Climate change and gender inequality are some of the two most pressing issues facing our world today, and particularly around housing. Integrating gender and climate indicators into housing data is a critical step towards creating a more sustainable and equitable affordable housing solutions. This blog article explores the importance of integrating climate and gender data in housing data and discusses some of the key challenges and opportunities that exist within the African housing space. To begin with, the article sets the context on why it is important to collect data pertaining to climate and gender indicators with respect to housing. The article then reflects and presents housing data collected on gender and climate indicators in Africa, from 5 countries, using qualitative and quantitative approaches and concludes with recommendations from the data collection experience of climate and gender indicators.

Increasingly, policy makers and investors agree that affordable housing must engage with the particular circumstances of women, and the relationship between housing and the environment. By understanding the intersectionality between gender, climate, and housing, policymakers and other stakeholders can develop sustainable and equitable solutions to the challenges facing affordable housing delivery. While delivery targets and KPIs insist upon this attention, there is little data available to either quantify and understand the problem, or to track progress in its resolution.  This data challenge is not new to the affordable housing sector, and it is for this reason that CAHF, Reall and 71point4 developed the Market Shaping Indicators (MSIs) under the Data Agenda for Africa Programme..  The MSIs are a set of indicators that provide information on the state and functioning of a country’s housing sector… The framework for the MSIs splits the indicators into those that illustrate the functioning of the housing delivery Value Chain and those that clarify the local Context in which housing delivery occurs.

To enable a similar level of replicability across different African countries, the focus of the MSIs has been on collecting administrative and regulatory data that is mainly put together by national survey data as collected by public sector sources such as national statistical agencies, ministries, central banks and other public sources of data.

While the housing data landscape in Africa still has significant gaps, an added layer of complexity is the lack of data that specifically focuses on gender and climate issues.  If they are to invest in these sub-sectors of the housing economy, investors need to understand the particular issues facing women in their participation in affordable housing markets and to identify the key climate and sustainability-related issues that impact on, or are given rise to by, affordable housing.

In the data collection cycle of 2022/23, the MSIs incorporated a first effort to round out the picture of gender, climate, and sustainability issues in housing. The data collection was piloted in five African countries namely, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Ghana and Nigeria, with 2 countries (Senegal and Tanzania) to follow shortly after, and applied both qualitative and qualitative approaches to collecting gender and climate data.

The integration of gender in the MSIs was based on the premise that women play a variety of roles in relation to the housing, in a community. Therefore, the MSIs categorized these roles into three: as (1) Women as Consumers of Housing, (2) Women as Suppliers of Housing and (3) Women as Home-based Entrepreneurs. Subsequently, the specific indicators were developed to understand and track the opportunities and challenges, women face with relation to property rights, end user financing among others relevant indications. The 3 role categories were assumed to be non-mutually exclusive, since women seek to improve the social, economic, and financial performance of their homes, and as such, may operate in each of these categories simultaneously.








On the other side, the integration of Climate and Sustainability into the MSIs was framed differently, because the relationship between housing and climate goes in both directions. The integration was therefore premised on the impact of the environment on the current housing situation, and the impact of housing on the environment. Working with these two perspectives, indicators were then structured into two main categories – housing construction (i.e., the new production of housing), and housing management/maintenance (i.e. the life cycle of existing housing). These categories framed the relevant indicators to better explore different aspects of climate and housing such as carbon footprints, energy efficiency, climate risks incidences and policies that ought to be put in place. These indicators were developed with the thesis of shedding more light on the relationship between climate and the cost and safety of housing in particular for low-income earners, and the impact this has on sustainability.

The experience during the data collection process reflects the original hypothesis set out in the concept note regarding the limited availability of data. From the data collection exercise conducted in Quarter 4 of 2022, very limited quantitative data, at all aggregation levels (National, Capital City, Urban Centres and Bottom 40) was successfully collected. To address this anticipated constraint, a qualitative survey provided insights towards a more rounded picture of gender and climate.  Qualitative responses received from the five countries under study are summarized in the table below.

Qualitative questions regarding gender

No Questions Summarized Responses from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Ghana
1 To what extent do females need permission from male family members to access credit, and is it specific to particular kinds of credit? Data from the sampled countries indicate that women do not need to seek permission from a male family member to access credit. However, Kenya and Uganda recorded responses that formal loans from Banks require spousal consent where collaterals are attached. The spousal consent works both ways (for men and women) and is meant to protect matrimonial property.
2 Do women need permission from male family members to purchase a property or to rent a unit, and how is this expressed administratively? Similar to the credit findings, responses from the sampled countries indicate that women do not need to seek permission from a male family member to purchase a property. It was noted that men may play a consultative role in the purchase process depending on the context of the woman.
3 How common is it for women to be evicted from their homes when their husbands die? Or when the relationship ends? Is this incidence recorded anywhere, whether by an NGO or in court documents, or otherwise? Across all countries, it was unanimously reported that women, particularly in rural areas are frequently evicted from their homes when their husbands die. The contributing factors to these practices are cultural, poverty and illiteracy and limited awareness of women’s rights.

