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Housing Department turns to innovation, use of new technologies to achieve Big Four Agenda

KNA   One of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda is to ensure the housing sector grows at all levels of settlement in the country.

 However, the costs of building materials, lack of innovation and use of old technologies among the people have become an impediment to realizing Jubilee government’s dream.

       For instance to date, many Kenyans are still relying on bricks or blocks manufactured locally through primitive ways – due to lack of new technological knowhow and limited resources – to construct their houses.

            A spot-check in Migori County recently revealed a slow and expensive old technique of producing bricks and blocks being used by local people to spur the growth of housing sector in the region.

            “I have no other alternative means of producing more bricks a day, due to the limited resources in my possession despite the growing demand for these materials in this area,” says Mr. John Okello, who has been in the business for over a decade now.

            The 51-year-old father of four employs physical work using traditional tools to produce low quality bricks to sell to his customers.

            With very many disadvantages and risks faced in brick making venture, ranging from minimal production to high costs of production and to destruction of environment, the remedy has now been slowly shifting to introduction of modern technologies in fast-tracking the industry.  

         Migori residents and especially the youth, are now being encouraged to use the government-owned block making machine to reduce the costs of building materials and improve quality.

           County Director for Housing Ms. Linnet Nyakiti has challenged the people in the region to use the Hydraform Block Maker machine to make building blocks for affordable houses.

Ms. Linnet says that the State Department for Housing and Urban Development (SDHUD) mandate is to promote and enable the public to attain affordable housing. 

The government, through the department was keen to facilitate the youth in initiatives that promote better use of emerging technologies, especially those that enhance the key goals outlined in the Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030.

“You either innovate or perish. I do not mean perishing literally, but being overtaken with time,” added Ms. Nyakiti during an interview with KNA at her Migori town Office.

 The Director assured that the block maker machine is free for use by any Migori resident. The block maker machine is a government initiative and one of the reforms undertaken to lower the costs of constructing a house.

 The hydra form machine was brought to Migori County in 2009 and has served numerous residents of the county.  Currently, the block maker that can make between 800 to 1000 blocks per day depending on the work power of those operating it, is idle and slowly rotting outside the Director’s office.

For every 10 litres of fuel, the machine can produce between 700 to 1000 blocks, making it cost effective.

 “This Hydraform machine was bought by the taxpayers’ money and Migori residents should feel free to use and utilise it to attain affordable housing”, said Ms. Nyakiti. 

The Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) is a key manifesto for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda to ensure that Kenyans have decent and modern homes.

According to the Kenya Affordable Housing Programme Development Framework Guidelines of 2018, the Government of Kenya has committed to deliver a series of ambitious social programmes to promote long-term economic development for Kenyan citizens.

Ms. Nyakiti highlighted that the procedure to secure the machine by residents was simple. “One just need to come to our office and put in a request to use the machine”, stated Ms. Nyakiti.

            The Directors says they have to certify if the person is fully prepared to start the block making process. Once that is established the housing personnel will do a demonstration on how to use the machine and the person will be at liberty to collect the machine and make the blocks for their own house construction.

 As part of the development of affordable housing to Kenyans, the 2018 guidelines shows that the government aims to provide 500,000 new homes to Kenyans over a five-year period.

           Migori County Urban Institutional Development Strategy (MCUIDS) for 2018-2022 shows that the county has a high demand for housing both for civil servants and ordinary citizens.

 The Migori strategy indicate that the high demand for housing across the nation can be addressed by the concept of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) like the National Housing Corporation, which can assist counties to provide affordable housing to the populace.

National Housing Corporation is a statutory body with the primary mandate of implementing Government’s Housing Policies and Programme.

 Ms. Nyakiti says that the National Housing Corporation (NHC) has assisted local authorities across the nation in building decent affordable houses through various schemes like the Rural and Peri-Urban Housing loans, an initiative which she says the County government can emulate.

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