August 01 2014

Nairobi, Kenya’s 1973 Master Plan Receives an Update

Urban planners from the County Government of Nairobi and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have produced a new Master plan called Nairobi Integrated Urban Development Master Plan (NIUPLAN). This is expected to guide the growth and development of the City for the next 15 years. It is the first major plan since the Nairobi Metropolitan Growth Strategy in 1973.

Nairobi covers 695 km2 consisting of both highlands and lowland plains. Urban development in Nairobi started when it was established as a railway headquarters in the late 19th Century. It grew to be the capital of Kenya Colony. From 380,000 people in 1965, the City population now stands at 3.5 Million and is projected to reach 5.2 million by 2030. Population density varies from upper class Muthaiga that has 5 persons per hectare (p/ha), to Highridge with 70 p/ha and the working class Mathare with 1,200 p/ha.

The city has seen continuous urbanization, expansion of industries, and increased densification. Places with detached single housing models have changed to apartments and offices, while urban sprawl has taken effect, especially along highway corridors. The rich agricultural suburbs are turning residential, while slums expand along rivers, railways and roads.

The City of Nairobi, Kenya

The plan’s formulation covered six thematic areas. These were Land use and Human Settlements, Population and Urban Economy, Governance and Institutional Arrangements, Environment, Urban Infrastructure and Urban Transport. Key among the challenges identified are uncontrolled urban development, insufficient infrastructure, transport problems and high demand for mid-low income housing. Inadequate coordination between relevant organizations was also identified on the institutional angle.

The plan proposes an inclusive urban economy, effective and efficient transport systems, a healthy, thriving & green city, and pedestrian-friendly urban spaces for the Central Business District (CBD).

Better Pedestrianization is proposed, Nairobi, Kenya

It also proposes a more integrated road network and new land use plan suitable to current urban conditions. It acknowledges the current traffic situation – assessing the change in peak hours, lack of proper traffic management, increase in number of vehicles and unreliable public transport systems. Nine new corridors for mass rapid transport are proposed and this includes bus rapid transit, light rail transit, and metro rail, with a transit hub at the CBD.

Developing storm water drainage that integrates the city’s rivers and localized drainage networks and the planning of renewable energy as a power source at household level are also proposed. Social facilities such as schools, health centers and markets have been mapped and proposals covered through an Infrastructure development management mechanism.

Many recommendations of the 1973 Master Plan were not realized due to shortages in capacity by the old City Council, as well as lack of commitment and political will. The current plan proposes more private sector involvement, something not evident in previous plans.

The plan now awaits final validation followed by approval by the county cabinet and county assembly. The City Governor has expressed full commitment towards implementation of the plan although many are skeptical about its realization.

Based on past experience of non-implementation of plans, what do you think of the new Nairobi Master Plan? Would it have been better to have sectoral plans instead of a master plan?

Credits: Images by Constant Cap. Data linked to sources.

Constant Cap

Constant Cap has a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He holds an undergraduate degree from the same university. He regularly writes about urban planning issues online and in local dailies. Constant was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and is passionate about the planning issues facing African Cities. He has a deep interest in sustainable transportation, urban resilience and the application of ‘new urbanism’ in Africa. He intends to work as a planner on the African continent and assist in bringing about modern sustainable urbanism. He currently works at the Advancement Office at Strathmore University, Nairobi.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 1st, 2014 at 9:24 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Government/Politics, Housing, Infrastructure, Land Use, Social/Demographics, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


4 Responses to “Nairobi, Kenya’s 1973 Master Plan Receives an Update”

  1. Andrew, Batte-Kakembo Says:

    Experience has show that without proper planning most third world cities have “grown” without order and provision for either expansion and adoption of new services. Reason why our cities are experiencing irritating traffic jams and atmospheric pollution. In order to have sustainable cities we need such master plans and only pray that there is a will on part of the government to implement them. If we want to realize economically productive cities and healthy residences for prolonged life the way to go is integrated urban planning.

  2. Architecture in Africa / Weekly Round Up Says:

    […] Nairobi Masterplan Via…; […]

  3. Jade Clayton Says:

    The plan sounds incredibly ambitious especially after a long time without any update or commitment. Either way, bringing attention to the master plan is a positive step forward. Plus, private sector involvement can be a gift or a curse: Either they allow the government to move forward with plans that are best for everyone and simply provide resources and support, or they use their funding to influence plans serving their own agendas.

    For your second question: I think the master plan should provide a holistic view of the city’s urban planning goals and then have more detailed sectoral plans based off the master plan. It just doesn’t seem like one general plan can accomplish such major changes, but sectoral plans without a master plan would just be disconnected when the point is for integration, right? Great post!

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