MJI WETU: Rethinking Urbanization For Sustainable Development

Do you know that Nairobi was built by the British in 1899 just as a simple rail supply depot along the railway linking Uganda and Mombasa? The former swamp land occupied by the capital city now was once inhabited by the Maasai. Nairobi has undergone rapid urbanization to become the capital city of Kenya and one of the greatest economic hubs in East Africa.

Statistics show that in 1962 only 7.8% of the population of Kenya was in towns. However, this has really changed due to rural-urban migration with the thought of getting better jobs and good lives in cities. This has led to over-dependence on social amenities and over-reliance on public resources.

Biashara street in 1906

Biashara street in 1906

Nairobi city, just like many other cities in Kenya has been operating without a master plan. A few months ago, several houses were demolished for failing to adhere to the National Construction Authority guidelines on building and construction. Buildings are mushrooming everywhere as developers scramble to meet the high population demand because many people have inhabited to a city planned for a few people. This is also evidenced with the high congestion rates in the city and poor waste disposal and management.

Tatu city under the #MjiWetu campaign is championing for the need for early planning and well managed cities that are efficient and effective for all Kenyans.

I remember On one of my exams days in campus, traffic congestion almost cost me. I had to take a motorbike, as scary as it felt, to save me from missing the exams.

As cities in developing countries are largely expanding, it is most likely that infrastructure will not be able to keep pace with their growth or the expectations of their population. Action to close the infrastructure gap is urgently needed and will strongly influence the potential risks to have catastrophic cascading effects.

Tatu city under the #MjiWetu campaign is building a city that cuts across all demographics and income cadres. It is about building an all inclusive Kenya. Their waste management plan is to convert waste to energy.This will definitely ease the congestion on major cities like Nairobi and Mombasa. This will also create great economic opportunities as people won’t be forced to migrate from one city to  the other as there will be employment opportunities in their residential areas.

Tatu city is a demand driven, mixed use development encompassing residential, commercial and light industrial amenities. It is a premier gated community that will efficiently and effectively plan for its inhabitants.

Among big industries gearing to set base at Tatu city include Chandaria industries, which is going to build a new state-of-the-art tissue paper manufacturing facility at Tatu industrial park,East Africa’s leading industrial zone near Nairobi. There has been a lot of planning in different phases to make this a reality. This is going to be a focal point for economic growth, innovation, and employment.

Lack of planning leads to congestion of industries and lack of jobs to the increasing population. This eventually scales up criminal activities which are more frequent in urban centers and ways need to be derived on how the rate can be controlled. Thanks to the launch of Vision 2030 which is focusing on coming up with ways to plan for the rapid growth of populations .

Current Thika Super Highway

Current Thika Super Highway

For rapid urbanization to provide opportunities to all, there should be a carefully considered urban planning and good governance with effective regulatory frameworks. Well managed cities are both efficient and effective, enabling economies of scale and network effects while reducing the impact on climate of transportation.



How is urbanization affecting you? Is your city offering you access to quality of life, social inclusion and economic opportunities? Please share your experiences about your city HERE and stand a chance to win Ksh 15,000.   Let’s do this for our cities.




About the Author

Sharon Adisa
Sharon is a writer and editor who strives to continually further both the depth and breadth of her skills as a writer so as to contribute superior work and deliver client and customer satisfaction.

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