These practices are still common in spite of the existence of clear laws on inheritance and matrimonial property. It was noted in urban areas, women are more empowered to fight for the matrimonial property through legal channels.

There are no formal records of these incidences apart from legal cases that have been filed, which represent a small sample of the whole picture.

4 Do female children inherit property? Similar to the above question, the legal framework has established that all children (Male and Female) can inherit property – save for instances where parents have a will that specifies succession.

However, most responses noted that in urban centres and within enlightened families, female children normally inherit property.

Across all countries, the challenge was noted to be in rural areas where cultural practices do not permit female children to inherit, especially those married – as it is viewed that they ‘belong’ to the husband’s family.

5 How prevalent is backyard rental, or household landlordism? Where it exists, what role do women play as developers or landlords? Backyard rental was recorded to be prevalent in main capital cities in Uganda and Kenya, where there is a significant shortage of housing. The rentals primarily cater to students and low-income earners. Within these countries it was not clear what role women play.

In Ghana and Mozambique, back-yard rental was recorded as a rare observation according to the responses collected.

6 To what extent do lenders explicitly market to women for:
a) home purchase or rental finance
b) home improvement /micro-finance
c) home construction finance
It was observed that lenders in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda offer credit products specifically for women, but applied towards check-off loans (salaried) and business loans, which tend to have a tenure of less than 5 years.

None of the countries recorded mortgage credit facilities exclusively geared towards women for home purchase, improvement, or construction.

7 Is there something like a “Gender Commission” and does it address any issues relating to housing – what is the name of the institution or body? All countries recorded the existence of a Cabinet level docket, that is concerned with coordination of gender and social affairs within government. This Ministry is called the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development (or a derivation of the same). However, in all countries, there was no Government agency or commission that exclusively addresses the issues of women with relation to housing.

Kenya was noted to have, Women In Real Estate (WIRE), which is a professional and industry networking association meant to encourage the participation of women in real estate careers.


The findings can be summarized into two main points. First, there is a common thread on the bias of culture and in some cases religion against, the right for women to own, inherit and access financing for housing. While these cultural and religious biases are less frequent in the urban areas where housing gaps tend to be more pronounced – it still suggests that a mind-set shift is required across all African countries, to ensure the equitable right of women to access, and more importantly own houses. The second common thread that stands out is the lack of government sponsored policies and programmes, as well as private sector products and services that either address of the issues related to gender and housing., or maximise on the opportunity of singling out women as a target market. The active promotion of home ownership for women is not evident in any of the countries studied. This is an opportunity that should be explored in the backdrop of the critical roles that women play and the significance of their housing in enabling their contributions.

Qualitative questions regarding climate and sustainability

No Questions Summarized Responses from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Ghana
What are the dominant climate risks (flooding, cyclones, wildfires, droughts) faced by poor people and are these different from those faced by the wealthy? Provide examples of any recent climate related disasters. Both extremes of flooding and drought were recorded as the dominant climate risks across all countries. Mozambique was unique perhaps because of its geolocation as it recorded cyclones and destructive monsoon winds. Uganda was the only country to note mudslides as a common climate risk – often precipitated by floods. In all the countries, it was clear that the climate risks disproportionately impacted the poor.
To what extent are suppliers developing off-grid infrastructure products that can be added to existing homes to improve their green performance (for example, solar water heating systems, solar panels, biodigesters, clean cooking stoves, etc.) Uganda, Ghana, and Mozambique noted a slow but gradually growing momentum of off-grid infrastructure products.

However, Kenya and Nigeria recorded a vibrant market of suppliers of off-grid infrastructure products more in rural areas than urban areas. These predominantly include panels, clean cooking stoves and lighting products.

Which of the following key residential construction materials are predominantly imported? Concrete, cement bricks, steel, window frames, timber, pipes, roof tiles, corrugated iron, sanitaryware, faucets, tiles other? Across all countries steel as a construction input is imported as well as finishing items such as faucets, sanitary items, and tiles. Cement and construction bricks were noted to be locally produced in all countries with the exception of Mozambique.
To what extent do green finance providers or green mortgages exist for new home builds or renovations? Green financing does  exist as a concept in Kenya and Nigeria. A concept that has received attention from various players but has not been implemented. It was noted that in these markets the green financing primarily applies to developers and has not yet cascaded down to retail mortgage products.

Ghana, Uganda, and Mozambique did not record any green financing providers at developer or retail levels.

