The increased development of informal settlements will be the dominant form of urbanization in most developing countries. Rapid urbanization and its related consequences have been difficult to handle and manage, particularly in countries like Kenya, South Africa and Egypt. This report gives an overview of challenges of slum upgrading for urban informal settlements; case of Soweto East village in Kibera informal settlements, City of Nairobi. It observes that informal settlements are major urban housing phenomena in Kenya that require immediate attention. The study constitutes the findings of a field research carried out in April 2013. The central questions of the study are: - (i) What institutional arrangements have been put in place for slum upgrading in Soweto East?; (ii) What are the roles of stakeholders in Soweto East village slum upgrading?; (iii) Which challenges have lead to the unsuccessful uptake of slum upgrading in Soweto East village?; How can we manage the unsuccessful uptake of slum upgrading in Soweto East village?


The study employed secondary data from literature review for theoretical framework development and field study tools. Purposive sampling and Stratified random sampling techniques were used in the case of Slum Upgrading Department staff in the Ministry of Housing and Soweto East Village residents whose sample sizes were 14 and 217 respectively. The study also employed case study design and the data was analysed descriptively and presented in tables and figures.


The government has established an all inclusive institutional framework for improvement and prevention of informal settlements through the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP) and Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Programme (KISIP). These programmes aim at addressing urban planning, infrastructural services, land tenure, shelter and improved livelihoods. They are also geared towards the fulfillment of Millennium Development Goals. Equally, slum upgrading in Soweto East village has various stakeholders including tenants, resident and non-resident structure owners, land owners, public authorities, civil society, private sector and international development agencies.

Despite the timely intervention of KENSUP and KISIP, the implementation of Soweto East slum upgrading programme faces several challenges that include:- complexities of slum settlements with regard to tenure arrangements; lack of coordination of various stakeholders; resistance to the slum upgrading programme especially by the slumlords; lack of participation by the slum dwellers in the upgrading programme; residents not being aware of their roles as stakeholders in the upgrading programme; lack of adequate land for slum upgrading; lack of goodwill and mistrust from the slum dwellers; inadequate budgetary allocations from the government exchequer to the programme; politicization of the programme; environmental degradation; varied political, cultural and religious inclinations amongst the residents and their leaders; various stakeholders being involved in the programme leading to partnership concepts that often derail the implementation schedules of the upgrading programme; and non genuine NGOs. It is in view of these challenges that the study recommends guidelines that can be used in slum upgrading programme in Soweto East village specifically and any other similar set up generally. These guidelines include:-


  1. The various groups with competing interests in the slum upgrading programme should forge a way forward to cater for their common interests but at the same time be beneficial to the community. The activities of these groups should also be coordinated from the start so that their interests are identified earlier;
  2. Land ownership disputes arising from complexities of slum settlements with regard to tenure arrangements in the informal settlement should be solved through Slum Upgrading Department. The upgrading programme should also liaise with the legal system to ensure that security of tenure is an integral provision for all slum dwellers to facilitate protection and sustainability;
  3. The government should take a lead role to coordinate the various stakeholders involved in the upgrading programme to avoid the loss in synergy, valuable experiences and lessons;
  4. Absentee landlords who view slum as source of income and therefore resist the idea to upgrade the slum should pay taxes on the rent they collect and also be legally bound to provide services;
  5. The programme should facilitate a wholistic re-evaluation to integrate the elements of participatory approach with active involvement and participation of the target beneficiaries;
  6. To enlighten the community roles in the upgrading programme as stakeholders, it is essential that KENSUP actively involves all the stakeholders in dialogue and decision making processes. The government should enact a policy for the right to participation, involvement and information of the target beneficiaries in the slum upgrading programme. The beneficiaries must actively be involved at conceptualization of the ideas, development of intervention strategies and at the implementation and sustainability levels;
  7. There should be an effective carryout of basic land use planning, encourage participatory strategic planning and development control of the informal settlements as well as regular revision and consistent enforcement of policies that  discourage sprawl of informal settlements;
  8. To capture goodwill and trust from the slum dwellers, education should be an integral part of the upgrading programme as a base to promote their dignity and freedom. Slum dwellers should be invited to participate in training seminars, workshops and conferences on slum upgrading. The government should promote awareness on slum upgrading, responsibilities, entitlements, and duties through enactment of relevant policies, laws and the use of media;
  9. The government should significantly increase its budgetary allocation for the slum upgrading programme if noteworthy impact is to be realized;
  10. The government should take political responsibility and stop manipulation of slum dwellers by self centered politicians; adequate policies and laws should be enacted to protect the poor from political manipulations; and the Soweto East slum upgrading programme should facilitate political reforms to enhance political responsibility;
  11. There should be mitigation or removal of environmental hazards besides an integration of environmental rehabilitation and sustainability as a core intervention in house improvement;
  12. The varied political, cultural and religious inclinations amongst the residents and their leaders should be solved to avoid the creation of suspicion and mistrust amongst the residents that slows down decision making;
  13. The roles of partnership concepts that often derail the implementation schedules should be coordinated; and
  14. An effective slum upgrading should seek to work with NGOs that are accountable, transparent and that exhibit clear objective. Special scrutiny is also needed to know the genuine and the irresponsible NGOs.
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