Nairobi is primed to become a much more liveable city, thanks to new collaborations mooted between the county government, private sector and the international community.
Coming under the aegis of the Nairobi Placemaking Week platform, the network comprising the Architectural Association, Public Space Network, the Kilimani Project Foundation, Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health, Safer Nairobi Initiative, The Nairobi Forum among others recently reaffirmed its commitment to making the capital a better city through a new value proposition to the county government detailed in its six-page manifesto.
Network Convener Mark Ojal said the organisations have in the last six years been coming together for several initiatives including the redesign of Jevanjee Gardens, Luthuli Avenue, and Michuki Park as well as submitting memoranda to the County Assembly on various Bills affecting public spaces.
He noted that this year’s Nairobi Place Making Week, which takes place in the last week of October - coinciding with World Cities Day on October 31, has inaugurated “The Nairobi Street Parade” for other impactful initiatives.
They include urban dialogues, neighbourhood cleanups as well as sporting activities. “The purpose is to attract the participation of ordinary Wananchi in solving issues affecting their city. The highlights of the parade include street art exhibitions featuring Nairobi City over the years, cycling as an alternative mobility system and performances including dancing and acrobatics,” he said.
UN-Habitat Acting Director, Regional Office for Africa Oumar Sylla observed that coming at a time when cities are faced with challenges resulting from unplanned urbanisation, rapidly increasing population and climate change, the agency has not failed to acknowledge the role of public and green spaces, streets and rivers in enhancing the resilience and sustainability of cities.
“Nairobi has not been an exception to these urban challenges... We strive to make cities safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable while ensuring we leave no one behind in the process,” he said
Sylla said the Nairobi River Regeneration Initiative is one such project that provides an opportunity to address equity in access to safe and inclusive public spaces for communities in informal settlements.
“Such spaces are beneficial to the communities by improving the quality of life, providing socio-economic benefits and supporting the provision of basic services within these vulnerable areas.”
He added that the project is an even greater opportunity to enhance the connection between the river, the neighbourhoods and the city through safe and sustainable transport systems, particularly through the integration of non-motorised transportation and reliable transport as studies show that around 80 per cent of Nairobi residents make their daily trips on foot and by public transport.
Ojal noted that the network had re-offered to work with the county government on activating public spaces through low-cost interventions and co-creating policies that promote sustainable development through safer, healthier and more inclusive streets and public spaces.
“The objectives of the proposition to the County Nairobi include promoting a more inclusive city through safe, walkable, and pedestrian prioritised streets, to collaborate to reclaim Hilton Square as an arts and culture centre, to clean up the Nairobi River through the joint county and community-driven partnerships,” Ojal said.