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housing

Blended finance unlocks the keys to affordable housing across west Africa

Martin Spicer's picture
Also available in: Français
Houses under construction. © John Hogg/World Bank
Houses under construction. © John Hogg/World Bank

Affordable housing is a major challenge across West Africa, where fewer than 7 percent of households can afford to buy their own home. The situation is particularly acute in the countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) -- Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo – where demand for decent housing far outstrips supply.

But a new financing tool developed by the World Bank Group, is helping thousands of families across the WAEMU access private housing finance and finally achieve their dreams of owning their own home.

The tool is the $2.5 billion IDA18 IFC-MIGA Private Sector Window (IDA PSW), launched in July 2017 to help catalyze private sector investments and create jobs in the lowest income countries eligible for financing from the World Bank’s International Development Association.

A tale of two disasters: Communities connecting and learning from each other

Margaret Arnold's picture
Also available in: 日本語
Community members from Nepal learn how to make paper jewelry crafts from Ibasho-Japan elders.
Community members from Nepal learn how to make paper jewelry crafts from Ibasho-Japan members. 
(Photo: Margaret Arnold / World Bank)
In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, Santoshi Rana of Bihani, a social venture working with elderly community members in Kathmandu, noticed that many efforts engaged the youth in relief and recovery activities. “Our elderly were completely left out of the equation, and were treated as passive beneficiaries in need of care.” So she took to the Internet to see what resources she could find. She came across a World Bank-Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) report, “Elders Leading the Way to Resilience,” which assessed the impact of Ibasho café, an elder-led recovery effort in Ofunato, Japan, following the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) in 2011.

Ibasho: a Japanese approach to community resilience

In Ofunato, elder community members planned and built the Ibasho Café, which serves as a hub to restore the fabric of a community badly damaged by the GEJE disaster. Ibasho Café is an informal gathering place that brings the community together. All generations connect in that space, with children coming to read books in the English library, older people teaching the young how to make traditional foods, younger people helping their elders navigate computer software, etc. With the elderly actively engaged in the operation of the Ibasho café, the place helps build social capital and resilience, while changing people’s mindsets about aging. The café runs as a sustainable business and, over time, has developed a noodle shop, an organic farm, and a farmers market to further support its operation.

In 2014-2015, GFDRR supported the documentation of the Ibasho experience in Japan. Learning about this experience, Santoshi realized the elders and women of her community could also lead the way, and reached out to Emi Kiyota, head of Ibasho, the NGO that facilitated the process in Ofunato.