Kenya to speed up its slum upgrading programme

A section of the Kibera slum in Nairobi.
A section of the Kibera slum in Nairobi. PHOTO/FILE

The Kenyan government has announced plans to speed up its much-awaited slum upgrading programme in a bid to improve the living conditions of about 60 per cent of the country’s urban population.

Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Secretary James Macharia said on Thursday that the slum upgrade programme will involve mapping of 498 informal settlements countrywide, land tenure regularization and installation of social and physical infrastructure.

“The program further aims at planning for urban growth (in order) to minimize expansion of existing slums,” Mr Macharia said when he officially opened the 25th Kenya Homes Expo.

The announcement came barely a fortnight after the World Bank revealed that Kenya needed to build two million low-cost city homes to stem the growth of its sprawling slums.

“Many Kenyans are unnecessarily living in slum dwellings, because of limited supply and lack of affordability,” the World Bank said in its Kenya Economic Update.

The World Bank warned that the slums problem will become more severe over the next decade if the government fails to facilitate the development of “housing for the average Kenyan”.

Although only a third of Kenya’s 44 million citizens live in cities, it is predicted that more than two thirds of the country’s population will live in cities by 2033.

Kenya, according to the World Bank, must build 244,000 homes a year to meet demand but only about 50,000 of new houses are being built.

To bridge this gap, Mr Macharia said the government will team up with lenders and development partners to come up with alternative housing finance.

“The ministry will continue working closely with commercial banks, financial institutions, cooperatives, pension fund managers and development partners to develop alternative housing financing strategies,” Mr Macharia said.

Nairobi is ranked among Africa’s most expensive cities for housing, with cheapest formal house costing Sh1.5m in 2012 – more than 10 times the average annual income of Sh134,000.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the latest issue of Construction Kenya digital news magazine. Flip through the pages or download a copy to read offline. Sign up for a FREE subscription to get the paper delivered to your inbox every month.