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Public authorities and urban upgrading policies in Eastlands The example of ‘Mathare 4A Slum Upgrading Project’ Deyssi Rodriguez-Torres1 The goals of the Mathare 4A Slum Upgrading Project were to construct houses, to renovate the older slums and to provide public services to Mathare 4A, one of the sub-locations of the big shanty town of Mathare Valley in Kasarani constituency in Nairobi. Approved by the Kenyan government, ˜ `  Church, this public project started in 1992. Towards 1997, a simmering          agreements signed by the government and the donors were revealed: the land set aside for this project, which is the property of the State and had been occupied by Kenyans since the 1940s, was granted to the Catholic Church.        chance to proselytise. The allocation of land was seen as an act of treason by the State towards its people, especially by the owners of structures who      •   local politicians in search of supporters, former landlords whose income was under threat, and tenants demanding that the land be allocated to the slum inhabitants, started a protest movement. Demonstrations, hunger strikes and acts of violence led to the suspension of the project in January 1999. The motive of the protest was initially the allocation of land to the Catholic Church, whose local leader was the Muzungu (White) priest in Mathare 4A. Various other ethnic, monetary and political interests combined to interfere with the execution of the housing project to the extent of paralysing it. In the meantime, the general public, especially in the slums and poor areas, are trying to understand why the inhabitants of Mathare 4A are opposed to a programme which would offer them solid houses and public services, currently non-existent in other poor areas of Nairobi. In order to understand why this urban re-housing project was rejected          based on racist criteria, which has evolved from independence and study the 1 Associate Professor in Political Sciences, Catholic University of Mons, Belgium. 62 NAIROBI TODAY adoption of new housing policies leading to social segregation. It is in this context that we can examine public authority action in an informal settlement which numbers more than three and a half million inhabitants, of which about 75 per cent2 live in precarious conditions in the slums of Kibera and Kawangware in the southwest of the city, or those of Mathare Valley and the poor estates in Eastlands. Secondly, the origins, execution and evolution of the Mathare 4A Slum Upgrading Project will enable us to comprehend the origins          was drawn up. Our analysis of the relations between the different actors, both locally and globally, of the communal pressure and of the institutional and private decisions, will indicate the programme’s impact. Finally, we shall show how the public authorities and the private sector failed to embrace a public project but instead managed to create a public problem. It will thus be possible  &"! > ‚   structural factors and that these date back to urban policies drawn up from the foundation of Nairobi but are especially affected by the role of the public authorities post-independence. These authorities in contemporary Kenya are no longer busy with urban governance or the elaboration of housing policies destined for less fortunate citizens, but instead spends their time drawing up a public agenda based on favours and agreements that are most often rife with patronage. Land-grabbing, speculation and selective politics are the structural axis of this patronage which has guided public action from the authoritarian regime and which still persists in 2005 in the so-called period of transition to democracy. FROM URBAN CONSTRUCTION BASED ON RACIST CRITERIA TO POST-COLONIAL HELPLESSNESS In 1899 the English built a railway supply station at the ‘Enkare Nairobi’ site. The following year, the site began functioning as a town with the setting up of the administrative and commercial capital of the colonial power. At the  `    ##               elsewhere. Currently, 70 per cent of the residents are tenants and they pay rent to ‘new owners’ who were not concerned with the project and who do not live in the estate. (Mwananchi No. 274, April 1999, Nairobi, p. 2). PUBLIC AUTHORITIES AND URBAN UPGRADING POLICIES IN EASTLANDS 67 As early as the 1960s, the diversion of public projects in line with this hierarchy of patronage, created the basis for a “new urban order” and new housing policies. It is not surprising that during the 1980s, 66 per cent of houses under the City Council of Nairobi programmes were hijacked and  ‘‰      22 Organised patronage and nepotism, the hijacking of projects...


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