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Why having a house matters?

Many people do not just rely on their home for shelter but also to generate some kind of income. They operate shops and small workshops from the premises. Many others rent out rooms – there are some 1.2 billion tenants in the world, many of whom live in multi-occupancy housing. Others regard their shelter as a form of investment for their old age. Two of the original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) concern housing. Target 7c aimed to ‘halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation’, and Target 7d to ‘achieve, by 2020, a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers’.

According to the United Nations both goals were achieved well before the 2020 deadline. Target 7c was satisfied because: ‘The world has met the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water, five years ahead of schedule; between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources; the proportion of people using an improved water source rose from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010; over 40 per cent of all people without improved drinking water live in sub-Saharan Africa; and over 240,000 people a day gained access to improved sanitation facilities from 1990 to 2011.’

Target 7d ‘was met well in advance of the 2020 deadline. The share of urban slum residents in the developing world declined from 39 per cent in 2000 to 33 per cent in 2012. About 200 million+ people were able to gain access to improved water sources, improved sanitation facilities, or durable or less crowded housing, thereby exceeding the MDG target.’

Need for Housing

Housing is a basic need of man.  In importance, it is third after food and clothing.  The importance of housing was universally accepted from the dawn of history.  Even the Neolithic man who lived between 10,000 and 2000 B.C. built durable habitation like pit dwellings, lake dwellings and beehive huts.  However, its functions increased manifold over the years.  Primitive men sought some kind of protection against wild animals and natural calamities.  Housing protection is also sought against enemies as well.  When the institutions of private property came to be recognized housing received a big boom in the investment sector.

Why having a house matters?


With the development of knowledge and the advancement of civilization, people became particular about sanitation, environment, privacy, location of house, etc.  He becomes more conscious of better facilities, which make his life easy and very comfortable.  With the invention of electricity and other facilities the development of housing became more important.

The high rate of urban growth has led to:

  • Increasing problem of housing,
  • reducing privacy and overcrowding in small house,
  • Steady growth of slums and unplanned settlements and severe effect on civic services in urban areas.

Housing situation is becoming worse, due to:

  • Inadequacy of water, supply of housing by the combined efforts of all public, private, group housing societies and joint venture between private and public etc.
  • Acute shortage of investment in housing sector and the extension of city level infrastructure. A decline in urban population also becomes a matter of serious concern.

Housing Problems in India

Urban housing problem that perhaps causes the most concern to a majority of urban dwellers is the problem of finding an appropriate place to live.  The popular feeling is that the prices of housing of all kinds have been increasing exorbitantly could indicate that housing investment has not kept pace with the increasing demand for housing.  The national income estimate clearly indicates the fact that housing investment as a proportion of gross capital formation in India has declined from about 30 per cent in 1950 to only just half or even less than that in 1990.  To a large extent, this is as should be expected in an economy undergoing dramatic and considerable diversification with massive investment in an industry.

Housing Problems in India


Census data indicates that the quality of  per capita shelter has declined during the last 40 years as measured by indices of crowding.  The pace of changes in the quality of housing which was evident during 1950s and 1960s seems to have been restricted in 1970s.  A new approach to the provision of shelter is therefore, sorely needed, before conditions decline even further.  Paradoxically, it must be bolder in providing an expanded house stock as well as more cautious in what we expect to provide taking account of the existing level of income distribution in the country.  Given the low level of income and low level of growth it would be unrealistic to expect people to devote much portion of their income in housing sector.  Hence, this approach needs to be changed from the prescription of unrealistic approach to the provision of facilities and condition that are suitable for people to obtain maximum quality of shelter as per their needs as well as their capabilities.

          The high rate of growth of urban population and its accumulative nature with a population over one lakh has led to increasing problem of housing, reducing privacy and overcrowding in small house, steady growth of slums and unplanned settlements and severe effect on civic services in urban areas.  Housing  situation is becoming worse, due to inadequacy of water, supply of housing by the combined efforts of all public, private, group housing societies and joint venture between private and public etc. and acute shortage of investment in housing sector and the extension of city level infrastructure.  Majority of the houses in India are constructed by the people themselves with their own resources.  The main role of government at all levels is not to seek to build houses itself but to act as a catalyst and make appropriate investment and create conditions where the poor people may gain and secure good housing and to remove the existing difficulties in the housing system.

Effect of Infrastructure on housing development plan

Water and sanitation services are key considerations in the planning of cities especially in resilient cities, smart cities & AMRUT cities. This encompasses water provision, waste-water treatment, and sewage infrastructure.

Good housing in Metro cities

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These services are crucial for public health – thus, one aspect of urban planning is to consider how to best provide these services to urban residents in effective and cost-sensitive ways. Economic status is highly correlated therefore access to water and sanitation services is an equity issue that faces urban planners working for urban governments.  In the absence of policy to address these infrastructural disparities, the urban poor and minorities suffer disproportionately.

One solution to the infrastructural issues posed by sewage and wastewater management in urban areas is the development of community toilet blocks. In India, the Alliance (consisting the three NGOs: Mahila Milan, SPARC, and the National Slum Dwellers Federation) has implemented a multi-city community toilet block program in more than eight different cities.[93] The goal of this program is to elicit community participation in designing, building, and maintaining toilet blocks for communities. Traditionally, community toilet blocks have been problematic: municipal corporations often fail to upkeep the toilets, the toilets often become very dirty and unsanitary areas of open defecation, and with these toilets rendered unusable, women often abstain from excreting waste until nightfall to preserve modesty, which can often lead to gastric issues and other disorders.

Waste-water collection and treatment has always been an important consideration in urban planning, but it is becoming increasingly critical as urban population levels rise and water conservation becomes a growing concern. Many planners are now considering how to properly incorporate waste-water treatment into urban environments in effective, and equitable ways.

Author Bio:

Shubham Aggarwal, founder of PlanningTank is an Urban Planner from India working to improve the human settlements. PlanningTank is the Urban, Regional, and Rural Planning Knowledge base which provides insight into to urban and rural areas. It focuses on educating, engaging and developing the community.