Toward self-reliant development

Michaël Willem Maria Smits (Architecture, Methods & Analysis Chair, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands) (Faculty for the Built Environment & Civil Engineering, Avans Hogeschool Breda, Breda, The Netherlands)

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment

ISSN: 2046-6099

Publication date: 24 July 2019



The purpose of this paper is to present an extensive household survey amongst four rural communities on Mt. Elgon Kenya. The area is the chosen area for the author’s overall PhD research. In order to offer the inhabitants of Mt. Elgon suitable housing support, the purpose of this paper is to assess the gap between existing housing capacities and compare those to desired housing capacities.


The research combined a survey method with an interview setting. The survey helps the interviewer to structure and register given answers. The interview allows the inhabitant to ask questions or make suggestions.


The research finds that the two communities with financial restraints are unable to articulate improved housing (within their existing capacities) without external help. For the two communities with less financial restraints, the research finds that they struggle to maintain, extend or replicate housing solutions without external help.


The size (200 households), type (purpose, design and approach) and locality of the research are uncommon frameworks to understand inhabitants’ needs toward their built environment. The value, therefore, not only lies in the design of the evaluation framework, but also in the findings that indicate that this is a successful way to conduct this type of research in a vulnerable context. Hopefully providing other researchers in the built environment with an applicable framework.



Smits, M. (2019), "Toward self-reliant development", Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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