In the past fifty years the world has experienced unprecedented urban growth mainly triggered by rapid industrialization and massive in migration to existing urban areas. The urban areas offer job opportunities and a promise of ‘a better life’ as many would want to believe. These are the major factors that have caused the current urbanization trends that we are currently experiencing. Urbanization has brought with it the problem of housing characterized by formation of informal settlements/slums. This report focuses on the challenges that the urban poor face in providing shelter for their families.

This research project was carried out in Mathare 4B, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. The main objective of this research was to find out the major challenges facing housing in this settlement. It therefore entailed collection of data both primary and secondary. Primary data was obtained through actual field visits while secondary data was obtained from already existing literature materials.

The global situation indicated that the greatest challenge facing provision of housing in informal settlements was security of land tenure. Slum residents cannot improve their housing conditions when the land they are on does not belong to them contrary to the popular belief that they cannot afford to. Case studies outlined in this report showed that great improvements in the housing sector can be achieved once the residents legally own the land upon which their structures stand.

Data collected in the field revealed that residents of Mathare 4B are experiencing deplorable housing conditions characterized by temporary dilapidated housing structures, inadequate service and infrastructure provision, insecure land tenure, congestion and a heavily polluted environment. However, they remain optimistic that the situation can be salvaged only in a negotiated approach between them and the government.

The research project concludes that planning laws and regulations do not have adequate provisions for low income housing in Kenya. The institutions of government mandated to deal with slum upgrading and improvement have not been able to co ordinate their efforts towards improving slum conditions while the current policy framework does not adequately deal with poverty reduction and improving livelihoods of slum dwellers.