KARA Business Expo & Conference 2018

DSC01060The 3rd KARA Business Expo and Conference event will be held on Thursday, 15th November to Saturday, 17th November 2018 at the Sarit Center, Nairobi. The theme of the event is: Making Affordable Housing a Reality and Responsive to Community Needs. The event is intended to provide an opportunity for actors in various sectors to showcase their work or plans towards achievement of affordable housing; explore available opportunities that come with the initiative; have a conversation on the roadmap towards achievement of the agenda and how they can effectively participate in making it a reality and responsive to the needs of end users. The conference is addressed by a rich mix of experts in diverse fields; senior government leasers; industry captains and academicians and provides an opportunity to discuss key issues of national importance and make resolutions on necessary action points.

About the Expo & Conference

Kara Business Expo and Conference is an annual event that brings together thousands of visitors and tens of exhibitors to network, show-case their work and seal business deals. The event is organized by Kara in collaboration with development partners, Government and private sector and is aimed at promoting interaction, networking, sharing of ideas and sealing of deals between the attendees and the exhibitors from various sectors. For public sector exhibitors, the event provides an opportunity to engage the public on various service delivery initiatives and get feedback on their views and expectations.


Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment &Natural Resources, Prof. Judy Wakhungu, with KARA CEO, Henry Ochieng at Safaricom’s Ltd Booth during the 2017 Kara Business Expo at Sarit Center. 

For private sector and those in business, the event provides an excellent platform to showcase products/services; connect with current or potential customers; get feedback; enhance brand visibility. It is also an ideal venue to introduce a new product or service; shop for new innovative ideas, products and services and gain invaluable industry insights. At the Kara Business Expo & Conference, you will find a hub of activity and inspiration to help grow your business. There is something for exhibitors from the public, civil society, academia, development partners and private sectors – whether mature and successful, in need of help and support in specific areas, or even if you’re thinking of setting up your own business. A wide variety of exhibitors showcase their products or services and are ready to engage and provide solutions to visitors and fellow exhibitors.


The KARA Resident Associations Excellence Award

The KARA Resident Associations Excellence Award is held as part of the Business Expo and Conference event. The award is informed by the fact that Resident Associations play a very vital role in enhancing access to services and improving quality of life in Kenya yet these efforts are rarely recognized and appreciated. The awards seek to celebrate the work of Resident Associations in Kenya by identifying and rewarding Resident Associations that have excelled in carrying out their mandate and created significant positive impact on their communities and Kenya at large.


Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment &Natural Resources, Prof. Judy Wakhungu, poses with winners of the 2017 Annual  Resident Associations Excellence Awards.

The Associations to be awarded are identified through a transparent and competitive process. Independent panel of judges consider all the entries made and make a decision on winners and runners up based on agreed parameters. Details of the awards will be separately provided.

A Holistic and Sustainable Approach is the Panacea to Urban Development Challenges



The ongoing demolition of structures built on riparian reserves is a confirmation of the rot in our City and the impunity that has reigned in Nairobi for several years. It is also an indictment of the regulatory bodies charged with the responsibility of ensuring compliance to urban development regulations and laws. A quick look at some of the constructions in Nairobi gives a picture of a City that has not paid due attention to the basic principles of sustainable urban planning and development. A number of structures are built on riparian reserves, public spaces, road reserves and others are in complete violation of zoning regulations. Unscrupulous developers easily get away with glaring illegalities and irregularities because of working in cahoots with some dishonest government officers entrusted with the role of enforcing the law. The government must be commended for finally waking up and being courageous enough to bring down some of the buildings put up in contravention of the law. We encourage the government to not only go after the buildings on riparian reserves but also reclaim the grabbed public spaces and road reserves.

However, even as we applaud the government for bringing down the offending buildings, we must look at the root cause of the problems we are currently dealing with so that a sustainable solution can be prescribed. The 1948 master plan for Nairobi gives an indication that planning for the city was intended to be based on the neighbourhood concept with adequate provision for public spaces and protection of natural resources like the rivers. Somewhere along the line however, implementation of the master plan was largely abandoned and compromises were made. The 1973 master plan equally had progressive recommendations but again implementation was minimal and development challenges got worse. Uncontrolled development crept in and facilities like public spaces increasingly came under threat from unscrupulous developers. The City now has the Nairobi Integrated Urban Development Master Plan (NIUPLAN) and it remains to be seen how effectively it will be implemented.

