I recently posted a blog on the urban space utilization in Mombasa and how the dynamics of climate-related changes is forcing humankind to reconsider the way they are planning and executing livable cities. Yes, I used the word livable. The important role of cities came up last month in Nairobi at a delegates session aimed at setting up the rules for the next years Habitat III conference slated for October 2016in Quito Equador, is the UN once in 20 years platform for nation states for formulate a global framework for urban policy. Staggeringly for such an event aimed at focussing on the future of cities failed to reach an agreement on allowing for local stakeholders participation.
We would tend to think that the Millenium development agendas set in motion the participatory planning of cities to allow diverse views that leads to a better product at the end of the day, several scientists and managers at large have always seen participation as time wasting, money squandering and delayed responses in planning, this year France is taking a lead role with the scientists meeting up for our common future conference jointly hosted by UNESCO and Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) before the cop 21 negotiations, in July, where the role of cities and participation in the common future will definitely feature, I guess this is a subject yet for another day. Coming back home, with UNEP and UH HABITAT enjoying a lavish presence in Kenya, Kenya is a conglomeration of unplanned and failing cities if not failed already, some of the issues facing our cities include
a) Unstable cities
This month of May has had a fair share of rainfall in the country, in tandem with the long rain pattern. The cities of Nairobi and Mombasa have been literally submerged with roads clogged and buses stuck on a river in the middle of a paved highway! the governors of these cities were at pains to explain what he is using the Mwananchi tax for if not securing the homes and the lives of the residents. listening to the Nairobi governor communications officer, reply to these questions on one of the radio stations left me bemused, while shifting blame to the days of our grandfathers. The bottom line remains as long as the cities populations increase, and consumption and demand for products increases, and a failure by the political elite to safeguard some of these natural resources e.g forests, these critical ecosystems like peat and swamps will be invaded by the locals and the businessmen to meet the demand of the rising populations, and lol the blame on the governor and his team- of course they hold the stake- is not sustainable. Mombasa city was worse during the rain season as well, examples are in the photos. surprisingly we are perfect in disaster response clearing clogging systems after cars have been swept away never anticipating the floods before the rains pour.
b) Stinking cities
One time I was in a meeting with a vice chancellor of a University when a discussion on waste management at the institution came up, it’s not a priority was the quick answer and so wastes are directly released into the forests, oceans, and critical ecosystems because both government and institutions don’t find it critical. Therefore, the cities are stinking!literally, garbage collection and management right from the estate level is a tall order! you find planned estates like the Kiembeni Mulji and sons estates, that can effectively design and execute livable spaces, that are complete with a proper waste management system, including some in cineration services cannot do so. This is largely due to the search of profits, or because NEMA is too small to fight the big fish and so the cycle of poor waste management continues. These leads to the perennial lack of basic services like the de-silting of the breathers, unclogging of drainage systems left unattended and unscrupulous businessmen building on top of a river to get more income, it makes me want Michuki alive.
c) Economic disadvantages poverty and social insecurity
Two weeks ago a friend of mine was one of the victims who was stuck in a ferry for almost three house at the Likoni crossing after a hitch mid-ocean. A city that has no plans to improve infrastructure and seek alternatives to avoid failures and delays is of course stabbing economic development on the chest, we will always be developing never finishing the process. Wealth creation in cities is a factor of a well planned, city which translates to a livable city and an environmentally friendly city. Mombasa for example a city of almost 1.3 million individuals is now planning to plan for the city, this is a welcome call and a much waited plan to enhance as I said earlier the beauty of these cities. That being said friends, the city has diverse faces and it will take a united purpose including the local government, scientists and the residents of these cities to enhance the city and make it more livable for the diverse races, ages, genders and economic status of the cities.