Nigeria is the type of country where most of the population live in rural areas, but most of the developmental works carried out by the government are done in the urban areas. What are the problems of rural development in Nigeria and how can we deal with them? Find out the answers in this article which analyzes housing problems in Nigeria, especially in rural areas.
Rural area development in Nigeria: housing policies and programs
Basically, Nigeria’s government puts huge resources into urban development, mostly neglecting the rural areas. However, the government sometimes creates special programs to improve the situation in the rural areas. Rural housing programs are divided into two separate types:
- The programs which arise from the activities of those dealing with settlement and resettlement issues. This means that people who live in one rural area have to move to other places because of different reasons like natural disasters, government laws and policies, mass migrations, different construction projects etc. This kind of resettlement has to be done in order for the government to develop the rural area and establish facilities in places where there is little or no water supply and housing plans. For example, Nigeria once did a "kainji dam" project which was introduced in order to generate hydro-electricity for the whole country.
- The programs which are set up for agricultural development. Agriculture is a huge source of Nigeria’s income and the citizens in the country depend on it. Obviously, agricultural production mostly takes place in rural areas, so the government introduced new programs based on farm settlement schemes, their main objective is to provide modern housing systems and new-age farming machines in order to make life in countryside farm areas more comfortable.
The main focus of the housing plans in Nigeria is mostly the urban areas rather than the rural ones. The programs which the government has introduced so far have not been very effective for rural housing in Nigeria, so the problem of rural housing development still remains, as most inhabitants of these areas still live in poverty.
Contemporary issues in Nigeria: Main rural housing problem
1. Focus on the development of urban areas
Even though the government has made some effort to improve the lives of rural citizens, the issue with rural housing still remains. In Nigeria, 50% of the population actually work and reside in rural areas, however, the authorities seem to be more interested in the urban areas. The past strategies that the government tried to develop in order to address the rural housing issue were not exactly effective – just like in most of the other developing countries, the Nigerian rural dwellers are struggling to survive instead of living.
2. Emphasis on agriculture production not on housing
Housing is one of the basic human needs; every citizen has to be provided with a decent place to live, but the government simply has no interest in developing the rural communities. This is mostly because the authorities put more emphasis on agriculture production rather than ensuring the provision of rural housing and basic facilities for people who reside in these areas.
3. Poor quality of housing
One of the biggest problems concerning rural areas in Nigeria is the poor quality of housing provided to people. It never receives a lot of attention from authorities and lots of studies held in Nigeria showed that most rural houses are of a low quality (especially compared to urban housing facilities), which is definitely a huge issue considering it is one of the basic needs for local humanity.
4. Roots from the colonial period
Some of the massive problems faced in the country today started from the colonial period. The British colonial masters neglected the housing arrangements for rural citizens. However, they built big residential houses for the members of the government. The raw materials gotten from the rural areas were the only things important to the masters during these days.
5. Expensive building materials
Another problem with providing houses in the rural areas is that building materials are extremely expensive these days, especially for the rural area residents who mostly live in poverty. For example, basic materials for house building like cement and sandcrete blocks are incredibly hard to get for the citizens who reside in rural areas, because they cost too much. Those who actually have money for the cement might be discouraged by the cost of transporting it from the city. This problem needs to be addressed by the government as well.
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What can be done to solve rural housing problems in Nigeria?
In order to provide an affordable and sustainable living for over 140,000,000 people who reside in Nigeria, the government should consider exploiting local raw materials. A good example of such materials is sand, which is one of the natural resources with the biggest potential. Mixing sand with cement can help build cheaper blocks that average Nigerians can afford. However, the first thing that should be done by the authorities is to provide the environment for importing and fabricating this special block-building machinery.
The planning for better rural housing should involve the following steps:
- Planning for the people who will occupy the housing in the future while putting the important factors into consideration - their special needs, living patterns and occupations.
- Using inexpensive materials which are available in the local areas. Getting these materials should cost as little time and energy as possible.
- Making sure that the structures can withstand climate change, including intense cold or heat, heavy rain and strong wind.
- Planning not only the house itself but taking the possibilities of the surrounding lands into account.
It should be pointed out that some countries like Egypt, Mexico, Brazil and Singapore have struggled with rural housing issues too – in some cases, the situation was even worse than that of Nigeria. However, the government of these states showed a high level of professionalism and political determination in order to change things and achieve the current state of events; they have now succeeded in bringing their housing sector into order.
Nigeria is currently struggling with serious housing issues such as overcrowding in the big cities and lack of developed housing in the rural areas. The government needs to find a way to strike a perfect balance and this requires a lot of work. The authorities in the country need to address this issue by carrying out revolutionary and radical changes in rural and urban housing policies. The country needs a highly qualified team of specialists who can improve the system of rural housing and compensate the historical lack of development in this area.