It is therefore clear that the development challenges we are currently dealing with resulted from lack of proper implementation of development plans and weak enforcement of physical development laws by the relevant authorities. Lack of commitment and political goodwill by those in position of leadership made the unscrupulous developers and corrupt public officers bolder and to act with impunity. While the demolitions may serve to reclaim the riparian and road reserves as well as public spaces and perhaps send out a warning to those intending to engage in illegal development, it is not a sustainable solution to the broader urban development problems facing Nairobi. A multidimensional approach that takes into consideration both preventive and curative measures must be employed in order to realize sustainable solutions to the urban development challenges.

To begin with, the Nairobi City County Government must demonstrate commitment to effective implementation of the integrated master plan which provides a guiding framework to manage urban development in Nairobi. Strict adherence to the plan will provide spatial order of physical investments and ensure that no approvals are given for development of structures on riparian reserves, public spaces and road reserves. The implementation of the plan coupled with strict enforcement of physical development laws will prevent construction of illegal structures and secure the reserves and public spaces from interference.

There is also need to strengthen coordination among the various urban development regulatory bodies. The back-passing and blame game that has been displayed in certain instances confirms that the agencies don’t consult among themselves before final approvals are given. The County Government, National Environment Management Authority, Water Resources Authority among others should not work in silos but rather coordinate their activities to ensure that only developments that are in strict compliance with the law and urban development plans are approved.

The design, approval and construction processes for any physical development involves professionals at various stages. Some of the professionals are therefore accomplices in the development of illegal structures and must be held responsible. The professional bodies must call out their members involved in illegal practices and take disciplinary actions against them. This will ensure that professionals uphold integrity at all times and refuse to facilitate illegal processes.

Finally, the fight against illegal physical development cannot be won without involvement of communities. A number of Resident Associations have been consistent and very passionate about protecting their neighborhoods from unscrupulous developers keen on grabbing public spaces or carrying out construction on riparian or road reserves. It is important for the government to support such efforts by facilitating structured and effective engagement with Residents Associations and other community groups.

In Nairobi, the County Governments should ensure full implementation of the recently enacted Community and Neighbourhood Associations Engagement Act which provides a legal framework for engagement with Residents Associations and promotion of their activities that are complimentary to the work of the government. Based on the law, the County Government can enter into an agreement with Resident Associations to enhance the role of the Associations in monitoring compliance with the County planning regulations and zoning requirements in respect to their neighbourhood; protection of public utility land and recreational facilities from encroachment. Organized community groups can be very effective ally to the government in the fight against illegal development.

By Henry Ochieng

Chief Executive Officer, The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA)

Why achieving SDG Goal 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth is Critical for Kenya


In Kenya the Gini coefficient of inequality is at around 0.45%. Therefore, the economic growth statistics present an unequivocal picture of a highly unequal society, whose development strategy is largely leading to accumulation of wealth by a few and worsening the poverty of the majority. Consider just two statistics behind the picture: according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, individuals in capital city Nairobi have about 15 times more access to secondary education than those living in Turkana, one of the poorest counties. Also, a household in Nairobi is 36 times more likely to have electricity for lighting compared with those in Tana River.

Without doubt, Kenya’s race towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an agenda whose most notable tang of inclusivity is underscored by the now well-known phrase of ‘leaving no one behind’, is going to need the resilience of its world-beating athletes. The global SDGs agenda is a platform that aims to meet the greatest challenges of our times, with a dedicated focus on every person and the planet and a noble vision of eradicating poverty by 2030. With an increasing youthful population, Africa stands at a special place in the Agenda, considering that much of the rest of the world population is ageing. Today’s youth will be key to any sustainable development strategies, thus the need to ensure that there are enough opportunities for them to participate in the global economy.

It is estimated that over 600 million new jobs need to be created by 2030, just to keep pace with the growth of the global working age population. That’s around 40 million per year. In Kenya, a million youth enter the job market each year, but only one-fifth are absorbed. Unfortunately, among those who are ’employed’ are millions who are working but not earning. It has been reported that about 43% of the country’s youth are either unemployed or working yet living in poverty It is this phenomenon that has given rise to the agitation for “Decent Work”, which means opportunities for everyone to get work that is productive and which delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families.

A continued lack of decent work opportunities, insufficient investments and under-consumption lead to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies: that all must share in progress. This is why SDG Goal 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth is of critical importance for Kenya. There is a need to ensure inclusive equitable economic growth hand in hand with the creation of decent and sustainable jobs. For several years now Kenya has been experiencing exceptional economic growth rates, even above the sub Saharan Africa average. Yet, not enough jobs have been created to absorb the new entrants and informality remains rampant rendering job quality as low. Unemployment, especially youth unemployment, is found more commonly in higher income countries – and Kenya is no longer a low income country but a middle income one with an annual per capita income of almost $3,000 at purchasing power parity. Educated unemployment is also more commonly found in countries where advances in education exceed those in the economy.

