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This article is part of a Special
Section on “The Recession’s Silver Lining; A Roof Over Our Heads?
Housing Issues and Trends” that ran in the October print issue of PA TIMES.
See the end of this article for links to others from the Special
Having a roof over our heads in Africa generally and in Cameroon in particular, remains the tip of an ice burg. Most houses, even in the nation’s capital, are fast dilapidating and some are on the verge of collapsing. These are the houses owned by the Lord Mayors, who were involved in selling valuable land to strangers from other parts of the country. Most of them have grown old while others have died leaving no responsible child or children to carry out the necessary renovation work.
The government is doing nothing to see to it that the situation is ameliorated, rather its attention is fully on the improvement of the view of the political capital, Yaounde.
Town planning is a problem in most developing countries, as a result, most houses are built haphazardly with poor building materials like mud and planks. Some people I can assure you have their passages to their main buildings through the sitting rooms of their immediate neighbours. This is something that has been going on in our capital city as well as the economic capital city for decades.
If opportunities have to be reinvent and strategies of ameliorating and the re-examination of this far fetched put in place, then most Africans in big cities. It can guarantee you will go homeless. The situation is deplorable. It is sad indeed to say that when it is raining most inhabitants of such homes, are consciously forbidden to go to sleep. This is for fear that the houses might collapse on them or rather because, they have it as their normal task to carry their mattresses from the floor (for lack of beds) and other valuables, not to be carried away by running water.
Without exaggerating, water flows through people’s homes as it does in gutters, so much so that they are forced to leave the main door and the behind door widely open so that water will flow in and out freely. This people leave their areas to their job sites, after a heavy down pour, on peoples’ backs (baba) or in trucks and wheel-barrows.
At the end of each heavy pour down, the inhabitants get clean water and wash the mud, worms, old rags, rusty cans, which the running water leaves behind. At times the exercise is different, when the rain leaves behinds not only its usual items, but as well as some dangerous animals. Snakes at times crawl into such houses when they can no longer live in their holes meant to be their hiding. They swim in running waters and change their destinations when they meet a table or a chair to hang on. This will keep the inhabitants of such homes busy, after the heavy down pour since they have to kill it.
Inhabitants of most villages can never boast of the fact that they have a roof over their heads. Some are really lucky when their children become well-to-do. They come back home and do some renovation work, or rather put down the whole mess and rebuild it. The older adults who are not fortunate enough to have had viable kids, live in terrible ramshackle buildings. Most often buildings without doors and windows to cover, improvised holes for them. The roofs look threatening and the buildings are in inclinatory positions, with clear indication that they will collapse at any time.
When driving pass these villages, you can see someone on his bed in the bedroom. No one cares about the aging population, the widows, the widowers and talk less of orphans housing states. These orphans are bound to continue living in such homes, after their parents are all gone into eternity.
In Cameroon, we have the Cameroon real Estate Corporation which takes charge of housing problems in the urban towns of the country. These houses after construction, are given out by the company on basis of rent or on hire purchase terms. The map below indicates what SIC Company has done, so far, in Cameroon.
It was created on July 18, 1952, with Cameroon owning 95 percent of its shares capital. (courtesy www.SICameroon.com)
Another financial institution that has as objective to housing issues for Cameroonians is the Credit Foncier. With its principal mission being to give out loans to Cameroonians to facilitate their construction projects, borrowers are expected to present their land titles as guarantee for such loans. (Cameroon-immo.com)
Susan Epipang is a reporter with the Agape Love Foundation. Email: [email protected]