Session 8


Achieving Safe and Affordable Housing for All: Affordable housing as a kickstart to economies in a post-COVID19 world

held on

Wednesday 12 August 2020 at 13:00 CAT, 12:00 BST, 11:00 UTC


The programme of events associated with a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation in the Commonwealth was launched on Wednesday 24 June 2020 under the leadership of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Planners, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, with support from The Prince’s Foundation and the Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure.

The COVID19 crisis is an urgent wake up call to drive innovative new approaches and jumpstart more climate-smart resilient economies. The silver lining is to pioneer green solutions by using low carbon materials and tech, and applying construction standards which are environmentally sustainable. 

There are multiple facets to the challenges of ensuring access to safe and affordable homes for all. Within the limited time available, this session therefore focuses primarily on the opportunity affordable housing provides to respond to acute housing needs, while simultaneously stimulating economic recovery. 

Investing in affordable housing has the potential to deliver on many fronts – for healthcare and pandemic protection, for prosperity and for sustainable urbanisation. This session will naturally look at the challenges, but importantly also highlight some of the opportunities, innovations and financing mechanisms that are helping to unlock affordable housing across the cities and towns of the Commonwealth as part of realising a climate-smart urban future.

This event was co-hosted with The Commonwealth Foundation. It highlighted the critical need in towns and cities across the Commonwealth for housing that is affordable – and specifically focused on the opportunity that affordable housing provides to improve public health and pandemic resilience as well as helping to kickstart economies in a post-COVID19 world by stimulating economic growth.  

The session was moderated by Dr Anne Gallagher, Director-General, Commonwealth Foundation with the following speakers:

  • Edward Kyazze, Ministry of Infrastructure, Rwanda
  • Danny Chibinda, Director of Housing and Social Services, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Lucy Livesley, REALL, UK
  • Sumedha Naik, Syntellect, India
  • Jawad Aslam, AMC, Pakistan

The event attracted over 203 attendees from 40 countries with circa 15 also watching the Vimeo livestream. Questions to the panel together with expressions of support came from variety of sources including Winnie Gitau co-founder of Kwangu Kwako, ACU Commonwealth Scholar Rohit Lahoti and Rene Fu Swee Yun from the CAP Young Planners Network. The live recording of this session is available to watch by clicking on the image at the top of this webpage.

key messages

  • Affordable housing offers an opportunity to build back better after COVID and embed future resilience – the need for which has been further emphasised by the pandemic  
  • Affordable housing requires an ecosystem approach – central to sustainable planning and development 
  • Access to finance for affordable housing is critical, both capital and end-user financing 
  • Government commitment is a key component of successful affordable housing
  • The importance of involving the private sector in affordable housing, and that reducing timescales may incentivise this relationship
  •  The importance of collaboration between government, civil society and the private sector
  • The importance of pilot projects and learning before upscaling 
  • The importance of turning affordable housing beneficiaries into partners
  • The importance of people in PPP (public, private, people)
  • The importance of looking at housing holistically, with direct connections to multiple SDGs
  • Recognition of the importance, urgency and scale of the issues
  • The power of collaboration to deal with rapid urbanisation and climate change


A copy of the compilation of slides used in the session can be found here.

further information

If you are interested in the issues raised in the programme and/or would like to become involved in a Call to Action, then please contact us at