Building Homes in Kenya

Evaluating the potential for improving child safety and security through housing and human settlements programming in Kenya.

2012-2014   

Rooftops Canada Foundation: Co-investigators: C. Mitchell, M. Rothman, & F. Chege.

National Cooperative Housing Union of Kenya (NACHU) is a national apex organization of over 300 Primary Housing Cooperatives (PHCs) with over 200,000 members. It provides housing microfinance, housing support and services to its members, and it is a non-profit and non-governmental organization. NACHU works to develop sustainable communities by mainstreaming youth engagement, gender equality and women’s leadership, HIV and AIDS responses, environmental issues and support for livelihoods. 

The overall goal/development objective of NACHU’s Strategic Plan 2010-2014, is to position NACHU so that it is able to respond effectively, efficiently and competitively to the changing needs of housing finance in Kenya and beyond by contributing to improved shelter and quality of life for low and modest income communities through access to financial solutions, capacity development and technical services.  NACHU’s specific objectives for the priod to December 2014 are to:

–       Increase number of active clients (who are PHC memebrs) from current 2,400 to 10,800.

–       Upscale loan portfolio from Kshs. 48 million to Kshs.700 million. (Loans are primarily for land, basic services and incremental housing construction. A small portion of loans are for livelihoods and education.)

–       Diversify housing delivery solutions through the development of 2,400 middle income housing units.

–       Enhance NACHU institutional capacity.

–       Institutionalize NACHU’s corporate social responsibility by mainstreaming youth, gender, HIV/AIDS and environmental issues. (This contributes to building more socially and environmentally sustainable communities.)

–       Undertake and intensify  lobbying,  advocacy ,networking and collaboration for policy development, fund raising and strategic alliances with regard to housing and human settlements.

The objective of this evaluative study is to test out the links between secure housing and safety and security for children. It will be carried out in the context of primary housing cooperatives (PHCs) in and around Nairobi, Kenya as supported by the Nairobi National Cooperative Housing Union of Kenya (NACHU). (Note: NACHU is a national organization of over 300 Primary Housing Cooperatives (PHCs) with over 200,000 members. It provides housing microfinance, housing support and services to its members, and it is a non-profit and non-governmental organization. NACHU works to develop sustainable communities by mainstreaming youth engagement, gender equality and women’s leadership, HIV and AIDS responses, environmental issues and support for livelihoods). The working hypothesis of the study is that improved tenure security, housing and living conditions and co-op/community development activities contribute to reducing family stressors and the risk of violence to children through better physical security of the dwelling, larger and separate living space for children, safer access to external facilities such as toilets and lighting, as well as improved family savings and livelihoods, and to creating more sustainable communities. The evaluation will provide the resources to test these assumptions which emerge from experience and anecdotal testimonies. A secondary but equally important aim of the evaluation is to develop and disseminate simple tools and data collection/analysis processes which NACHU and other African organizations can use in future efforts to assess the effects of their housing and human settlements programming on children’s safety and security. The evaluation will focus on six primary housing cooperatives located in and around Nairobi including approximately 400 members/families which have received considerable support from NACHU for at least two years. The six cooperatives selected represent two of each of the following levels of cooperative activity: in situ slum upgrading; serviced settlements; and resettlement programs (post-test). An internal control group (pre-test) will be used of two recently established housing cooperatives of slum renters whose members have no security of tenure and no housing, who have received very limited support from NACHU to date (approximately 80 families). To achieve the evaluation objective and test our hypothesis, we will address the key questions and sub-questions below.

1. How do different types and levels of housing and human settlement instability affect the incidence of violence against children as well as the perceptions of girls and boys regarding their safety and security in the family and immediate community?

1.1 What is the current level of perceived violence against children, in the family and in the community, based on adult stakeholder perceptions – parents, teachers, police, child protection workers, health care workers? What are the major factors contributing to violence against children in the home, and in the community, according to adult stakeholders?

1.2 What are the perceptions of children (both boys and girls) of different ages with regard to their safety and security, at home and in their immediate surroundings? What are the main contributors to insecurity and lack of safety in the home and community, according to girls and boys of different ages? 

1.3 How do perceptions on the levels of violence and relative safety and security of children compare and contrast between adults, local authorities and children? How do perceptions compare and contrast across cooperative categories and city locations?

1.4 What are the inferences that can be made from this data and stakeholder perceptions with regard to the relationship between violence against children and the instability of tenure, housing and human settlements?

2. How do incremental improvements with regard to tenure security, basic infrastructure, housing and family livelihoods and co-op/community development activities affect the incidence of violence against children as well as the perceptions of girls and boys of different ages regarding their safety and security in the family and immediate community;

2.1 To what extent do stakeholders perceive that safety and security of children has improved as families have improved their 1) tenure security, 2) housing (renovation, new house), and 3) family livelihoods (savings, new income source) through membership in NACHU PHCs?

2.2 To what extent do adult stakeholders perceive that safety and security of children has improved as a result of improved community organization around PHCs, including investment in community development (youth engagement, women’s leadership, HIV and AIDS responses)?

2.3 In what specific ways has safety and security been improved, if at all, from the perspective of adults? From the perspective of girls and boys of different ages?

2.4 How do mothers, fathers, girl and boy children perceive that the safety and security of children in the family has changed as their housing and human settlement has progressed over time (from savings, to improved housing, to secured tenure, to new settlements)? To what extent have the level and nature of violence against girl and boy children changed with progress in housing and human settlement? What are the key contributing factors to this change?

3. What are the key stressors that contribute to both family violence and other violence against girls and boys in different housing and human settlement contexts?

3.1 What are the perceptions of adult stakeholders and local authorities with regard to the causes of violence against children in targeted families, communities?

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