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Part of the Korogocho slum, where 200,00 people live in homes like these

What We Do

The aim of the Commonwealth Housing Trust (CHT) is to provide financial and material assistance for housing projects for people in any of the Commonwealth independent states whose membership is confirmed by the Commonwealth Secretariat. 

Korogocho Self Help Project
  • Our object is to help people in the poorest communities to have decent homes. We try to improve the lives of people currently living in slums and especially to support community-led housing initiatives. 

  • In keeping with the inspiring values of our founder, Clifford Dann, we aim to help people to be part of solving their need for decent housing. At the same time, we do all we can to avoid replacing slums with poor quality dwellings that would become slums in the future.

  • After completing the Gilgil Project in Kenya we undertook extensive sponsored research in the Nairobi area to identify a possible small-scale housing project to work with and support. 

  • We encouraged the development of a self-help group of 25 families living in the Korogocho slum. See the About Us page.

Korogocho
  • Korogocho was created in the 1960s, a shanty town on Government land used to relocate Nairobi slum dwellers and set 11.5 km from what was then the city. It has become home to some 200,000 people living in 1.5 square kilometres. It is now right next to Nairobi’s vast municipal dump, Dandora, established in 1977. One of the largest unofficial landfill sites in all Africa, it now spreads over thirty acres. Parts of the slum sprawl on to it, even as the dump itself sprawls into the slum. 

  • Many people pick over the dump for a living, for what they can use themselves or to sell, as one  MWAMKO member has done in the past.

  • All the city’s waste comes here, chemical, medical, industrial, agricultural and domestic. As the heap grows, the rubbish is regularly burned, enveloping the slum in toxic black smoke. Some fires arise spontaneously from the gases forming in the waste. All this has profound and documented consequences for health, on top of those the residents already face from overcrowded conditions, lack of clean water and sanitation. 

  • In 2001 the dumping site was declared full and a health hazard for the neighbouring population but it continues to operate as before. A UNEP report showed long ago that the toxic fumes cause a wide variety of consequences for people's immune, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems, with more than half the children having lead levels in excess of international norms and with residents suffering a high level of respiratory diseases and cancers.

  • The area is characterized by overcrowding, by limited access to economic and social opportunities, and by its high levels of unemployment and of crime. Most workers are engaged in the informal economy or self-employed and there is great poverty.

  • Some of the MWAMKO members were born here and their children and grandchildren also.

See for Yourself

These photos in our gallery were taken by CHG and are typical of the conditions in which the MWAMKO families live. The lack of basic urban services (water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, power and roads), the high population density, high unemployment levels and illiteracy have all resulted in a large percentage of the city of Nairobi’s population living in deplorable conditions, not least in the air they breathe.

If you would like to play a part in building their new lives you can find out how to donate by clicking here.

 

You may also like to see a documentary, Choking City, recently on Kenya's Channel Citizen TV, and including scenes of  life in Korogocho. To watch, click the image below:

Commonwealth Housing Group Kenya

After deciding to work with the MWAMKO families in their pursuit of new homes and better lives, CHT in the UK began to work with a partner group in Kenya dedicated to the same goal. This new informal group acted as liaison between MWAMKO and CHT and carried out decisions of the CHT Trustees after discussions between all parties.

 
As the project grew, the group was formally registered in Kenya as a non-profit Community-Based Organisation, The Commonwealth Housing Mutual Help Group, known as CHG.

Milestones achieved so far:

The original vision was never limited to providing new homes. It was and is also to enable new, better lives with more secure livelihoods. A large element of self-build has always been part of this vision. This, in turn, has demanded the educational component to help people improve employment opportunities, now in evidence in the construction phase of the project.

  • 2 acres of land bought, secure title registered, with funds from CHT

  • Land fenced by MWAMKO members 

  • Based on Clifford Dann’s original designs, the site layout and housing design were developed by local architects, pro bono, to criteria discussed with MWAMKO members and further developed in conjunction with CHG (Kenya) and CHT (See The Site)

  • Planning permission granted

  • Layout to allow small plots for families to grow food or to provide some income, eg keeping chickens 

  • Plans made for water harvesting, solar panels and other green and sustainability measures 

  • Young people trained in building skills, both to help with self-build and for their future livelihoods 

  • Water supply and sewerage infrastructure installed

  • Construction work began in July 2020, fully compliant with Kenya building and Covid-19 protocols

  • Foundations of the first five houses were completed on 3 September

  • Walling for the first house completed up to gable level completed in late October

At their June 2020 Meeting CHT Trustees were delighted to vote to donate the money to enable the foundations to be built for the first five dwellings. This very tangible step is a real success after the loss of Clifford Dann whose vision it was, rewarding the great patience shown by the MWAMKO families and despite the difficulties of the Covid pandemic period. 

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What are the next steps?
  • Finalisation of tenancy agreements for the MWAMKO families 

  • Self-build programme details to be agreed with the 25 member subscribers of MWAMKO 

  • Continuing research with consultants on integrating into each stage of the building programme the most appropriate green and sustainable options for all aspects of the project 

  • Construction materials, water and waste management, solar energy, internal road surfaces, maintenance and the design of garden plots are all part of the green and sustainable research remit 

  • Contractor sponsor support to be secured 

  • Roofing for first house to be completed

  • Completely finishing the first house 

  • Moving on to complete building on the other four foundations

You can support the work of the MWAMKO families by donating to buy the materials needed to reach their next milestones

COMMONWEALTH HOUSING TRUST

6 MAIDEN LANE

COVENT GARDEN

LONDON

WC2E 7NW

EMAIL: enquiries@cht-uk.org

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Commonwealth Housing Trust UK

Registered Charity 110212