by David Musyoka
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is facing an
urban sprawl that if not well coordinated is likely to undermine
the country’s urban renewal aspirations, experts warned at a
workshop held in Nairobi on Saturday.
The experts urged
policy makers to strike a healthy balance between development of
additional shelter with sound planning and environmental
protection to prevent urban decay.
President of Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) Waweru
Gathecha said outdated master-plans coupled with lax regulation
had worsened urban challenges like overcrowding, crime and
"Urban development in the country is not consistent with the
provision of crucial amenities such as water, roads and
electricity," Gathecha said.
He warned that mushrooming Nairobi’s satellite towns could in
future experience the challenge of unregulated development in
the absence of strong law enforcement.
The AAK boss noted that informal settlements are spreading
faster than anticipated in many Kenyan cities and towns due to
poor planning and population explosion.
According to the World Bank, Kenya ranks top among rapidly
urbanizing countries in Africa.
According to the 2009 Population and Housing Census, 21 urban
centers in Kenya had a combined population of 11.5 million
people with Nairobi leading with 3.13 million followed by
Mombasa which had a population of 938,000.
Projections by urban planning experts indicate that 40
percent of Kenyans will be living in cities by 2020.
The Secretary General of African Union of Architects (AUA)
Amine Turki regretted that few countries in Africa have
established adequate safeguards to halt the spread of urban
He singled out Tunisia for coming up with innovative programs
to accelerate urban renewal.