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Housing and Slum Upgrading

The work of Pamoja Trust in agitating and organizing towards secure land tenure, housing and dignified livelihoods for the urban poor in Kenya has led us to the conclusion that the formal housing gatekeepers’ lack a complete knowledge of  ‘informality’ and compromising interests in the land question precludes them from taking the right decisions (appropriate and equitable) to achieve affordable low-income housing. These deficiencies have led to low-income housing projects that have barely benefited the urban poor, benefiting other income group s instead. Low-income housing projects utilizing land title provision, sites and services schemes, and relocation to other places (amongst other strategies) disregard the nature, strength, and potentials of housing ‘informality’ in the slums in the most pronounced manner. This identified knowledge gap and skewed interests that disfavour the urban poor also rules out private and public housing gatekeepers employing their resources as enablers or providers. To reverse this impasse with regard to affordable low-income housing, the housing strategy for Pamoja Trust is rooted towards a ‘social business model for low-income housing’ as the most effective option for the informal settlements in Kenya, whereby partnerships would be built on an ‘investment’ mindset- manifest through saving groups and housing co-operatives, through a shift away from conventional ‘give away’ practices.  Our major niche is that we are the only non-governmental institution in Kenya committed to ensure that the urban poor to assess secure land tenure and low-income housing located on land belonging to the government.

What Is ‘Social Business Model For Low-Income Housing’?

Social business is a conjunction of development, economics and human rights. It is a housing model located in our understanding which borrows from Professor Yunis of the Grahmin Bank fame that unfettered markets in their current form are not meant to solve social problems and instead may actually exacerbate poverty, disease, pollution, corruption, crime, and inequality. The model is therefore about both asset building that is grounded in deliberative dialogue towards secure tenure and housing. This model of housing is based on the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD).

 As a model of intervention ABCD is a strategy for sustainable community-driven development. Beyond the mobilization of a particular community (through creation of social capital[1] towards social change or imagined communities), ABCD is concerned with how to link micro-assets to the macro-environment. At the core of ABCD is its focus on social relationships. The appeal of ABCD lies in its premise that communities can drive the development process themselves by identifying and mobilizing existing, but often-unrecognized assets, and thereby responding to and creating local economic opportunity. It is an approach that anchors of PT’s twin pillar of Developing people movement as well as promotion of Asset building. In its implementation, PT encourages various communities to “root” their tenure through formation of saving groups that are mechanism for owning physical assets such as land, buildings, space, and funds are other assets. In this particular case, housing becomes an important ingredient.

This forms the premise through which communities can then pursue housing together through (a) Greenfield model (b) Incremental Upgrading and (c) Urban Regeneration. In delivering housing and other social assets PT shall offer a financial mediation facility, community organizing and negotiation or advocacy for secure tenure.

The incremental Approach and Standards
Over the years, we have realized that realizing housing for the urban poor requires concerted organizing. You have to realize that we have to build people before we build houses. Here we are informed by our lessons from the Huruma Project as well as work by numerous scholars such as..

Product I: Green Field and Multiple Housing: Pamoja Trust has worked with the Nzoiyani community in Athi River over the last three years. This community bought land and are now keen to start reflecting and possibly developing their housing model. PT proposes to work with them in developing this Greenfield area through an incremental self-construction and upgrading in a model similar to that implemented by in Kambi Moto and by Shamanzi housing project in Tanzania. To start off this PT is undertaking a field visit with the community from the area to Tanzania in May 2014 and shall later undertake a house modelling by end of May 2014. This shall be followed by complete housing and infrastructure proposal, which can be marketed.

Product II: Incremental Upgrading: Pamoja Trust is currently exploring potential of implementing incremental upgrading in localities indentified by the government for tenure regularization. These settlements are being engaged under the framework of housing preparedness process. On the annex is the list of target settlements. We have further developed our products outlook as on attachment II. Currently the process targets the following settlements (a) Mathare Mashimoni (b) Mathare Mabatini, (c) Huruma Ghetto and (d) Wamagatta in Nakuru.

Product III: Urban Regeneration Housing Model: The government of Kenya has implemented a public housing project without houses. This is a project called the Kenya Informal settlements Improvement Project (KISIP). The Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban is implementing the KISIP in 14 counties as shown in the map below. The project is jointly financed by the World Bank, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the French Agency for Development (AFD) and the Government of Kenya (GoK). The project’s development objective is to improve the living condition of people living in the informal settlements through securing land tenure and provision of infrastructure and services.

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