Comments to the Nairobi Master Plan by the Friends: VISION, LIVABILITY

Livability Illustration by Michael Maina Karinga

Overall, we commend the The Nairobi Master Plan for the amount of work and detail that has gone into it…Specific areas where the Master Plan can be bolder in addressing the real needs of the people are commented on below:

(The full document is available for download (see below). This is the first of four posts, of excerpts from the document.)


Livability Illustration by Michael Maina Karinga

Livability Illustration by Michael Maina Karinga

Our vision for Nairobi. We would be very happy for it to be included in the submission.

Currently, the development vision presented (Nairobi 2030) is not one that takes into account what it means and feels like to live in a city.  It is not one that addresses LIVABILITY.  It is therefore not one that reflects the residents of the city rather only the government of the city.  Thus it cannot adequately address one of the needs of the Master Plan: to enhance the quality of life of inhabitants of the city.

…  It should be thought of through the livability of the majority of its inhabitants – what can make their experience of the city wonderful, equitable, inspiring, sustainable, productive and unique?

We must therefore ask for a vision that inspires.  One that incorporates the point of view of residents of the city that address the issue of what it means and feels like to live in a city and the consequences of living in the city and what it means to be young and grow old in this city.  To this end we feel the following areas are missing from the narrow vision provided and should be incorporated:

SAFETY: especially safety at night, safety of women, safety for children, safety on public transportation, safety from harassment by city officials, safety from undue detention, safety of property and person, safety from the arbitrary policing of personal behavior, safety from death by cars, safety from terrorism, safety from corruption, …

SOCIAL EQUITY: All residents of the city should have similar amenities (especially water, sewerage, and garbage collection), security, access to green spaces, treatment by city officials, access to information, education, health, and transportation.  When the city is providing services or planning transportation EQUAL access and opportunity should be first priority…

EQUAL ACCESS TO THE CITY: in terms of the poor, the disabled, women, children, the elderly, the illiterate etc.  This includes thinking access to downtown amenities – public and private, the construction of roads in poor areas FIRST, the construction of flyovers, sidewalks and buildings that are disabled assessable, the provision of efficient and safe public transportation, transportation for all types of wheeled vehicles not just cars, open and free access to green spaces and public lands…

PARTICIPATION: The most valuable asset of Nairobi—is its residents, who come from a multitude of backgrounds, professions, and experience.  In addressing the problems that every major capital in the world is grappling with, (including but not limited to waste management, sewage treatment, affordable housing, clean water, affordable electricity, healthy food), there are professional groups, volunteers, interest groups, civil society groups, residential associations, youth groups, universities, and research institutions…

Participation is not the same as consultation.  Participation means the ongoing active presence of the public throughout the life of the Master Plan, design and implementation, and the general governance of the city.  This is a constitutional right.  The constitution does not say consultation but participation.  A vision of the development of Nairobi must include public participation in DESIGN, OVERSIGHT AND APPROVAL…

CHILDREN AND ELDERLY: What does it mean to be young in Nairobi? Or to grow old in Nairobi? This city was designed in colonial times to accommodate the single male African worker with no children.  Thus, someone neither young nor old nor female. This is no longer the population of the city…

In the development vision (Nairobi 2030) there are three categories under Economy, Environment, Governance, Social Culture:  Globally attractive, Regional integration, Sustainability… To this we have two suggestions:

  1. Add a development vision called LIVABILITY
  2. Add a category called UNIQUE NAIROBI

LIVABILITY: Within this development vision the above concerns from the point of view of Nairobi residents could be incorporated: Safety, social equity, access to the city, participation, etc.  Globally Attractive: … what is attractive is an open city where locals and foreigners, the young and the old, the rich and the poor can walk in all parts of the city day or night without fear of their life. Global attractiveness is a vibrant city where everyone has access to all parts and amenities of a city.  Global attractiveness is free public parks…

UNIQUE NAIROBI: This should be added as a category within each development vision. ECONOMY: unique economic features Nairobi has produced, go from jua kali enterprises to the new, digital media hubs.  What economic things make Nairobi unique and can be promoted and enhanced? ENVIRONMENT: …The original green city was one that no matter which road you looked down you could always see a tree.  Trees were planted along all sidewalks and all buildings.  It had many public green spaces, including the roundabouts (running down the middle of the city) originally planted with unique flora, but now dug up in the name of ‘beautification.’ These are unique features of Nairobi.  Another feature is the many rivers that run through it.  The city itself is named after water.  How are we building on this legacy?

Friends-of-City-Park-comments-on-Masterplan-2014-04-01.pdf (824 downloads)
Friends of City Park comments to Nairobi Master Plan, following consultation with GIBB International on 31 March 2014

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One Response to “Comments to the Nairobi Master Plan by the Friends: VISION, LIVABILITY”

  1. Baldip Khan13/04/2014 at 3:24 pm #

    These are excellent thoughts! We must follow up to ensure that the planners do take note of them. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help!

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