Informal settlements in Kenya date back to the colonial era when segregation policies designated living areas according to race for European settlers, Asians and Africans with unbalanced resource allocations to these different segregation areas for infrastructure development and housing. African settlers were allowed to build shanties so long as they were not near the central business district. This, coupled with rapid urbanization, has seen informal settlements grow at an unprecedented rate. They are characterized by squalor conditions evident through dilapidated housing of poor quality building materials and the absence of basic infrastructure services. The lack of basic infrastructure weighs heavily on women due to their gendered roles of home maintenance. This burden is particularly felt more by women in female-headed households as they are more vulnerable. Women are charged with responsibilities such as fetching water, washing, cooking, looking for energy sources as well as taking care of children and the elderly. Proponents of infrastructure services postulate that improving infrastructure services, though it benefits men and women, it is bound to accord more benefits to the women. The Government of Kenya is intent on improving the living and working conditions of the people in the informal settlements. In collaboration with the World Bank, French Agency for Development and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, it initiated an infrastructure improvement programme in Swahili Informal Settlement in Machakos, Kenya. The project commenced in June 2011. This project was part of Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project (KISIP) programmes. The objective of KISIP is to improve the lives of approximately 700,000 people living and working in fifteen preselected urban areas. It aims to benefit both men and women equally, but it purposes to ensure that women benefit fully. The initiative therefore, anticipated that women would benefit disproportionately in their favour with the installation of water and sanitation facilities. The main objective of this study was therefore to examine the influence of gender sensitive basic infrastructure improvement on the livelihood strategies of female-headed households of Swahili Informal Settlement. The study sought to understand this through the exploration of the linkage between access to gender sensitive basic infrastructure improvement and the livelihood activities of female-headed households by comparing their livelihood strategies before and after the improvement project. The study adopted a quasi-experiment research design. Two informal settlements were compared in order to effectively establish the influence of gender sensitive infrastructure improvement. Swahili Informal Settlement, the experiment group, with KISIP infrastructure improvements was compared to Kathemboni Village, the control group, with no infrastructure improvements on account of KISIP. These settlements were compared in two time periods. The pre-test period, 2011, representing the conditions in the settlement before infrastructure improvement. The post-test period, 2017, representing the post-test period, after the intervention. The study used both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data were collected from the two settlements by administering questionnaires. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in the experiment group with key informants, targeting representatives of the Settlement Executive Committee and officials from KISIP, the implementers of the project. This information was supplemented by observations and further substantiated with secondary data from project reports. Research findings indicate that investing in gender sensitive basic infrastructure does have an influence on the livelihood activities of the respondents. Notable is the significant increase in the perception of safety brought about by the installation of high mast flood lighting. This in Basic Infrastructure Improvement and livelihood strategies of Female-headed Households of Swahili Informal Settlement in Machakos, Kenya iv return has had ripple effects, for instance, enabling the residents to engage in business activities for extra time in the evening. Findings also show that the respondents had more time to carry out business activities as they had time saved from carrying out domestic chores such as fetching water. In addition, there was an improvement in accessibility of the settlement as well as within the settlement especially for residents on foot. On the contrary, there was no impact felt by the respondents with regards to disposal of solid waste. The study concludes that access to gender sensitive basic infrastructure is indeed critical to the changes in livelihood strategies of women. There is evidence that the livelihoods activities of the female-headed households have transformed for the better albeit statistically not significant perhaps due to the small sample size and the vulnerability of the focus group in this study.

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Keywords Informal settlements, Improvement, Gender sensitive basic infrastructure, Female-headed households, Livelihood strategies
Thesis Advisor Ayala, A. (Alonso)
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Note UMD 13 Report number: 1066
Nduta, C. (Caroline). (2017, September). Basic Infrastructure Improvement and Livelihood Strategies of Female-headed Households of Swahili Informal Settlement in Machakos, Kenya. Retrieved from