Nigeria must address housing crisis, end forced evictions-U.N. rapporteur

Nigeria is gripped by a crisis that has left Africa’s most populous country ill-equipped to properly house its inhabitants, said a United Nations rapporteur who also called for an end to the forced evictions of entire communities.

The United Nations estimates that Nigeria’s population is set to double by 2050 to around 400 million people, which would make it the world’s third-largest nation, behind India and China.

Against this backdrop, there was a lack of adequate housing in a country where most inhabitants live on less than $2 a day despite the nation having Africa’s largest economy, said Leilani Farha, special rapporteur on adequate housing.

“Nigeria’s housing sector is in a complete crisis,” said Farha. “Existing programs will hardly make even a small dent in addressing the ever-growing housing need.”

Farha, who addressed journalists in the capital Abuja, noted that the last census was conducted in 2006 and said there was a lack of official data for the government to develop an effective housing policy.

“Informal settlements are ballooning where conditions are inhumane and perhaps the most severe I have seen worldwide,” said Farha at the end of a 10-day visit that took in Abuja, the southwestern commercial hub of Lagos and southern oil city Port Harcourt.

Northeast Nigeria has for the last decade been gripped by the insurgency waged by militant Islamist group Boko Haram that has forced around 2 million people to leave their homes. That, she said, had added to the housing crisis.

The rapporteur also criticized the use of force by state government authorities and property developers to evict entire communities.

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