NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday officially launched the Sh3 billion Kibera Peoples Settlement Development project.
The project involves the construction of 912 housing units, 230 business stalls, a nursery school, a social hall, a youth centre, three solid waste handling sheds, three toilet blocks and a boundary wall.
Speaking during the launch at Kibera Soweto East in Langata Constituency, President Kibaki said apart from providing the land, the government has budgeted Sh850 million for the project this financial year.
The project is the second phase of the slum upgrading project that President Kibaki launched in 2004.
“I am particularly happy that the programme I inaugurated in October 2004 has turned another leaf in realising the government’s objective of ensuring better housing standards for our people,” the president said.
He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to implementing programmes geared for the poor that will help break the cycle of poverty among disadvantaged members of the society.
He reassured that government would fully uphold the principles of the right of the poor to the city by undertaking projects that improve their living conditions.
President Kibaki emphasised that the government would facilitate adequate housing and supply of infrastructure that support housing as provided for in the country’s development blueprint, Vision 2030.
In this regard, he assured the people of Kibera that the government was committed to improving their living conditions and was working consistently to also provide better housing in other urban centres in the country.
“I am delighted to join you during this ground-breaking ceremony that signifies another bold step in the re-development of the Kibera informal settlement,” the president said.
He said the government would continue investing heavily in infrastructure, education and health of its people.
“On my part, I would like to assure all Kenyans, that the government is fully committed to the principles of the right of the poor to the city. The government will continue to implement policies that alleviate poverty in our country,” President Kibaki said.
The upgrading of Kibera slums, the president observed, was also a testimony of government’s resolve to manage the process of rapid urbanisation in the country because it was a reality that the world’s urban areas are now home to nearly half of the global population.
President Kibaki acknowledged that as more people made urban areas their homes, cities had become arenas in which some of the world’s biggest social, economic, environmental and political challenges have to be constantly addressed and appropriate remedies sought.
The president noted that the challenge of housing coupled with the growing urban population was of critical concern and required substantial amount of resources over a long period of time.
“Currently, 32 percent of Kenya’s population of 38 million people lives in urban areas. Of these, about 30 percent live in informal settlements. Indeed, the lack of basic amenities, necessary for decent human habitation, is a common phenomenon in many urban informal settlements,” he observed.
On the challenges of urbanisation, the president said his government in collaboration with UN-HABITAT initiated the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme and chose to begin with the Kibera people’s settlements.
“This phase of the project is designed to upgrade the living environment of the area. This will be done through improvement of access to basic services such as shelter, water and sanitation, education, health, security, employment and income generation opportunities,” the president said.
President Kibaki pointed out that other interventions will include regularizing tenure of ownership and the provision of physical and social infrastructure.
During the occasion, the President thanked UN-HABITAT Executive Director Joan Clos and his team for their support towards the slum upgrading programme.
The Head of State also appreciated the assistance extended by the World Bank, SIDA, AFD and other development partners for providing the initial funds for the project planning and preparation in other slum improvement initiatives.
Speaking during the occasion, Prime Minister Raila Odinga assured the people of Kibera that transparency and accountability will be observed to ensure that the slum dwellers benefit from the project.
“We are aware that the first critical stone in upgrading slums is trust between the people and the Government and transparency and accountability on the part of the Government and the support agencies,” the prime minister said.
He also reassured that the government will always carry out consultations with the people and community leaders at all stages of implementation of the project, adding once completed the tenants of the upgraded housing units will continue paying rent at the same rate as they did for their former houses.
Other speakers included the UN-Habitat Executive, Housing Minister Soita Shitanda, Lands Minister James Orengo, Regional Development Authorities Minister Fred Gumo, Housing PS Tirop Kosgey and Soweto East Settlement Executive Committee Chairman Bishop Raphael Lihanda among others.