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REGIONAL CONSULTATIVE FORUM FOR NATIONAL SLUM UPGRADING AND PREVENTION POLICY (NSUPP) HELD IN EMBU FOR THE EASTERN REGION ON 13TH MAY 2013 – BRIEF REPORT The Embu regional consultative forum for the National slum upgrading and prevention policy (NSUPP) was held at the Embu School of Government and officially opened by the Deputy Governor, Embu County, H.E, Mrs Dorothy Nditi Muchungu. The forum was attended by about 150 participants, representing various CBOs, NGOs and self-help groups drawn from the larger Embu region. Representation was also from line ministries, local administration, service providers, civil society representatives, persons with disability and community members residing in or around informal settlements. The Forum was organized by the Ministry of Housing, Slum Upgrading Department. The convener of the forum was Prof Peter M. Ngau (University of Nairobi, CURI) who served as the resource person on behalf of the national team of resource persons engaged by the Government to guide the policy formulation process. A number of expectations were put forth by the participants and stakeholders. They wanted to know how grabbed land will be repossessed and tackled in policy and how the policy will deal with issues of relocation of squatters. The stakeholders suggested the need to have zero-relocation during slum upgrading and prevention policies/initiatives. It further emerged that conventional building typologies often do not facilitate ease of accessibility by persons with physical disability, for example, access to vital services such as banking, sanitation and commercial shops. The participants wondered whether the policy would be able to give clear provisions tackling these challenges. Stakeholders further decried the gentrification phenomenon that is witnessed in upgraded areas. They indicated that it would be their wish to see this challenge arrested. Beneficiaries of past upgrading emphasized that housing alone was not sufficient as ignoring concerns for livelihood and social networks often led to beneficiaries to selling allocated land/houses and moving back to informal settlements. Stakeholders were in agreement that the phenomenon of slums is very complex thus the need to address it in a holistic and all-encompassing manner. The Deputy Governor concurred that it is illogical to expect people to stay in decent housing when they can ill afford food and other basic needs. To tackle the issue of gentrification, stakeholders also suggested that individual ownership should be discouraged an upgrading initiative. A case for joint ownership with government or any other lawful entity was put forth with the understanding that such an arrangement would discourage sale of allocated land. Therefore the issue of land tenure and the security therein was greatly explored. On land tenure administration, it was suggested that there should be a clear pro-poor system to keep records pertaining to land ownership, occupation status of slum residents among other elements. In summary, the forum underscored the need to ensure that the policy articulates measures that will ensure an improvement of the economic status of the urban poor in informal settlements, accessibility to basic physical and social infrastructure, and appropriate land tenure and administration systems. The role public participation plays in ensuring a sustainable slum upgrading and prevention policy and its eventual implementation was emphasized. Prepared by Philip Olale

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