Urbanization and Housing Policy


A Case Study of Onitsha



By Innocent Franklin Makata

Department of Estate Management,
Delta State University of Science and Technology

Ozoro, Nigeria


Onitsha’s population has experienced remarkable growth, increasing from approximately 261,604 in 2006 to over 1 million in recent estimates. This growth is driven by high migration rates, natural increase, and urban sprawl. The implications of this rapid population growth include significant housing demand, infrastructure strain, and mixed economic impacts. Urbanization has exerted profound pressures on Onitsha’s infrastructure, leading to severe traffic congestion, road deterioration, water supply shortages, and inadequate sanitation. Housing shortages and the proliferation of informal settlements exacerbate these issues, alongside environmental impacts like flooding and waste management challenges. Despite policy frameworks such as the National Housing Policy, implementation faces hurdles like financial constraints, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and land acquisition issues. Several housing projects, including the Federal Housing Estate, Millennium City Housing Project, and Awada Layout Housing Project, illustrate mixed outcomes in addressing housing needs. While these projects have had successes in providing basic infrastructure and economic opportunities, they also suffer from maintenance issues, affordability constraints, and increased social stratification. Addressing Onitsha’s urbanization and housing challenges necessitates comprehensive policy improvements, learning from best practices in other cities, and long-term strategic planning. Key recommendations include enhancing public-private partnerships, reforming land acquisition processes, strengthening building regulations, and adopting smart city technologies. By prioritizing sustainable urban growth and affordable housing programs, Onitsha can improve living conditions and achieve long-term economic and social benefits. Collaborative efforts from government, the private sector, communities, and civil society are essential to create a prosperous and resilient Onitsha for all residents.

Keywords: urbanization, housing policy, infrastructure, Onitsha.


Urbanization, the process by which rural areas transform into urban centers, has become a significant phenomenon worldwide. It often leads to economic growth, improved infrastructure, and increased opportunities for residents. However, it also poses numerous challenges, particularly in the realm of housing policy. This article examines the urbanization process and housing policy in Onitsha, a major commercial hub in Nigeria, and its surrounding areas. Onitsha provides a compelling case study due to its rapid population growth, economic significance, and the resulting pressure on housing and urban infrastructure.

Urbanization is a multifaceted phenomenon that has been defined and interpreted by various scholars in diverse ways, reflecting its complex nature and broad impact on society. Kingsley Davis (1965) describes urbanization as the process through which a larger proportion of a population becomes concentrated in urban areas. He emphasizes the demographic transition and the accompanying social changes, noting that urbanization involves a shift from rural to urban living (Davis, 1965). John D. Kasarda and Edward M. Crenshaw (1991) offer a more structural perspective, defining urbanization as the increasing concentration of population into cities and metropolitan areas, which results in changes in economic activities, social structures, and spatial organization. They argue that urbanization is both a cause and effect of economic development and industrialization (Kasarda & Crenshaw, 1991). Janice E. Perlman (1976) focuses on the qualitative aspects of urbanization, particularly the transformation of lifestyles, values, and social networks. Perlman suggests that urbanization is not just about population density but also involves the adoption of urban culture and the reorganization of societal norms and relationships (Perlman, 1976). Alfredo Bruto da Costa (1980) highlights the economic dimension of urbanization, viewing it as a shift in employment from agriculture to industry and services. This transition often leads to increased productivity and income levels, driving further urban growth and development (da Costa, 1980). Manuel Castells (1977) introduces a critical perspective, considering urbanization as a component of broader socio-economic processes, including capital accumulation and social struggle. Castells argues that urbanization cannot be fully understood without considering the power dynamics and inequalities that shape urban spaces (Castells, 1977).


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How to cite this paper: Makata, I. F. (2024). Urbanization and Housing Policy: A Case Study of Onitsha; PM World Journal, Vol. XIII, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/pmwj143-Jul2024-Makata-urbanization-and-housing-policy-case-study-of-unitsha.pdf

About the Author

Innocent Franklin Makata

Ozoro, Delta State, Nigeria.


Mr Innocent Franklin Makata holds BS.c, MS.c in Estate Management from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He is currently a lecturer at Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro, Delta Stat,e Nigeria. He has been published in some reputable journals. Mr. Makata can be contacted at makataif@dsust.edu.ng.