Housing for the lower income groups -challenge for the city
HOUSING THE LOWER INCOME GROUPS - CHALLENGE FOR THE ClTY I The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not reflect. Council's opinions in any "ray. Over the past decade the City Council of Nairobi has wrestled with the problem of housing the ever increasing population of the city. The city however,has not achieved her goal of adequately housing all the families resident within her boundaries. The failure is not so much attributable1to l~ck of concern and attention on the part of the Council but to the combination of rapid growth and a relatively meager resource base including varying standards and philosophies. This paper will outline Council's experience and achievement in the housing of the 16t·yerincome: groups. It will further highlight, the contradictions in policy and the factors that inevitably influence Council's policy in the field of housing. During the colonial period; the urban population of the city was mainly made up of male migratory workers who left their "lives and familles in the rural areas. Their movement to the city was tightly controlled and only those who were gainfully employed were permitted to reside in the city. Besides, th~ level of "rages was such that fe",could support a family in an urban area. These factors accounted for the Lower rate of population growth within this period as ,,,ell as the skewed sex ratio and the relatively small household sizes characteristic of the time. Unemployment was nonexistent and there was a balance population and jobs. The population structure pertaining at the time had a great impact on housing provision in the city for the African workers. The Europeans and Asians do not fit this model as they were of higher income brackets and low cost housing was irrelevant in their case. The main thrust for low income municipal housing was to accommodate Africans. However , there were a few schemes for European and Asian Low Income population such as Wodley and Pangani. The system of administration largely i9nored the African population anc had accorded it little say in the conduct of urban affairs. At best, Africans were reregarded as "wards of urban authorities rather than as citizens. This explains the relative disparity in the provision of services between various racial groups that resided in the city. The African estates were to house single males who were later to return to their respective places of origin in the rural areas. The units constructed then were simple rooms shared facilities in which individuals were allocated bed spaces. The rents therefore were very low and could be easily be afforded by the Lower income population of the time. But even in those early days a need existed to house family units in the city, albeit at a very low level. This led the Council to develop family units in Kaloleni; but the experiment 'was not repeated elsewhere. .....................................................
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