URBAN GROWTH AND HOUSING CHALLENGES IN THE BAMENDA URBAN SPACE, NORTH WEST REGION, CAMEROON
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Housing is a fundamental human need, but making sure that every person has access to good quality housing is a worldwide challenge, causing the acceleration of slums and informal housing in Cameroon’s major cities. The study aims at analysing urban growth and the attendant housing challenges in the Bamenda Urban Space. To achieve the objectives and test the hypotheses, the study made use of a mixed method approach, involving the application of qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. Primary data was collected through a survey of 372 households, interviews with 15 key informants and the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for the mapping of land use/cover, housing and social amenities. This was complemented by secondary data obtained from published and unpublished sources. Data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 21.0. Both descriptive and inferential techniques were used to obtain results which were presented on tables, figures, plates and maps. Findings revealed that socio-economic, demographic, religious, political and cultural factors were the main determinants of urban growth. Bamenda Urban Space witnessed a remarkable increase in its built-up area at the expense of farm land, savannah, wetlands and exposed surfaces from 1986 to 2019. The regression results revealed a significantly strong positive correlation between the socio-economic characteristics of inhabitants and housing quality (R-Square=0.686; P=0.001). The probability values for the individual socio-economic parameters were considered; gender (P=0.014), level of education (P=0.032), income level (P=0.000) and household sizes (0.003) were significant determinants of the quality of housing occupied. The study established a significantly weak positive correlation between the difficulties in obtaining building permits and poor housing conditions (R Square=0.136; P=0.035) which implies that difficulties in obtaining building permits predict housing condition just at a rate of 13.6%, therefore, other factors such as rapid urbanisation (P=0.055), low-income/unemployment (P=0.095), and physical constraints (P=0.003) among others were significant determinants of poor housing conditions. Poverty, high cost of building materials, increase in land prices, difficulty in obtaining land certificate and housing finance were other determinants to poor housing conditions even though these are not significant in the different neighbourhoods. Chi-Square test results revealed a significant variation (P=0.000) in the implications of urban growth on housing in the different neighbourhoods.The study recommends an effective policy environment that administers and enforces appropriate housing standards and design guidelines, while allowing sufficient flexibility to tailor designs and materials to local conditions