• Kenyan cities in the running for Rockefeller Foundation aid

    Following the recent launch of the 100 Resilient Cities programme, the Rockefeller Foundation has strongly suggested that Kenyan cities apply for the grant. Cities are adjudicated based on a range of criteria, one of the foremost being planning for needs of the urban poor. Capital FM reports: Speaking while making the announcement in Nairobi, the […]

  • Is affordable housing in Nairobi a myth?

    In Kenya, the yawning gap between demand for housing and its supply continues to grow. The estimated demand in urban areas for housing is approximately 150,000 units a year. The current supply is about 30,000 units.  The gap between supply and demand is felt more keenly in the lower income housing market. Less than 20% […]

  • Come dance with me

    The moment the Sarakasi dancers and acrobats appear on stage, one feels their pulsating, vibrant energy. The dancers bound onto the stage exuding graceful athleticism often associated with world-class acts like Cirque du Soleil, yet exhibiting a uniqueness that has come to be recognized as the Sarakasi (which means “circus or acrobatics” in Kiswahili) dance […]

  • Can recycling help Nairobi cut its waste?

    Solid waste management is Nairobi’s most visible environmental challenge. Rubbish heaps piled high with paper, plastics and other waste are an everyday feature of the city’s landscape. Dirty, torn plastic bags are seen wedged stubbornly into roadside features such as drainage, pavements and shrubbery in poor and more affluent areas alike. With a growing population, […]

  • Examining Nairobi’s split personality

    Walking through certain parts of Nairobi, one is struck by the formal elements that highlight the city’s conscious march towards becoming a “world-class city.” Images of the formal or “modernity,” such as the development of public commuter rail, shopping malls with mega supermarkets and organic food outlets, and tall, all-glass skyscrapers that house multinational corporations […]

  • Responding to refugees in urban settings

    Sequestering refugees in rural camps is no longer the norm: The most recent estimates indicate that almost half of refugees flock to urban areas and just one third to rural camps, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). But while agencies are adjusting their approaches, they are still struggling to match their response with their […]

  • Towards a transport master plan

    EAST AFRICA: …The East African Community (EAC) linking Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, with a combined population of over 140 million and GDP of over $74 billion, has largely failed to tap the potential of its common market because of poor public transport  infrastructures, experts say. The Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) estimates […]

  • On food security: The prevalence of price hikes

    NAIROBI: According to a recent assessment of the city’s food security, undertaken by the Kenyan government and two international food organisations, the proportion of urban poor is rising steadily. In a city where almost all high-density urban settlement is informal, the assessment’s analysis of the city’s vulnerability to food insecurity reveals that 13% of households […]

  • Future Nairobi and the media menace

    Kichwateli, which means ‘TV-head’ in kiswahili, is a short film directed by the self-taught animator and graphic designer Muchiri Njenga. It is at once an Afro-futuristic and an almost-apocalyptic film but it’s also completely rooted in contemporary times.

  • New master plan for Nairobi

    The failure to realise much of Nairobi’s 1973 Nairobi Metropolitan Growth Strategy, combined with a need to plan a livable city for the estimated 5.2 million people that will live in Nairobi by 2030, has led to the development of the Nairobi Integrated Urban Development Master Plan (NIUPLAN).

  • Mombasa – a city under the sea?

    Mombasa is known as a city of sun-kissed beaches, luxurious hotels packed with tourists and crazy New Year’s Eve parties. Recent terrorist threats have begun to change this idyllic picture. Last weekend some tour operators had to evacuate hundreds of tourists and cancel flights to Mombasa. But the government has other things to worry about. […]

  • Nairobi’s first birthday

    Reposted from Africa Research Institute March 27, 2014, was the first anniversary of the swearing in of the devolved Nairobi County government headed by Dr Evans Kidero. In recent press articles, Nairobi has been touted as “Africa’s most expensive capital”, “one of the most livable cities in Africa” and an “emerging wealth hub” for ultra-high […]

  • Money making and the Nairobi housing boom

    It’s seven o’clock in the evening. In Ngong Road trucks drive past, returning masons and laborers to the slums on the outskirts of Nairobi. Meanwhile, on the terrace of a cafeteria, a man in a suit flips through a property magazine. The headline reads: “The fastest way to get your money back”. Nairobi is one […]

  • Wainaina on afropolitanism

    In 2005, the Nigerian/Ghanaian writer Taiye Selasi penned an article, Bye-Bye Barbar, that introduced the world to a term that described a new generation of young, urban, multilingual and globally projected Africans: ‘Afropolitans.’ Since the term was coined its use has been controversial. Be that as it may, today Afropolitanism has been used in discussions about […]

  • Nairobbery: life in the fenced city

    Last September the world was shocked by terrorist group al-Shabaab’s killing of 67 people in Nairobi’s Westgate mall. But long before al-Shabaab’s brazen mall attack, in retaliation for Kenyan military intervention in Somalia, Nairobi already had a reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities in Africa. So much so that it has earned […]

  • Saving Swahili urban landscapes

    There is more to East African coastal cities than the typical honeymoon pictures of white sand beaches they produce. The cobbled streets of Lamu Old Town (Kenya), Zanzibar’s Stone Town (Tanzania) and Ilha de Mozambique (Mozambique) are lined with Swahili architecture, including former stately homes of Swahili Sultans.

  • The street urchins of Kitale

    Street children in Kitale linger around the streets at strategic spots, begging for alms from passersby. Some of them sniff glue, oblivious or not caring about the risks it poses to their health. To get a morsel for their stomachs they forage through rubbish bins and dumpsites, yet another risk to their health. But what […]

  • We count: settlement profiling in Nairobi, Kenya

    According to the English dictionary, the word eviction is the removal of a tenant from possession of premises in which he or she resides or has a property interest done by a landlord either by reentry upon the premises or through a court action. Eviction may be in the form of a physical removal of a person […]