Kenyans marked the World Habitat Day on Monday 6 October against the backdrop of traditional pomp and glamour provided by bull fighting teams in Kakamega, the provincial headquarters of Western Province.
The bullfighters, chanting traditional songs in praise of their award winning bulls, intermittently broke into the official programme at the Bukhungu Stadium as they paraded the bulls before gathered dignitaries, who included the Minister for Housing, Mr. Soita Shitanda, Assistant Ministers, Members of Parliament, diplomats and other top Kenya government officials.
Minister Shitanda and Kenya’s Deputy Permanent Representative to UN-HABITAT, Ms. Yvone Khamati, who hail from the province, sang along with the bull fighters even as they made official remarks on the occasion.
The Minister said Kenya, which had seen a phenomenal, 1,500 percent growth in urbanization since independence, was keen to implement a national housing policy that would among other things, create half a million new housing units in rural towns and upgrade slums in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Eldoret.
The policy would provide tax breaks for developers of low cost housing and also facilitate the construction of appropriate building technology centres countrywide, which would promote the use of locally available building materials and technologies.
The Minister earlier launched the construction of 80 housing units in Amalemba, Kakamega by the National Housing Corporation and the construction of an access road to Maraba slum in the town.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s and UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka’s messages were read by Mr David Kithakye of UN-HABITAT, who added that the post election crisis in Kenya earlier this year was a manifestation of the inequalities within urban centres.
He said UN-HABITAT was expecting to sign a memorandum with the Ministry of Local Government to support a City Development Strategies programme.