Long term residents of Kiliman/kileleshwa/kangemi in Nairobi have recently watched their neighborhood slid towards decay. Kilimani for many years one of Nairobi’s quiet leafy neighborhoods has not been spared of on-going unplanned transformation towards mixed use densification. With the construction of more commercial buildings in the area the long-term residents of Kilimani area started to realize how fast their neighborhood was changing, their personal space shrinking gradually as more socio-economic activities encroached into the area, culminating into insecurity fears. In addition to the insecurity,
the increased socio-economic activity in Kilimani has resulted in improper solid waste disposal leading to a deterioration of property values in the area as the neighborhood has become less and less attractive to the higher - middle class who were the initial inhabitants. An analysis of the situation in Kilimani and Nairobi in totality raises concern of a looming overall deterioration of environmental conditions.
In response, the residents have started to organize and take charge of their neighborhood. Their action has attracted support from several unlikely sources. First, the C.E.O of the Kenya Private Developers Association (K.P.D.A) Ms. Robyn Emerson thought it was the natural thing for her organization to support the residents and avert further property and environmental decay. A team was conducting the same concept that Ms. Zahra Kassam worked on in the East and therefore was up by Ms. Zahra Kassam of KUWA after she made a presentation on social transformation at the University of Nairobi. To add to this support, a group of volunteer students from School of the Built Environment (Architecture, Urban & Regional Planning and Real Estate), University of Nairobi came out to share their skills and innovative ideas. This movement has been initiated by KUWA who is working towards filling the gap between students in a theoretical space to one of grounded experiences. From the University of Nairobi, the school dean, Prof. Tom Anyamba, and from Centre for Urban Research and Innovations, Prof. Peter Ngau, Mr. James Wanyoike and Ms. Jacinta Mbilo were able to coordinate a diverse group of students to participate in the community initiative.
On 11th of November, at Kilimani Primary School, Robyn and Zahra talked to the students who turned up for the initial meeting. The meeting started with a brief introductory session. Ms Zahra began by giving a summary of the origin of the idea of the project after which Ms. Robyn who is also the C.E.O of Kenya Private Developers Association (K.P.D.A) complemented by saying that formulation of the idea began when long-term residents of Kilimanikilele… area started to realize how fast their neighborhood was changing, such as their personal space shrinking gradually as more socio-economic activities encroached into the area. This coupled with the construction of more commercial buildings in the area, Ms. Robinson explained, has culminated to insecurity fears among the residents.
In addition to the insecurity, the increased socio-economic activity in Kilimani has resulted to improper solid waste disposal leading to a deterioration of property values in the area as the neighborhood has become less and less attractive to the higher - middle class who were the initial inhabitants. An analysis of the situation in Kilimani and Nairobi in totality raises concern of a looming overall deterioration of environmental conditions. According to Ms. Robyn, Dandora dumpsite is currently filled to capacity and yet there is apparently no other site designated so far for dumping purposes. Hence solid waste is continually being mismanaged in Nairobi. Dumping of waste is done even on green spaces in residential neighborhoods hence degrading the aesthetics and robbing local residents of recreational spaces. Robyn also introduced the Kilimani Project and its pillars as potential areas the students can further their education. The initial project that the students can test their knowledge is a Solid Waste Management pilot project in these 3 areas of Nairobi. This project was initiated by the Japanese International Corporation Agency and the Nairobi City County and have now engaged the Kilimani Project and in turn, KUWA to assist them with consultations with the community.
As to reasons mentioned earlier, there is hence dire need to change the way solid waste is managed and disposed in our local neighborhoods in Nairobi. Ms. Zahra and Ms. Robyn proposed a community sensitization programme in the whole of Nairobi to be done by the volunteers aimed at getting the residents to appreciate the advantages of proper waste disposal at the household level with the pilot project areas being Kilimani, Kileleshwa and Kangemi. Also proposed is waste separation/sorting into different categories; organic waste, broken glassware, Polythene and Plastics, and waste paper. These are to be separated as above and collected into color-coded polythene bags, each color representing a different type of waste. Each type of waste can then be recycled or re-used appropriately. Ms. Robyn pointed out that many prominent individuals, companies and co-operates had shown interest in volunteering both ideas and financially towards the initiative as they are part of the Kilimani Projects network. They include Manu Chandaria, Safaricom among others.
To begin concretizing the idea, the students were divided into three groups and asked to give their preliminary thoughts on how the project can be achieved and their role as planners/architects etc in consultations with communities, which they will be part of on the 23rd November 2013. Each group then gave a brief presentation of their ideas after which Zahra and Robyn concluded by asking the volunteers to come up with a suitable title for the project and that which they would be proud to be associated with. This was turned into an assignment/ competition for which prizes would be given to the person whose title would be deemed fit and hence adopted for the project. A second meeting was then scheduled for Wednesday the 20th November at ADD building, to be organized by the Centre for Urban Research and Innovations (CURI) prior to the intended community sensitization date, 23rd November. At this second meeting, all volunteers are expected to attend and will then conclude on their proposed titles for the project.
Prepared by Jacinta Mbilo and James Wanyoike, CURI