NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
small houses, in particular one roomed, in Kenya has
accelerated faster in the last one year heaping pressure
on low income earners.
The rent has been on the rise as demand outpaces
supply at a higher level compared to the other segments
that include two, three and four bedrooms.
In the East African nation’s capital Nairobi, the
poor are paying for single rooms at an average of 50
U.S. dollars, but charges range from 40 dollars to 70
dollars, depending on the residential area.
On the other hand, for one-bedroom houses, rent
currently stands at between 80 dollars and 150 dollars.
The cost for two and three bedroom houses averages
170 dollars to 280 dollars, thanks to the increased
building of apartments in various suburbs across the
capital leading to saturation of houses at the level.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) puts
the national average rent for one room houses at 42
dollars, with figure having risen in the last one year
by 5 percent.
The rise has been so significant that it is among the
key drivers of inflation among the poor in East Africa’s
Most of those living in one room houses in the
capital Nairobi, and even in other parts of the country,
are low-income earners, many of them doing casual work
or are unemployed.
Their incomes range from zero to 4 dollars a day, and
in Nairobi they include masons, touts, hawkers, house
helps, cart pullers and security guards.
"On a good day I normally return home with 4 dollars
but sometimes I only get a dollar, especially during
public holidays or at the weekends when there are fewer
people travelling," said Nahashon Ochami, a tout in
Kayole in the east of Nairobi.
His work is to call for passengers to board vehicles
heading to the city center and for that job he earns
0.20 dollars per vehicle during off-peak hours and 0.50
dollars at peak hours.
"The charges would have been better but the thing is
we are many of us.
"Sometimes up to four people serve one vehicle which
means when the conductor gives us a dollar, we share
equally," said Ochami, who lives in a single room house
paying 40 dollars a month.
His landlord increased the rent from 36 dollars
starting this year, putting pressure on Ochami, a father
of two, with his plight capturing those of over half of
the city’s four million people.
Inflation across the East African nation averaged
4.46 percent in February, down from 4.58 percent in
January, according to KNBS.
However, for the lower income earners, it stood at
nearly six per cent, for the middle five per cent and
upper four per cent.
Rent was among items that went up during the period
at the bottom segment as the cost of various food items
and electricity declined.
The rising rent, therefore, contributed to the surge
in inflation among the poor.
Analysts blamed the rising rent at the bottom housing
market to stifled incomes among the general population.
"There has been a shrinkage of the economy in the
last months partly due to elections which saw earnings
for people decline...
"With decline in incomes, people have to adjust their
lives by including moving to smaller houses, the reason
why rent is rising," said Henry Wandera, an economics