Consider benefits of eliminating slums

The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has released a report on slums in the country.

It says the number of people living in slums increased from 5.5 million in 2017 to 8.8 million in 2020, a 60 per cent increase.

Slum dwellers are classified as having inadequate housing and basic services, hence they suffer household deprivations such as lack of access to improved water sources; improved sanitation facilities; sufficient living areas; poor housing durability and security of tenure issues.

Recognising the need to eliminate slums or prevent their creation, the United Nations (UN), while declaring its universal human rights in 1948, devoted Article 25 to adequate standard of living, a provision article 11.1 of the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international human rights treaties recognise.

The Article captures the essence of the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity.

 The details of Article 25 show that it focuses on adequate housing and related freedoms, an example of which is habitability.

Under habitability, housing is not adequate if it does not guarantee physical safety or provide adequate space, as well as protection against the cold, damp, heat, rain, wind, other threats to health and structural hazards.

Another freedom worthy of mention in this editorial is availability of services.

This freedom has it that housing is not adequate if its occupants do not have safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, energy for cooking, heating, lighting, food storage or refuse disposal.

The problems pointed out are major features of all the slums in the country.

It is worthy of note that Ghana has ratified the universal human rights.

It is sad to note that there are 23 slums in country and located in Accra, Tema-Ashaiman area, Kumasi, Tamale and Takoradi.

These slums did not develop overnight and simultaneously and so there are issues to call into attention.

The locations of the slums in the country are commercial centres where people, especially those from rural areas or poor background, can afford to live and eke a living.

This is because development in the country is not well spread to attract particularly the youth to other places to seek economic opportunities.

The other issue, which is more important, is the lack of access to decent and affordable housing in the country.

In the first place, the prices of such housing units are ridiculously so high that even middle-income earners cannot acquire them.

Low-income earners consider talks about affordable housing as disturbing noises in their ears and they are justified because there is no way they can have access to them once even middle-income earners are denied access by pricing and other hindrances.

Currently, only politicians, some few top public officials and their cronies succeed in acquiring them in addition to what they have provided on their own.

The NDPC report seems to drum home the fact that the government is making the efforts to address the national housing deficit.

The truth is that those efforts are in futility once the haves continue to deprive others the opportunity to acquire the housing units.

If nothing is done about spreading development across the country and making so-called affordable housing truly affordable and easily accessible, slums will continue to grow with all the associated problems, including them being safe haven for drug addicts, prostitutes and criminals.

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