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A shanty town of tenants : The commercialization of unauthorized housing in Nairobi 1960-1980

Amis, P. H (1983) A shanty town of tenants : The commercialization of unauthorized housing in Nairobi 1960-1980. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86221) (KAR id:86221)


This thesis concerns itself with the provision and commercialization of unauthorized housing in unauthorized settlements within Nairobi. It is based on fieldwork carried out between 1979-1981 and is of relevance to the literature on African studies and third world urbanization. It traces the political and economic factors that have transformed housing provision. In 1960 the housing in such settlements was self-built but by 1980 it was characterized, by the operation of a capitalist housing market, albeit illegal. It is this commercialization process that is the central focus of this thesis. It is related to general developments in Kenya's political economy; namely the development of capitalism and the emergence of African property relations in Nairobi. The 'changing responses of the administration to the growth of unauthorized settlements between 1960 and 1980 are studied, and in particular the shift in policy from demolition towards the tacit acceptance of unauthorized areas. This change encourages the commercialization of unauthorized housing by allowing security for capital investment. - The resulting private housing sector is then examined in one specific area in Nairobi, Kibera. The organization, profitability, distribution of ownership and landlord-tenant relations are all studied. It is shown to be characterized by ruthless operation and by large-scale and small-scale capitalist intervention. The international agencies involvement in low-income housing and the implementation of site and service schemes within Kenya are examined.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86221
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Housing provision & property
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:35 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 12:45 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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