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News and Resources

From Slums to Healthy Homes and Communities: Ngalawa Housing Cooperative, Kenya

News and Resources

By Laura Gamez, Rooftops Canada 2012-13 Intern

Ngalawa Housing Cooperative started as a community-based organization in 2007 and joined the National Cooperative Housing Union of Kenya (NACHU) as a housing co-op later the same year. Membership has grown from 40 to 450 members, all of whom live in Slaughter House Slum, in the rapidly growing Mavoko municipality, 20 km southeast of Nairobi. Mavoko is a satellite industrial town and the slum is located in the heart of the meat industries.
Gordon Akuoro, Secretary, Ngalawa Housing Cooperative, says, Slaughter House is probably one of the worst places to live in. There is garbage everywhere. Houses are packed together. As the meat industry grows, the exodus from the rural areas also increases and so does over-crowding. I can easily hear the conversation of about 10 of my neighbours from inside my house. It is just not a good place to live.
Cooperative members currently pay rent to live in poorly built iron sheet houses, with no secure tenure. The living conditions are deplorable and aggravate the prevalence of diseases such as gastroenteritis and TB. People who are HIV+ are at risk from many different types of opportunistic infections.  
Ngalawa members are saving together and have bought land far from the Slaughter House Slum. Member families received small loans from NACHU for construction of new homes. Sixty-three homes are under construction and the first group expect to move into their new places in June 2013.
I still can’t believe it, says Irene Kariuki, Chairperson of Ngalawa, whose main source of income is selling charcoal along the busy roads and highways of Mavoko. After many years of saving whatever she could, she will finally own her own home.
The new homes are a little further from their former places of work. But Irene says, We are not worried, we have made provision for the move, and we will be able to find alternative sources of income to enable us to continue providing for our families. A safe home is the first step to greater opportunities.
With NACHU assistance, Ngalawa Housing Cooperative members’ dream of moving from slum dwellings to new homes and building healthy communities is coming true.
Photo - by Patrick West.