The influence of urban refugees on housing conditions in Eastleigh estate in Nairobi
The problems of refugees have always existed since the world wars and will continue to exist in the foreseeable future. Refugees arrive in the host countries to seek refuge and assistance. Every refugee hosting country always complains of diverse issues related to refugees including insecurity, resource squeeze and other social problems. Kenya has been a refugee hosting nation for decade. By 1988, there were already about 12,000 refugees in Kenya, the majority of whom were Ugandan and lived in Nairobi (UNHCR 20] 0). At that time, refugees were entitled to rights, including the right to move freely, work, access educational services, and apply for legal local integration (UNHCR 2010). However, in the early 1990s, there was escalation of conflict in countries surrounding Kenya; in particular, the collapse of the Somali state created large flows of refugees. Crises in Ethiopia and the Sudan in 1991-1992 and then in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) increased the influx. The numbers of refugees in Kenya jumped from roughly 12,000 to 120,000 in 1991 to over 400,000 in 1992. By 2000, they stabilized at around 220,000 - however recent events in Somalia have again increased refugee numbers, and current estimates put the total number of refugees at over 350,000 (UNHCR,2010). This study which was done in Eastleigh estate in Nairobi has revealed the influence of urban refugees on the housing conditions in Eastleigh estate mainly on rental charges, occupancy levels, water and electricity and toi lets facilities. Eastleigh is located about 10km from the Nairobi, central business district. The purpose of this study was to establish the influence of urban refugees on housing in Eastleigh estate in Nairobi. It aimed at highlighting the main problems of influx of urban refugees on the housing conditions in the estate and ways of addressing the resultant conditions. The main objective of the study was to establish how the conditions of the housing units have changed with the unplanned influx of urban refugees to this estate. The methodology used in this study was descriptive survey design. Samples were drawn from the 15 streets of Eastleigh estate and a sample size of 150 respondents was selected to participate in the study. Data was collected using semi -structured interviews and focus group discussions. Secondary data sources were also analysed. The results were analysed by use of descriptive statistics and quantitative methods. The key findings of this research were that urban refugees have influenced level of occupancy, rental charges and toilet usage. The conclusions drawn from this research is that there is high level of occupancy in Eastleigh estate than other estates in Nairobi and that rental charges by the landlord are exploitative in nature. The researcher recommends that the host government needs to develop a policy on rental charges in order to stop rogue landlords from the exploiting the refugees. The researcher recommends that there is need to do a further research on the livelihoods systems of urban refugee and their influence on the Kenyan economy.