Shortage of housing versus insecure housing units in Nairobi

Clip first aired on Citizen TV (courtesy of youtube)

Nairobi, the capital of Kenya covers an area of 696 square kms with a population of 3,138,369 as per the 2009 National housing and population census. Nairobi is considered a primate city. Its population is more than the combined population of Kenya’s three other cities and more than three times the population of the second largest City (Mombasa).
Nairobi urban housing development is governed by the Nairobi Master Plan which was developed in 1948. At the development of the master plan Nairobi’s population was lower than 314,760 (population in 1963). The master plan has once been reviewed in 1973 as the Nairobi Metropolitan growth strategy, though not implemented. In 2014 the Nairobi Integrated Urban Development (NIUPLAN) was developed to be implemented over a 15 year period.
Rapid population growth caused a housing deficit of 60,000 units by the 1980’s and this has been cumulatively increasing over the years. World Bank estimates that approximately 61% of urban households live in housing that meets the MDGs’ definition of a slum. The government’s goal of increasing the formal supply of affordable housing is not being met; Vision 2030 development plan sets a target of producing 200,000 housing units a year yet it only managed 3,000 in 5 years (2009-2012).
Private developers’ intention of cashing in on the housing demand have been constructing high rise buildings, usually rushed without meeting the building standards. Due to lax of enforcement of construction codes, structural integrity is compromised putting occupants in danger. Buildings have been collapsing and lives have been lost. In 2016 alone, 49 lives were lost when a 7 storey building collapsed in Huruma in April while in May another building collapsed in Huruma where 16 people died. In 2015 alone, a total of 8 buildings collapsed killing 15 people. The first major case was recorded in 2006 where more than 112 people were killed when a building collapsed in Nairobi CBD.
As a result of frequent building collapses, there was a presidential directive to set up a building audit team where I was privileged to be a part of. So far, the team has conducted audit in high risk areas such as Huruma. From the audit, 58% of audited buildings have been considered not safe for habitation. During the inspection exercise we witnessed a newly built six-storey residential flat collapse. The timely warning and evacuation as advised by the audit team saved lives of the occupants.
Research has shown that on average, a human being spends up to 90% of their time in buildings. In one of the surveys conducted by The National Human Activity Pattern Survey, the respondents indicated that they spend 87% of their time indoors. With so much time being spent in buildings it is important that the structures be safe human habitation. All players in the construction industry need to work with integrity. The Kenyan National Construction Authority having been charged with the responsibility of managing the construction industry should continually train construction workers so as to build their capacities and also put more emphasis on construction of buildings that meet the quality standards. The National Building Inspectorate should also put in more effort in conducting frequent checks to ensure compliance in building standards. Members of the public are advised to be vigilant and report buildings whose structural integrity has been compromised. They should also demand to be shown the occupancy permit for the building issued by the government to the owner of the building before inhabiting newly constructed housing units.

About the Author

Everlyne Jane Wanjiku holds Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Planning and Management and is pursuing a diploma in Project Management. She currently works at the National Buildings Inspectorate as a buildings auditor and has worked previously as a Research Assistant in the Public Health field. Her interests are in Public Health and Safety.




Illustration by Olonde Omondi

To the IDEAS Movement,

The day Donald Trump was elected president was a dark day for the environmental movement.

Regardless of who you voted for and politics aside, the reality of our decision and the decision of the electoral college is that Mr. Donald. J. Trump – a climate change denier, pro-fracking, pro-pipeline, pro-Arctic oil driller, is now the most powerful person in the world. He has voiced his disdain for the environment and has pledged to commoditize our natural resources, even if it means dissolving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), withdrawing us from the Paris Climate Agreement, and undoing the last eight years of progress under the President Obama – the most environmentally progressive President since Teddy Roosevelt.
Call me crazy, but I don’t share the dooms-day sentiment that permeates most of our fellow environmental and sustainability-based organizations. In fact, I think the opposite. Buckle your seat belt because I think a Trump Presidency could be GOOD for the environmental movement and I have three reasons why.

First, Trump puts an end to the belief that our leaders will solve our problems for us. It is an illusion to think that global problems like deforestation, climate change, and food insecurity will be solved entirely by a top-down governmental approach to those issues. Yes, major enviro-victories like the EPA’s Clean Power Plan of 2015 and the Paris Climate Agreement (now effective for 7 days) are MAJOR steps in the right direction, but it is wrong to think that any Government alone will be the savior of our planet. The great tragedy of the Environmental Movement is that so many people believe that environmental problems are beyond their means to solve as everyday people. IDEAS has worked hard to inspire and educate many in Africa, Asia, and the Americas to believe in themselves and take local action, rather than wait for their leaders to fix their problems for them.

