Almost US$2 billion needed to end poor housing in Caribbean

poor houses with sheet tin by the river Kota Manado North Sulawesi Indonesia
poor houses with sheet tin by the river Kota Manado North Sulawesi Indonesia

WASHINGTON, United States – Approximately US$1.8 billion would be needed to end poor housing conditions currently endured by 1 million residents in The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, according to a new Inter-American Development Bank report, The State of Housing in Six Caribbean Countries.

The report, which analyzed the implementation of social housing programmes in the Caribbean from 2000 to 2015, underscores the importance of housing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the larger agenda in poverty alleviation, economic development, and climate resilience.

Rapid urbanization has created a housing deficit in Caribbean, prompting a large share of the population to live in informal settlements that are disproportionately affected by landslides, flooding, and storm surges, the report says. Moreover, the absence of efficiently functioning land markets, inaccurate property registries, and land disputes have compounded the problem and slowed the pace of housing programmes.

A study says that Caribbean governments need to incorporate into their social housing programmes measures to protect homes against rising sea level because half of the population in the region lives within 5 kilometers from the coastline.

According to the report, several housing ministries in the region are adopting new designs to increase the resilience of coastal housing, improving building codes and ensuring that floor levels of social housing are above recorded flood levels. Elevating homes in flood-prone areas saves US$15 for every US$1 invested because governments do not need to rebuild infrastructure.

The IDB has provided over US$700 million in long-term financing to support urban programmes in the Caribbean since 1968.

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