SEATTLE, Washington — The Kenyan government established the Big Four, a national initiative to resolve Kenya’s economic issues and provide Kenyan citizens with better opportunities to improve their standards of living. The Big Four project’s four principles include universal healthcare, food and nutrition security, more housing accommodations, and enhancing manufacturing opportunities. One of the housing initiatives, called the Affordable Housing Project, aims to provide better housing opportunities to those unable to afford the high housing costs.
The Affordable Housing Project
In 2017, the Affordable Housing Project was projected to supply more than 500,000 houses in five years. The Public Works Principal Secretary believes that owning housing provides many with an economic advantage as it provides them with the right to own land.
Moreover, the national government states these housing projects will be an economical starter for the country as it will provide many with construction working opportunities. The government estimates the Affordable Housing Project will create approximately 300,000 jobs during its years of operation.
The Samara Estate and Easing Poverty in Kenya
One of the projects supported by the Affordable Housing Project is the Samara Estate. The building will provide more than 2,000 new units for citizens at an affordable price. From surveying 47 million people in Kenya, the Public Works Principal Secretary found that only 25,000 people used mortgage plans, showing the small number of Kenyans owning property.
The Samara Estate proposes that the units could be sold for approximately $9,200 or higher depending on individuals’ salaries. Kenyans who make roughly $185 a year are capable of buying the units.
The affordable housing projects hopes to incentivize more people to own houses to increase their financial security and invest in new endeavors, building up local economies and personal wealth.
How Does the Housing Crisis Affect Poverty in Kenya?
The Constitution of Kenya, in article 43, asserts that every person should have “accessible and adequate housing.” However, Kenyans currently do not earn enough income to own basic housing. Additionally, Kenya’s estimated unemployment rate sits at 40%, with 36.5% of Kenyans living under the global poverty line.
In Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, only 8% of the population own housing. The rest of the city’s population cannot afford the housing prices due, in part, to Kenya’s undetermined national minimum wage.
When people do not own housing, they lack a safety net for future endeavors and retirement. As such, the cycle of poverty continues when people lack financial security and cannot secure stable housing for themselves and their families.
Progress for Kenya and Wealth Inequality
Despite the Kenyan government’s attempts at progressing the country’s economy in recent years, the national GDP dropped from 5.9% in 2016 to 4.9% in 2017. Along with this economic drop, there are still issues with inequality in Kenya, with 10% of the population making 37.8% of the national income.
While the middle class continues to grow, poverty in Kenya is still a prevalent issue. Urbanization is one of the key prospects the government is looking at to reduce poverty. A 2017 study by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics highlights that 50% of people living in rural Kenya are impoverished compared to 30% in Kenya’s urban areas.
Housing projects that offer affordable rates are essential in pulling impoverished communities out of poverty. However, affordable housing is only one part of the solution to eradicating poverty in Kenya. Health and education are two other cornerstones that can provide impoverished people with better standards of living. The Kenyan government is working to provide initiatives for these issues, among others, in its Big Four project. With the government and organizations’ efforts, Kenya comes closer to eliminating wealth inequality and poverty.