South Asia: Housing for the poor is a big challenge

South Asia: Housing for the poor is a big challenge

SAM Staff,

Sharif Hassan

The rise and fall of the real estate sector is closely correlated with the economy of one country. As South Asia is one of the world’s most flourishing regions, development of real estate holds special importance.  This region also has a higher percentage of people living below poverty line. Providing proper housing for them is a major challenge. The inhuman condition of the slum is one of the bigger problems that comes with poverty. India has been confronting this problem for long the as they have one of the largest slum population. As a result booming of the real estate sector comes with the challenge  of accommodating the lower income class people. Following them, Pakistan and Bangladesh are also facing difficulties in improving the living condition. Although it’s a fact that economic development and urbanization affects the slum expansion, at the same the lack of contribution by the state for the improvement of this situation  is uninspiring. Some NGOs and microfinance institutions are actively trying to help in poor housing programs, but the government is still not taking any effective initiatives regarding this problem.

The government is this south Asian region should make their own policy that would help the real estate sector to flourish as well as  developing housing accommodation for poor people with a long term plan. And as an undeveloped sector, almost all the countries of South Asia  has a huge potential in the housing industry. As a highly populated and poor region south Asian governments  starting to recognize the importance of housing sector.  In general,  despite the growth in the national political situation has affected the sector in many ways. Living in your own house is not a dream exclusive only to the upper class of the society, middle-income families even somewhat low-mid class family also dares to dream to own a house. But 13 million people in South Asia are living in the slums. They do not get any kind of civic amenities. A World Bank reports, 14 percent of low-income families in the region is homeless. 30 percent growth rate of the housing and financial markets only giving an advantage to high-income people. The overall socio-economic development of the residential facilities is a fundamental issue. Ignoring this is not possible for a sustainable prosperity. An increasing number of slums and patch-worked houses prove how much attention should be given here.

The world bank report states a number of reasons why  the poor have been deprived of housing facilities. They also convey various statistical information on how severe the problem is. According to a projection, almost 4 million houses are needed desperately to minimize the current situation. Money markets are dominated by the  big bad banking sector.  These banks have been quite generous in recent decades so the growth also increased. But as they are limited to basic goods the due development didn’t happen. Asian development bank also emphasizes the importance of housing sector in the region. According to an ADB report, they talked about how the income gap should be minimized as well as the revitalization of housing policy so that low and middle-income people have access to the proper housing facility.


The development of housing sector was plot centered at first and slowly evolving into flat centered. Although somewhere along the way it slowed down, now it gained more steam.  This sector is no longer limited to the capital. Up to remote areas of the expansion can be seen. Skyline of the whole country has been changed. These changes can be seen strongly in Dhaka and Chittagong. Due to rapid urbanization, cities are rushing towards the village.  Real estate developers of Bangladesh not only working in housing sector but also gaining experience in townships,  bridges, flyovers and various type of infrastructure. Along with this, the price of flat and plot are rising dramatically. In the capital city, the price increased by 100 to 200 percent in the last decade. Although inflation and the raw material price are not the only influence here, changes in taste is also a major issue.

However, in recent times the housing industry is going through major stagnation, especially since 2012’s downturn. On one hand, people’s income decreased in the current regimented political situation, other hand people are not willing to take risk of investment in this uncertain situation.  A lot of people turned away from this business and others are surviving hoping for a better time on the horizon. The House Building Finance Corporation that was formed to invest in housing sector became largely ineffective.

Also, there are not much innovation that will allow the low and low-middle income people to combine their desire and capability. As well as the rising fraudulent is a major concern among the general public. The activities of middleman-tout are also proving to be hard to suppress. Despite all the problems, the progress that is happening is a good sign. In light of the sector’s needs, rods, cement, ceramic, tiles, etc. Business is also been flourishing. But with the recent slowdown these linkage business sector having negative impact

Formulating of stringent building policies for both cities and rural areas should be implemented to as early as possible. We need to capitalize the increasing awareness about the environment for a better living condition. Bangladesh is a densely populated country and prone to a various natural disaster such as earthquakes, floods, tidal waves. These natural disasters can cause enormous damage. Adequate roads, open space, playgrounds, public-use space, car parking, sanitation, waste management, etc. should be prioritized properly from now on in a very careful plan, which will assure minimal damage in case of any terrible disaster.

The cabinet recently passed the National Housing Policy 2016 may be considered a positive step towards future.  Housing benefits for all citizens, the sustainable development of settlements, and religious, protecting forestry and natural resources, ensuring social and environmental stability has been the subject of importance in this housing policy.


Real estate sector in India, the biggest country in the region is naturally bigger than it’s neighbors. Not only domestic, India is one of the centers in international real estate investment. foreign investment in this sector is also increasing. In 2013, only 26 percent of foreign investment in the country was the real estate sector.  In 2014, due to some of the effective policies, it rose more than 50 percent. Although Real estate does not mean housing only. It also covers hospitals, business centers, educational institutions, parks etc. The development of this sector will increase in the near future. A statistics shows, by 2020, India’s real estate market will reach 180 billion dollars, and The housing sector will contribute to the country’s GDP by 5-6 percent.India’s real estate sector is centered around Mumbai, after comes Delhi, Bangalore and other cities.


Real estate is the most important and growing sector of the economy of Pakistan. The country spends 52 billion dollars a year in the construction sector.  According to Pakistan Bureau of statistics, the construction sector contributes 2 percent of total GDP. Half of the contribution is from the housing sector. A key feature of real estate sector in Pakistan the presence of active investors and wealthy buyers.  Creating housing facilities for the upper middle class is getting their highest attention. One of the major milestones of Pakistan’s housing sector is the project bora has Island City. The project in Karachi is expected to have an investment of $ 20 billion. However, the government has also taken some initiatives for balanced development of the sector.

Sri Lanka

After the civil war like other sectors, there is also rapid development in the real estate industry. Foreigners are getting interested as the investment also increasing. the Chinese participation in the construction of the Colombo Port City has resulted in a positive situation for this sector. The budget presented by the government of Sri Lanka in 2015 shows the favorable attitude toward foreign investment in the sector. According to the World Bank, the country is rushing towards, “higher middle-income country”. The housing industry is certainly going to be rejuvenated by that.


Although not getting its deserved attention, Real estate magnets  are getting highly interested in the beautiful islands of Maldives. Luxurious resorts, hotels, parks and many manufacturers are already keeping an eye on the country. For example Czech billionaire JIŘÍ Å MEJC, He has recently launched a Private Island Resort named Velaa. This luxurious resort costs 30 thousand dollars for the night. According to Debutesq a European  real estate investor, 100 million dollars have been invested in the sector in the country, in the last four years. In particular, Russia and East Asian investor showing interest in the Maldives. Almost 12 hundred islands of only 290 islands are currently inhabited in Maldives. Every island is picture perfect and the locals are very welcoming towards the tourist. For this reason, the country has become the center of the world’s vacation. And because of the huge profits investors are  looking forward to building more Hotel, Resorts.


Myanmar’s housing sector is expected to develop quite rapidly. Return of democracy and opening the door for the West will most possibly result in the development of housing as well as another sector. As a result of political stability, Asian Development Bank predicted that the country’s economy will achieve growth of 8.4 percent this year. This will also have a favorable impact on real estate.

Although facing many limitations and complexities South Asia, there is the possibility of massive success. The urban population of the region is growing at a much higher rate. The cities will be the center of people’s productivity and livelihoods. Bangladesh’s economic growth has a close relationship with the urbanization. 28 percent of the country’s population live in cities.