US Africa Collaborative
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb
The US Africa Collaborative, Inc., a Maryland Corporation, like many collaborative efforts grew out of a series of collegial relationships that began as conversations between like-minded colleagues with a passion for housing, human settlements, and sustainable development. The core group of the US Africa Collaborative, Inc. consists of a stellar group of forward-thinking academics and professionals from three continents - the US (North America), South Africa (Africa), professionals from England (United Kingdom) with origins in Nigeria and Ghana, and members from other African nations including Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Morocco, Mozambique, and Nigeria. At the core of the passion that ignites and unites this dynamic team is the desire for a vision where all people can live in thriving, vibrant, safe, resilient, sustainable, and inclusive communities.
The US Africa Collaborative, Inc.
We came together through a shared vision, an urgency of mission, and an uncanny series of events that have brought this group together at a pivotal time in the history of our global civil society.
The common bond that brings this assemblage of professionals together in this unique collaboration, is the keen interest in human settlements education, affordable housing, and sustainable development. Their collective purpose is to build the capacity of the human settlement industry through university curriculum enrichment, international professional exchange, policy driven research, and bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Projects being undertaken by the collaborative include research, global classrooms and study abroad programs, and the development of a biannual symposium which brings together academics, human settlement practitioners, government officials, and NGOs.
The US Africa Collaborative members come from many backgrounds, representing private and public sector institutions including the University of Maryland College Park, Nelson Mandela University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Fort Hare, Minnesota State University-Mankato, the University of Lagos, Morgan State University, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Bowie State University, the University of the Free State, University of Baltimore, and the University of South Africa. Further, housing, and human settlements practitioners from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (USA), the National Association of Social Housing Organizations (SA), and the Institute for Human Settlement Practitioners (SA), comprise the practitioner side of this impressive body of pracademics, professionals, and students from the US, Africa, and the UK.
As like-minded colleagues, we discuss common challenges cities in the United States and Africa face when tackling the issue of affordable housing. In 2020, roughly 900 million people will live in informal settlements. The UN estimates that by 2030, 3 billion people will need affordable housing in the world's cities. To meet the housing need of extremely-low-income families, the United States alone needs to build an additional 6.8 million affordable housing units. The need is even greater on the continent of Africa, with 54 countries, and over 160,000,000 units needed in Sub Saharan Africa alone.
The need to expand housing and human settlements in Africa and the US, is in response to rapid urban migration and an increase in the number of informal settlements across Africa. According to Stats South Africa, in 2020, there were over 2,600 informal settlements, many without public water and sewer. Further, the growing housing and homelessness crisis of adjacent countries, led to an ever growing migrant and immigrant population. In places like the United States and the continent of Africa, human settlement migration and growth has increased the gap between the supply and demand of urban land and affordable housing. The US, with estimates ranging from 3-5 million to nearly 35 million, more housing units are needed to address the overall US housing crisis. In the US, nearly 50 percent of renters today spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities, while about a quarter of renters spend more than half of their income on rent. In the US, nearly 600,000 people are homeless on any given night of the year. This global problem and phenomenon impacts every community regardless of borders. Families have few options. Each year the housing shortages are worse, more vulnerable people become homeless, and families struggle with difficult decisions with limited resources to pay rent, buy groceries, buy their prescriptions, or even see a doctor for their medical problems.