The politics of public housing in Kenya: the case of National Housing Corporation of Kenya.
Owuoche, Solomon O
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This study focuses on the National Housing Corporation of Kenya (NBC), the main government body charged with implementation of low income public housing. Specifically, the Study examines the effectiveness of NHC in meeting the housing demands of the low income groups in Nairobi.This study reviews and assesses housing programs implemented by NHC using two case studies; Dandora Site and Service and Kibera Highrise Estate. This is done in an attempt to assess the effectiveness of the NHC in as far as housing the low income groups are concerned. The study also looks at NHC sources of funds and its effect on the corporation's performance, including its ability to reach the target beneficiaries.To guide the study, it was hypothesized that the more effective the internal organisation of an institution the more positive and direct its impact on its output. Using the Institution Building model, there are indications that there exists a strong relationship between internal organisation (Leadership, programs,resources, Internal structures) and the Corporation's effectiveness in terms of output. That is, NHC ability to reach the target beneficiaries by producing housing units that are affordable to the low income groups. Findings show that there exists a relationship between state involvement in the operations of state corporations and the level of success of these corporations. It is argued that the state has in some cases appointed inept leaders to head state corporations leading to mismanagement, and lose of public funds. Due to the political nature of the chief executives appointment, the corporations leaders expend more energy and time evolving and maintaining patronage relations with influential politicians at the expense of the corporations' performance. In other words, leadership appointed by the state diminishes accountability. There is therefore need for the chief executives to disengage themselves from political patronage. Instead, the chief executive's job security should be performance or merit based.The Study reveals that there is conflict between the developmental and political tasks of the Corporation, and the delicate balance between political accountability and managerial autonomy built into the concept of the Corporation is unsuitable for effective management.It is argued, that the state should continue to look for approaches that assist the low income groups to have access to adequate housing as stated in policy papers. This should be done using the partnership approach; such as close collaboration with the private sector which is already providing a large percentage of urban housing.The Study argues that the NHC should lessen its dependence on external sources of funds either from the Government or International Financial Institutions.Instead, the Corporation should generate local resources for housing development, such as setting up a revolving fund, and improvement in recovering loans from local authorities and individuals. This would improve NHC's financial situation. The findings also show that there is no correspondence between the intended objectives of housing the low income gro.u. ps in both Dandora and Kibera projects, and the actual results, of the two projects. Through the use of specific indicators such as price of housing unit, mortgage and rent paid, we argue that the low income groups did not benefit from the two projects. This is largely attributed to the fact that whereas the NHC has specific policy guidelines on low income housing, not much attention has been given to the underlying forces (particularly political ones) which undermine them. This study recommends that there is need to ensure a wider share holder distribution or alternatively privatise the corporation. This step, to a large extent, can improve the financial situation of the corporation. It is also suggested that the NHC should design its projects according to the needs of the target beneficiaries. This could be done by actively involving the target beneficiaries in each and every stage of project development. Measures should also be put in place to ensure that state corporations do not invest either government or public money without parliamentary approval, in a bid to enhance financial accountability.It is noted that the frequent interruption of publicly provided services such as water and waste diposal not only reflects negatively on the performance of the Nairobi City Council (NCC) but also the NHC. This is because the NHC has the ability to influence its environment as assumed by the study's Institution Building model. The NHCs environment in this case includes the NCC. Failure by the NeC to provide adequate services to residents leads to a spill-over effect thus adversely affecting the NHCs performance.It is clear from the Study that the NHC and LAs in their present form of unresponsiveness, lack of enterprise, red tape and corruption, are not in the best shape to respond effectively to increasing housing demands and expectations from the public. It is recommended that these organisations should seek the involvement of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the private sector as partners in service delivery. This calls for public relations and clear positive action in service delivery so as to attract support by NGOs and the private sector. Consumers of services have shown their willingness to pay a little bit more if this will ensure regular and better quality products. This will also guarantee the survival and growth of state corporations and LAs.The study concludes that the internal disorganisation of NHC, as manifested in delayed projects implementation, financial laxity, under pricing of NHC property, and frequent leadership change among others, has adversely affected the corporation's ability effectively to provide adequate housing to the low income groups in the Country.