Category Archives: Projects

Geoffrey Visiting Senegal for the 2017 World Habitat Awards


Picture by BSHF.

Geoff was invited by David Ireland, Director of the Building and Social Housing Foundation, to visit Senegal to review a shortlisted project for the 2017 World Habitat Awards which the foundation sponsors and organises.

Geoff was one of several trustees invited to visit projects in different countries and was in Senegal between 8-11 December 2016.

During this short time, he visited projects in Dakar, Podor, and Saint Louis, plus some villages, covering large distances up to the Mauritania border.

The projects involved reviving the traditional Nubian mudbrick vaulting system of roofing that does not require any formwork during construction and has been used in a range of building from housing, maternity clinics, community centres and mosques. To read Geoff’s blog, click here.

Here are some of Geoff’s personal photographs:

The projects. Maternity clinic (pic. 1) and house (pic. 2) using Nubian vault roofing.

Everyday life. Women benefitting from the projects (pic. 3); great hospitality by the local community (pic. 4).













Indonesia, 4th mission 2016: Land aspects of house upgrading programme

In this latest mission, Geoff and was commissioned to analyse and make recommendations on the land aspects of the national and local house improvement program (BSPS). The mission involved meetings in Jakarta and visits to the cities of Padang and Semarang, with a short stop in Yogyakrta. Visits were made to ongoing house improvement projects to meet the residents and workers, as well as local officials responsible for project implementation.

Indonesia, 2nd and 3rd missions, 2015: Land and affordable new housing

Following the initial assignment in 2014, Geoff was commissioned by the World Bank to undertake further analysis and prepare recommendations on land management and physical planning aspects of a proposed ‘starter core’ housing program. The program is intended to improve access to affordable new housing for lower and low income households and involved two missions during 2015. During these missions, Geoff visited projects and had meetings with a wide range of officials, academics, civil society organisations and residents in the cities of Bandung, Makassar and Yogyakarta.

Indonesia, 1st mission 2014: Strengthening the land market for affordable housing

Geoff was commissioned by the World Bank in October 2014 to contribute to a program to strengthen the government’s approach to land policy to improve the availability of, and access to, urban land for low-income housing. The mission provided inputs into Indonesia’s Housing Policy Roadmap with recommended policy interventions in the short, medium and long-term to improve supply of urban land for housing, and improved knowledge and capacity of the Indonesian government to execute the recommended measures.

Whilst the country has achieved increases in economic growth and poverty reduction during the last decade, large sections of the urban population remain below, or just above, the poverty line. Urban poverty is widespread and government action has so far been unable to effectively reform regressive land and housing regulations and policies, leading to market failures. However, a new administration was inaugurated in October 2014 which offers the prospect of substantial progress in improving access to land for housing by the urban poor.

During the assignment, Geoff was invited to make a presentation on land tenure and property rights at the University of Djuanda, in Bogor city.

Vanuatu: 2nd mission, 2015

Vanuatu National Housing Policy

Geoff has been appointed by the World Bank to help prepare a National Housing Policy for the Republic of Vanuatu. An archipelago in the South Pacific, the people of Vanuatu have the reputation of being the happiest in the world, even though it has also been defined as the world’s most environmentally vulnerable country due to its exposure to earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones and rising sea levels.

Geoff was the land and housing consultant on a World Bank mission to the capital, Port Vila in October, 2014, for which the main focus was to assess the role of the National Housing Corporation (NHC). The mission concluded that the key priority for the country was to develop a National Housing Policy within which the future of the NHC could be considered.

In March, 2915, Tropical Cyclone Pam swept through Vanuatu with winds of up to 120 miles and hour. A large number of houses were destroyed or damaged and some people were killed, with many injured, or suffering the loss of their livestock assets.

The Government of Vanuatu invited the Bank to return with the objective of preparing the basis for a National Housing Poilcy and Geoff was in the country during 04-17 June. Three quarters of the population live as subsistence farmers in small villages scattered over many islands. Houses are made of local materials and can quickly be repaired, but are not resistant to Force Five cyclones, so people move to permanent buildings, such as local schools to see out the worst storms. Rural housing needs are therefore modest, though the number of future units needed will increase substantially by 2030 as more than 40% of the rural population is less than 15 years of age.

The real challenge is in meeting housing needs in urban and peri-urban areas, especially in and around Port Vila. Already, approximately a third of the capital’s population live in substandard, informally developed housing and the urban population is increasing. A further consideration is that land outside the municipal boundary is held under customary tenure, little of which has been surveyed, leading to widespread boundary disputes that prevent owners from developing it and rendering in-migrants insecure. Large plot sizes of 1,000m2 or more also lead to urban sprawl and consequent high costs of services provision and encroachments onto fertile agricultural land. Putting land to socially, economically and environmentally efficient use, is a key element, though the policy will also address issues of building design and construction for cyclone resilience, housing finance and services provision.

When completed in early July, the draft policy will be submitted by the Bank to the Government of Vanuatu as a basis for extensive local consultations between public, customary and civil society stakeholders to ensure that the final policy document enjoys full local ownership.

