Kenya is targeting to build some 300,000 new housing units in the next three years the Minister for Lands Housing and Urban Development Mrs. Charity Ngilu disclosed on Wednesday.
In a speech read on her behalf by the principal secretary Ms. Mariamu El Maawy during the sixth national urban forum in Nairobi, the minister said that the government would seek public private partnerships in the endeavor to see that it fulfills the pledge to avail adequate housing to the citizens.
The national urban forum is a preparatory meeting from which the country will set out a joint strategy for the seventh session of the World Urban Forum which runs in Medellin, Columbia from 5 to 11 April 2014 under the theme ‘Urban Equity in Development- Cities for Life’.
“In the Kenya Vision 2030, social equity and poverty reduction section under the Social Pillar emphasizes equity in access to opportunities on many fronts- geographical units, income status, sex and age,” Mrs. Ngilu said.
In her speech, Un-Habitat’s Director of Regional Office for Africa Ms. Axumite Gebre-Egziabher said the forum was a critical landmark in the preparatory process for the World Urban Forum leading up to the Habitat III meeting slated for 2016. She added that the reflections and decisions during the national forum would provide an important building block towards the two global meetings.
She said Kenya had recorded massive urbanization since her independence in 1963 and that projections showed that 53 percent of Kenyans will be living in urban centres by 2030.
“Of these Kenyans, only 31 percent have access to sanitation, 52 per cent are among the urban poor and 27 percent have access to safe water. It is important to note, however, that urban areas in Kenya contribute an estimated 65 percent to the Gross national Income,” Ms. Gebre-Egziabher noted.
According to the director, the challenges Kenya faced both at the national and devolved government levels included urban poverty, urban inequality, and inefficiency. Others were financing human settlements as well as inadequate capacity to provide urban basic services especially in the secondary towns.
“At UN-Habitat, we are convinced that the current rapid urbanisation in Kenya, whilst a challenge, is an opportunity which if well harnessed, will positively contribute to the well being of Kenyans and their economic, social and cultural development.