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close this book BASIN - News No 11. March 1996: BASIN and the city summit
View the document Editorial
View the document Focus: BASIN and the city summit
View the document Shelter forum: The first southern BASIN-Partner
View the document BASIN at the Habitat II conference in Istanbul - May 30 to June 14, 1996
View the document The ecology and ethics of brick kilns
View the document Low-cost housing construction in Papua New Guinea
View the document The Costa Rica national bamboo project
View the document In search of choice: - Reconciling policy and the peoples process
View the document Technology and Social Action: A Housing Development Programme in Rafaela, Argentinia
View the document Enabling shelter strategies for low-income communities
View the document WAS: Basin Awareness sminar in Egypt
View the document CAS: Research and development on affordable binders and production processes
View the document Transition from project advised activity to independent entrepreneurship
View the document MEPI system, an essential management tool
View the document MCR Producers seminar and training in Uganda
View the document CECAT organises third Latin American MCR conference
View the document EAS: Improvement of locally manufactured earth block presses in Nigeria
View the document The low-cost building construction project as an answer to housing problems

Enabling shelter strategies for low-income communities

The Tanzania-Bondeni Community Trust Project, Kenya

The following article presents the Tanzania-Bondeni Community Land Trust Project, a Kenyan project which is being jointly carried out by the Kenyan Ministry of Local Government (MLG), the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Voi Municipal Council and the Tanzania-Bondeni Community.


project actors at National, local and community level

By providing a long-term security of tenure and reducing chances of land speculation, the community land trust project provides perhaps the most important aspect of poverty alleviation. Security of tenure eliminates the risk of eviction, increases the possibility of obtaining credit and promotes household investment in improving the house.

Project experience has shown that enabling shelter strategies must include four essentials:

• Enabling Actors,

• Enabling Building Costs

• Enabling Building Standards, and

• Enabling Land Tenure

Enabling Actors

If settlements are to be successfully upgraded, all stakeholders must be involved at all levels; national, local and community. This includes relevant ministries and government departments, the local authority in charge of planning and building by-laws, as well as the local community and their representatives. The chart below gives an overview of the most important project actors:

Enabling Building Costs

Affordability of upgrading measures is an essential ingredient of any settlement improvement programme. Access to credit for shelter improvement is often a major problem for the urban poor. At an early stage, the project approached the Kenyan National Cooperative Housing Union (NACHU), which provides soft loans to housing cooperatives. NACHU offered the type of services and loans that meet the demands of low-income people; the local NGO runs a successful programme called "Housing Rehabilitation Programme" which provides soft loans of up to Kshs 85000 ($1550) per household for reconstruction and rehabilitation of dilapidated housing. Beneficiaries are expected to save 10% of the total loan and they must provide a list of three grantees and a temporary title deed or sub-lease as collateral. Through this provision even households with minimum monthly income can afford to improve their houses over time.

Enabling Building Standards

Linking shelter upgrading efforts to inappropriate housing standards was one of the main reasons for non-affordability for low-income beneficiaries in past upgrading experiences. To achieve low-cost housing in upgrading areas, prices of building materials must reflect the ability of beneficiaries to pay for these. In the case of Voi, this meant the scaling down of building standards to appropriate levels - beneficiaries are authorised to build with non stabilized compressed earth blocks, or even sun-dried bricks if they can not afford to build with the more expensive materials. This was made possible by the new Kenyan "Code 92" Review of Building By-laws drafted by the Building Code Review Commission, exempting low-income settlements from the higher planning and building standards. The minimum standards agreed with the local authority include minimum size of rooms, spacing of the building from the plot boundary and specifications for the sanitation structures, ie regulations for soak pits and pit latrines

Enabling Land Tenure

The centrepiece of the upgrading project is an innovative land tenure system called "Community Land Trust" (CLT). A community land trust differs from other tenure systems in its approach to property ownership and the way it is governed. In its approach the CLT treats land and buildings as separate entities. All land acquired by the trust is held perpetually for the community’s benefit, but homes and other improvements on the plots can be owned by the resident households. The land is leased to the residents on terms that give them long-term security and removes the land from the speculative market. In essence the CLT gives local communities long-term control over the use and future allocation of land and their habitat - a tool for community development.

Lessons learned

There are a number of lessons that have been learned during the last 3½ years of upgrading Voi.

1. Squatters in unplanned settlement areas can contribute substantial amounts of money for the process of upgrading and acquisition of tenure;

2. With the security of tenure, squatters are able to improve their houses incrementally, and eventually meet the local authority’s simplified building standards.

3. There are many NGO’s and other organisations (including banks) who are willing to assist poor communities, in particular those who are properly organized and legally recognized.

4. Community participation is the linchpin to successful settlement upgrading - enhancing project effectiveness and implementation from the very beginning.

5. The preoccupation with design, standards, building materials and other technical aspects of housing is shifting to an increasing emphasis on institutional and financial support mechanisms required to support the poor in housing themselves.

In future, ways must be found to scale up responses beyond one-off solutions and pilot projects and develop an institutional framework which will enable innovative tenure systems like the CLT to be replicated elsewhere.

Ursula Eigel, Chris Luthi and David Mshila

Small Towns Development Project, Nairobi