December 4th saw the convening of the Urban Network Forum and official launch of the Planning Our Towns toolkit in Nairobi. The event brought together representatives from county and national governments, as well as urban practitioners and civil society, to advance conversation on inclusive Kenyan towns.

Download Planning Our Towns – A Toolkit for Inclusive Urban Development in Kenya (PDF)

During the half-day forum several panels and talks were dedicated to highlighting the benefits of integrated and holistic urban planning.

Charity Mumbi from Slum Dwellers International shared the example of how a consortium of NGOs came together to collaborate with Nairobi County and communities in Mukuru to identify and implement solutions for residents in informal settlements.

Kakamega County landscape architect Millicent Cherotich said that the SymbioCity Kenya experience had made planning an embraced concept in her County, and that partaking as one of the pilots in the programme had provided them with a good example of a bottom-up approach to projects. Kiminini’s Ward Administrator Dennis Waswa echoed this sentiment, citing the successes of citizen engagement in the Trans Nzoia County pilot.

Urban Development Director of the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development (MoTIHUD), Charles K’onyango, reminded that by year 2030 Kenya is projected to be more than 50% urban. He stressed that the urban practitioner had to create the urban future now and that the onus is upon leaders today to ensure urban areas will be exciting and liveable for future generations.

His colleague at the Urban Development Department, Titus Msungu, an Urban Social Planner, reminded that holistic urban planning is about having a bird’s eye view. Horizontal and vertical collaboration, not least between levels of government, can aid this.

Other speakers and participants at the forum included representatives from the Pilot Counties partaking in the SymbioCity Kenya programme, the CoG, CSUDP, KDI, and more. Many participants echoed the need to continue the dialogue among urban stakeholders and wished for Urban Networking Forums to be a reoccurring event.

Photo caption: Charles K’onyango, Urban Development Director of the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development (MoTIHUD).