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A new study has found that improved housing doubled on the African continent between 2000 and 2015. The study, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine at Imperial College London and Malaria Atlas Project at the University of Oxford, was published in the “Nature International Journal of Science”. It is the first accurate estimate of urban and rural housing quality in sub-Saharan Africa and was done using state-of-the-art mapping.

Housing in Africa being improved

While improved housing doubled 11% in 2000 to 23% in 2015, 53 million urban Africans still lived in slum conditions in 2015, the study found. These figures were reached by combining data from 661 945 households in 31 countries into a model that allowed the prevalence of different house types to be mapped across the African continent. Housing was categorised using the United Nations description, where houses with improved water and sanitation, sufficient living area and durable construction were considered to be improved. Housing lacking any one of these features was considered to be unimproved.

The prevalence of improved housing was highest in countries including Botswana, Gabon and Zimbabwe, and lower in countries such as South Sudan. The researchers found that the housing transition may be linked to economic development, as improved housing was 80% more likely among more educated households and twice as likely in the wealthiest households, compared to the least educated and poorest families.

“The changes that we have observed are incredibly significant, especially since households mostly paid for these improvements with their own incomes and no external financing. From a public health perspective, this trend presents a massive opportunity for African governments to accelerate ongoing efforts against vector-borne diseases such as malaria, and to secure such gains for the long-term,” says Dr Fredros Okumu, Director of Science at Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, a co-author of the paper.

According to the study’s senior author, Dr Samir Bhatt from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, the research highlights that poor sanitation remains commonplace across much of sub-Saharan Africa. “Our study demonstrates that people are widely investing in their homes, but there is also an urgent need for governments to help improve water and sanitation infrastructure,” he says.

Image credit: https://www.africa-newsroom.com/press/media/improved-housing-doubles-in-subsaharan-africa?lang=en?display=image

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