Document Type

Theses, Masters

Master Thesis

Master thesis


Construction engineering, 2.3 MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, Sociology, Social issues, Urban studies (Planning and development), Interdisciplinary, Philosophy,, 6.5 OTHER HUMANITIES

Publication Details

A Thesis Presented For the Award of Masters in Philosophy, Technological University Dublin, March 2023.


In 2003, the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP) was launched in partnership with UN-Habitat and the Government of Kenya (GoK) to improve the livelihoods of people in Kenya by 2020 through the provision of improved shelter, infrastructure, land tenure and income generation. Kibera is an informal settlement in Kenya where varying housing typologies and traditional vernacular-style designs coexist with modern housing units. Soweto East was one of eighteen villages located in Kibera selected for KENSUP’s first major housing development initiative. Soweto East was selected from a screening of several housing projects that could be subjected to a socio-technical (STE). The evaluation followed Dr. Frank Geels's socio-technical approach to innovative and transitional studies in national and global sustainability. His approach combines elements including technology, policies, standards, markets, consumer practices, infrastructure, and cultural meaning. Various methods and theories applied in transitional and humanitarian studies were investigated as part of the literature review. No known prior research has considered KENSUP’s housing complexities through the lens of Frank Geels’ socio-technical system approach. Therefore, a methodological procedure was created to adapt and scale the evaluation method specifically for housing in Soweto East. The methods used in the evaluation included: a document screening process; a narrative and stakeholder interrelation analysis supported by qualitative coding software; and a qualitative survey distributed following a purposeful sampling method.

The evaluation identified that KENSUP has struggled to bring innovative housing designs to one of the four zones of Soweto East, resulting in social, political, and technical challenges. The social difficulties identified include poor coordination and cooperation between stakeholders, whilst political issues include unclear national policies on land tenure. The technical challenges include providing housing solutions that were financially within reach of the occupants and affordable to maintain. This delay and challenges during the project indicated that housing in Soweto East experienced a disruptive transition. The stakeholder groups (regimes) did not adapt to the development of high-rise buildings. The research presented in this thesis recommends establishing synergies between regimes, improving building regulations, and implementing existing housing policies. Moreover, the transition to improved housing in Soweto East will remain disruptive until these issues are addressed.

The findings from the STE were developed from the analyses applied, offering a transparent evaluation. The STE use of Geel’s theory has demonstrate it’s exceptional usefulness in evaluating a complex housing development project, with specific modifications to the scale of the study. Restrictive travel and accessibility of participants means the evaluation process should be cautiously reviewed before being considered for application to other field research areas. In conclusion, the STE produced a holistic perspective of the housing situation in Soweto East and could be applied in the subsequent phases of KENSUP.



Technological University Dublin

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Document Type

Master thesis