Focusing on housing could catapult Tanzania into higher development levels | Land Portal
Prof Lusugga Kironde
Language of the news reported: 

Dar es Salaam.  In his recently delivered Budget Speech, the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development (MLHHSD) reiterated that his ministry was responsible for the housing docket in national development, handling the task of promoting and enabling the construction of quality housing. Looking forward to the next five years, the minister told Parliament that the ministry would focus on strengthening investment in the construction of low cost housing.

Housing is an important element in the socioeconomic framework of any country. Quality and affordable housing for the majority of the population is a clear indicator of national development.

It can however be said that housing does not get the significance that it deserves in the political, social and economic set up of Tanzania. Many times, it is lumped together with land, much as land is an input in the housing process.

Soon after Independence, politicians regarded housing in high esteem. This is reflected in the fact that the National Housing Corporation was the first parastatal to be formed in 1962. However, housing never got a stable home, being tossed between the ministries of Health, and Local Government before landing at the ministry of Lands in the early 1970s when the ministry was named the ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development.

However because of its relatively small portfolio, the Department of Housing was merged with the planning department in 1992, when the latter was renamed as that of Human Settlements. Housing languished there before it was re-established in 2004, thanks to some push from the UN-Habitat, then-headed by Tanzanian Economics Professor, Anna Tibaijuka. This lasted until 2019 when it was re-absorbed into the Department (or Division) of Human Settlements Development. At the time of this absorption, the Housing Division had only two units of Housing Finance and Housing Development and was the smallest in the Ministry.

Development of a National Housing Policy has been making snail-slow progress (and even regress) since 2003. One obstacle to over come has been the argument whether we actually need such a policy in the light of the existence of the National Human Settlements Development Policy of 2000.

In all the cases when Housing has been absorbed into Human Settlements, key players have been urban planners, reflecting their own picture that housing is land or human settlements; contrary to the outlook that housing is very much an economic asset held by Prof Tibaijuka, a view well expounded in her book titled: Building Prosperity: Housing and Economic Development. Thus housing has always lacked its own experts and advocates.

Housing has real side, financial, fiscal and socioeconomic linkages; the latter meaning that housing undertakings, through the quantum and quality of housing delivered, impact on sociopolitical stability, productivity, equity, health, poverty reduction and so on.

A National Housing Policy would have a plethora of problems to address including: Housing as a product, entailing developing national minimum house standards; housing demand and supply; house prices and affordability; house occupancy: ownership and renting (the majority of urban residents are tenants); overcrowding; housing finance; housing repair, maintenance and rehabilitation; the quality of housing neighbourhoods; unplanned and unserviced housing development; housing and the larger economy: employment creation, industrialisation, and entrepreneurship; equity issues; housing and the green agenda and institutional set up for house delivery including the role of the central and local governments and that of the private sector.

Even in the absence of a National Housing Policy, the Ministry could be active in addressing some of the glaring problems in the housing sector such as the fact that: 34 percent of the housing roofing is not constructed of modern materials; 61 percent of housing has earth or sand as the main flooring materials; 24 percent of the housing is constructed of mud and poles; 62 percent households have one or two rooms used for sleeping; 21 percent use electricity for lighting. 8 percent have no toilet facilities and 59 percent used a pit latrine (28 percent without a slab).

The forthcoming Population and House Census (2022) should be used to collect as much data on housing as possible.

This could enable the Ministry of Lands, hopefully with a new dynamic housing department, to launch house improvement programmes nationwide, to get rid for example of thatched houses; and other types of low quality and unserviced housing and have a minimum standards low cost and affordable house to aim at achieving for the entire Nation.

Tanzania can borrow a leaf or two from Kenya (1 million low cost housing by 2022); and from Rwanda which has an affordable housing programme.

Good quality housing for all should cement Tanzania into higher echelons of middle income countries. Tanzania cannot afford a low key or no approach to housing.


Copyright © Source (mentioned above). All rights reserved. The Land Portal distributes materials without the copyright owner’s permission based on the “fair use” doctrine of copyright, meaning that we post news articles for non-commercial, informative purposes. If you are the owner of the article or report and would like it to be removed, please contact us at and we will remove the posting immediately.

Various news items related to land governance are posted on the Land Portal every day by the Land Portal users, from various sources, such as news organizations and other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. The copyright lies with the source of the article; the Land Portal Foundation does not have the legal right to edit or correct the article, nor does the Foundation endorse its content. To make corrections or ask for permission to republish or other authorized use of this material, please contact the copyright holder.

Share this page