The government’s housing programme has received a shot in the arm, with the United Nations Habitat programme finalising plans to build about 8,000 units in Mavoko, Machakos County.
In the $200 million (Sh20 billion) project, the UN agency seeks to resettle approximately 40,000 slum dwellers from the Nairobi metropolitan area.
Dr Thomas Chiramba, UN-Habitat’s head of housing projects in the region, said the work is meant to support of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s development agenda on housing and is in line with their mandate to upgrade slums and improve the status of the city.
“UN-Habitat is developing a strategy to support affordable housing project under the Big Four agenda. We plan to put up between 6,000 and 8,000 affordable housing units for the urban poor on a 55-acre piece of land in Machakos County,” said Dr Chiramba.
He spoke at a media briefing ahead of the UN-Habitat Assembly to be held in the country for the first time, from May 27 to 31 at the UN headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi.
The briefing was attended by Brazil Ambassador to Kenya Fernando Coimbra, who is also his country’s permanent representative to UN-Habitat and the chair of the committee of permanent representatives.
Mr Coimbra said the assembly will be the first big intergovernmental conference to be held on urban development issues — how to better implement the New Urban Agenda adopted in 2016 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
More than 2,000 delegates are expected from all parts of the globe, including heads of state and ministers, 168 mayors and governors, 378 NGOs, 261 private-sector players, 26 foundations, and 300 from academia and several UN agencies.
“Over 2,000 delegates will converge in Nairobi to discuss one of the most important issues that affects humanity, which is how to live well in cities, the relationship between development and environment among others,” he said.
More than 70 exhibitors will be showcasing their best innovations on improved urban planning, sanitation, housing and public transport.
The UN agency, which is also part of the slum prevention committee, notes that despite efforts to upgrade slums in the past, the number of its dwellers in Kenya has risen to 6.4 million, 56 per cent of the total urban population
“Our objective is to create neighbourhoods of affordable, low-cost and good-quality housing for inhabitants relocated from informal settlements,” said Dr Chiramba.
Tentatively, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Mavoko project will take place in five months’ time on the land donated by UN-Habitat.
The official said the site plan for the project area is ready, as well as prototype housing typologies. But negotiations for financing of the project are still ongoing.
UN-Habitat is also discussing how to share roles with the national and county governments and with the project beneficiaries.
“We want to know what contribution each will bring to the project and the roles they will play,” said the official.
He said that they have already identified some possible beneficiaries who are members of saccos in informal settlements.