Uhuru’s Big 4 Agenda has one big weakness in the housing agenda

Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 Agenda has big weakness in the housing agenda. It assumes that everyone should own a house/home. Personally I do not think everyone should own a home/house. The same way we have millions who eat and dress up without ever stepping into a farm to grow a tomato or into a textile factory to make a simple handkerchief, so it is quite well for other millions to be sheltered by those capable of erecting rental houses. After all, the only permanent home for anyone is the grave.
So the housing component of the big 4 agenda should have been structured by considering that the housing infrastructure for a country like Kenya should be planned such that very limited agriculturally productive land is used to “house” those houses, so that vast amount of the productive land is left for those who can use it for producing food sufficient to feed the entire population, population growth accounted for. That is, the productive strip running from Lake Victoria through to Nairobi/Central/Eastern via Kitale/Eldoret on the north and Namanga boarder on the south down to the coastal strip should have very minimal human settlement but should be occupied by intensive large scale farming of all food and cash crops.
Then those erecting the houses should erect them in regions considered to be agriculturally unproductive like North Eastern and parts of Eastern where almost all humans should be relocated to. Erecting houses in those semi-arid areas should however be regulated such that the most affordable house is that which is fit for human habitation, serving a simple family with adequate privacy, protection against adverse weather conditions, and has proper provisions for sanitation, water, electricity and the Internet.
Then those inhabiting the houses should be encouraged to consider paying rent as part of their basic monthly expenses, same way they plan for food, clothing and other basic human needs.
A planned settlement where agriculturally productive land is left for a few large scale farmers as majority live in semi-arid areas to engage in urban life (white and blue collar jobs) will discourage land sub-division that takes away productive land hence contributes to increased poverty, deforestation, erratic rains, etc. This arrangement will also redefine what it means to be wealthy, as in Kenya today wealth is associated with land ownership instead of service and product delivery, innovation, and building successful regional and multinational businesses.
By the way most of those houses for which people will be paying rent to can be owned by the government or SACCOs formed by the very people who live in them. Thus what Uhuru ought to have done in his Big 4 Agenda is to consider redesigning human settlement in Kenya, instead of forcing every employed person to pay a housing levy yet not everyone is destined to own a house.
Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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