The traditional Nakamal meeting house in Tilikasoa village on the island of Nguna which withstood the cyclone almost intact.

Composite customary and modern design


Uganda housing standards project

Geoff was commissioned by UNDP to act as the international Facilitator for a two day retreat meeting on “Developing Housing Sector Service and Service Delivery Standards for Uganda”. The retreat was organized by the Uganda National Planning Authority (NPA) and held in Kampala during the week of 12-16 January, 2015.

Although the World Bank data shows the 2013 national average income level (GNI) in Uganda was a modest US$600, Uganda expects to increase average incomes by 60% in four years to become a middle-income country by 2017 (for which the current threshold is US$1,045) by 2017. Geoff’s Terms of Reference required him to prepare a report and presentation on international examples of affordable housing appropriate to a middle income country. However,  the research undertaken by Geoff demonstrated that, in fact, no correlation can be made between housing standards and the income level of a country and Geoff demonstrated this by showing a house in London, UK (a high income country) that was only 1.5 metres wide, yet is perfectly legal (click here to see Geoff’s Powerpoint presentation). The research also showed that as national incomes increase, so do urban populations and competition for land, forcing up land and housing prices, so that official housing standards may not increase at all with increased incomes and could actually become more difficult to achieve.

Current draft housing standards in Uganda propose a minimum plot size of 150m2 with building setbacks at the front and sides. These standards are far higher than many people in Kampala and other towns currently occupy and can afford. Geoff stressed that any housing standards that are based on official aspirations and not economic realities are likely to make access to legal housing more difficult for a large proportion of households. They could also make it impossible to legalise and upgrade the large number of existing informal settlements. The NPA was unable to accept these findings and is proposing to develop and adopt housing standards that are “consistent with middle income countries”. Geoff wishes the NPA well and hopes that it will eventually establish standards, regulations and administrative procedures that are affordable and appropriate to the needs of all people in Uganda, especially the poor.

Vanuatu: 1st mission, 2014


Geoff has been commissioned by the World Bank to contribute to a mission assessing housing and settlement policy in Vanuatu.

During a mission in September, 2014, Geoff worked with the Mission Leader, Rumana Huque, to:

i) undertake a quick assessment of the current status of housing provision;

ii)  assess the current role and potential of the National Housing Corporation and;

iii)  propose policy and strategy options, referencing international best practices, with regard to institutional roles between key stakeholders and identify potential directions for a national housing policy.

A report on the mission has been submitted to the Bank and Government of Vanuatu for consideration.

Ulaanbaatar Land Administration and Land Markets Study

Funding bodies: The World Bank

Duration: January 2013 – June 2014

Objectives: Review of current affordable housing policies in Ulaanbaatar


GPA was commissioned by the World Bank in April, 2013 to contribute to a review of current affordable housing policies and draw lessons to contribute to an on-going effort of the city to improve the living condition for residents in ger areas, where the majority of low-income households live in Ulaanbaatar. At present, there is a critical lack of data in housing that makes it almost impossible for city leaders to make evidence-based decisions. The task will first look at the city’s housing supply and demand through a segmented market analysis. Through the analysis, it intends to provide policy recommendations and possible approaches for the city to effectively improve housing conditions and meeting housing demands for its citizens, particularly for those in the ger areas. It is expected that the task will provide critical guidance to city leaders as they make decisions intended to expand affordable housing for ger area residents and improve the city’s overall planning for more sustainable urban development. This task will support the city in establishing a framework for data collection and analysis to enable it to make more informed decisions.

China – Affordable Housing Technical Assistance

Funding bodies: The World Bank

Duration: January 2012 – June 2014

Objectives: Review of affordable housing in a central district of Shanghai

GPA was invited by the World Bank to contribute to a study mission to review housing conditions of residents in a central district of Shanghai, including the extent and nature of housing demand and resources for the broader rental market in order that District authorities responsible for meeting official targets can do so in ways which balance needs and resources in the short and medium terms.

The research will propose innovative approaches in land use, financing models, supervision models, distribution mechanism and exit channels for developing affordable housing in downtown areas of metropolises, through in-depth investigation of current obstacles and problems, lessons learned from international and domestic successes and comparison of the strength and weakness of different models. It will offer recommendations on policies, institutional design, operation roadmap, implementation arrangement, issues to pay attention to in the development and operation of affordable housing in downtown areas of metropolises.

Desk review of affordable housing in East Asia and the Pacific region

Funding bodies: The World Bank

Duration: January 2012 – June 2012

Objectives: Desk review of affordable housing in East Asia and the Pacific region

GPA was commissioned by the World Bank in January, 2012 to undertake a desk review of the literature on affordable and low-income housing issues, policies and outcomes. The review includes the characteristics of existing programs, the constraints countries face in implementing effective programs (e.g., land markets, supply driven programs, poor targeting, lack of financing instruments etc) and innovations introduced. It also includes affordable, low income and social housing programs of both ownership and rental options, together with successful programs from within EAP countries as well as global best practice. The results will be discussed in a Regional workshop with key policy makers in the housing sector, following which a practitioner’s guide or toolkit specifically designed for EAP countries will be prepared.