It is quite evident that the country is in dire need of a proper, adequate and efficient housing system if we are to meet the SDG's especially goal number 11 and 13. This evidence is presented in the Housing Strategic Plan of 2008-2013 that indicates the housing sector in Kenya is deficient in the provision of adequate, affordable and decent housing. In urban areas, the country requires an annual output of approximately 150,000 housing units annually yet, only 35,000 units are produced. For low income households, approximately only 7000 units within this quantity are produced, representing only 20% to cater for their housing needs.
A clear manifestation of this problem is the growth and encroachment of informal settlement or slums as they are commonly known. Kenya’s annual informal settlement growth is estimated at between 4.3%-5% and in a city like Nairobi; this is on land that occupies an area of about 1% of the designated residential areas. With 34% of the total population living in urban areas, 50-71% of this population is confined to living in informal settlements and this number continues to increase each day. The residents of these areas live under deplorable conditions and lack basic needs, social amenities while faced with challenges such as poor(low) quality housing; general lack of infrastructure, sanitation, waste management, clean and potable water, energy, healthcare, schools, and security inclusive of land tenure which results in poor and environmental and social conditions. A lot of literature which is in the public domain and research has been conducted on the factors and causes of the current situation and it will be myopic of me to look back at this data rather than focus on addressing the problem. This paints a very dark picture of the society we live in and something needs to be done now to ensure that every citizen of this country has a secure environment. It is thus our responsibility to innovate and apply new solutions for the benefit of fellow mankind
In my opinion, I have a train thought that is open to criticism and if anyone has a better approach then they are welcome to share as I have seen little to no activity; so let me speak my two cents. On Tuesday, the 20th of September 2016 the UNGA will be assembling in New York for their annual meet and trust you me, this topic will be discussed one year later, after the UN Sustainable Development Summit that adopted the SDG's was convened. Amongst the topics to be discussed will be; steps taken by member states towards achieving their national targets that will feed into the goals of the SDG's from policy, prioritization and funding to actual activities, issues hindering the smooth progress of the implementation process, especially in developing countries and where are we one year later-a Monitoring and Evaluation process.
Goal No 1 seeks to: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. The targets defined therein provide for the outcomes expected if successfully operationalized and our focus here will be a target that by 2030 seeks to ensure that all men and women, particularly the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership, and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology, and financial services including microfinance.
Goal No 11 aims at making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Its targets are self-explanatory and you should take time to read through them in order to know what your government should be doing for you.
As a nation first and a member state to an International Treaty, Kenya needs to start addressing the existing housing challenge first through proper policy formulation and direction to create a conducive and enabling environment. Secondly, the nation needs to involve all stakeholders and industry players in the research, dissemination of information and production of alternative building materials, techniques and resources to achieve project/programme success especially, to the people who will be accommodated to ensure solutions developed are sustainable in the four aspects of, the environment, socially, culturally and economically such as access to microfinance/mortgages for the informal sector. Thirdly, land (locations) need to be identified, allocated and serviced for the relocation and later integration of these communities within the city limits, with access to economic activities, security, transport, basic infrastructure services and utilities, education and green open spaces amongst others so that the quality of life of the inhabitants is improved to a benchmarked standard.
Some of the results expected will be, reduced slum areas, improved air quality, improved quality of life for the low income households, increased home ownership, security of tenure, improved health conditions and sanitation for the populous, proper waste management and disposal, empowerment of the lower tier of society thereby enabling them contribute to nation building and decision making, more secure cities, increased productivity per capita, export of knowledge, technological innovations and support to less developed nations creating employment opportunities and a whole load of other benefits if proper interventions are instituted.
As a stakeholder, I have solutions to some of the housing challenges especially affordable housing, made with locally available alternative materials and building techniques. We seek to reduce the current cost of construction by 60% or more yet maintaining a decent standard of living, empower local communities through training and technological transfer to make them self-reliant locally and a housing model design that is community centered thus reflecting their perceptions, values, lifestyle and ideals for a better society. We are also seeking partnerships with other players, donors and communities to realize the dream of everybody having a decent house in a clean, safe and secure environment while maintaining their cultural heritage and social systems.
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