Long-term finance key to affordable housing

Experts tell seminar on green affordable housing

The government should enable an improved housing ecosystem to expand the access of the underserved segments of society to affordable housing in a sustainable manner, experts said at a seminar yesterday. Photo: Star/file

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The government should enable an improved housing ecosystem to expand the access of the underserved segments of society to affordable housing in a sustainable manner, experts said at a seminar yesterday. Photo: Star/file

Availability of long-term finance, collaboration among policymakers and proper databases are key to ensuring affordable housing for all, said experts at a seminar yesterday. 

Land is very costly in Bangladesh while there are no proper ecosystems to deliver low-cost housing, making providing affordable housing a challenge, they said.

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They urged the government to enable an improved housing ecosystem to expand the access of the underserved segments of society to affordable housing in a sustainable manner.

The seminar on “Developing Green Affordable Housing in Bangladesh: Regional Experiences” was jointly organised by Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Housing and Building Research Institute at Sheraton Dhaka.

According to the ADB, rapid urbanisation, coupled with limited financial and physical capacities, has put significant strain on cities and towns.

The inadequacy of housing, particularly for the urban poor, in municipalities has contributed to the explosion of urban slums and informal settlements, it said.

“One billion people have no access to housing in the Asia Pacific region and the housing gap is most severe in lower and middle-income segments of people,” said Edimon Ginting, ADB country director for Bangladesh.

“In Bangladesh, the picture is the same…Although significant progress has been made in providing lower income people with housing, significant progress is still needed,” he said.

One of the core elements of the ADB’s strategy is to build a resilient and sustainable Asia Pacific, said Ginting.

“We believe that housing is the key element of that. This year we mobilised $2.9 billion housing finance in 23 housing projects across the region. About 31 per cent of that mobilisation was done in the South Asia region,” he added.

According to an International Finance Corporation assessment of Bangladesh’s housing sector, approximately 11.9 million urban households reside in informal housing.

Existing demand for urban affordable housing is 6 million units, which is estimated to increase to 10.5 million units by 2030.

In contrast, the supply was only 17,000 in 2019, thus indicating a supply gap of 93 per cent.

A lack of affordable housing is not a phenomenon for Bangladesh, it is a global phenomenon, said Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah, principal secretary to the prime minister.

“Bangladesh considers housing for every citizen one of the most important priorities,” he said.

“Not having housing is not the fault of an individual, it’s the result of long-time deprivation and unjust planning for all of the citizens,” he said.

“Whenever we talk about shelter, we think it should have been a strategy. It’s not only a roof, it about how sustainable and affordable it is,” he added.

The livelihoods of one million people accommodated in 2.6 lakh houses under an Ashrayan project has significantly changed, said Miah.

The government project under the Prime Minister’s Office provides housing to landless and homeless families and those who have land but no house.


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