Growing demand for housing births modern mansions in Nakuru slums

An apartment complex next to Bondeni slum in Nakuru City. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

The surging population of Nakuru City has forced investors and developers to put up better housing facilities in almost all estates to accommodate the growing demand.

This has birthed modern residential apartments and houses in several sections of the city slums - improving the landscape of Kenya’s newest city.

The upgrade has been supported by the World Bank-funded Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP).

This has resulted in the upgrade of roads, sewer lines, water pipes and other infrastructural development.

The improved infrastructure has led to the upgrade of modern houses by private developers, particularly in the Kwaronda area and on the sidelines of Kisulisuli Estate.

Also built in the slums is the Affordable Housing Project, which has been completed and sanctioned at Bondeni Estate, a kilometre away from Nakuru Central Business District (CBD).

The recent modern apartments and houses built along Kinuthia Mbugua Road on the lower side of the plush Section 58 borders Kisulisuli and Manyani Estates.

The houses are one to three-bedroomed houses.

Nakuru-based architecture Odhiambo Zebeddy O’Wakwabi said the pressure to put up decent housing due to the growing population has forced private developers to come up with modern apartments in such places.

“The push to have decent housing for the population has forced the government and private developers to build decent houses in areas where they can get spaces for these projects,” O’Wakwabi told Real Estate.

Minimum standard

United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation (UNHHSF) Charter’s minimum standard house stands at a one-bedroomed house, and O’Wakwabi concurs that those living in the slums also have a right to be occupants of such houses.

“All Kenyans living in the slums have a right to live in decent houses and those who cannot afford them have a right to relocate elsewhere suitable for them,” he stated.

The UN-Habitat defines a slum as an urban area that lacks basic facilities such as sewer lines, tap water, and electricity and has substandard housing, overcrowding, unhealthy and hazardous locations, insecurity, and social exclusion.

The infrastructural development on roads, tap water, sewerage services and electricity in the slums under the KUSP programme has impacted housing according to land economist Charles Kariuki.

“The demand for better housing from a growing population is another factor that has forced private developers to come up with better housing,” Kariuki said.

He noted that infrastructural development in these areas had forced owners of old houses to match the expectations of classes of people hoping to live in low-income areas.

Joseph Inoti, a land valuer said the end of zoning of high or low-income areas had also contributed to the rapid development of the city.

“This is why smaller units by the working middle class are coming up in areas that were for the affluent like Mlimani Estate,” he stated.

The financially endowed who had bought land in the slums are also building modern housing on their plots.

“Of course, this comes with the infrastructural development in the area. It has also influenced private developers to come up with better housing schemes in the high-density areas,” said Inoti.

And they (slums) are prominent in the urban landscape in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries.

Urban cities

With KUSP’s objective to establish and strengthen urban institutions to deliver improved infrastructure, it has encouraged the building of modern apartments and decent housing in the slums in most urban cities and towns in the country.

The rapid increase in urban population as a result of rural-urban migration has led to the reclassification of settlements in urban cities and towns.

Architect O’Wakwabi said those who cannot afford life are forced by circumstances to retreat to their rural homes. However, the apartments built in proximity to the slum dwellers are faced with security challenges - just like in the SSA cities of Accra in Ghana, Lagos in Nigeria; Nairobi, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban in South Africa, which are homes to some of the world’s largest slums.

Elly Ogutu, a professional commercial agent dealing in property management attributes the population explosion of Nakuru city to 200-2008 post-election violence that put pressure on property owners to come up with solutions to the housing pressure.

“The flocking into the city by a huge population of different classes of people owing to past election violence cases had put pressure on private developers to assist the government in coming up with imminent solutions to the housing problem. We are happy it’s steadily bearing fruits,” he said.

Ogutu explained that rural-urban migration for those searching for job opportunities was another factor that had put pressure on the city’s infrastructural facilities.