A Study of housing problems in a slum area: a Case study of Korogocho slum in Nairobi
Wangaruro, Michael N
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This study is concerned with the housing problems in a slum area. The study found that the ever increasing housing deficit in Nairobi has promoted the mushrooming of slums and squatter settlements in Nairobi. The housing policies are partly to blame for the housing problems in Nairobi. They have tended to be inconsistent, contradictory and discriminative in terms of housing provision for the different income groups. Low income housing has not been very successful in Nairobi. Site and service schemes have met with mixed success. In addition to this the continuation of slum demolition has raised the housing need. The alternative housing that has been provided has tended to be beyond the reach of the target groups leading to gentrification. This realization has promoted the Government to adopt slum improvement and upgrading. The study found that there is a serious housing problem in Korogocho caused by congestion and overcrowding in terms of plot coverage and population density. This was found to be aggravated by rapid rural-urban migration. The houses consist mainly of "mud and wattle walls. Many are covered with cartons and polythene papers. This means that the houses are not in conformity with the building laws and planning standards. They also pose a serious fire and public health hazard to the residents. In addition to this the drainage is poor and there are sanitary problems caused by lack of space to put up facilities to overcome these problems. The study found that the area is very rich with the various economic activities. These activities help to alleviate unemployment problems. Many of them are concerned with the provision of essential goods and services. The nature of skills required are very low and can be picked up easily thorough apprenticeship. However production activities like carpentry, tailoring, shoe-making, required higher skills. This controlled and regulated entry into ". these activities. Many of them had attended youth polytechnics.Education was seen to influence entry into the various commercial and business production activities. This showed that practical vocational education, with emphasis on apprenticeship is the most relevant to this area. It was also found that the design of the houses affected their uses. That is why it is felt that the designs and plans of future low-income housing and slum upgrading should integrate the characteristics of the informal sector economic activities into their plans. There was heavy unemployment among women, however many of them were able to engage in the informal sector. This was seen to enhance their social stability as female head of households were very common (i.e. about 39%). Many required very low initial investment capital that is why there was found to be ease of entry. The presence of the housing problems has promoted the local people to form several village committees. These were found to be doing a very good job in general village administration and settlement of disputes. They also prevented the extension of houses by individual plot owners as such they acted as a form of development control to control congestion and overcrowding. They were also seen to liaise with the local political administration and other Non-Governmental organizations. as such they were a very useful vehicle to initiate and promote community development and self-help spirit. Religious groups were seen to be doing a commendable job in the provision of community services. However there was seen to be Lack of space to put up these facilities and services was hindering their efforts. The Catholic Church had managed to set up grass-roots communities which enabled mobilization of the local people in the identification, and solution of the problems with the co-operation of the rest of the church members. The other two churches with key role in community development were the Baptist and the Redeemed Gospel churches. That is why as a part of the policies, the churches were advised to follow the Catholic Church approach to community development. Involvement of women in community development through their women groups was also seen to be a viable option provided these groups are improved through better leadership and management. The groups should engage in high profit-making 'businesses like posho-mills, petrol-stations, wholesaler and distributor shops, etc.