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Politics and Slum Upgrading in Kenya

A Case Study on the Influence of Politics on Slum Upgrading in Kibera


George M. Kiyu

Why was the slum upgrading project in Kibera, Kenya, facing resistance? This study uses both qualitative and quantitative methods in data collection to reveal that politics revolving around the interests of local politicians, slum dwellers and business operators as well as external players such as NGOs hamper successful implementation of the slum upgrading project Kenya Slum Upgrading Program in Kibera. The key obstacles include poverty, corruption, tribalism, political interpretation of the project aims, bureaucracy, slum oriented businesses ( kadogo economy) as well as NGO activity and youth unemployment.
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This chapter suggests ways that would help in achieving more realistic slum upgrading in the midst of the challenges identified in the study. It delves into possible approaches for a sustainable and probably the most cost effective slum upgrading system. Suggestions from the respondents on how best to carry on with the project were also taken into account. These suggestions, it is assumed, are meant to heighten the level of acceptance and support for the project among the entire spectrum of stakeholders. Other suggestions are attempts to seal some of the loopholes identified by the researcher.

In light of the findings illuminated in chapter seven above, it is necessary to make deliberate efforts to address the concerns of the key stakeholders as well as taking care to provide a conducive environment for the achievement of the declared KENSUP objectives. For this reason, the project must enlist a broad-based ownership pegged on true felt needs and expectation for genuine benefit to the target group. In other words, KENSUP needs to be seen to be a poor-centered undertaking to the extent that the housing units are not too expensive for the target population. According to Huchzermeyer (2006a: 27), housing that is intended for the poor should not be easily traded to the middle class and be transformed into rental stock. It should consciously discourage landlordism and the attraction of new tenant households into the already densely developed and occupied areas. KENSUP has already failed this test as it encourages the...

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