• The manner we are building our cities flouts all known rules.
• It takes cholera outbreak, ATM thefts, for people to appreciate that proper planning is essential.
Dysfunctional systems will continue frustrating our quest for building future cities in Kenya. And this explains largely the reluctance by Kenyans to adopt such government plans as the housing policy for public servants, because many times, public-led programmes either lack or ignore proper planning.
Our cities are facing huge planning challenges, and many are barely able to support a decent life for residents. Because we abandoned planning, we are seeing the growth of cities that have become uncontrolled and ungovernable.
People are reluctant to own houses or permanently reside in cities because many of them remain insecure, informal and non-inclusive. It will take a huge policy shift and way of doing things to make them attract dwellers.
The manner we are building our cities flouts all known rules, including building codes, green growth policies, the Climate Change Act 2016 and business growth agenda.
It takes a cholera outbreak in a leading executive private facility like the Nairobi Hospital, theft of money from ATMS managed by leading banks in the face of non-functional expensive CCTVs or prolonged lack of clean water for city residents for people to appreciate that proper planning is essential.
That our cities have refused to grow into people's cities is clearly seen on our roads; a number of people working in our major cities live in rural areas or outskirts and commute daily.
People are reluctant to own houses or permanently reside in cities because many of them remain insecure, informal and non-inclusive.
Interesting that even with Kenya being host to the UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency that works to improve lives in cities, towns and communities with huge technical expertise, we have been unable to fully tap the potential and establish model cities for the rest of the world.
While a number of projects are currently underway in Kenya through the UN-Habitat, there is very little to date to show the benefits of hosting such a lucrative UN agency.
Nairobi will be hosting the first-ever first UN-Habitat Assembly on May 27- 31, 2019. It will bring together nearly 2,000 delegates to make decisions and pass resolutions that may lay the ground for global action relating to addressing urban challenges and development policies that will ensure countries work together progressively to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.
Since 2016, following the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), member states endorsed the New Urban Agenda thus committing to work differently in the planning, building and managing cities globally.
The five-day global meet is the world’s highest-level decision-making body of UN-Habitat and will provide a forum from delegates from all the 193 members of the UN, thought leaders, civil society, academia and related to discuss ways that cities can overcome challenges and take advantages of opportunities to improve everyone’s lives.
To quote Maimunah Mohd Sharif, United Nations undersecretary general and UN-Habitat executive director, Our cities and towns are expanding at an alarming rate. Every week 3 million people move to cities and urban centres looking for work, education and a better life.
The only way we can assure that urbanisation becomes sustainable is by encouraging a more plan-led approach to development. We need to plan for and build homes for the increasing numbers of people.
We need to ensure that cities do not descend to chaos. And, more importantly, we need to adopt innovative ways and approaches in our urban planning. Well-managed cities can help to drive economic growth, progress and innovation.