In Kenya, roughly 57% of the population is said to live in informal settlements.

In an effort to reduce the temperatures of Nairobi’s informal settlements, “cool roofs” are being rolled out across the city by Steam Plant Ltd (SPL), who received one of ten boost awards as a part of the Million Cool Roofs Challenge.

The cool roofs technology – a type of passive cooling – is both affordable and environmentally friendly. The SPL team intends to scale up their deployment of sustainable and high-quality cool roofs in the Korogocho and Kibera informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.

These settlement dwellings are often cramped, thermally inefficient and up to 4,8°C warmer than the city’s official weather station nearby. The warmer temperatures expose the inhabitants to heat stress and its associated health hazards, which have negative health outcomes, particularly for children and elderly inhabitants.

Raising cool roof awareness

Cool roofs are providing the inhabitants of informal settlements with an opportunity to live in comfortable houses. This affordable and environmentally friendly cooling solution is giving hope to many who cannot afford costly alternatives. The team is also working hard to raise awareness of passive cooling solutions as an alternative to air-conditioning, which is expensive and harmful for the planet.

As the first project of its kind in Kenya, the team faced several challenges, such as having to spend a lot of time trying to convince the authorities to give the necessary approvals to undertake the project in the informal settlements. Many discussions and presentations took place before the final go-ahead was given.

Despite the initial scepticism and resistance, the project has created a great deal of interest, helped by the end-user testimonies that have changed the mindset of many stakeholders within a variety of sectors across Kenya.

So far over 9 000m² of roofs – providing about 5 000 people with cooler and more comfortable living, learning and working conditions – have been rolled out to these settlements.

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