Introduction: The study aims toanalyse the physicality of the informal settlement of Kibera, Kenya. The regionof Kianda which is situated in the second largest slum in Africa, (BorgenProject 2015) home to almost one million inhabitants will be the main area offocus, due to its proximity to the newly constructed government housing scheme. Analysing bothformal and informal services, sanitation and infrastructure. An emphasis willbe placed on the varied services available within the region of Kianda. Havingidentified a commonality within this environment the study aims to comparethese living conditions with the recently built government housing projectadjacent to Kibera.
Evaluating its success in relationship to the response ofthe people, and assessing to what extent this development has had on improvingliving conditions but also addressing the issue of whether this project shouldserve as a precedent for future development or is there an alternative methodto addressing the ever-prevalent matter of informal settlements? and theirpresence in the modern world. Aim: The study aims toprimarily scrutinize the recently built government housing project near SowetoEast in comparison to the existing living conditions of the informal settlementKibera, Kianda. The initial interest of this topic of study stemmed from thefrequent visits to Kenya, and voluntary work which developed the preliminaryunderstanding of how informal settlements coexist within the formal city ofNairobi. These settlements aren’t native to Kenya, or even Africa, yet existglobally.
Understanding the nature of these environments and how its’ inhabitantsoperate within in it are key to its development and inevitably its future. Thecomparison between these entities was evoked from the recent backlash from theneighbouring communities of the government project, stating deposit pricesexceeded their disposal income and were unable to attain mortgages, and forthose that did move, had become isolated to their communities and were oftenmoving back into their existing homes within the settlement, due to thelucrative returns of sub-letting their new homes.The study will focuson the built environment of Kianda, such as sanitation, security, infrastructureand the comparison between the government project and its improvement on theway of life of the locals. Kibera, Kenya, in context with Africa. Plan Literature Review Contemplate the idea of a community lacking in basic sanitarysystems, hosting over a million people within an expanse of 2.5 km2.(Lunchbowl, 2015) That’s equivalent of approximately the entire City of London(2.
9 km2) running without a single source of clean water. The area of Kibera,Kenya, has seen an exponential growth in its populace over the years, and upuntil recently lacked a single consistent water supply (BBC News, 2015). Thus,”In Kenya 12.8% of children die before reaching five years of age” (POHK)predominately due to the excess of diseases being spread and watercontamination. For a country that declared its’ GDP in 2014 of $60.94B Dollars,2014 (Trading Economics, 2015), millions of dollars were spent on developinginfrastructure, expanding tourism and even establishing public healthcare,however an underlying and fundamental problem persists. The growth of informalsettlements.
Deprived neighbourhoods have existed since formalised cities formed.It wasn’t until the 1820s that the concept of informal settlements wasestablished. This was due to the ability of differentiating between theaffluent and deprived areas. (UN-HABITAT 2003).
Informal settlements were common in developed,western countries during the industrialisation period. When rapid urbanisationwas required. The early capitalism changed the urban planning traditions tofocus less on open spaces and communal grounds. With the industrial revolution,advanced transportation made it possible for the affluent society to segregatethemselves from the underprivileged. Thus, informal settlements were the onlychoice for the deprived populous in cities, where land prices were appreciatingand profitability was high. (UNHABITAT 2003). For thefirst time in history, more than half of the global population reside incities.
However, urban areas only equate to three percent on Earths land. Over 90%of urban growth is occuring in developing regions. The increase of peopleliving in cities can potentially rise to 60 % by 2030 & 66% by 2050.(Borgen Project, 2017) A rise ingrowth of that extent would have serious implications around the world rangingfrom access to health care, water, sanitation and affordable housing, whichcould prove detrimental.
(Dagdeviren & Robertson, 2011). Informalsettlements appear in many ways, both physically and socially. The appearanceis prerequisite by the local conditions such as; culture, history, politics,topography and the built environment.
