Assessing Efficiency of Space Use of Older Public Housing Estates in Terms of Layout of Houses in Relation to their Land Sizes. A Case Study of Ofafa Jericho

Land in the city of Nairobi is scarce especially land committed to low income housing. Ofafa Jericho located in Eastlands, Nairobi presents a unique scenario: the estate is set on 300ha with 170 inhabitants per hectare/33.86 dwellings per hectare (GOK, 1958). The low density developments have left a lot of land to waste which is idle. Residents in the estate have established extensions made of stainless steel in these areas of left over space. Extensions are rented out for income or used by residents to extend the size of their units and accommodate their families.

During the inception of the estate, Nairobi had a population of 118,976 people occupying an area of 8,315 hectares (Washington H.A. Olima, 2001). Today the population in Nairobi alone stands at 3,138,369 people covering a surface area of 695 km2 and a density of 4,515 people per km2 (Kenya County Fact Sheets). This outcome is reflected in the congestion of facilities in the estate and the increase in housing demand.

Therefore the research considered these parameters in informing the overall research question: with increased internal growth and housing demand in Ofafa Jericho estate, has the land in the estate been put to optimum use?
The study involved secondary and primary data collection approaches, a field study was carried out as well where households were engaged in the study through use of questionnaires; 32 respondents were selected to represent Ofafa Jericho. Key respondents on the ground were consulted as well. Data collected from the secondary sources is presented in Chapter Four in the form of pie charts and bar graphs all of which bring out a clear picture of the situation on the ground.

The study revealed that inhabitants of the area are mostly low income earners and enjoy the low affordable rents charged by the City Council of Nairobi the body in charge of the estate.

However, on average households range between 4 to 6 members and the one and two bedroom units prove insufficient hence extensions in some cases are erected by households to accommodate family and dependants comfortably. The low density developments in the estate has promoted the presence of large open spaces which, with the population increase currently faced by the estate, has in turn encouraged informal intensifications. If this situation continues open spaces all over the estate will be taken up by the informal structures due to the inability of
the estate to meet high housing demands and respond to internal growth pressures.
The study recommends redevelopment of the area to incorporate smart growth principles in order to achieve more efficient land use and productivity as well as sustainable development. From the research carried out it was discerned that spatial challenges faced in any area prompt individuals that use those spaces to meet the challenges they face with the resources they have. Interventions applied by residents then become the beginning of planning for better and more efficient

Conclusively, it was discerned that spatial challenges faced in any area prompt individuals who use those spaces to meet the challenges they face with the resources they have. In planning for any area, the interventions by residents although unorthodox should serve to inform the study of the needs of inhabitants.


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