WASHINGTON, March 24, 2011 - The World Bank has approved a credit of US$100 million to improve living conditions in Kenya’s informal urban settlements.
The Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project approved by the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today will focus on strengthening security of tenure and improving physical infrastructure in informal settlements in 15 of Kenya’s largest cities.
“Kenya’s cities are growing rapidly, with many new residents crowding into sprawling unplanned settlements where there is limited infrastructure and very low service provision” said Johannes Zutt, the Country Director for Kenya. “Unplanned urban growth not only limits the productivity and inclusivity of Kenya’s cities; it also perpetuates inequalities that cause their own problems and tensions, including increasing urban violence and insecurity.”
The Informal Settlements Improvement Project will help the government to implement its new constitution, which as part of its bill of rights guarantees each person the right to accessible and adequate housing, to reasonable standards in sanitation, and to clean and safe water in adequate quantities, among other things.
The Project will also assist in implementing the new land policy by introducing planning and strengthening security of tenure in unplanned and poor urban residential areas. Finally, it supports Kenya’s Vision 2030 and Medium-Term Plan 2008–2013, which specifies improving urban informal settlements as a priority.
“A significant proportion of urban residents live in under-served informal settlements,” said Sumila Gulyani, Task Team Leader for the Program. “These are among Kenya’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. The government recognizes that the quality of life in cities cannot improve without improving planning, strengthening security of tenure, and investing in infrastructure in informal and poor neighborhoods. This is crucial not only for enhancing competitiveness of cities and overall growth, but for directly addressing poverty and promoting more inclusive service delivery,” she said.
The Bank funding is part of the US$165 million that is being invested in the program by the government and development agencies. The other partners in the program are the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD)—the French development agency.
The program is the second World Bank project that will underpin the transformation of the urban and local government sector. The first project—the Municipal Program, which is focusing on strengthening local governance, institutions, and physical infrastructure, with the ultimate objective of improving services delivered to Kenyans in the 15 largest municipalities—was approved on May 4, 2010. The third project—Nairobi Metropolitan Services Project, which will improve services in Kenya’s largest and economically most important urban conurbation—is expected to start in 2012.
The credit is provided on standard International Development Association (IDA) terms, which include a 10-year grace period and a 40-year maturity period.