Production techniques change slower than the aspirations of the fast increasing Kenyan middle class fuelled by rising incomes (recently 6 percent annually) and increases in education attainment at all levels. In other words, Kenya is at a crossroads with economic and employment patterns similar to middle and higher income countries. Yet remaining on the agenda are the high income and regional disparities which need to be addressed. This attention is clearly called for in the country’s Constitution. For instance, clause 201 states that the public finance system is to promote an equitable society in that revenue raised nationally shall be shared equally between national and county governments, and expenditures will be oriented towards addressing the needs of marginalised groups and regions.

One way of ensuring the attainment of Decent Work for all is through improved labour market governance. Pertinent agenda include the laws, policies and institutions which determine and influence the demand and supply of labour. Labour market governance goes hand in hand with fair working conditions as one of the essential requirements of decent work. This includes decent wages, hours of work, rest and leave periods, adequate social security, freedom of association, the right to bargain collectively, and an absence of discrimination, or child labour. While those in the formal economy may have access to this many in the informal still do not.

Kenya has the potential to be one of Africa’s great success stories for economic growthand the attainment of SDG 8 by 2030: it has a growing youthful population, a dynamic private sector, a dynamic and progressive new constitution and a pivotal role in Africa. President Kenyatta in an address to Kenya’s youth said. “You are my partners in remaking Kenya – and my Government’s programmes reflect my faith in you,” Addressing challenges of poverty, inequality, labour market governance, labour productivity to achieve rapid, inclusive sustained growth with decent jobs will not only transform lives of ordinary citizens, but make Kenya an economic powerhouse.

By: Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

The Role of Resident Associations in Land Use Planning and Urban Development


Resident associations are groups that are formed by residents of an area for purposes of communing together and protecting interests of the area within which they reside. Their role as over the years evolved into that of a watchdog. Though some resident associations are very vibrant others have ignored their functions. As a property owner it is important to understand the importance of the resident associations. They have a significant impact when it comes to determining the use of land within their areas. Many resident associations have been viewed negatively by land owners but it is important to know what the law has to say about this.

Until recently no statute recognized their role but the Physical Planning Act provided an indirect way within which the associations actively ensured that they influenced land use approvals by the local authority. When a person applies for a change of user, the local authority gazettes the application and invites comments from the public. Resident associations use this forum to endorse the change and development thereafter or express their disapproval. An example of such a scenario is in the case of Ocean Freight (EA) Ltd v Esmailji & another.

Some of the resident associations are just groups of the residents that are not registered entities. Others are registered entities and much organised examples are Runda Association, Karen and Langata District Association (KLDA), Upperhill District Association. These associations create legal vehicles within which the residents use to enforce their interests especially in land use planning and enforcement of physical planning zoning laws. A good example is the Runda Association which is very vibrant and active even at the stage when property owners apply for building plans approvals.

In some extents and particularly in the case of Karen and Langata District Association they have in a bid to tame ad hoc development in the area, published rules in respect to land use and development for those areas. The rules were made under Local Physical Development Plan of the area and presented to the Nairobi City Council for approval. These are examples of active associations with sufficient clout to affect property owners’ rights particularly the land use aspect. In the case of Karen and Langata District Association the same, obtained orders from the court requiring the rates collected in their area under the Rating Act be placed in a special fund that will be applied to the benefit of the area residents.

 Whereas for some property owner’s resident associations may not have sufficient power for others it is a different issue. In the context of development housing (apartment), estates and gated communities the associations may not take shape of amorphous groups or registered associations. They take the form of Management Companies. These have much more control over their residents. Their rules are integrated into the title documentation i.e. Lease or in cases of property under the Sectional Properties Act the corporation created for management purposes has power to make by laws. This structure in the case of apartment, estates & gated communities makes it mandatory for the property owner to get requisite consents before utilising the property for different purposes.

Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011

However, the Urban Areas and Cities Act of 2011, has now provided a structured manner in which citizens and even resident associations will be integrated to the affairs of the town. The Act provides that a city or urban area shall develop a system of governance that encourages participation by residents in its affairs, and shall establish appropriate mechanisms, processes and procedure for, consultative sessions with locally recognized resident organisations; and also for reporting to the residents.

The Act requires the citizens be involved in the preparation, implementation and review of the integrated development plan which every city and municipality must have. Therefore as a property owner and legal representative in determining what use to put your property it might be prudent to consider the local resident organisations and consider their input.

For resident associations it is important to be aware of the Act and the power that the association holds when it comes to governance in terms of land use. It is important for the residents associations to designate representatives to enable participation as provided for in the Urban Areas and Cities Act.

