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World Bank Advises on Housing Upgrades in Kenya


“The challenges of providing adequate infrastructure, housing, and services for the burgeoning urban population are enormous. Urban management and infrastructure will have to be significantly strengthened to meet the challenges,” says Mr Johannes Zutt, the World Bank Country Director for Kenya.

Mr Zutt said during the Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project (KISIP) Launch that Kenya’s population is growing rapidly, and is expected to reach 60 million people by 2030, up from 40 million today.

“Rising population is accompanied by increasing urbanization,” he said. “Every year over 200,000 Kenyans move to the cities; and formerly rural areas are becoming increasingly urban. Twenty years ago only 18 percent of Kenyans lived in cities. Today 30 percent do. By 2030 nearly half of the population will live and work in urban areas.”

The World Bank is thus supporting three interlinked urban programs. Together the three programs compromise a strategy for engaging in a systematic transformation of local governments of Kenya.

“The first – the Municipal Program was approved in May 2010,” Mr Zutt said. The KISIP – which was approved by the World bank Board of Executive Directors on March 24, 2011 – is the second of these programs. The third is the Nairobi Metropolitan Service Improvement Project, which is under preparation and is estimated to be approved in 2012.

KISIP – whose launch was being celebrated – provides US$ 100 million to the Kenyan Government to improve living conditions in the informal settlements. “It will work in the same 15 municipalities as the Municipal Program, including Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu,” the World Bank Country Director for Kenya said.

The World Bank intends for the operation to support institutional strengthening, capacity building, and policy development at the national, municipal, and settlement levels to create the basis for a nationwide slum upgrading program; secondly, it aims to strengthen security of tenure for families living on land and in houses without formal rights; thirdly to improve infrastructure in settlements (roads, drainage, water and sanitation systems etc), based on plans developed in consultation with the community.

“To help the government speed regularization of tenure and thereby implement its new land policy and constitution, KISIP will introduce a number of innovations, which have proven effective in other countries,” Mr Zutt said.

He pointed out that the World Bank will support the introduction of bulk survey approaches that entail simultaneous surveys of all plots in a given settlement. “This will help to significantly reduce unit costs. The project will also provide support to the Ministry of Lands to assist in simplifying the steps and reduce fees for title registration, including waiving fees for the urban poor.”

KISIP is significant for Kenyans and the World Bank in several aspects, he said, enumerating that “it is the bank’s first engagement in the slum upgrading in many years” and it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to improving performance of its urban centers, which have become important centres of growth.

Additionally, “it will help the government to deliver on the new constitution, which as part of its bill of rights guarantees each person the right to accessible and adequate housing, to reasonable standards in sanitation, and to clean and safe water in adequate quantities, among others.”

He applauded the coordination and harmonization between development partners in the sector saying it has been considerably strengthened in the recent years. “We particularly appreciate the partnership with the French and Swedish development cooperation agencies in jointly preparing and co-financing the three programs.”

Mr Zutt said their collaboration during the preparation and implementation of KISIP will broaden the scope of the project to increase benefits to Kenyans. “The project was prepared in close consultation with the Urban Development, Local Government, and Decentralization Development Partner Group” in Kenya.

He said it is important that the Ministry of Housing works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan Development to ensure that the activities of the three programs complement one another.

“We are pleased to note that the project coordination teams from the ministries of housing and local government meet periodically, and even travel together to meet with the local authorities,” he said, “this kind of close collaboration will be essential to the success of the urban project.”

The Bank team working on the project is based in Nairobi which allows it to work closely with the ministry and municipal KISIP teams during implementation.

“The Bank and the government have established a strong partnership over the past 50 years in promoting social economic development,” Mr Zutt said, adding: “We shall continue to deepen this partnership by proving the necessary financial and technical assistance during the exciting period of the implementing a new constitution.”

About Robert Okemwa Onsare

Robert Okemwa Onsare
Robert Onsare is pursuing Electronics Technology at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton. He is a Cluster Strategy trained facilitator by Kenya's National Economic and Social Council (NESC). Mr Onsare has been an incubation student at the University of Nairobi, School of Engineering, FabLab, a venture project of the university and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is a member of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) and a published poet. Mr Onsare is based in Kenya.

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