EAST AFRICA REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON APPROACHES TO INFORMAL SETTLEMENT UPGRADING, 11TH JULY 2012, PANAFRIC HOTEL, NAIROBI
Providing a decent living environment for the urban poor in developing countries remains a complex undertaking of multifaceted nature; this is especially so where the concept of human settlement is viewed as both product and process. The situation is further complicated by lack of finance, access to land, security of tenure, and restrictive regulatory bottlenecks. Dwindling support for research in human settlements, especially housing for the poor has had a coupling effect to the indifference that interventions in this area have yielded. Together, these deficiencies seem to induce a vicious cycle; yet the situation can be improved significantly with the right attitude and commitment.
This report on Mukuru, undertaken by CURI in partnership with AMT, MuST, and Muungano wa Wanavijiji, adopted an investigative approach to expose, but also attempt to address, the problematic situation engendered by inaccessibility of land for housing the urban poor; insecurity of tenure; the disconnect between formal (government-led) and alternative approaches to settlement upgrading and housing delivery; and the failure to embrace a truly participatory approach in seeking appropriate solutions for sustainable urban planning and better livelihoods. The timeliness of this work cannot be overemphasized, Kenya being a signatory of numerous human rights based conventions in areas that include housing and water and sanitation. Key national policies in Kenya, including those touching on slum interventions have been aligned to key universal policies such as the Millennium Development Goals. AMT and partners remain committed to the plight of the inadequately housed urban communities living in the informal settlements, through research and innovative interventions. We believe that well-researched urban environments provide opportunities for fruitful intervention. This report is a means to that end. We commend its utilization by all those committed to the innovation and promotion of appropriate solutions for amelioration of the human settlement adversities facing the urban poor.
The planning for Mabatini Informal Settlement was initiated in 2008 as a response to the community’s request for a planning undertaking to help in the appeal for, and approval of, a Part Development Plan (PDP) by the Minister in charge of lands, through the City Council of Nairobi. The purpose of the PDP would be to justify the alienation and allocation of land to the community of Mabatini estimated at 400 households, who at the time of preparation of this plan occupied the land without security of tenure. It was a requirement that such an application be accompanied by an indication of how the land in question would be organized and used, hence this settlement upgrading advisory plan. Preparation of the plan was participatory in nature and saw the convergence of the community, regulatory institutions, civil society, and the university working in collaboration anchored on three key principles, namely, negotiated and participatory city building process; bridging the urban divide and safeguarding the right to the city; and capacity building. Peer exchanges and reviews also helped in the search and appreciation of emerging best practices. This plan is a culmination of four years of such broad-based collaborative work.
The study utilized a broad spectrum of data from various sources; secondary data was largely from review of key policy provisions as enshrined in relevant documents such as The UN Millennium Development Goals, Kenya Vision 2030, The Constitution of Kenya, Sessional Paper No. 3 of 2009 on National Land Policy, and Sessional Paper No. 3, July 2004 on National Housing Policy. There was also review of relevant upgrading projects such as the Kenya Slum Upgrading Program (KENSUP) and Kenya Informal Settlement Improvement Project (KISIP). Primary data was collected directly from the field using various techniques such as site inventories, enumerations, mapping, and focus group discussions. The main analytical areas articulated in this plan included population and socio-economic characteristics; ownership and tenure status; physical & environmental characteristics; land use; infrastructure and utility services; and community facilities and social living.The analytical and prescriptive stages of this work entailed a series of studio work sessions and community planning forums that culminated in a multi-stakeholder workshop, where the final design was discussed and endorsed with minor modifications.
By the middle of this century all regions of the world will be predominantly urban. East Africa though presently among the least urbanized (24%) is experiencing very rapid rate of urbanization (around 4.0% per annum). Studies have shown that urbanization has many advantages to a developing country. However, the urban expansion experienced in East Africa is to large extent characterized by the growth of unplanned settlements accompanied by high levels of poverty and unemployment. The urban population in East Africa is highly varied. It varies from a low of less than 10% in Rwanda to 40 % in Kenya. What is notable is the generally high percent of the urban population living in informal settlements, around 65 per cent. Furthermore the rate of growth of urban slums in the region is among the highest in the world at around 5 percent.
