Nairobi City County: Public Space Inventory and Assessment

Nairobi Public Spaces

3 August 2021, Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) shared their grief and horror at the sight of cut trees along the Aga-Khan Walk. This is not a simple case of key-board warriors blowing hot air online. Trees in public spaces have been proven to help us feel less stressed, improve our health, and lead to less crime in cities.

A screenshot of the Twitter conversation.

Whereas UN-Habitat’s research shows that well-functioning cities have about 50% of the surface area dedicated to public space, Nairobi: Public Space Inventory and Assessment reveals that Nairobi has only 4% of its surface area dedicated to public spaces.

Why This Report Matters

Good information is essential for effective planning and necessary aid in decision making. The inventory report is a starting ground for residents of Nairobi to take action in rehabilitating public spaces and transform them into green, safe-havens. The document empowers the residents of Nairobi to know the locations of these public spaces, their names, and their sizes. Youth have the most to gain from this report. Positive results have been witnessed when youth take action and reclaim public spaces; for example, the award-winning youth group KombGreen solutions.

People sit at Jeevanjee Gardens during lunch break © Mark Ojal

What Does Kenyan Law Say about Public Spaces?

The document highlights all laws and acts of Kenya which provide a legal, policy, and regulatory framework governing public spaces in Kenya.

Forests Act, 2005

To protect the conversion of public open spaces to other land uses, the Act explicitly states that no arboretum, mini-forest, or recreational park shall be converted to any other use unless the local authority consults the residents of the area in the jurisdiction within which such arboretum, mini-forest or recreational park is situated.

The National Museums and Heritage Act, 2009

Defines public space as an open space not built upon in any urban or peri-urban area whether in a municipality or not to which the public has access and which may be used for parks, gardens, recreation grounds, or any other use whatsoever. Gazetted as a National Monument in 2009, the 60 hectares of City Park are protected under this act.

Bandstand at City Park © Mark Ojal

County Government act, 2012

Recognizes the importance of a viable system of green and open spaces for a functioning ecosystem, and puts the responsibility of the same on the county government. It further compels the county government to work towards attaining and maintaining tree cover of at least 10% of the land area of Kenya as provided for in article 69 of the constitution of Kenya.

Table showing the number of public spaces per typology.

City Park in this document has been identified as one of two Nature Reserves in Nairobi, the other being Nairobi Arboretum.

Launched in 2012 and currently active in around 40 countries, UN-Habitat’s Global Public Space Programme aims to improve the quality of public spaces worldwide.

Two documents are available to the public:

  1. NAIROBI CITY COUNTY: PUBLIC SPACE INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
  2. NAIROBI PUBLIC SPACE INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT: OVERVIEW AND KEY FINDINGS

by Karimi Kimathi

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