Second, Trump provides the environmental movement with a “Bad Guy”, a super villain of sorts, to rally donations and public support against. This is a much simpler call to action for the public than stopping Bill XYZ, Pipe Line ABC, or Company 123. Trump provides the environmental movement with a clear adversary. He is not on the fence about climate change. Nor will he pledge strong climate action for six months of the year to win votes and then deliver on a lighter, amended plan, swayed by corporate interests. He has been clear in his intentions, even threatening our National Parks with mining, fracking, and logging. If that doesn’t unify our movement in mass, nothing will. Trump lends great clarity to our struggle that many in the public need to make the first step to get involved. Trump bad, environment good.

Third, I believe that Trump will inspire grassroots action at an unprecedented scale. There is nothing else we can do in the face of such a sea change but load up the cannon balls, scrub the poop deck, and set sail in the face of everything he stands for. We have to create global solutions through local action and scale them to every community we can. Top down environmental innovation is going extinct and it is time for real, community action and innovation to take its’ place. We need bottom-up innovation and we need it now!

IDEAS For Us is proud to announce that we will be doing our part to catalyze action. We will be launching an entirely new website, a “Solutions Platform” to build our membership, issue microgrants for action projects, and showcase all of our past solutions.

This ever-evolving online presence will serve as a tool for IDEAS and other like-minded organizations wanting to take action and showcase projects. Our website will be rolling out in three phases, with our first phase (Phase 1) launching in December of 2016.

Recently, we previewed the website and IDEAS flagship solutions, called The Hive, at The Vatican for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Youth Event. Out of 50 attendees from 35 countries, The Hive was honored with a Solutions Award and you can read about my experience meeting Pope Francis in today’s blog.

Stay-tuned to more information and news from IDEAS. There is a lot of work to do over the next four years and we are going to be right there with you to do it!

*Please consider donation to our movement.

By Clayton Louis Ferrara

Olonde Omondi Draws the Environment, Recycling and Poaching

Olonde Omondi has taken up his wicked pens to address the environment, deforestation, poaching, pollution and recycling. If you are an editor and would like a higher quality copy of an image, please contact us via the contact page. To commission new work contact

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.



Fun in the Art of Upcycling

Report by: Tracy Mukami Kimathi.

Many people perceive environmental conservation as anti-development as well as cost-consuming. This holiday, I personally set out to prove this notion wrong by carrying out a few simple experiments that embrace the well known 4Rs that we environmentalists look up to. I then discovered a new term known as ‘upcycling’, which according to Wikipedia refers to the ‘process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value’. In simpler terms it’s the reuse of discarded objects so as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.

As the title also implies, I wanted to ensure the processes were simple enough to silence the idea that ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover’ is a complex and unmanageable affair. Once my little brother, whom you will see in the illustrations, saw my experiments, he quickly joined me. He proved it to be a fun experience that children all around the world can enjoy, without being forced, and without grumbles. As a result, I consider this report to open doors to a new generation of people who will find environmental conservation to be a joy, not a burden, as the previous and current generations portray it.

The main focus of this report is upcycling, it demonstrates profit gain, simple profit gain, cheap profit gain, and reusable profit gain. I basically reinvented old materials as items that can be reintroduced to the market with added value. Buyers can appreciate the handmade effort to personalize the items, thus adding value to its creative nature.

So now that we’ve explored the definitions and base of this article, let’s see the fun and easy ways to contribute to the restoration of our beautiful, spectacular, amazing, stunning, astounding, breathtaking (and so on) planet.


toilet roll craft 

Materials Needed.

  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Bottle caps
  • Markers/ paints
  • Paint brush
  • Any additional colour materials



  1. Paint toilet rolls (white preferably)
  2. Let them dry in the sun.
  3. Fold the top part (if necessary)
  4. Paint on desired features.
  5. Design your craft with glitter or bottle tops, or any other feature according to your design.
paint the rolls

1. Let the young ones paint the materials (they love it!)

painted rolls

2. Results after sun drying. (It’ll take less than 30 min)

owl ears folded

3. Designs vary. (I folded the ears for the owl effect)

ready to decorate

finished toilet roll

Finished results

 finished toilet roll



Jameson wrapped bottle

Finished Jameson whiskey bottle


  • Old wine/vodka bottle
  • Old jewellery.
  • Yarn

Step 1, 2 and 3 repeated

It doesn’t matter how badly off the bottle is. The yarn will cover the bottle fully, giving it a completely new appearance. This was the best upcycle example I created, turning a completely discarded material into an item that can be resold  to consumers who’d appreciate the personalized item as a gift. (Take note Jameson and other famous brands 🙂

image11 Old whiskey bottle


  1. Distribute the glue evenly on one section of the recycled bottled.
  2. Wrap the yarn around the bottle ensuring little to no space is left between the layers.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 till the desired point.