Challenges that most informal settlementhave in common are overcrowding, access to sanitation, access to clean water,poor structural quality of housing and security of tenure. (UN-HABITAT 2003). Insome cases, within Kibera, eviction notices can be as little as only two hours. Kibera for many years when first conceived was often thoughtthat it would dissolve almost immediately and not become a prevalent part ofNairobi culture. However, over a century later, cultures have formed and theidea of the settlement disappearing within the next 10-15 years has almostcertainly vanished. These communities have derived from rudimentary structuresthat envelope their existence.
Corrugated iron sheets and mud walls depict thevernacular of this space and yet, a complex network of illicit infrastructure,creating this delicate ecosystem entirely dependent on tapping into the mainNairobi network. An aerial view of this area will denote a vast blanket of sheetmetal littered with plastic waste. It is only upon closer inspection does thesettlement hold details of delicate space planning and a clear urban fabric.
With over ground, electrical cables and water pipes masquerading as theirservices and pathways leading to the communal courtyards forged from the redearth. The government housing project over shadows in the background and isknown by the locals as “the promised land”. Aerial view of Kibera, overlooking the government housing schemeThe increasinggrowth of Kenya’s informal settlements in urban centers host over 34% of thetotal Kenyan population in urban areas and 71% in confined informal settlements(UN Habitat, 2009). Informal settlements are positioned at a 5% growth rate,making it the highest in the world. Research indicates that this figure willdouble if measures are not in place to intervene (UNDP, 2007).
Due to a lack of socialsupport, inhabitants in informal settlements are often secluded from the restof society. As a result, the innate nature of democracy and its philosophyprevent them from making any imperative decisions to improve their condition. (UNHabitat 2003; United Nations Population Division, 1998; World Economic andSocial Survey 2008)The lack of aformalized water infrastructure creates a risk in the settlement.
Third partywater vendors tap into the formal water network which pass through thesettlement from neighboring areas. These are then sold to the residents in 20litre jerry cans. (KWAHO 2008). The pipes are often of asub-standard quality and do not meet minimum standards. They are also of a muchsmaller diameter than traditional water pipes and thus reduce the volume ofwater to cope with demand. These pipes are also generally positioned near themake shift sewage canals which leads to a higher risk of waterborne diseases.Steel pipes of better quality have larger diameters and allow better water flow,these however are seen to have a higher intrinsic value and are prone to theftfrom the locals and resold. (KWAHO 2008).
Solid waste in Kibera ranges between 150 to 200 tonnes daily.(Umande Trust 2007).A recent BBC report has found government interventions are beingput in place to rejuvenate the area by providing permanent structures andsewage systems, (Fihlani, P) Architects from around the world have alsoreciprocated this all over the world, the latest SelgasCano, who most recentlyannounced their pavilion is to be dismantled and will be repurposed to house aschool in Kibera. (Dezeen Magazine). With the growing mediaattention, NGOs such as Umande Trust have intervened and invested in upgradingthe sanitation facilities. One example has been the implementation of Biogastoilets. This helps provide energy through methane and biogas. It utilises thehuman waste which is in abundance around the settlement and produces fertiliserand gas which is then suitable for heating, lighting and cooking.
(Umande Trust2007). Currently, 70% of informal settlements are deprivedof electricity. In Kenya, the supply of electricity is controlled by the GoK,this poses a challenge to the inhabitants of Kibera as the land which theyoccupy is not officially declared and therefore does not validate the need forelectricity. Locals have therefore adapted and resorted to other medievaltechniques such as charcoal, firewood but also Kerosene, due to its abundance.
(KWAHO2008). Other NGOs have addressed this problem such as; Adopt-A-Light and theUN-Habitat’s Slum Lighting Project, which have been responsible for improvingthe safety of residents by introducing lighting masts, which in turn reduce therisk of crime at night but also allow for ease of access for commuters andimproving internal accessibility. Built without any proper infrastructure, houses inKibera consist of thatched corrugated iron sheets and mud walls, usually a 12ftby 12ft non-permanent structure (Amnesty International 2009). A typicalhousehold in the slums costs US $15 per month and accommodates up to sevenmembers, in some cases even eleven.
These structures are mostly rented out asonly 10% of Kibera residents own the structure. Though the owners arerecognized by tenants, they have no legal ownership (UN Habitat 2003). Despite many efforts through various strategies such as; forcedevictions, resettlements, site and services schemes, the GoK has acknowledgedthe existence and expansion of informal settlements throughout the country andhas committed to address this issue via slum upgrading. (KENSUP). One of theways it aims to address the dire situation in the slums is by incorporating theKENSUP financial strategies. (GoK,KENSUP Implementation Strategy 2005, Financing Strategy, 2005). The GoK in collaboration with two other stakeholders,introduced two programmes, the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP) in 2002and the Kenya Informal Settlement Project (KISIP) in June 2011. The main roleof these initiatives was to acknowledge the problems faced within the informalsettlements and improve the livelihoods of its inhabitants.
It also includesassisting in housing improvements, income generation and physical and socialinfrastructure. The estimated target to improve 1.6 million households withininformal settlements (5.3million dwellers) by 2020 at a total cost of aroundKShs 883.76 billion or USD 11.
05 billion. Both Turner (1972) and de Soto (1986; 2000), propose there may be another argument which suggests that residentsaren’t lacking in resource, skilled labour or networking but are deficient insecure tenure and land rights to occupy these residencies. To unlock thisresource would require assurance that the investments made into theirsettlements will not be confiscated or demolished. By providing security oftenure, it will act as a catalyst for growth as residents may be more inclinedto cumulate their resource and invest into housing, local services &sanitation, which in turn will drastically improve the physicality of thesettlement. (Gulyani& Bassett, 2007: 492) The conditions within Kibera have proved to bedifficult for the GoK to address the housing deficit and the implementation ofland policy within the settlement but also providing a framework for urbangovernance to ensure community participation and cumulative decision makinghave aggravated these conditions.
Additionally, life within the settlementholds further constraints such as restricted mobility within the community dueto a lack of formalised public transportation, leading to lengthy commutesoften by foot creating isolating parts of the settlement, causing even furtherdeprivation expanses. Locals rely on the informal transportation system knownas “Matatus.” They are an inexpensive, chaotic and most often the only choiceof means of transport within these areas. However due to rising concerns forpublic safety, measures by the GoK are being put in place to potentially banthese, which may prove to be detrimental to locals, but also business all overKenya. (Citylab, 2017) The existence of slums in Nairobi and other townsof Kenya is a matter of serious concern. During the past years, a fraction ofslum dwellers has been moved out of their habitations because of thedemolitions.
There have also been attempts of slum upgrading (provision ofservices) but the same have only resulted in permanent slums. Overall, the slumproblem continues much as it was. Unless steps are taken to make it impossiblefor new slums to come into existence, the problem of slums will become evenlarger.
Informal settlements can also be a free market’sprovision of low-cost housing (Olima 2001). They can essentially act aslucrative businesses, whereby housing which does not conventionally adhere tobuilding codes or regulations and formalised infrastructure can be developed.Without any maintenance costs these “permanent” structures become inexpensive,invaluable assets with high ROI’s. Kibera is said to generate in excessive of600,000 Euros a month. (Marras 2009). Informal settlements are generally seenas dilapidated sites home to densely populated communities, however they arealso home to business, schools, health care sites, even hair salons, these allgenerate income that contribute to the informal economy.
(Olima 2001). “In reality, these deterministic paradigms are dwarfed by thescale and complexity of our cities. Urban centers are evolving organisms, notengineering problems. Although we are able to control parts of a city — centralbusiness districts, mass-transit systems, water distribution — we will neverhold and understand the whole. Cities are dynamic, complex-adaptive systemscomposed of millions of relatively freewilled individuals who each day makehundreds of individual decisions that set in motion consequences leading to amillion other decisions.
This stochastic chain of choices adds up to anemergent whole.” (Citylab, 2017)