Are climate and sustainability issues part of the national discussion relating to affordable housing?  In what way? Across all countries, it was noted that climate and sustainability issues are part of the national discussion relating to housing. However, the interesting insight was that they do not rank highly in the hierarchy of immediate needs to resolve. Climate and sustainability considerations are part of the national discussions relating to affordable housing. Other issues such as land cost and tenures, cost of construction, financing needs rank much higher.
Does the country have a national disaster risk management plan?  Does this plan extend to housing? Yes – all countries have a disaster risk management plan in place as a government requirement – however it was not clear if they extend to housing.
To what extent are policies/ regulations/ building codes in place to support green building? Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda recorded the existence or development of Green Building Codes. There was doubt as the implementation of the codes as normal building and planning codes are presently not strictly adhered to. By way of example, Nigeria has a Building Energy Efficiency Guideline, Cap 37 of Ghana’s Ghana Building Code, details green building policies.
Do green rating/certifying systems bodies such as a Green Buildings Council exist? If they exist, to what extent are they functioning and do they have reasonable reach? Across all countries there was an acknowledgement that IFC Edge green certification was present.

However, only Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana recorded a local Green Building Council, but the extent of the certification was not clear. The councils were seen to play a more advocacy role and their presence or importance is not well established by most developers in those markets.

To what extent does the Building Code include guidelines or specifications for energy efficiency/conservation concerning:
a) Thermal performance or R-values (heat gains/losses) of envelopes through passive solar design
b) Space heating and cooling requirements
c) Water heating alternatives to electrical resistance element heating
The interesting insight on this was the placement of the energy efficiency guidelines. In the three countries below the placement of these guidelines was in the building code:

–          In Uganda, the Building Control Act of 2013

–          In Ghana the Ghana Building code on page 1381

–          In Nigeria the Building Energy Efficiency Guideline (BEEG)

However, in Kenya, it was generally observed that since the building code is outdated (developed in the 60’s) the energy guidelines do appear there but rather are in the Kenya Energy Act which brings into question who has jurisdiction over enforceability. Is it the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority or the National Construction Authority?

Do tax or other monetary incentives exist to encourage green building? Similar to the green financing theme, the concept of monetary incentives to encourage green building exists as a concept is Kenya and Nigeria. A concept that has received attention from various players but has not been implemented. However, in Kenya, the Acorn green bond was noted to be tax exempt to investors, which is not any different from infrastructure bonds that are also tax exempt. It was noted that what was lacking was demonstration of a green building incentives on the construction inputs.
Describe the level of market penetration and acceptance of green products and building systems in the marketplace Across all countries it was noted that uptake of green construction inputs and building systems was relatively low. The main factors contributing to this are (1) the perception (misconception) that green products and building systems are expensive (2) related to the first lack sufficient knowledge or interest in adopting green products and (3) green products and building systems are lower order problems to solve for in the marketplace.
To what extent are green products and building systems targeted specifically at low-income households? Coming from the preceding question, across all countries it was noted that no housing green products or building systems were geared towards low-income households.

Housing appliances and solar panels however have several green suppliers and products targeted towards low-income households.

On climate and sustainability, it is clear that climate risks have become increasingly rampant and are disproportionately affecting poor. Additionally, while the housing sectors in the surveyed African countries recognize the increasing importance of adopting green housing, witnessed by green building codes and the existence of green building councils and monetary incentives, there still exists a significant gap in the actual execution and delivery of green products and housing. Countries need to move the needle from discussions and engaging with green housing as a concept that is good, to have to an imperative, a “must-implement” initiative in the provision of housing. Climate and housing issues are somewhat at a crossroads – while the green argument in housing is accepted and acknowledged, its application (where it really matters) is largely overlooked. This is the real housing challenge – bringing the affordable and the green arguments together and giving expression to them on the ground.



Notwithstanding the efforts that have gone into framing Gender and Climate issues as they relate to affordable housing, there are significant data gaps. That is why have Reall and CAHF have partnered further, with FSDAi and FSD Kenya  in pursuing the Open Access Initiative, which seeks to collect micro-level data (at project level) from private sources such as implementation partners, developers, financiers, with the thesis of harnessing more data.  The approach envisions that implementation partners will provide or collect data over the lifecycle of their projects in four broad categories relating to the product being delivered, the process followed (in terms of statutory steps, time and cost), the people targeted and impacted upon, and the performance of the project over the long term.

A key intention of the parties involved in the Open Access initiative is that the data collection process support their focus on climate smart and sustainable affordable housing delivery, while also addressing issues of gender.  The data collected in terms of product, process, people, and performance will therefore explicitly address key climate, sustainability, and gender issues, as they arise at a project level.  In the short term, these will offer project-based indications to influence the macro perspective offered by the MSIs.  In the longer term, these might also shape the data collected by the MSIs, as explicit reporting on these issues mainstreams beyond the project level.


The End.

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