Govt appeals for World Bank support for affordable housing

The government has appealed for support from the World Bank to establish a National Housing Authority to drive affordable housing projects in the country.

According to the Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, the government was contemplating a National Housing Fund to absorb the cost of the projects to make them truly affordable.

He disclosed this to journalists in Accra yesterday after a four-member delegation from World Bank, led by the Country Director to Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Pierre Laporte, paid a courtesy call on him.

The meeting, held in-camera was to discuss the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development (GARID) project being funded from a World Bank loan of about $200 million, and other related matters.

The project is expected to improve risks associated with flooding and management of solid waste within the Odaw River Basin in the Greater Accra Region, identified as a key area prone to flooding.

It was expected to have commenced in 2020 and end in 2025, but, it could not take off fully due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The President has mentioned that the provision of affordable housing is a priority of his administration, especially for his last term. We have identified an institutional gap in that sector.

“So far, we do not have a clearly defined institutional framework that will plan and guide the development of affordable projects in Ghana. That is why we have proposed the establishment of this institution,” Mr Asenso-Boakye said.

He recounted that former President John A. Kufuor initiated the affordable housing programme in the country, but it was discontinued after he left office and replaced with another programme which came with its own challenges.

To ensure such housing programmes were streamlined, he said, steps were currently being taken to draft the legislation for the establishment of both its authority and fund.

When set up, he said, the fund would help raise some resourcesto absorb the cost of affordable housing projects to make them really affordable for the ordinary people.

Mr Asenso-Boakye expressed the hope that the country would receive the technical and other support from the bank to address the teething problems that had lingered on for years.

He said the support of the World Bank was being sought to address flooding challenges in other parts of the country, including Kumasi in the Ashanti Region and Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western Region, by expanding the GARID project.

The minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Bantama Constituency in the Ashanti Region, said the issue of slum development across the country was also discussed at the meeting.

“There is a growing menace of slum development in the country. It is part of the GARID project.  We are looking at ways the World Bank can support us to redevelop slum communities,” he said.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Ministry said at the meeting, Mr Laporte assured the government of its support for the GARID project and other flood mitigation projects being implemented in the country.

“The World Bank is committed to supporting government’s efforts at mitigating flooding and its negative impacts on the people of Ghana. I appreciate your dynamism and commitment as a minister and trust that we can work together to find a lasting solution to flooding and sanitation challenges in the country,” he said.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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