Cover - The City Park Initiative

As the date of the City Park Stakeholders Consultative Forum draws near (Wed. 7 Sept 16) we would like to give you some background information. Download the background document here below.

In the space that became the city of Nairobi, at the outskirts of the original village of Pangani there was once a triangular forest bound on two sides by the Kibagare and the Mathare rivers. The third side of the forest was cleared and settled in 1903 by Europeans in an area called Parklands. The 90 hectare triangular forest became known as the Nairobi Forest Reserve and later the Municipal Forest.

In subsequent decades gardens were carved out of the forest, paths were laid, a bandstand built, a maze designed, a bowling green laid out, a hockey pitch leveled and the forest was declared a public park, with a new name, City Park. This public park was one of the few locations in a segregated city with no race restrictions and helped build Nairobi’s name as the Green City in the Sun. It became with time an essential part of Nairobi’s heritage – being a sizeable urban park having a beautiful forest remnant, beautifully landscaped gardens and historic features. The original forest has shrunk over time, as other parts of the forest were carved off for cemeteries, sports grounds and residential development.  Slowly all around the forest and park the new city of Nairobi grew up with new neighborhoods and new urban demands.

City Park exists today because in the 1990s Nairobi residents took action against numerous attempted land grabs. Forming Friends of City Park (a project of Nature Kenya) in 1996, they protested the conversion of public land to private land. Friends of City Park has moved over and over again, against the conversion of any part of this public utility by private developers. To wake up Nairobi to the real possibility of losing their park they took out a full-page ad in the Daily Nation newspaper on 14th December 1996 showing to the public for the first time the extent of the encroachment. Friends of City Park uses raising awareness, advocacy, dialogue with government institutions, education, creation of baseline data and other forms of public engagement to protect the park. This public action finally led to the gazettement of City Park as a National Monument in 2009, protected under the Museums and Heritage Act. Today people still come to be amused and amazed by the monkeys and to experience the greenery so absent from their everyday lives.

Almost 20 years ago some Nairobians stood up so that we would be able to enjoy this free public park as they did. Would you do the same?

You are participating in this workshop because your answer to this last question is “of course!” We invite you then to think together about how to best secure and preserve the current and future life of the remaining 60 hectares of forest and the People’s Park as an essential part of making Nairobi a city worth living in.

The City Park Initiative – a Park for the People 
by Bettina Ng’weno

Cover - The City Park Initiative

About this document  City-Park-Background.pdf (551 downloads)

This document is NOT a comprehensive report on City Park. For general information on City Park please consult the City Park guide book put out by Friends of City Park in 2012 called: City Park: the Green Heart of Nairobi.

After 20 years of civic engagement and protection of City Park, Friends of City Park, working alongside the Nairobi City Council, now Nairobi City County government, and the National Museums of Kenya, have dealt with and experienced a number of issues specifically facing City Park that need to be addressed for the continued health and viability of the park. We have decided to address the six main issues as workshops in the forum: Unique, Inclusive, Permanent, Clean, Safe and Sustainable.

It is also our dream that we will be able to define City Park as unique, inclusive, permanent, clean, safe and sustainable for many generations to come.

This documents sets out each of the six issues in historical and sociological context. This enables participants at the Stakeholders Workshops to understand not only the context from which each of these problems arise but their significance for an equitable, sustainable, livable city of Nairobi.

The document is arranged by workshop theme. You will see some overlap in context because no issue is isolated from other issues. This overlap is important in pointing out the linkages between problems and the need for comprehensive approach to developing solutions. We hope that each issue once addressed fully will be discussed in concert with the other issues to find common solutions.


  1. sandeep desai05/09/2016 at 10:55 pm #

    is effecting a payment a prerequisite prior to joining

    • friends06/09/2016 at 10:41 am #

      No Sandeep, we don’t charge you to join our Friends mailing list. But as we need support you may get appeals from time to time for a donation. Thank you for stopping by and yes, please do sign-up today!

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