President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya on Tuesday officially launched the 382 million US dollars Kibera People Settlement Development project that will result in the construction of 900 housing units.
© UN-HABITAT / Julius Mwelu
While launching the project, President Kibaki thanked UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos who was present and his team for their support towards the slum upgrading programme. The project also involves the construction of 230 business stalls, a nursery school, a social hall, a youth centre, three solid waste handling sheds, three toilet blocks and a boundary wall.
Speaking during the launch President Kibaki said apart from providing the land, the government has budgeted 10.3 million US dollars for the project this financial year.
The project is the second phase of the slum upgrading project that President Kibaki launched in 2004.
"I am particularly happy that the programme I inaugurated in October 2004, has turned another leaf in realising the Government's objective of ensuring better housing standards for our people," said the President.
He emphasised that the government would facilitate adequate housing and supply of infrastructure that support housing as provided for in the country's development blueprint, Vision 2030.
"I am delighted to join you during this ground-breaking ceremony that signifies another bold step in the re-development of the Kibera informal settlements."
He said the government would continue investing heavily in infrastructure, education and health of its people.
"On my part, I would like to assure all Kenyans, that the government is fully committed to the principles of the right of the poor to the city. The government will continue to implement policies that alleviate poverty in our country," President Kibaki said.
The President noted that the challenge of housing coupled with the growing urban population was of critical concern and required substantial amount of resources over a long period of time.
"Currently 32 per cent of Kenya's population of 38 million people lives in urban areas. Of these, about 30 per cent live in informal settlements. Indeed, the lack of basic amenities, necessary for decent human habitation, is a common phenomenon in many urban informal settlements," said President Kibaki.
The Head of State also appreciated the assistance extended by the World Bank, SIDA, AFD and other development partners for providing the initial funds for the project planning and preparation in other slum improvement initiatives.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is also the area Member of Parliament, assured the people of Kibera that transparency and accountability will be observed to ensure that the slum dwellers benefit from the project.
"We are aware that the first critical stone in upgrading slums is trust between the people and the Government and transparency and accountability on the part of the Government and the support agencies," the PM said.
On his part, Dr. Clos re-affirmed UN-Habitat's strong commitments in sustainable urban development and improvement of the quality of life of urban dwellers. " We will continue to support the government and people of Kenya especially through the UN-Habitat activities in Kibera, the Youth Centres as well as the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme and the works we are engaged in through Water and Sanitation intitiatives," he said.
The Executive Director expressed the agency's gratitude to President Kibaki as well as Prime Minister Raila for the support they had accorded UN-Habitat.