Housing Problems In A University Town: A Case Study Of Ekpoma
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1.1 Background to the Study
University communities are usually faced with housing problems. There is always the problem of acquiring decent housing and accommodation in most university commodities (Craig, 2013). Education is an important variable in augmenting productivity of the existing and potential labour force of an economy, a catalytic agent for raising the level of income, a key to the access to resources, both private and public, and a channel of income distribution, through which gains from increased growth can be filtered down to the lower income groups. Education is regarded as a productive investment, as well as an all-pervasive activity of human welfare (Rahman and Hossain, 2006). They added that, as education is continuously developing, it becomes increasingly clear that only well-informed research may contribute to enhance our knowledge on what is happening inside the system, and thus enable decision makers to take corrective measure.
The contributions of education in achieving the modernization of Nigeria since the early 1960 when the country gained independence cannot be overlooked. Recently, the interests of countries abroad have centered on the role of education in achieving the economic development of Nigeria. Political, social and cultural factors undoubtedly contributed to the economic growth of the country, but the effects of these factors varied between countries.
Housing plays a very important role in human society. It has tremendous social and economic impact on the total living environment of the world. It’s direct and immediate influence on health, education, economy, environment, political and social life of any society cannot be overemphasized (Mantell, 2015).
In recent decades, there has been an increasing emphasis on the housing sector by different governments of the developing countries. Yet the adequate provision of this basic need eludes a high proportion of the population of developing countries (Midgley, 2005). Although rural housing conditions are generally far from satisfactory, the problem attains its most acute proportion in the urban centres of the less-developed countries. A number of factors account for this, including the accelerated rate of urbanization since 1950, occasioned primarily by rural-urban migration and secondly by natural increases within the urban centres themselves, non-renewal of dilapidated structures, poor facilities in existing houses, poor environmental conditions of dwellings and insufficient supply of new housing units (Auchazi, 2015).
Aroni (2012) pointed out that shortage of housing is a problem which has become an enduring feature of the urbanization process in developing countries and it appears to raise increasing alarm, particularly from urban administrators and policy makers. This situation is due, not only to the high birth rates that swell urban numbers but the rural poor flow into the metropolitan areas in search of better jobs and other facilities. Dwyer (2015) argues that today’s urban problems are reaching such dimensions on the world scale as to place them third in importance to the threat of nuclear warfare and famine. Housing of course is not the only urban problems as urban areas everywhere suffer a variety of housing, hygienic and management problem including housing inadequacy and congestion, limited water supplies and sanitation; inadequate social services; poor land management etcetera, but housing problem is clearly in the burgeoning cities of the Third World (Charles, 2014).
Traditionally, housing problems have been addressed from limited view point such as site selection and construction. Modern urban studies now extend such analysis to the areas of hygiene, infrastructural facilities and management. Even the increasing allocation of funds for the housing sector in the already strained economy are unable to cope with pace outside the institutionalized housing to attempt to solve the housing problem as it demands pooling of all the available resources and concerted efforts by all (Dwyer, 2015).
In Nigeria, especially in a university community such as Ekpoma, the housing problem is becoming increasingly desperate as the average citizen lives in what could hardly be described as decent housing condition (Mabogunje, 1980). The situation highlighted above describes the daily living condition of millions of Nigerians either in the rural or urban areas. The sad thing to note here is that the situation is not the same everywhere. It is basically different in more privileged areas occupied by highly placed public servants and private employees as well as the “well to-do” in the Nigerian society (Gree, 2011).
The growing scale of inadequate shelter in Nigerian urban areas has spanned not only the living habits but also unconventional ways of living. In some parts of Ekpoma for instance, these involved hazardous occupations and economic activities like caretaker agreements, rental of shanties in unfinished buildings or rental of a sleeping place in warehouses or in a store extension, a garage or some other commercial space in which goods are stored but which the workers use as their sleeping places and sometimes illegally sublet to friends. Others pitch their tents under overhead bridges or in workshops used by craft workers and artisans. This crowded living conditions bring them other problems of over population, poor water supply, sanitation, drainage, inadequate facilities for the removal of household wastes, refuse disposal etcetera.
Other problems of urbanization such as housing problems include the difficulty of the Edo State Government in getting Federal Government establishments to comply with housing and town planning regulations which contributed significantly to the poor planning system of Ekpoma. The lack of master plan in Ekpoma community makes life extremely difficult for the inhabitant and visitors from within and outside the country who had business to transact since most land uses have been converted to the development of slums due to housing problems (Madhu, 2012).
However, some of these problems have started manifesting in Ekpoma again and have assumed an alarming proportion in some cases. In seeking solution to the housing problems in Nigeria, various regimes in the past have demonstrated their interest in providing public housing or subsidized low, medium and high cost housing units for the people. This gained a boost at the inception of the 1979 constitution where all the then five political parties made housing a priority in their party manifestoes. To endorse this move, the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari declared “Good shelter is recognized by our government as the right of every Nigerian and require millions of additional housing units in urban as well as rural areas”. An elaborate national housing programmes was embarked upon in 1980 based on the concept of affordability and citizen participation (Roberts, 2014). From the above it is obvious that a lot of studies have mainly focused on effective and quality housing delivery across the globe and Nigeria in particular, but none has taken time to look at its attendant problems. It is against this background that this study is carried out to examine housing problems in Ekpoma, a university town.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Housing problem in most university town such as Ekpoma has been a serious issue of concern to the urban populace. Nigeria is faced with numerous urban problems among which are housing problems (Roberts, 2014). It has been reported that about five million avoidable deaths occur worldwide each year due to poor housing conditions, and between two to three million people would not become physically disabled, if housing conditions were good throughout the world (Less, 2014).
Urban housing problem is becoming a global phenomenon. It was in recognition of the fact that globally, one billion people, a quarter of the world’s population-live in absolute poverty and are either literarily homeless or live in extremely bad shelter and unhealthy environment” (Mabogunje, 1980). If one considers the above in the light of world’s population of five billion as at 1987, the housing situation will be worse than the picture presented above. To be able to overcome these problems, all hands must be on deck to proffer lasting solution to housing problems especially in urban areas.
Africa, it is believed has the next highest rate of urbanization in the world beside China and India, thus, much of the growing population are said to be absorbed in city slums and squatter settlements. The calamity appears worse in the rural areas of less developed countries where about 70 percent of the homes have been declared unfit for human habitation (Martin, 2012).
The problem of housing certainly most challenging in Ekpoma and other Nigerian towns and cities such as Lagos, Abuja, Kano, etc, have become enormous in recent times exhibiting apparent and marked differences in areas. In most of the areas in Ekpoma, the problem is not only restricted to quantity but also to the poor quality of available housing units and the environment. The result is manifested in growing overcrowding in homes and increasing pressure on infrastructural facilities and rapidly deteriorating environment. The scenario is only slightly different in the rural areas of the town where the problem is primarily that of quality of housing and inadequacy of infrastructures like roads, drainages, pipe borne water, electricity etcetera (Mantell, 2015; Manuel, 2008; Mrgee, 2007).
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