High density and poor building materials make informal settlements extremely prone to fire hazards. The Nairobi-based enterprise Kwangu Kwako has developed a housing model that, while being truly affordable, increases fire resilience and thus positively affects many aspects of residents’ lives.
A home is one of the basic human needs; it provides so much that is vital to nurture a family. The first words that people come up with when we ask them about a home are often “secure” and “safe”. Most of our homes do provide safety and security but, in informal settlements, where homes are made of metal sheets, mud, timber, et cetera, homes are often anything but safe, secure. Metal sheets are secured by nails that can just be pulled aside, possessions stolen when people are away or, much worse, when they are home. Mud homes are not much better.
With a simple shift in thinking, we significantly improved the fire resistance and reduced the spread of fire – our original motivation. But, what was interesting in our journey at KKL was that, by doing that, we also improved security, made the homes cooler, healthier, et cetera.