Craftsmanship in Kenyan informal construction: a case study of Nairobi
The aim of this study is to address the apparent low-level craftsmanship in the Kenyan informal construction sector, which manifests itself in defects due to poor workmanship. The role of the sector in the economy cannot be over emphasized, and it is a foregone conclusion that the sector is here to stay. The study posits that the level of training craftsmen is the cause of low-level craftsmanship, while taking into consideration other pertinent factors such as education, experience and tools and equipment used as partly contributing. The objectives of the study are built around the need to assess, examine and establish the adequacy or otherwise of the factors that contribute to the low-level craftsmanship (workmanship) of masons. These factors, as established through the literature review, are not limited to basic training and include; level of education, experience at work, and availability of tool sand equipment. Survey type of research design was adopted for the study. The population included all masons working in informal sites within Nairobi City. The masons' works at the sites also formed part of the population. A questionnaire was administered to randomly sampled masons while a checklist was used to observe the level of workmanship at the sites. Data presentation and analysis is mainly in the form of non-empirical analysis, though simple percentages have been~settled to ,represent the proportions of various outcomes. A simple regression analysis has been carried out, and statistical testing of hypothesis done to allow for generalisationof findings . The study has found out that apart from basic training and career development, other factors stand satisfactory in the population. The study has also established that the levels of training and workmanship are low, with a causal relationship between the two. To achieve adequate levels of craftsmanship, the study recommends raising levels of training, keeping in mind the peculiar constraints in the sector. Because the craftsmen are mainly trained through traditional apprenticeship, are already working, and lack time and finances, the training programme proposed should be cost-effective, focused and short in duration. The use of extension field technicians has been recommended, with the training taking the model of a basic training cycle that starts with assessment of training needs and ends with evaluation and certification. However, lack of finances has been found to be a major hindrance to training of the craftsmen and may continue to remain so even with the above proposal. Its therefore further recommended that the stakeholders in the sector should come together and find a sustainable way of financing the training. Harmonization of training content and context, together with revision of syllabus to produce a competent craftsman who can meet the needs of the informal construction sector at the lowest level of training, has also been found necessary and thus recommended.