Ghetto Incremental Housing - Phase I

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Focus Areas: Housing

The Ghetto Housing Project is an in situ upgrading project at the heart of Huruma Informal settlement in Nairobi's eastern sub-county. The project is a continuation of the Huruma Housing projects. The five (5) acre piece of land on which the project stands belongs to the Nairobi City County Government. The project is being undertaken in three phases, with the cost of construction ranging between US$2,604 and US$3,645 per household*. The project is to be undertaken in three phases. In the first phase:

• Construction began in 2012 and ended in the year 2013.

• Eighteen (18) houses were constructed. These are now being occupied.

• A US$2,472 loan was given to each household. 


Location: Ghetto, Huruma, Nairobi, Kenya


Eighteen houses have been constructed. The majority of these houses are now being occupied. 

Community capacity:

During phase one of the project the community constructed its own houses with the assistance of support staff and the support of the Federation at large. 


This project can be scaled up to cover the whole Ghetto settlement and demonstrates an approach that can be replicated across the country. Ghetto settlement is surrounded by four other settlements. These include Kambi Moto, Mahira, Gitathuru and Grogon. The Government has been under pressure to provide infrastructure in the Huruma settlements which they are currently doing. For this project to scale up to the surrounding settlements and beyond, the Federation needs to continue to strengthen its relationship with Government. 


The project has greatly impacted slum dwellers throughout Nairobi’s eastern region. It has inspired more and more communities to explore and, in some instances, adopt the Federation's organizing strategies for securing their tenure. This project has impacted the Federation’s methods particularly in terms of information and finance management, including community procurement. The federation has demonstrated the community labor and innovative construction technologies learned through exchange with other federations in the SDI network, have been able to cut the unit cost of construction by half (from $6,250 to $3,646 per unit).


SDI Contributions:

SDI contribution for the first two phases of the project was US$61,910. Of this amount, approximately US$32, 776 was utilised in the first phase of the project. 

Resources Leveraged:

The settlement has leveraged land and infrastructure from the State through a Government program funded by the World Bank.

State Subsidy:

State subsidy was in the form of five (5) acres of land.

Market Generated Returns:

None to date.

Costs recovered from community:

The beneficiaries have repaid US$19,240 to date (June 2015). 

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Project information updated: 12 November 2015

Project in depth

Detailed Information

The situation in Kenya is a reflection of global trends; it is estimated that more than thirty-four (34%) percent of Kenya’s total population lives in urban areas and by 2030 this number is projected to reach sixty-three (63%) percent. An estimated seventy-one (71%) percent of the urban population lives in slums. Typically informal settlement dwellers face social, political and economic exclusion and lack access to adequate housing and basic services amongst other challenges.
The government of Kenya has initiated various interventions aimed at addressing the above mentioned issues. There has however been limited attention to low-income housing. Where attempts have been made by local authorities to construct affordable housing for low-income groups, corruption and a lack of effective monitoring have resulted in most of these units effectively becoming “privatized”. As a result, local authorities ended up with nominal rents while private “landlords” secured market value rates.
Since 2004, through the Kenyan Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP) and more recently the Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project (KISIP), Government has continued to attempt slum upgrading, with limited success owing to a lack of coordination and participation by organized communities.

The importance of community involvement in generating tenure security solutions for Kenya’s urban poor is a top priority for the Kenyan Federation of Slum Dwellers (Muungano wa Wanavijiji). For over a decade, Muungano has tested different strategies for community-driven tenure security and how a lack of tenure security for the urban poor impacts development outcomes. Key issues of focus for the federation have included affordability or lack thereof), out-pricing target beneficiaries through infrastructural investments in slum settlements (especially in cases where tenure security arrives too late), and the selling of land titles in the processes of regularization (especially in case tenure security arrives too early with a change from public tenure to private and community tenure).

To improve tenure security for the urban poor, the Kenyan Federation has embarked upon a number of (in-situ) upgrading projects leveraged by community savings. The Ghetto Incremental Housing project is one such initiative which aims to set a precedent for urban upgrading that is affordable to the poorest and does not involve relocation to the urban periphery. In addition to this, the project aims to demonstrate the ability of the Federation to undertake community-led and owned projects.
The Federation’s work has contributed to Government’s decision to allocate funds for upgrading programs in informal settlements. The Government has also started a program of infrastructure upgrading in sixteen (16) towns with informal settlements.


The project aims to:

• Construct eighteen (18) houses in the first phase;

• Constuct sixteen (16) houses in phase two, and; 

• Reblock the settlement and construct two hundred (200) foundations in phase three.

Community capacity:

The intention is to strengthen the capacity of the housing cooperative in the settlement. The Ghetto Housing Cooperative is made up of two savings schemes. This will enable the community to finish housing for the five hundred and two (502) families in the settlement. The housing cooperative has three hundred (300) members in the settlement.


The project’s intention is to construct (200) homes and demonstrate a model that can be replicated across the country.


Muungano wa Wanavijiji intended to demonstrate that communities can construct at a much lower per unit cost than conventional contractors, thereby establishing a precedent for scalable urban upgrading. 


SDI Contributions:

SDI capital contribution is KES1,200,000 (US$125,000) given to the Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT).

Resources Leveraged:

Through this project, the Federation has been able to secure land from the local Government.

Costs recovered from community:

The beneficiaries have repaid US$19,240 to date (June 2015). The repayments are put in a revolving fund, in order to finance subsequent phases of the project. 

Bafo, P. (2012). Slum Upgrading Initiatives and its Impacts on Livelihoods: Reflections from Nairobi. [Online]. Available:
Centre for Urban Research and Innovations. (2013). Systematisation of Huruma In-situ Housing Upgrading Project. [Online]. Available:
ITD. (2014). Kambi Moto: A Unique Case of In-situ Housing Upgrading Project. [Online]. Available:

Funding Information



Funding type:

Grant funding

Implementing Partners

Muungano wa Wanavijiji

Akiba Mashinani Trust

Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Rockefeller Foundation