SymbioCity is gaining recognition in Kenya as a unique approach to urban development. This was apparent during a two-day training of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) focusing in urban development. Not least the emphasis on participation was appealing to them.

The Civil Society Urban Development Platform (CSUDP) CEO, George Wasonga, invited SymbioCity Kenya (SCK) Programme to introduce the SymbioCity approach to the CSOs. CSUDP has an ongoing programme that involves collaborations with other organisations to equip residents of informal settlements with participatory tools and methods for developing plans in their settlements. The organisation further equips the CSOs with strategies for incorporating these plans into the Urban Integrated Development Plans.

Six steps toward more sustainable cities
SymbioCity Kenya urban support staff Everlyne Otieno and Maureen Njoga demonstrated to the CSOs, drawn from ten Kenyan counties, SymbioCity’s six-step approach to planning. Step one of the approach involves defining and organising the planning or review process. Step two is the diagnosis of the current situation. Step three is specifying objectives, indicators and targets. Step four involves developing alternative proposals. Step five is an analysis of impacts. Step six is the development of a strategy for implementation and follow-up. Most participants found step three the most difficult, but once they got it right the subsequent three steps were easy.

Kennedy Kibet, Chairman Uasin Gishu Youth Consortium

Similarly, the CSOs found SymbioCity’s participatory approach to developing inclusive and integrated urban development solutions to augur well with their planning activities. Kennedy Kibet, a Sociologist, and the chairman of Uasin Gishu Youth Consortium in Eldoret heard about the approach for the first time in the training. “It sounds like a wonderful planning tool. The six-step approach brings together every detail of planning. I will definitely apply it, and specifically the concept of participation, in the proposals we’re developing,” he said.

Enabling social inclusion in urban areas
Prof Alfred Omenya, Architect and Urban Development expert, who facilitated the CSO training, praised the approach’s ability to deliver a final plan. “The SymbioCity Approach to planning has demonstrated its uniqueness as an enabler for social inclusion in the urban form. By integrating economic, environmental and social-cultural dimensions as well as gender and pro-poor perspectives, SymbioCity aims at creating sustainable results. This is excellent for Kenyan urban spaces,” he said.