With housing taking a focal point in response to COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development (CHSD), University of Lagos has advised the Federal Government to ensure investment in short-term housing.
CHSD observed that the success of public health measures in a pandemic situation is hinged on past actions of government in providing adequate housing.
The think-tank made the recommendation on the aftermath of a survey conducted to provide better understanding of how housing adequacy affects the ability of residents to protect themselves and their families from the pandemic and their capacity to adhere to public health measures in the prevention of community spread.
The survey was conducted through on-line platform in April with 453 respondents providing information on their lived experiences and coping strategies. The survey results highlighted some opportunities, and revealed key areas of concern.
The study suggested a post-lockdown neighbourhood regeneration that encompasses home improvement schemes, drilling down of public health measures to ensure the participation of formal community networks such as Community Development Associations (CDAs) and landlord as critical to ensure rooting of public enlightenment, and co- operation with government directives in low-income as well as high-density areas.
According to CHSD, there were concerns that lack of basic services, including constant water, electricity and security for all could undermine the stay at home measures. Asides, it stated that there was high account of limited direct benefits from government in terms of personal protective equipment like, facemasks, gloves, sanitizers and community fumigation exercises.
The centre asked state governments to devolve care to the local governments, ensure community preparedness training and mobilization, community based health officers and their care, PPE distribution centres, testing centres, provide mobile public service announcements and identification of existing facilities that could be converted to (micro-level) neighbourhood based self-isolation centres.
The organisation further advised that the Consumers Protection Council (CPC), should have its task force on ground in order to monitor the prices of basic food items, to protect against inflation of prices.
“For people of predominantly professional class, with better housing conditions than most others, only 36 per cent indicated they had a spare room in their homes to dedicate to self-isolation. For residents who have up to eight people in their households, with one habitable room, there is no recourse to self-isolation in the home should the need arise, and this presents a high risk of community spread from the individual to family members and then neighbours,” according to CHSD Coordinator, Dr. Basirat Oyalowo.
“For salaried workers in government and private sector, the provision of (at least) one-month salary advance would improve ability to provide food and other supplies for themselves, reducing the dependency and expectation for government provision. Longer-term interventions will be explored after further analysis of data,” she said.
CHSD said, “At 94 per cent in agreement, there is a high level of alignment with the ‘Stay at Home Measure’, which the government can optimise for more effective management of the Pandemic. Most respondents knew to call the emergency help lines of either the Lagos State Government or the NCDC. A good proportion also knew the major symptoms of the disease, the need to maintain physical distance and also to go into self-isolation if showing symptoms.
“This shows that the efforts of the government in public enlightenment have been relatively effective thus far. There is an appallingly low rate of community preparedness, with only 10 per cent reporting knowledge of preparedness by their community and these are typically residents of housing estates. The most common practice is temperature checks and use of sanitisers at entry point.”
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