Low-cost housing project to be replicated in Nigeria’s capital

19 June 2013: About 30 minutes by car from Nigeria’s capital city stands the tranquil semi-rural Luvu Village. Luvu is different from other villages - interwoven with older houses, subsistence plots and lush green vegetation stand clusters of newly built terraced houses that are affordable for the poor.

The houses have indoor plumbing, outdoor areas, and can accommodate four to five people. They are a significant improvement from the previous dwellings of the families who live in them.

The houses are built and paid for by the Fuller Centre for Housing, an organisation that provides innovative low-cost housing to the poor. The Centre resolves two of the biggest constraints to affordable housing in Nigeria – lack of access to land and lack of access to finance.

Each housing unit is sold to poor families for half the actual building cost. The remaining cost is subsidised by the Fuller Centre. Prospective owners pay 1000 Nigerian naira (or £4.00) to submit an application to buy a house.

This is followed by a rigorous selection process - the Centre’s national director, Samuel Odia, conducts home visits to the applicants’ current dwellings himself to ensure the applicants are indeed needy and that they have sufficient income to cover the modest cost of the house.

If successful, the new owners pay a deposit of 60,000 Naira (£250) and make mortgage payments of approximately 6250 Naira (£26) per month for four years.

Owners are also expected to contribute to the construction of their home through some 20 hours of ‘sweat equity,’ which is aimed at forging a cohesive community. Once the house is paid for, the owners can sell it back to the Fuller Centre.

The DFID-funded, Coffey-run GEMS 2 project is facilitating the replication and scale-up of the Luvu Village model  to provide up to 5,000 housing units to Abuja’s urban poor.

It is doing so using the M4P, or making markets work for the poor, approach, which entails facilitating change in markets so the markets work more efficiently and beneficially for the poor.

In 2011, GEMS 2 held a stakeholder forum in order to introduce the different partners involved in the GEMS 2 project to each other and to key players in the construction sector. The Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, was invited to host.

In addition to creating a focal point for action, the forum added further credibility to the partners involved. One such partner was the Abuja arm of the Federation of Urban Poor (FEDUP).

FEDUP is a non-governmental organisation working towards the development of affordable social housing in Nigeria. It has approximately 5,000 active members, the majority of which live in substandard housing.

GEMS 2 had already been working with FEDUP to strengthen its members’ advocacy skills and improve their capacity to effectively advocate amongst the government and the construction industry.

The relationship that GEMS 2 facilitated between FEDUP and the Fuller Centre provided much impetus for the replication of the Luvu Village model. It also provided the Fuller Centre with a pool of deserving housing applicants and a source of local construction artisans who will help build the new estatein Abuja.

As result of their efforts, in April 2013 Minister Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide presented the Fuller Centre and FEDUP with 4.6 hectares of land to be used for affordable housing in Abuja’s Mamusa District. 500 Fuller housing units will be built in Mamusa District, and a total of 5,000 homes, providing a home for to up to 20,0000 people, are planned to be built in Abuja over the next three years.

Mr Odia of the Fuller Centre estimates that 529 jobs will be created through the construction of the initial estate, and a further 50 jobs will be created once the estate has been built, through jobs in education, security, and retail.

“If GEMS2 hadn’t funded [the stakeholder forum] we would still be struggling,” Mr Odia said. “[The forum was] the platform from which things were able to take off and happen, [with GEMS2 helping to bring together] the perfect array of partners for a project of such importance.”



Image: Luvu Village. The model is being replicated in Abuja.

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