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From grass-thatched huts to mabati-roofed houses

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua shouts from the rooftops about his Sh50m free mabati roofing for         grass thatched houses project

Mutuku Mwangangi @PitzPitah

Machakos County government project that involves free provision and installation of iron sheets for roofing of grass-thatched houses is set to impact over 3, 500 vulnerable families.

The Sh50 million programme aims at improving living standards for poor households who cannot afford a proper roof over their heads. It will not only improve the quality of shelter of the beneficiaries but also will also modernise homes and allow for water harvesting.

Machakos Governor, Dr Alfred Mutua says the programme is in line with his development philosophy and vision to make the county a Globally Competitive Investment Hub. He says the region will ensure optimal utilisation of resources, social and economic sustainability for the prosperity of all and wealth creation.

“It is a shame that in this day and era, we still have homes with structures that were eliminated from Europe 400 years ago. My plan is to make Machakos the most modern region in our country. This is why we have initiatives in water, infrastructure, energy, housing, industrialisation, education, decent healthcare, among others,” said Mutua.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua with one of the families set to benefit from the project. Photo/MUTUKU MWANGANGI

The project is informed by data collected alongside water mapping findings for the year 2015.

It targets 3,670 households to give them decent shelter, which is a basic right under the Bill of Rights in the Kenyan Constitution.

So far, technical teams have done structural assessment and recommended complete demolition or building of new houses or replacement of thatch roofs where the structure is firm enough.

During the four-month implementation period, 120 houses for needy and orphan children will also be constructed. The houses will be modern and fitted with rainwater harvesting systems.

An estimated 4.5 per cent of the people in the county (population esimated at 1.3 million according to Machakos County Integrated Development Plan) reside in grass-thatched houses.  This is due to low-income status, which has led them to construct mud-walled and grass thatch-roofed huts.   

This deplorable condition exposes the families to danger as many of them end up leaking or collapsing. Heath experts say poorly ventilated houses affect the health of residents. “Such conditions contribute to underdevelopment, illiteracy, moral decay and poor livelihoods within the society in general,” Dr Mutua said while launching the initiative recently at Vyulya village.

In his 2017-2022 manifesto dubbed Propelling Machakos from Third to First World, the governor had promised food vouchers for family’s operation bellow poverty levels.

“I will also set up feeding centres in partnership with donors and people of goodwill to provide a hot meal for the homeless and destitute. No child should sleep hungry in Machakos county,” said Mutua.

Meanwhile.  Mutua plans to set up a Sh380 million bridging facility for men and other heads of families, This interest-free bridging facility will provide monies for short-term bridging undertakings to ensure that a man or single parent is able to provide for his or her family with pride and self-esteem.

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