The UN-HABITAT estimates that a total of 227 million people had moved from slum conditions between the years 2000-2010. Within the same period, the proportion of the urban population living in slums in the developing world declined from 39 per cent (2000) to an estimated 32 per cent (2010). Eastern Africa is among the regions lagging behind in curbing the growth of slums and improving the living conditions of slum dwellers while Asia leads the pack in best practice.
In recent years, Governments in East Africa together with development partners have adopted policies and initiated several programs to counter the expansion of existing slums, prevent growth of new ones as well as improve the lives of those living in informal settlements. However, despite the many initiatives little progress seems to have been made leaving the question
“Where are we going wrong or what are we not doing”? A closer look at the successful countries shows that their Governments and Municipalities have taken responsibility for slum reduction squarely on their shoulders, backing international commitments with bold policy reforms, and thwarting future slum growth with inclusive planning and economic strategies. Effective slum
upgrading also require institutional capacity building, monitoring and scaling up of successful local projects. A number of progressive policies are emerging in the region. For example, Kenya has a new constitution, a new land policy and is in the process of revising the housing policy. However, the general lack of political commitment and lack of coordination of slum upgrading projects have stood as some of the major impediments to slum upgrading in the region. It’s against this background that the University of Nairobi in collaboration with partners within Kenya (Muungano Support Trust (MuST), Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT) and the Muungano wa Wanavijiji) and outside (UC Berkeley, SDI, and sister Universities in the East Africa region) sought to convene a regional conference to explore approaches and share lessons on sustainable up scaling of informal settlements upgrading in East Africa. The conference drew participants from Universities, Government and Municipal institutions, Civil Society and Local Communities (Muungano wa Wanavijiji).
This publication presents proceeding of the conference. Rather than present well-structured papers the proceedings reflect deliberations as it took place on the floor. It presents brief presentations from key speakers, representing respective countries and conference themes followed by question and answer. We hope the exchange and lessons shared here will be of
relevance to both researchers, policy makers and practitioners in the sector.
This report describes an ongoing project aimed at improving the lives and living conditions of slum dwellers in Nairobi through a partnership between Muungano Support Trust, Slum Dwellers International (SDI), the University of Nairobi, and the University of California, Berkeley. The project started in 2008, produced a report for slum upgrading for select villages in the Mathare Valley in 2009, and this report presents findings and recommendations for upgrading infrastructure across the entire Mathare Valley informal settlement. The Mathare Valley - one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi and East Africa - lacks basic services, including water, sanitation and electricity for a majority of its residents. Infrastructure improvements rank as the top priority of Mathare residents and our report aims to help ensure improved services are delivered to all villages in a timely and efficient manner. Despite recent national slum-focused planning policies, no comprehensive development plans currently exist that integrate physical and social planning for Nairobi’s large slums, including Mathare. This report is also timely, since Kenya’s new Constitution decentralizes governance and will require new processes and plan making by local authorities that include slum dwellers, community-based organizations and universities.
This report aims to act as a first draft of a community-led, comprehensive development plan for Mathare. This report recommends specific strategies, including:
- Investing in comprehensive valley-wide trunk and household-level connections for water and sanitary infrastructure;
- Improving roads, pathways and drainage at the same time as pipe infrastructure;
- Ensuring each household can connect to electricity and the valley has adequate lighting for streets and public areas at night;
- Organizing a Mathare civil society network that includes the many community-based and non-governmental organizations working in the settlement to improve cooperation, political accountability and ensure infrastructure investments are implemented by and for community members, and;
- Ongoing, participatory monitoring of the physical, social, economic and public health impacts of infrastructure upgrading.
Informal settlement profiling is a development-oriented strategy that seeks to establish more rapid, innovative, and broad based understanding to the challenging situation underlying informality. Profiling is crucial for obtaining more comprehensive settlement information and to thereby enable effective decision-making on which developmental responses are appropriated for different settlements. As outputs for benchmarking, the profiling of settlements sets the stage for their inclusion in municipal/urban development plans and investment that will enable the availing of services and infrastructure to acceptable standards.
The challenge posed by informal settlements is one that calls for synergy and back-stopping of the diverse strategies in seeking solutions. Given the scale of informal settlements, their complexity and the limited human and financial resources available, profiling seeks to facilitate practical and achievable pathways to sustainable upgrading. Thus, it is of utmost importance that this approach is widely shared and appreciated by all those interested in settlement upgrading as an area of intervention.