THE ROLE OF BUILT ENVIRONMENT PRACTITIONERS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF KENYA.
The new constitution clearly states that every person in Kenya has a right to adequate housing:
Economic and social rights
(1) Every person has the right—
(a) to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care;
(b) to accessible and adequate housing, and to reasonable standards of sanitation;
(c) to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality;
(d) to clean and safe water in adequate quantities;
(e) to social security; and
(f) to education..
For Kenya to provide adequate housing to its citizens, the Built Environment practitioners will have to think outside the box and provide a sustainable solution.
Demand for housing in Kenya is estimated at a deficit of between 100,000 to 200,000 units per year. This demand has resulted in high housing prices hence unaffordable and unsustainable to many Kenyans.
NEW BUILDING TECHNOLOGY
Use of new building technology that lowers the cost of construction will be one way of making housing accessible to all in Kenya. The new Building code should allow for other methods and construction materials such as prefabricated housing ,Structural Insulated Panel housing and adobe construction. This will open up completely new industries as practitioners in the built environment come up with new building materials and methods of construction as they experiment with the already existing ones such as prefabricated housing.
Building technology techniques that use locally available materials to construct at a much lower cost will come a long way in ensuring adequate housing to all Kenyans. In recent years, we have seen several Kenyan architects who have come up with unique methods of lowering construction by use of locally available materials with unique technology.
A good example is Nakuru-based Architect Dumas’ NewBuild technology available at Ministry of Housing that reduces use of Reinforced Concrete on masonry house construction.
Use of Information Technology[ IT ]
IT can also lower the cost of construction in that once creative Built Environment practitioners set up web applications that can enable people easily access information regarding material costs and be able to tender out their house designs to potential contractors, this will lower the cost of construction in the long run.
A good example is Nairobi –based QS Nahinga’s http://www.ujenzibora.com/ who has developed an application that allows for online tender submission and quoting.
Other online IT methods such as online consultancy that reduces the frequency of face-to –face meetings will eventually reduce the cost of construction. The never-ending Nairobi traffic jams usually result to a lot of time and fuel wastage which is added upon the cost of consultancy hence high housing costs. These IT interventions might not seem to save a lot of money initially due to the fact that very few Kenyans have access to the internet but in the end, once more research is put into them ,the net result will be a major reduction in the overall cost of housing as seen in new technologies such as M-Pesa.
There are other interventions in lowering the overall housing costs such as provision of lower mortgage and provision of infrastructure.
J.F Kennedy’s[ 1917-1963]- famous words conclude:: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own. “
About the Author:
Architect Francis Gichuhi Kamau graduated from University of Nairobi School of Architecture in 2001 and is a registered Architect practicing in Kenya.
He researches on Architectural solutions to Affordable Housing in Kenya.
Passport photo of Architect Francis Gichuhi Kamau: Click the link below: