Inclusive Housing SDIs, Nairobi, Kenya

Creating more inclusive and pro-poor cities


Support non-governmental organizations affiliated to Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) has pioneered people-centered development initiatives by and of the poor since 1991.

These include the Peoples Housing Process (PHP), informal settlement upgrading and income generation projects nationally. The bottom-up tools for community organization are savings, settlement-wide data collection, horizontal learning exchanges, community-led project preparation and implementation.

SDI Kenya seeks to improve the quality of life of slum dwellers and urban poor people in Kenya through policy advocacy and dialogue with central and local government, civil society, and private sector organisations.

They believe that slum upgrading is possible, but only where communities themselves are at the centre of their development.

When more than half a city’s people live in locations they have no rights to, without safe water or toilets, the solution cannot just be to have more projects —housing, water, or health. It must be about getting these residents involved in improving their neighbourhoods.


  • The Federation’s Income Generation Programme (FIGP) has gained momentum with over 5450 small loans being granted to savers for livelihood development.
  • 192 Local Exchanges: Upgrading, Income Generation, Community Construction, Youth, Data Collection, GIS Mapping
  • 13 Regional / Province Exchanges: Funeral Scheme, Leadership, Youth, Savings, Community Construction Management, Upgrading
  • 12 937 PHP houses completed since 1996
  • 6510 Households upgrading in-situ, project preparation, planning and implementation.
  • About 12.000 houses built

Did you know?

There used to be no dialogue between communities and the state. In the 90s, it was a very polarized discussion. Nowadays, communities with or without the support of the NGOs are able to engage with the state, negotiate and come to some solution. 

Sustainability and Replicability

Currently, the Alliance’s work is centred on issues relating to the built environment.

FEDUP’s core activities are focused on securing housing subsidies and deploys effective mechanisms to outperform the quality and size of houses. The ISN is mobilizing communities to engage government in security of tenure and better service delivery, which are core elements of the informal settlement upgrading paradigm. Taken together, the FEDUP and ISN strive to secure project-linked income generation and job opportunities for its members and participants. There are also a number of value-added livelihoods interventions across the country.

Lessons learned

Knowing the communities and the city is crucial for building an inclusive city.

  • The slums are a very integral part of the city. A realistic goal is to have slum friendly cities. Cities that invite the poor people to participate and build through their time and their resources how they want to live. So not slum-free cities but slum-friendly cities.
  • Most governments know very little about the informal settlements in their cities and therefore they very seldom count settlements or invest resources in them. For this reason, the SDI process of community-driven data collection has become even more critical and important. It forms the basis for communities to mobilise, to identify priorities as well as the basis for building relationships with governments on issues of vulnerability and risk.
  • Among the poor, the women play the role of planners and designers. Much more than the men, they are driven to want to live in better conditions, to construct homes with better materials, to create basic amenities such as toilets and water, to get safe places for their children to play.

Take action

  • Spread the message and promote the Kenyan alliance initiative. Talk with your friends, write an article, and share this content in your networks.
  • Find out and learn how you can replicate this initiative in your city.

Contact SDI Kenya

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