SOLUTION TO PROVISION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN KENYA:
Kenya, like many other African countries, faces housing shortages for its people. With the promulgation of the new constitution, it’s now a right for each Kenyan to have adequate housing. There are many solutions to providing affordable housing as laid out below:
The Kenya Government can make it easier for Kenyans to access housing by increasing the transport network. The need for high density housing to be located in the peripheries of Nairobi such as Umoja, Ongata Rongai, Kikuyu,Kahawa, Githurai and Kitengela has pushed to demand for land upwards hence very high land prices. Also, this need for high density housing has necessitated for highrise construction which increases the cost of construction as opposed to low –rise bungalow-type construction which is very affordable.
With an intricate railway system, housing can be stretched in far away towns such as Kangundo, Kajiado, Isinya, Ngong, Thika,Mai Mahiu,Naivasha .
In these areas, land is relatively low in cost hence affordable. A railway transport system would make the transport costs affordable such that people can reside in these towns and still work in Nairobi CBD, over 50km away. Railway transport systems are also fast hence transport time will also be reduced. For example, it currently takes a commuter approximately 1 hour to travel from Kitengela town to Nairobi by road. This costs over KES 50. It costs less than KES 50 and less time for the same commuter to travel to Nairobi using the railway system.
With the onset of the County government system, intricate railway transport systems will interconnect counties such that one can live in one county and commute daily to work in a neighboring county. This will reduce the demand for housing within a particular urban area hence keep land costs low, thereby reducing cost of housing associated with high-rise construction on expensive land as seen around Nairobi.
Access to efficient cost saving housing technology in Kenya is very limited. Most houses are built using the old colonial building technology that was imported from Britain in the early 1900s.
New cost –effective efficient technology such as the Diamond House technology http://www.a4architect.com/diamond-house-plan-cost/ makes it affordable to access decent housing.
This technology utilizes architectural and structural design to reduce cost of construction. New methods of laying the foundation, walling and roofing are used here.
HABITABLE UNIT COST-KES 80,000 FOR PHASE 0.25.
The Diamond House design has an initial phase[phase 0.25] that costs KES 80,000 to construct and deliver a decent unit for habitation.
Most Kenyan construction still follows the 1967 building code to the letter. All fundis and contractors have never experienced any other type of building construction technology. With the opening up of the Building code with the promulgation of the new constitution, Kenyan Architects and Engineers will need to assure consumers that these new cost-effective methods of construction are just as good as the old methods. For example, many Kenyans have heard about Interlocking Stabilized Soil Blocks technology. Not many of them have taken time to find out exactly what this is. The concept of stabilizing soil for construction is relatively new. Thika road construction is based on Stabilized soil for its base. The interlocking Stabilized soil blocks are made after soil is compressed using a manual or diesel operated press into a brick shape. The resultant brick is just as hard and as compact as a stone. The only ingredients used are soil and just a bit of cement hence very cost-effective.
With the intervention of railway transport network and popularization of new methods of construction, the cost of housing for Kenyans will reduce hence more money and resources can be channeled to other uses such as education and health. This will go a long way in improving the living standards of all Kenyans.
Architect Francis Gichuhi Kamau