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How the Government can Achieve the Big Four Agenda on Housing

The ‘Big Four Agenda’ are President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy projects that he has committed to execute by the time he exits office in 2022. The projects directly relate to Kenya’s Vision 2030. The President has promised to dedicate energy, time and resources to the ensure the success of these projects. The four pillars of the agenda are food security, affordable housing, universal health care, manufacturing and Job creation. The agenda will ensure an ordinary Kenyan is employed or has a reliable source of livelihood, owns a home, has enough food  and is able to access universal health care.

Affordable Housing

Affordable housing implies the development of adequate, standardized and well-spaced houses with continuous supply of clean water and electricity. The houses are to be located in decent places and be readily available to both the lower, middle and upper class in the society. The President targets to have established at least 500,000 housing units by 2022. The houses should be affordable enough to enable the occupants meet other basic needs. Article 43 of chapter four of the constitution clearly states that every person has a right to accessible and adequate housing and to reasonable standards of sanitation. With the continued growth of Kenya’s population, especially in urban centers, providing affordable housing is becoming a challenge. The following steps can be taken to achieve affordable housing:

Enacting strict measures to regulate land costs and rates. The continued rise of land costs, especially in urban centers, has greatly jeopardized affordable housing. Small pieces of land are being sold to small scale as well as large scale investors in the housing sector at a very high cost, thus rendering the process of developing affordable housing for the growing population very expensive. The tenants are forced to pay the entire costs the investors incurred to set up the houses. This has made low-income earners move into the already congested slums where they can access cheap houses. This is despite the slum’s sanitation and other essential services being poorly managed. The government should intervene to regulate land costs and prevent housing investors from being exploited by land sellers. This will cut down the cost of investing in housing projects and ensure houses are affordable even to the low-income earners.

Availing public land for housing and settlement. The government owns large tracts of land in both urban and rural areas. This land should be released for public settlement, especially by squatters. It should also be availed to developers willing to invest in affordable housing, ensuring  low and middle-income earners have access to affordable housing

Enact measures to control and regulate land holding by investors.  The notion of investors acquiring large tracts of land, especially in urban areas, and waiting for the prices to escalate before selling them, has greatly hindered provision of affordable housing. The government should come up with strict measures to regulate and control land holding by investors.

Development of good infrastructure in both rural and urban centers. Infrastructure refers to basic facilities, services and installations needed for proper functioning of a system. In this case we are referring to provision of clean water, good transport, a communication system and sanitation services. This should be effective, especially in slum areas and urban centers. If essential infrastructure is developed, it can open up more areas by making them attractive for people to settle in and for private investors to develop affordable housing.

Effective zoning by the government. Zoning is a legislative action for regulating the use of property-like land and the construction of buildings within the area of jurisdiction of the legislative body concerned. The government should put measures to prevent investors from setting up expensive houses in specific zones known for low-income earners, such as the slums. The government should also be keen with the quality of houses being set up in such areas.

Investors should start investing in less congested areas to prevent further congestion. This will promote affordable housing.

Our role as university students entails participating in public policy making debates and discussions to come up with diverse options to enable the government achieve the Big Four Agenda.

Authors (Garissa University)

  1. BETH KAMENE                                              Bachelors of Arts-Education          EDA/012/2016
  2. VINCENT OMBISI                                          Bachelor of Science – Education EDS/004/2016
  3. THOMAS AMUKAYA ANDABWA             Lecturer
  4. FELIX MBULU MUTINDA                           Bachelor of Science- Computer Science BSC/052/2016
  5. ABDIKADIR ISAAK IBRAHIM                       Bachelor of Arts- Economics                  BA/066/2016

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