The first session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly was held on 27th to 31st May 2019, at UN-Habitat headquarters in Nairobi.

KARA in partnership with the State Department for Housing and Urban Development (SDHUD) hosted a side event on 30th May 2019 under the theme “affordable housing and sustainable solid waste management as drivers of innovation and better quality of life in cities and communities.” The side event provided an opportunity for both state and non-state actors from across the world to highlight and showcase their initiatives on affordable housing and solid waste management, and also demonstrated how such initiatives are contributing towards achievement of quality life in cities and communities.

Speakers at the side event were: Hon. Lee Kinyanjui, Governor Nakuru County; Dr. Peya Mushelenga, Minister for Housing and Human Settlements, Namibia; Hon. Salmon Omarimba, County Executive Committee Member for Environment, Water & Natural Resources, Kisumu County; Mr. William Jiyana, Department of Human Settlements, Republic of South Africa; Ms. Anastasia Muiti, Principal  Education and Sustainable Development Officer, Ministry of Environment & Forestry, Kenya; Mr. Wilson Gichuru, Fellowship Member, Kenya Innovation Authority; Dr. Leah Oyake, State Department of Housing and Urban Development, Kenya and Kara Chief Executive Officer Mr. Henry Ochieng. The discussions were moderated by Mr. George Wasonga, Chief Executive Officer, Civil Society Urban Development Platform (CSUDP).

There was consensus among the participants that for any affordable housing initiative to be responsive to community needs, there has to be clear plan on how the waste generated by occupants of the houses will be managed in a sustainable manner. Dr. Leah Oyake, representing Kenya’s State Department for Housing and Urban Development stated that the Government is alive to the importance of proper waste management as a key component of the affordable housing agenda and has put in place mechanisms to work with Resident Associations and other community groups to come up with a sustainable plan for management of the waste.    

Hon. Lee Kinyanjui, who also chairs the urban planning, housing, lands, infrastructure and energy committee at the Council of Governors, urged Counties to embrace public private partnerships and set aside funds in their budgets to support the affordable housing agenda. He noted that poor planning has been a major challenge to most Counties therefore affecting development of infrastructures to spur the economy and improve livelihoods of the citizens. Hon. Salmon Omarimba said that the County Government of Kisumu is currently establishing policies and legislations on solid waste management that are intended to provide an effective and efficient framework for management of solid waste in the City. Mr. William Jiyana shared the experiences in South Africa on issues of affordable housing and solid waste management. He said that South Africa experiences challenges of solid waste due to the urban sprawl in most part of the Cities. The country has however adopted waste management initiatives such as,separation of waste at point of generation and the establishment of recycling schemes.

Dr. Peya Mushelenga shared the experiences of affordable housing and solid waste management in Namibia. He said that the Namibian Government has established a Mass Housing Project that aims to build 185,000 houses by the year 2030. The objective of the project is to provide access to affordable housing to the Namibian people; to empower the economy through ownership of a tradable asset that can be used as security for further wealth and asset generation at household level; to create jobs and stimulate economic growth; as well as to redistribute land to the needy.

Mr. Henry Ochieng of Kara urged the government to ensure that there is adequate and structured engagement with various stakeholders in the execution of the affordable housing projects. He said that some of the challenges the Government is facing in rolling out the project is because of inadequate public participation and information to the public about the project. On solid waste management, he said that there is need for the Counties to have in place progressing solid waste management polices and laws to guide them in managing waste. Kara is working with 11 County Governments to support them in developing solid waste management policies and legal frameworks. He said.