Decorate the finished bottle with buttons or jewellery or any other reusable material


The finished wrapped bottle

The finished wrapped Jameson’s bottle




from inspiration

to finished pot

to finished pot


  • Marker
  • Plastic bottle
  • NT cutter or craft knife
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Old calendar
  • Creativity 🙂

 wash plastic bottles


  • Wash out bottles and remove labels.
  • Cut out shape of respective animal from bottle.
  • Using an outdated calendar or greetings card, draw the features of animal to the respective dimensions of the bottle and cut it out.
  • Using glue, stick the calendar paper to the bottle and voilà, your very own plastic animal pot


Let your little helper wash out the bottle and remove the label. He chose for me the animal type too 🙂

wash the bottle

Cut out the animal shape with scissors, NT cutter or craft knife (carefully). Our chosen animal was a cat.

 cut out the shape

The cut out results.

cut-out cat shape from plastic bottle              








Happy New Year-2016!! Not everything of 2015 will be discarded:          

old 2015 items

Cat design as per bottle’s circumference measurement.

cat design

Finished Results

plastic bottle cat


Studies show that people are exposed to chemicals from plastics multiple times per day through the air, dust, water, food and use of consumer products. The chemicals are absorbed by the human body causing hormone alterations. Plastic ingested by animals injures or poisons them, and plastics disposed of in landfills leach harmful chemicals that further danger human health.

Plastics are a major pollutant and the damage grows due to their easy affordability and availability. According to Wikipedia, plastics contribute to approximately 10% of discarded waste. Between 60% and 80% of all marine litter consist of plastics (Derraik, 2002). Most economies don’t prioritize the issue of waste management and the low level of funding that does go to the issue is taken by corruption, this mostly happens in developing countries. In developed countries waste is known to contain mostly inorganic compounds (plastics being a large portion), as compared to developing countries that record mostly organic products. The blame is on everyone.

One cannot however stop the production of plastics as they are important in the modern age. It has uses in packaging, hospital equipment, and new studies that encourage plastics for home construction are readily emerging. If properly recycled, we can live with plastics without encouraging environmental and health damage. But if not managed, the multiple decade lifespans of plastics will kill our planet.

Recycling and upcycling can create immense job opportunities, from the stakeholders of solid waste disposal to the craftsmanship of the individuals reconstructing the items. In the project displayed above, I used less than 500ksh to buy the tools and materials that can return thousands in profit, as well as help in environmental conservation. The low income majority and the unemployed can create job opportunities for themselves by selling these items. Did I mention that they all took less than an hour in preparation?


-The materials I used are cheap and unemployed individuals can make and sell these items, investing as little as 500ksh as start up capital.

-The materials can be used for decorative, as well as utilitarian purposes in a household

– Schools can involve children in such projects, as they are easy to make and highly informative

-Companies can adopt such upcycling methodology. This will help in solid waste management, as well as limiting landfill developments.

Report by: Tracy Mukami Kimathi.

Contact Information:, +254 712 950183

Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly

One speaker, Mr. Michael O’Brian of Green Peace Africa said “If there was an Olympics Competition for Policy drafting between continents, Africa would win hands down”. All conference participants burst out in laughter, but not because it was funny. The reason is because it is true. We are very good at drafting policy documents, but devoid of action.

The Plenary_2nd Africa EBAFOSC

The Plenary_2nd Africa EBAFOSC

Delegates__2nd Africa EBAFOSC

Delegates__2nd Africa EBAFOSC

The Drafting committee_2nd Africa EBAFOSC

The Drafting committee_2nd Africa EBAFOSC







Like I had informed you earlier, the ‘2nd Africa Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Conference 2015’  ended with adoption of  “Nairobi Action Agenda on Africa”   and a “Constitution of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly” symbolized the official start of the “Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA)”. We hope this time we are going to be a continent of action.

Follow the links below to read the declaration and constitution: