Nation: Mr. Faraj Mzito sits on a stone outside his house in Ziwani Estate in Nairobi, contemplating his next move. Mr. Mzito is a fourth generation dweller in Ziwani, which is the only home he knows.  That is why the recent announcement by the Nairobi County government that tenants in the estate must move to the pave way for the construction of new houses, has left him worried and unsettled.

The house he lives in was owned by his great-great grandparents, who passed it down to his parents, who in turn passed it down to him and two of his siblings. However, Mr. Mzito, his siblings and their families have to find alternative accommodation to pave the way for the multimillion project that is aimed at using the land to house more people in apartment blocks.

The old houses were built in 1950s, and were once decent dwellings that were home to the late Tom Mboya and former Nairobi mayor Joe Akech. Those who got the homes first passed them down to the next generation, and with time they became “family property”.

Mr. Mzito, 44, says that as the families grew but did not wish to live far from one another, the residents started building corrugated iron sheet extensions to “accommodate a whole family in one compound”.

A trip to the estate recently revealed that the houses accommodate up to eight households, with the parents occupying the main house while their sons and their families live in the extensions. The residents pay rents of between Sh1, 000 and Sh3, 000 depending on the size of the house, which is way below those in most city estates. And that is the reason most residents have lived in the estate for years, Mr. Mzito says.

As the population grew, the haphazard construction of extensions to accommodate the rising numbers turned the estates into a veritable slum, with garbage and overflowing sewers all over. For years, the county council also neglected the estates, forcing the residents to maintain them themselves.