatly appreciated. For those in Sweden, you can contribute via swish number: 1 236 942 502 or Bankgiro: 381–0066.

Most of the new urban growth in African cities will occur in slums. Slums are characterized by housing units with five main deficiencies: 1) no improved water source; 2) a lack of improved sanitation; 3) impermanent or unsound physical structure; 4) insufficient living space and incidence of overcrowding; and 5) no claim to secure tenure. The UN estimates more than 200 million people in the region will live in slums by 2020 (UN‐Habitat 2014). Slum populations are growing at 4.5 percent annually, a rate which will double the population in 15 years (Marx et al. 2013). After this period, the majority of the world’s slum dwellers will live in African cities; currently every other region is experiencing a rapid decline in the prevalence of slums.

The expansion of slums in Africa will be driven by migration and population growth, which will drive housing need, and the current lack of infrastructure for both the existing and anticipated future housing stock. Although the nature and pace of urbanization varies among countries, with over a quarter of the world’s fastest growing cities, Africa is undergoing a massive urban transition. 1.2 billion urban residents by 2050. 4.5 million new residents in informal settlements each year.

Sub-Saharan Africa cities are expanding rapidly. The United Nations predicts that Africa will overtake Asia as the world’s most rapidly urbanizing region by 2025 (UN 2014). In the coming 20 years, the total population of the continent will exceed the combined populations of Europe and the Americas. By 2050, Nigeria alone will contribute nearly 10 percent of the world’s total population growth.

Teddy Ihens

SAID Nigeria