GOK and UN-HABITAT sign Memorandum of Understanding; Kibera-Soweto chosen for pilot slum upgrading project
Honourable Raila Odinga, the new Minister for Roads, Public works and Housing of the Government of Kenya and Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the "Slum Upgrading Programme for Kenya". The programme hopes to improve housing, infrastructure services and the overall livelihoods of people living and working in informal settlements. One of the major goals is to ensure that the poor are given some form of security of tenure so that they can participate in the improvement of the urban environment. The programme will begin by working on slum upgrading in Nairobi and Kisumu, the lessons learned will then be replicated in other urban areas in Kenya.
"The existence of slums is of great concern to the Government as they accommodate a large proportion of the urban population who suffer the most deplorable and inhuman living conditions, threatening the country's social and economic growth. The situation is aggravated by HIV/AIDS pandemic that is now prevalent in these settlements," said Honourable Odinga at the signing ceremony. "The achievements made under this programme and the subsequent phases spell hope for improved livelihoods in the settlements."
In her address, Mrs. Tibaijuka congratulated the Minister and the new government and the people of Kenya on a peaceful transition that was an example to all the countries in the region. "The challenge facing the new leaders in Kenya and all over Africa is how to manage the rapid rate of urbanisation. With over 50% of the population of most towns and cities living in slums and squatter settlements, it is critical to design innovative strategies to upgrade the slums. UN-HABITAT looks forward to collaborating with the Government of Kenya on mobilising international support to improve the living conditions of the urban poor."
In conclusion, Hon. Odinga announced that the first slum to be upgraded in Kenya would be the area of Kibera Soweto which had received a grant of $250,000 from the Cities Alliance, a joint initiative of UN-HABITAT and the World Bank which includes 8 bilateral donors. This initial grant will be used to initiate procedures such as mapping of the area, establishing systems of evaluation and compensation, and the design of proposals to attract additional investments in the upgrading of the area in collaboration with the community. The site, which is part of the largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa, was chosen as part of the Nairobi Situation Analysis that was undertaken, with other stakeholders and partners, in 2001 and 2002.
EDITOR'S NOTE AND BACKGROUND MATERIAL:
The MOU formalised UN-HABITAT's work with the Government of Kenya on the Slum Upgrading Programme for Kenya. The programme is the result of a meeting between the former President of Kenya, H.E. Hon. Daniel Arap Moi, and Mrs. Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, in November 2000.
- Aims & Objectives:
The aim of the programme is to improve the housing, infrastructure, services and the overall livelihood of people living and working in the informal settlements. One of the major aims of the project is to ensure that the poor are given some form of security of tenure so that they can participate in the improvement of their living conditions. The programme includes the upgrading of selected pilot areas, policy reform and the strengthening of institutional arrangements necessary for city-wide upgrading. A longer term objective is to consolidate the lessons learned from slum upgrading efforts in Nairobi and Kisumu in order to extend it to other areas in Kenya.
- Nairobi Situation Analysis:
The Collaborative Slum Upgrading Programme has already produced the Nairobi Situation Analysis, a thorough examination of the history and status of all the slums and squatter settlements in Nairobi. This was produced in consultation with a number of working groups comprising the public sector, the private sector, grassroots organisations, NGOs and donor communities. According to this study, over 60 % of the population of Nairobi live in one of the 133 informal settlements which, in total, occupy only 5% of the land. This initial research has helped pave the way for a more detailed analysis of a number of slums that could be selected for upgrading.
- Slum Rent Survey:
One of the major undertakings by the Collaborative Slum Upgrading initiative was a rent study that was undertaken with a view to supplementing the Nairobi Situation Analysis. This appraisal was undertaken in order to weigh the rights of the poor against the financial requirements of landlords. The initial findings show that rents charged by structure owners are exploitative because landlords are not required to invest in maintenance, improvements or the provision of services such as electricity. In fact, the study suggests that acquiring a slum property is one of the most lucrative investments in Kenya. The return on investment in a slum is under two years as compared to ten to fifteen years in the formal property market. Such vast profits are driven by the absence of title deeds because land is often allocated informally to persons who become, in effect, structure owners and not real landlords. The study concludes that because the rental market in slums is not covered by any rent regulation act, the rental sector is adrift from the accountability of bye-laws and regulations. This leaves ordinary slum dwellers without any security of tenure, they can be - and are- evicted at a moment's notice, often with violence.
- Cities Alliance
Recently, the Collaborative Slum Upgrading Programme was awarded a grant of US $250,000 by the Cities Alliance which is a joint initiative by UN-HABITAT and the World Bank and includes 10 bilateral cooperation agencies from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Swedish International Development Agency, SIDA, has also agreed to augment this grant with technical support to look at the possibilities of land reform. These grants will fund the preparatory phase which will include the following activities:
- Initiation of Upgrading Methods and Procedures in a chosen slum: This includes Social and Economic Mapping, Physical Mapping, Valuation, Compensation, Community-Based Mortgage Finance Systems, Local Management of Community Funds, Policy Development, Media, Outreach and Promotion, Capacity Building, Analysis and Development of Tools, Models and Methods, Monitoring and Evaluation.
- Peer Exchange, Training and Capacity Building: including international exchanges of slum dwellers/local government officials to and from India, South Africa and the Philippines; targeted training programs directed to local and central government officials; and related, wider capacity building efforts.
- Policy Reform: entails building upon the preliminary report on a Policy Framework for Slum Upgrading, linking this to parallel initiatives anticipated by the NARC government (land policy, housing policy, informal labour policy, local government reform policy, etc.); and contributing to emerging legislation necessary for the realisation of policy changes.
- Institutional Strengthening: in the case of Nairobi, this will involve efforts by the Nairobi City Council, associations of slum dwellers and CBOs, professional associations of the private sector, and the NGO community specialising in land and shelter to identify structures and institutional arrangements for urban upgrading, throughout Nairobi and nationally.
For further information, please contact: Mr. Sharad Shankardass, Spokesperson, or Ms. Zahra Hassan, Press & Media Liaison, Press & Media Relations Unit, Tel: (254 2) 624060, Fax: (254 2) 624060, E-mail: email@example.com, Website: http://www.unhabitat.org