Most People move to cities so as to improve their lives and believe that, urban dwellers are generally less poor and have better access to public services than rural Kenyans. This has been the trend for many decades and has seen an increase in the rate of urbanization across the country.
Through devolution, most counties are now developing at a faster rate and also contributing the most to the country’s national income. County governments now provide the highest economic output; this is as a result of the services they provide across various sectors such as in health, transport, agriculture etc. These activities have provided counties opportunities to establish their own sustainable towns and cities.
Housing is a major concern for many urban dwellers in Kenya. For instance 60 percent of the people living in the major cities (Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu) stay in the informal settlements. Most houses in these places are substandard and not constructed according to the regulations set by both the National and County governments. This is as why there have been many cases of building collapse across the country.
Most people living in informal settlements also work in the informal sectors and receive low payments therefore not being able to afford paying or saving for decent housing. Their income is mostly spent on buying food and paying school fees for their children.
Improved urban planning and development control could reduce the cost of decent housing for all.Policies set should enable the government and other property developers to provide good quality and affordable housing on a mass scale. Large scale projects that increase urban density will lead to more affordable housing.
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However there are several challenges in trying to address housing issues, for instance lengthy processes and high fees involved when developing houses has seen many property developers focus mostly on the high end market. Another challenge is the time taken by one to register a property. By reducing the time to register a property and reducing the associated costs, more development would be encouraged across the country.
Affordable houses constructed through more efficient means would be available if more loans were available to purchase existing apartments or houses. That in turn would reduce interest rates that are unnecessarily high today to compensate lenders for the risks and costs of construction project monitoring.
Most Kenyan banks offer mortgages that are tailored to the needs of the wealthy making those with low incomes to shun them. The mortgage market is tiny, approximately 30,000 loans are offered by the banks, and therefore a majority of people prefer living in informal settlements or in slums where houses are affordable.
Therefore, Public investments on programmes to improve living conditions can improve the stock of existing housing. For instance, the slum upgrading projects in Kibera and other towns across the country has improved living standards for many individuals. Investments by both the government and property developers in these projects could reduce the cost of providing decent housing and encourage property developers to meet demands.