Self‐Help Housing

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1002/j.1099-162X.1961.tb01275.x
Published date01 October 1961
Date01 October 1961
Self-Help
Housing
by
T.
G.
ASKWITH
Commissioner
for
Social
Services,
Kenya
THE
very interesting
and
informative article by
Mr.
G. A. Atkinson,
which
appeared
in
the
Journal of
African
Administration
in
January,
196!,
mainly
concerned
urban
housing.'
Readers
may,
therefore, be interested to
learn
how
self-help housing schemes
have
been
built
up
in
the
rural
areas
of
Kenya
over
the
last few years.
The
history
of
these schemes goes
back
some
ten
years
when
the
idea
of
community
development
was in the process
of
being
introduced
into
Kenya.
Experiments
had
been
undertaken
in two or
three
districts
of
Kenya
of
con-
centrating
the
effort to stimulate local initiative in achieving domestic
and
agricultural
improvements in small areas.
Community
development officers
led
teams
of
departmental
field
staff
to advise
the
inhabitants
how to improve
their
way
of
life.
These
schemes suffered asetback
when
the
community
development
field
staff
had
to be
retrenched
for economy reasons.
However, in
one
district,
the
Provincial Administration decided to
embark
on
asimilar scheme on its own.
The
Machakos
District,
where
the
idea was
introduced,
was confronted
with
a
grave
problem
of
soil erosion as a result
of
overstocking
and
increased cultivation.
The
Administration
had,
after years
of
effort,
persuaded
the
inhabitants
to
accept
government
aid
in
the
way
of
machines for
the
contour
ridging
of
the
hillsides.
It
felt, however,
that
it would
be
demoralizing
if
the
people
got
the
idea
that
all
their
problems
would or
could
be solved by such artificialmeans. I t therefore decided to
try
to
introduce
aparallel
campaign
of homestead
improvement
through
the
voluntary
effort
of
the
people themselves.
Homestead
improvement
To
achieve this a small
area
of
the
district was chosen,
and
from it a
team
of
departmental
field
staff
was chosen to
undergo
acourse
at
the
main
training
centre
for
community
development
at
the
Jeanes
School
near
Nairobi.
This
team,
consisting
of
the
chief, his
headmen,
agricultural
assistants,
veterinary
assistants,
health
assistants
and,
of
course,
community
development
assistants
were
given acourse
of
co-operating
together
and
of
how
to
get
their
idea
across
to
the
people in
the
best possible
way
through
visual aids, demonstrations,
farmers days,
and
so forth.
Next
a
group
ofleaders,
who
had
been
chosen by
the
inhabitants
of
the
chosen
area,
were
themselves given acourse in organizing self-help
groups
on a volun-
tary
basis to
undertake
work
of
mutual
benefit to
the
group.
The
idea
of
'many
hands
make
light
work'
was
got
across,
and
they
were
told
how
the
development
team,
which
has
been
referred to above, would be available to
give
them
advice
how
to tackle
the
various tasks in
the
best way.
A
day
was
appointed
for
the
launching
of
the
scheme,
and
a
group
of
community
development
assistants from
other
districts,
who
were
also in
training
at
the
Jeanes
School
at
the
time, set
up
camp
in
the
area
to lend
their
assistance.
The
leaders
of
the
various groups
had
organized
their
members
and
I
].A.A.
Vol.
XIII,
No.
I,
p. 46.

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