Three-year plan to phase out grass-thatched houses in Kisii

Nyaribari Masaba MP Dr Daniel Manduku doing finishing to one the houses that he is putting up for the needy families in the area. he targets to build 300 houses in a period of three years. [Eric Abuga, Standard]

A stroll across the densely populated Gusii region reveals traditional grass-thatched houses amidst new posh homes.

Unlike the past, when these houses were close together, the landscape is changing due to initiatives to eradicate grass-thatched houses.

Nyaribari Masaba MP Dr Daniel Manduku has launched a three-year programme to eradicate poverty and replace grass-thatched houses in the constituency.

“It is unfortunate that we still have family members living in such a deplorable state. Some of us grew up in such houses several years ago and we mustn’t allow the current generation to go through such a lifestyle,” Manduku said.

The “Eradicate Thatched Homes in Nyaribari Masaba” programme aims to provide decent houses to deserving families. The community identifies the most challenged families, who are then approved by a local committee.

The community provides building poles and roofing trusses, while Manduku supplies roofing sheets, nails, and labor costs.

So far, 70 homes have been completed, with a total goal of 300 homes over the next three years.

Manduku emphasises that each new home represents not just shelter but love and a brighter future. Manduku will also be among Kisii legislators commissioning the Affordable Housing Project in Ekerubo.

Historically, typical Gusii houses had conical grass-thatched roofs and were usually round or rectangular. Today, many houses have corrugated iron sheets and stone walls.

Advocate Gideon Nyambati notes that Kisii has many educated but unemployed youths, leading to conflicts over diminishing land.

The Kisii County Government is also implementing the Simba Shelter scheme, funded from the county budget. The programme is being implemented by the executive.

The main differences between the Gusii community of the 1980s and today are reduced land sizes and the loss of cash crops, driving poverty and migration in search of better opportunities.

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