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ACCESS TO HOUSING THROUGH COOPERATIVES: POTENTIALS AND CHALLENGES FROM TANZANIA
Abstract: Access to housing in urban areas has been among the biggest challenges in Tanzania. Leaving aside other approaches to access housing, cooperative housing societies features in both developed and developing countries, though with varying experiences. The cooperatives and community based groups are widely accepted as an important approach for housing middle and even some low-income families at a reasonable cost.
The co-operative movement in the housing sector in Tanzania came up as a result of the international idea in the late 1960s of promoting home ownership through housing co-operatives for low-income families. Even though the number of Housing Cooperatives showed a steady increase in the 1970s, the decades of 1980s and 1990s revealed a decreasing trend in both number of Cooperative Societies and members in Tanzania . Following the collapse of Tanzania Housing bank (THB) in 1995, financing of the cooperative housing projects became difficulty. From late 1990s to date there have been isolated donor community-initiated cooperative housing projects with less government participation. The main driving assumption here is that despite the seemingly failure of housing cooperative initiatives in the country, the same societies are still viewed as instrumental vehicles for facilitating the poor to access decent housing especially in the urban context. This paper pools together the key observations emerging from the four case study housing co-operative projects reflecting upon policy frameworks that are directly related to housing co-operative development in Tanzania. Further, it highlights on the challenges and potential qualities of housing cooperative societies as vehicles for facilitating their member‟s access to decent housing. The cases studied reveal that there is a need to maintain a viable cooperative housing movement as a model of housing production. The government and other stakeholders should promote and support in bringing together the existing housing cooperatives, establish an umbrella-housing cooperative with the functions of networking, facilitating primary and secondary housing cooperative societies in capacity building and soliciting alternative financing sources for affordable housing through networking. It is hereby maintained that housing cooperatives have a role to play if marginalization of the majority urban residents on access to housing is to be avoided in the new economic environment.
Keywords: Housing, Cooperatives, financing, Low income households