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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Experts warn unregulated development will prevent urban renewal

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President of Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) Waweru Gathecha said outdated master-plans coupled with lax regulation had worsened urban challenges like overcrowding, crime and pollution.

"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 slums.

He singled out Tunisia for coming up with innovative programs to accelerate urban renewal.

           

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