Defining the future of Nairobi

Diana Kinya, Nairobi Community Manager
Nairobi, 2 September 2016

With all the blame being directed to the city planners for failure to proactively plan for the growth of the city, planners have however identified the main cause of the challenge as lack of a planning guiding framework. Planning in Nairobi city has been depending on outdated and rigid planning approaches that are surpassed by time hinged on a 40 year master plan that was developed in 1973 which expired in 2000. Since then, the city has been developing under no planning framework. This has resulted to planning challenges such as formation of slums, lack of access by the urban poor to public goods and services, urban sprawl, congestion, pollution and now exacerbating vulnerability to natural and human-made disasters like flooding and collapsing buildings and human wildlife conflict.

This however might be a thing of the past as Nairobi has taken an opportunity presented by support from JICA to develop Nairobi intengrated urban development master plan (NIUPLAN) a guiding framework to manage urban development in Nairobi City for the next 15 years (2014-2030). The master plan’s key objective is to provide an intengrated policy framework guiding spatial and physical investments to enhance quality of life for the inhabitants.

The Nairobi City Chief executive officer in charge of planning Mr Tom Odongo sees this as a major breakthrough for the city since the master plan comes at an opportune time when cities are moving to impliment the new urban agenda as championed by the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, (Habitat III) especially in fostering well planned, walkable, and transit-friendly cities. Mr Odongo mentioned that the master plan comes to consoladate and integrate all urban development sectors and realize the goals towards meeting the ever growing city demands especially for housing.

Unlike the exclusive processes adopted in developing the old master plans, the NIUPLAN adopted a more participatory approach which has given the hope of being more responsive to peoples needs. The 18 months of formulating the plan brought on board a multiplicity of stakeholders both at national and city level. It even saw school children within the city participating in drawing and essay writing competation dubbed “my dream Nairobi” intended to capture the imputs of children in the master plan.

Mr Odongo commented that the main challenge we had with the earlier master plans was a disintengrated appraoch to planning. The NIUPLAN addresses this by fostering a policy regime that integrates social, economic, environmental and political issues under one unitary framework. It also proposes revitalization of the dead CBD promoting mixed use within the CBD to reduce ecological footprints and sprawl of the city. Another innovative proposal in the master plan is to redevelope all the dead estates within the city that covers almost three quarters of the city and promoting Multimodal networks (light trains, road and bypasses) for interconnection within the various parts and functions of the city.

As the world takes back the signed agreements on new urban agenga from Quito during habitat III stipulating the direction that cities of the future need to take, the NIUPLAN shall offer a strong planning platform to support the implimentation of the same towards promoting a well planned Nairobi that meets present and future needs for land, housing, infrastructure and other services.

Photo: Ninara

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