University of Nairobi, through the Centre for Urban Research and Innovations (CURI) and its partners is hosting a 2-day conference on the theme of Prospects for innovative, Resilient and Inclusive Urban Development. The conference focuses on three main areas 1) Governance and Inclusive Urban Development; 2) Devolution and Innovative, Resilience and Inclusive urban development; and 3) Projects, Programs and Research towards Innovative and Inclusive Urban Development.
The conference brings together key actors in the region to dialogue, engage in self-reflection on inclusive urban planning and policy development. The conference provides a platform for young professionals and students in the built environment to participate in the interactive sessions and presentations. In addition, the conference provides an opportunity to reaffirm commitments and actions by key stakeholders in addressing urban challenges in contemporary and future African cities.
UN HABITAT reports that the coming decades will bring profound changes in the size and spatial distribution of the global population. This continuing urbanization and growth is expected to add over 2.5 billion people by 2050 and, close to 90 percent of the increase would concentrate developing countries, particularly Africa and Asia. Africa and Asia are urbanizing rapidly than other regions in the world. Within Africa, the East Africa region remains highly varied but overall experiencing one of the highest urban growth rates. It varies from a low of 4.4% in Kenya to 5.8 % in Rwanda and 5.4% in Uganda. Though Kenya has the lowest rate than its counterparts, it has the highest urban population in the region. Increasingly, urban areas in East Africa are faced with numerous urbanization challenges of over-crowding, deteriorating infrastructure and services, high mortality rates, environmental degradation and housing shortage.
Within this era, the management of the urban transformation requires innovative social, economic and environmental approaches. The New Urban Agenda reaffirms the need to implement sustainable goals to improve the quality of life within urban areas. The agenda supports the new Sustainable Development Goals and targets SDG 11 of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by among other ways promoting inclusive urban planning, investing in affordable public housing and public transport. In addition, chapter 4 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 on the Bill of Rights embeds social, economic and environmental benefits to all citizens. The economic and social considerations in section 43(a) provides for rights to health care services (b) accessible and adequate housing with reasonable standards of sanitation (c) clean and safe water in adequate quantities. Being the supreme law of the land, it is expected that all other policies, statutes and programs shall be aligned to it to facilitate implementation.
Over the last decade, CURI has partnered with governmental and non-governmental agencies to undertake research towards promoting inclusive, resilient and sustainable urban development. In respective regions, Centers for Research and donor funded NGOs have undertaken research to generate innovative solutions to sustainable urban practices. The Centre based at University of Nairobi and its civil society partners, the AMT and SDI have engaged in participatory slum upgrading projects that rely on local community knowledge. However, despite the many initiatives, the cities are far from been inclusive, resilient and said to promote sustainable development.
In view of the challenges noted below, the two-day conference was convened to explore prospects for Innovative, Resilient and inclusive Urban Development. The conference has the following objectives:
1) Share experiences of good governance practices towards innovative, resilience, inclusive and sustainable urban development, strength and challenges
2) Explore challenges and opportunities for innovative, inclusive and sustainable urban development under devolved government.
3) Explore innovative approaches/methodologies of facilitating inclusion of all stakeholders particularly the urban poor, in planning and development of urban areas
4) Develop principles and guidelines to upscale resilience, innovations and inclusion in urban development.
The conference targets participants from Government both local and national, universities, civil society and representatives from Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa and USA.