In Nairobi, 55% of her population live in approximately 5% of its total area. These form the slums and informal settlements. And as the world’s population is fast becoming predominantly urban, it is estimated that 52% of humanity will be living in urban areas by the year 2020.
The inequality of access to land in the city is one of the largest factors and contributors to development of slums. A new ideology of “slum upgrading” has emerged with various actors like the central government, municipalities, civil society and the UN-Habitat making attempts through various programs towards upgrading and prevention of new slums.
Sites and services program done in the 1970s by the GOK and UN-Habitat was one of the steps towards averting the development of new slums. In the last decade, the Kenyan government has pushed the upgrading agenda through Ministry of Housing Kenya National Slum Upgrading Project (KENSUP).
Pamoja Trust, an NGO based in Nairobi has demonstrated the importance of a people-led process. They began engaging with Huruma settlements soon after its formation in 1999. The community prioritized house upgrading and the Trust helped to mobilize the community to come together to start saving little monies on a daily basis and to start negotiating with the city council of Nairobi to grant them access to the land they had lived on for several years for upgrading.
In 2001, an MOU was signed between the six settlements of Huruma, Pamoja Trust and The City Council of Nairobi among other stakeholders. Pamoja Trust nurtured the saving schemes and provided 80% soft loans to individual beneficiaries for upgrading.
The Trust also organized technical exchanges to India and South Africa for the communities to learn appropriate technologies applied in upgrading efforts. The unit construction cost was also drastically reduced through application of “sweat equity”- which involved the individual community beneficiary contributing self labour of about 80 hours to the construction. Other partners contributed to the cost of infrastructure and services connection.
Today, the Trust has facilitated the saving schemes to transform into Housing co-operatives to widen their scope of engagement and attract more financing for up-scaling and general post construction management. The ongoing slum upgrading and prevention policy is also expected to recommend appropriate land tenure system, financing and prevention of further proliferation of slums. However, adequate planning measures should precede the anticipated rapid growth of towns in the new counties.