How elites and corruption have played havoc with Nairobi’s housing

Following a heavy downpour and severe flooding, a building collapsed in the crowded Huruma neighbourhood of Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 52 tenants. Sixteen months earlier, a building in the very same neighbourhood collapsed and killed at least two people. In both instances, many more were injured.

Nairobi is rapidly urbanising, as the city is poised to grow to six million people by 2030. But its growth is driven in part by rural push factors rather than urban industrial growth, contributing to a large informal sector and stark inequalities between neighbourhoods.

After the first building collapse, Nairobi city county responded by fast-tracking a bill to fix the problem. The second was marked by a blame game. The public and the national government pointed fingers at the county government for failing to demolish the structure as planned. Others scorned the public for littering and building unauthorised structures on flood plains.