The Centre for Urban Research and Innovations (CURI) in collaboration with Institute of Development Studies (IDS) held a one-day The Kenya National Stakeholders Urban Workshop’ on 11th of May 2015 themed ‘Promoting Inclusive Growth in African Cities’. The workshop was organized by the African Urban Research Initiative (AURI) is a network of applied urban research centres located across all regions of sub-Saharan Africa supported by the Ford Foundation to which CURI and IDS are members.
The one-day workshop was intended to generate localised awareness and support of AURI, and to give momentum to key AURI arguments and positions going forward to the Africities and Habitat III events. The workshop was organised to provide an opportunity for stakeholders working in the urban sector to reflect on key issues and provide a strategic response leading to the Habitat III. The main focus of the workshop was on ‘how to promote inclusive growth’ by addressing inequalities across the urban space in the case where African cities are seen as ‘drivers’ of national change with its main sub-themes being;
- How to conceptualise and respond to urban informality
- How to conceptualise and promote urban resilience
- How to conceptualise and respond to urban spatial inequality
- How to do so through co-production methods
The workshop aimed at capacity building and developing co-production methodologies for applied urban research. The findings are expected to contribute to a new agenda for African urban development leading up to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Habitat III conference.
The workshop was commenced by Professor Peter Ngau who introduced the participants to the theme, objectives and rationale of the workshop. He also posed a series of guiding questions for deliberation during the workshop. There were key speakers on the main sub-themes of urban informality, urban resilience, urban spatial inequality and co-production methods. Each presentation was followed by a session of questions and discussions from the participants. The workshop had commendable attendance from government officials and county representatives, civil society and the private sector mainly made up of local and international companies and professional bodies.
Presentations in the forum included;
- ‘Urban Policy Context in Kenya’-Ronald McGill
- ‘African Cities/ Urbanization as drivers of Inclusive growth and prosperity’- Prof. Winnie Mitullah
- ‘Promoting Urban Resilience’- Mr Sammy Mutua
- ‘Issues on Urban Informality’- Ms. Sheila Kamunyori
- ‘Issues on Spatial inequality’- Mr. Irungu Houghton
The National Urban Development Policy (NUDP) was discussed with the purpose of shading more light on its contents and examining the existing urban challenges in regards to the policy. A discussion on the conceptualization of inclusive growth and prosperity prompted the participants to question ‘how well do we know our cities?’ Urban resilience was highlighted whereby it was pointed out that Kenyan cities are not considered resilient. This is mainly because of the presence of numerous disaster occurrence and consequent poor response due to inadequate preparedness.
Dr. M.A Swazuri- Chairman of the National Land Commission (NLC), in his presentation highlighted the issue of non-compliance to planning guidelines evidenced by the predominance of unauthorized development. He attributed this to peoples ‘allergy to undeveloped areas’ which he observed that is prevalent all over the country and leads to development on areas such as road reserves and public spaces. He stated the NLC was working hard to ensure that such developments are demolished so as to discourage the practice.
The Kitui County Governor H.E Dr. Julius Malombe in his presentation highlighted the importance of the National Development Policy in the management of the urban areas. He pointed out that the current Urban Areas and Cities Act needed a review in terms of the defining the properties of a city and municipality as it currently locks out many urban centres that can be considered as municipalities. The workshop was concluded with a rapid exercise involving opinions from all participants on how to address the issues of urban informality, spatial inequality and urban resilience.
A follow-up workshop will be held in Dar-es-Salaam at the end of May to consolidate ideas from all the countries participating in the initiative. Locally, the IDS and CURI partners will continue to shape the Urban Agenda through engaging partners and the Government as well through various forums.