Kenya faces a shortage of 200,000 housing units annually, according to a survey released Monday.
Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development Charity Ngilu told a media briefing in Nairobi that as a result of years of under investment, Kenya has a deficit of 200, 000 housing units annually.
“The ministry of housing seeks to accelerate development and access to affordable and adequate housing through public private partnership and plans to construct 300,000 units by the year 2017, ” Ngilu said during the launch of national housing survey 2012/ 2013.”We will soon be breaking ground for an initial 10,000 units for civil servants.”
The CS said the housing development is ambitious targets that can only be achieved by ensuring that the country has reliable data that guided the planning and development process.
The East African nation has not had comprehensive and accurate data on urban and rural housing for the past two decades. Ngilu said the last comprehensive housing survey was undertaken in 1983.
“Whereas Kenya has consistently carried out population and housing census, the information only provides benchmark data that needs to be enriched by specialized housing surveys,” she said.
According to the survey, urban residents spent approximately 34 percent of their income on rent. “If one considers that most of the Kenyans still have to commute long distances to their places of work, this makes the cost of living in urban areas very high,” Ngilu said.
She therefore urged county governments to put up social rental houses to cushion the urban residents from high rents. The government official decried the current high interest rates that are making mortgages out of the reach of most people.
“I wish to challenge banks to come up with innovative ways of reducing the interest rates in order to accelerate the rate of home ownership,” she said.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development Mariamu El Maawy said the high population growth rate and rapid urbanization have resulted in demand for houses outstripping supply, adding that high poverty levels have also made it difficult for a majority of Kenyans to invest in decent housing.
“This has led to most Kenyans living in informal settlements even where they own the land,” she said, noting that the country’s urban areas suffer from acute shortage of planned land for housing development.
The housing survey reveals that the proportion of owner occupied households who reside in rural areas stands at 82 percent compared to 18 percent for those in urban areas.
Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said his county government is accelerating plans to build low cost housing.
“We will invest in order to bridge the housing deficit that is growing annually,” Kidero said, noting that over 67 percent of all residents in Nairobi live in informal settlements. Enditem