World Bank Hands Kenya $150mn to Upgrade Urban Informal Settlements

Image source: Nairobi Studio

Some 1.7 million urban poor families in Kenya are set to have their living conditions upgraded through modernised basic infrastructure like clean water in a social project funded by the World Bank.

The World Bank approved a $150 million concessionary line of credit to Kenya last Friday under its International Development Association (IDA) programme, meant for poor nations.

Besides being packed in shanties, the urban poor grapple with lack of access to clean drinking water, proper sanitation and healthcare, among other basic amenities. About 61 percent of urban households in Kenya live in slums.

“Rapid urbanisation and an increasing share of the poor living in urban areas has outpaced services and infrastructure provision, and this project will contribute to reducing this infrastructure and services gap,” said Camille Lampart Nuamah, World Bank operations manager and acting country director for Kenya.

“The project will also cushion urban informal settlement residents who depend on daily earnings against the negative socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The loan will finance the second phase of Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project (KISIP2), which aims to touch up living standards in informal settlements in three broad ways:

  • Titling to enhance tenure security
  • Infrastructure upgrade for basic services – roads, drainage, water, sanitation, street lighting, community facilities
  • Livelihoods support and community engagement to assess and address risks, including the impacts of Covid-19.

Upgraded infrastructure under the KISIP2 will improve access to basic services, such as clean and safe water; mobility within the informal settlements; access for emergency vehicles; and the resilience of communities in instances of disasters. In addition, it will increase the connectivity of residents to socio-economic opportunities while the high-mast lights will enhance economic activities by reducing crime.

Regularisation of tenure will enhance the tenure security of residents in informal settlements, with great benefits such as increased property values, access to credit for the titleholders, increased tax revenues for the local administration, and access to urban infrastructure services. These activities will build confidence among residents of these settlements to build better-serviced, less-crowded, and more permanent housing stock, which will contribute significantly to the Government of Kenya’s affordable housing agenda.

Additionally, the project’s special focus on socio-economic inclusion will help counter the immediate economic impact of Covid-19 by urgently linking vulnerable people of informal settlements to government programs aimed at reducing poverty and vulnerability. It will also link at-risk youth to programs focused on building skills and creating opportunities for employment and self-employment.

“In the short run, the works related to upgrading roads will provide an important source of employment opportunities for unskilled, informal and vulnerable workers disproportionately affected by the economic impact of Covid-19,” said Sheila Kamunyori, World Bank senior urban specialist and task team leader.

“The World Bank is keen to continue supporting the government’s effort to the ongoing Kazi Mtaani program in the subsequent phases to reach up to 200,000 youth across all 47 counties,” she added.

The project will strengthen national and county institutions to scale up slum upgrading, involve communities in implementation, including efforts to close the gender gap across interventions.  

The project will be implemented through institutional arrangements at the national level and county level. Criteria to determine eligible settlements have been developed to ensure that the project has maximum impact for the targeted beneficiaries. Counties with eligible settlements will be expected to demonstrate readiness to implement the project.

Read also: Manufacturers launch a green hub to promote eco-friendly industrial operations in Kenya

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