This Indian Ocean archipelago is located off the southeast coast of Africa, neighbouring the French island of La Reunion. It is well known as one of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations. The island state is seen as a model of stability and economic prosperity in the region, not least because of its stable multiparty, parliamentary democracy.
The country’s economy has made great strides since independence in 1968 and is considered a middle-income economy. The economy is based on sectors such as sugar production and textile industries, tourism, and financial services and is ranked as the most competitive in sub-Saharan Africa, with a very high GDP per capita.
Despite all the successes, there are challenges: Although Mauritius is unique among the participating countries of the PSUP because private foundations support the state in financing housing for the poorest inhabitants of the island, the social difference between rich and poor are still enormous. This is underlined by the following figures: The mean national income is three to six times higher than in the households of the three PSUP pilot informal settlements. In addition, the island state is increasingly having to deal with the effects of climate change. The slums in particular are affected.
PSUP has highlighted two priorities expressed by the surveyed residents of informal settlements. First is to have more public space and social facilities dedicated to youth and designed to assist with the social problems in the neighbourhood. The Municipal City Council has the responsibility to provide and maintain public spaces and social facilities. This responsibility must be reinforced by granting autonomy and decentralized finances. The second priority that has been identified by the residents is that they desire more living space and privacy. The average household size in the pilot areas is between four and 5 persons, whereas the national mean is at 3.4 persons.
The Social Housing Development Fund was set up in 2012 to partly finance two different housing typologies, paid one third by the Government’s Fund, one third by the beneficiaries and one third by the private sector as, remarkably, it is also engaged in funding such houses.
PSUP has successfully introduced new participation and policy analysis methodologies that are being replicated by NGOs in other poverty-stricken areas in Mauritius. Also, national high-level stakeholders are now discussing necessary reforms for the legal and institutional framework. NGOs, government and private foundations are coming together to create integrated housing solutions that go well beyond the simple building of serviced houses and include social counselling, job-training programmes and other means of integrating marginalized residents into mainstream society.
The priority goals of Mauritius’ ministry relating to PSUP can be divided into four sections: (1) to provide a solid basis for the long term physical development of the nation which supports the New National Development Strategy; (2) to reinforce and modernize the legal and institutional structure for physical development planning and management; (3) to satisfy the housing and land needs of the people of Mauritius; and (4) to promote social integration through the development of mixed housing projects under the National Housing Programme.