Housing in Fiji’s capital Suva is a growing concern as more and more people from rural Fiji make their way to urban centres.
This has given rise to more than 250 informal settlements or squatter settlements where shanty homes are being built on land belonging to the state or someone else.
More than 100,000 people are estimated to reside in such shanty settlements, many of which do not have water supply or electricity.
This situation was further worsened when public housing units in a Suva suburb which housed 100 families were torn down because they had become structurally unsafe.
Many of the families in these housing units moved over to the nearest squatter settlements. The demand for housing in Fiji is far greater than what is being supplied.
To provide a solution to this growing problem, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is working on a housing project in Fiji to provide affordable, climate-resilient homes for 3,000 low and middle-income families.
The IFC is the lead transaction advisor to the Fijian Government for the project, which is expected to mobilise an estimated US$200 million of private investment in the country.
It said in a statement that the private-public partnership project comes at a time when Fiji has a huge need for more affordable, climate-resilient homes, after the dual shocks of COVID-19 and a series of natural disasters have taken a heavy toll on its economy.
Fijian Attorney-General and Minister for Housing and Community Development, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said ensuring access to adequate housing was about more than any financial benefit. He said it was about supplying security, dignity, a sense of ownership, and optimism for families.
“This public-private partnership financing model with the IFC will allow for the construction of multi-story housing projects across Viti Levu. Rather than entrench residential inequality, these mixed strata-housing units will be made affordable for families at many different income levels,” said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.
Judith Green, IFC Country Manager for the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand, said affordable housing projects such as this one could deliver multiple benefits by lowering the burden of housing rent, increasing households’ disposable incomes, lifting consumption and investment, and ultimately, helping drive economic growth and development.
IFC said the project will be developed in the Central and Western divisions of Fiji, with approximately 3,000 affordable housing units across six sites. The scope includes construction, handover of the affordable housing units at a predetermined price, and maintenance for a specified period.
The developer will also have the opportunity to construct high-end housing units at the sites, which can be sold at market value, and homes will be built using EDGE, a global green building certification system created by IFC, that focuses on making buildings more resource efficient, the statement said.