The social and cultural implications of public housing provision in Abuja, Nigeria
On 4 February 1976 the Federal Military Government of Nigeria promulgated Decree No. 6, initiating the removal of the national capital from Lagos to Abuja. Thus Nigeria followed Brazil, Botswana, Malawi, Pakistan, and Tanzania to become the most recent developing country to arrange for a transfer of its centre of government. Abuja is now a city of 60,000 people where the citizens experience considerable crowding especially in public housing estates. Occupancy rates of three people per room are now the norm. Recent setbacks in oil revenues and soaring trade deficits have slowed down the overall construction programme of the Federal Capital and have led to a lack of new houses to relieve the growing congestion. The water and sanitation services can be seen to be severely overused especially in areas outside Phase One and there is an evident need for urgent action in housing supply. Policies developed by John Turner and others, and adopted by International Agencies, have been used in some African cities to secure substantial increases in housing stock through self-help both for new building and for improvement of existing housing environments. Through an examination of traditional Hausa culture, which can be seen to have survived almost intact to the present day, it was found that most of the assumptions which underlie such policies as slum upgrading and site and services are absent from, or in conflict with, Hausa culture. An advocative strategy has been developed which attempts to avoid the problems imposed by the sacral nature of housing and to benefit from the resources which are present in the culture and in the present characteristics of Abuja. It is aimed at providing a hospitable environment in which the more prosperous low-income households will be encouraged to build houses for themselves and some tenants. The existing Local Government Authorities in the Federal Capital Territory would be involved in planning and implementation, the economic potential of rental housing would be restored and the building of compounds in traditional materials would be encouraged.