Kenya’s Minister for Roads, Public Works and Housing, Mr. Raila Odinga, on Wednesday announced the Kenya Slum Upgrading Project, a major initiative aimed at improving the conditions of the slum dwellers in Nairobi, who make up over 60 per cent of the city's population.
Flanked by Nairobi Mayor, Joe Aketch, and officials from the Ministries of Lands and Settlements and Local Government, and representatives from the National Housing Corporation, and UN-HABITAT, he said the goal of the programme is to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands slum dwellers in Nairobi and other urban areas in Kenya.
Mr. Odinga outlined the priorities of the programme, which aims to improve the living and working conditions in slums. These include ensuring security of tenure, improving physical infrastructure such as access roads, water supply, sanitation facilities, and providing basic health facilities, schools and other social infrastructural services.
The programme will cover the urban areas of Kenya, starting with selected slums in Nairobi, the capital city, and Kisumu City, located in western Kenya. Mr. Odinga stressed that, in common with other best practices from around the world, tenants and landlords would be consulted and fully involved in the planning and execution phases of the slum upgrading project to ensure that their needs and concerns are addressed. In fact, consultative meetings with slum dwellers have already started.
In response to questions on whether slum residents would be forced to move from their lodgings while improvements were underway, Mr. Odinga insisted that there would be no forced evictions. He confirmed that land at sites near the slum areas had been identified where some residents could be moved to create space for improvements. However, the displacement of people would be minimized and take place only after consulting and reaching agreement at the community level.
Councillor Joe Aketch thanked Raila Odinga for his support and pledged his office's cooperation and assistance in order to ensure success of this worthy initiative, which is a significant milestone in achieving the goal of cities without slums.