Functions of the Rent Restriction Tribunal


The rent restriction tribunal renders an important service to the public by attending to rental issues surrounding landlords and tenants of protected tenancy. In particular, the tribunal offers arbitration services relating to disputes in these tenancies. A protected tenant is one who lives in a ‘controlled house’ which are those residential buildings that have been put under the Rent Restriction Act, Chapter 296 of the Laws of Kenya. The criterion of placing a residential house under the Act is those with a standard rent of Kshs. 2,500 per month and below.

The Rent Restriction Act is meant to protect tenants from exploitation by landlords while guaranteeing the landlord reasonable profits from his investment in housing. The ultimate aim of the Rent Restriction Tribunal therefore is to facilitate stability of rents especially for low-income earners and ensure that capital invested in housing yield reasonable returns. To achieve this, the Department coordinates the functions of the Rent Tribunals which have been established for the purpose of administering the Rent Restriction Act. The Act allows the minister responsible for housing to establish Tribunals where he/she thinks are needed both in urban and rural areas.

In order to give effect to the Rent Restriction Act, the Tribunals hear and determine suits filed by both tenants and landlords. The Tribunal also determines applications for assessment and review of standard rent. Applications brought before the Tribunals by the aggrieved parties arise from the disputes between landlords and the tenants. These disputes include among others: – unlawful evictions, unlawful rent increases and rent defaults. Most of these complaints are resolved administratively but in some circumstances, the police are involved to investigate alleged wrongful acts that border on criminal act.

Ten Rent Tribunals have so far been established by Legal Notice No. 212 of 21st May 1990 as amended by Legal Notice No. 431 of 3rd November 1994. These include: – Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Kakamega, Eldoret, Embu, Garissa and Lamu. These Tribunals also serves their adjacent zones.

A landlord or Tenant can file a suit in the Tribunal which can be commenced by a plaint, Notice of Motion or Chamber Summons as prescribed in the Civil Procedure Code. When a case is heard, the Tribunal makes an order which may be enforced as a decree through a civil court.

The Procedure of instituting a matter in the Rent Restriction Tribunal is as follows:-

  1. Report the matter to Rent Restriction Tribunal.
  2. The complainant is advised to institute proceedings in the Tribunal Court.
  3. The matter is allocated a hearing date and hearing notices served to the respondents.
  4. The matter is heard in the Tribunal Court and the necessary orders/rulings are issued.

The New Urban Agenda: Key Commitments

General view shows a government slum upgrading project near the sprawling Kibera slum in Nairobi

On 21 October 2016, UN Member States agreed upon the New Urban Agenda at the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador. This Agenda sets a new global standard for sustainable urban development and will help rethink how we plan, manage and live in cities. The New Urban Agenda is roadmap for building cities that can serve as engines of prosperity and centres of cultural and social well-being while protecting the environment. The Agenda also provides guidance for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and provides the underpinning for actions to address climate change.

Now it is up to national governments and local authorities to implement the Agenda, with technical and financial partnerships and assistance from the international community.

In the New Urban Agenda, world leaders have committed to:

Provide basic services for all citizens
These services include: access to housing, safe drinking water and sanitation, nutritious food, healthcare and family planning, education, culture and access to communication technologies.

Ensure that all citizens have access to equal opportunities and face no discrimination
Everyone has the right to benefit from what their cities offer. The New Urban Agenda calls on city authorities to take into account the needs of women, youth and children, people with disabilities, marginalized groups, older persons, indigenous people, among other groups.

Promote measures that support cleaner cities
Tackling air pollution in cities is good both for people’s health and for the planet. In the Agenda, leaders have committed to increase their use of renewable energy, provide better and greener public transport, and sustainably manage their natural resources.

Strengthen resilience in cities to reduce the risk and the impact of disasters
Many cities have felt the impact of natural disasters and leaders have now committed to implement mitigation and adaptation measures to minimize these impacts. Some of these measures include: better urban planning, quality infrastructure and improving local responses.

Take action to address climate change by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions
Leaders have committed to involve not just the local government but all actors of society to take climate action taking into account the Paris Agreement on climate change which seeks to limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Sustainable cities that reduce emissions from energy and build resilience can play a lead role.

Fully respect the rights of refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons regardless of their migration status
Leaders have recognized that migration poses challenges but it also brings significant contributions to urban life. Because of this, they have committed to establish measures that help migrants, refugees and IDPs make positive contributions to societies.

Improve connectivity and support innovative and green initiatives
This includes establishing partnerships with businesses and civil society to find sustainable solutions to urban challenges

Promote safe, accessible and green public spaces
Human interaction should be facilitated by urban planning, which is why the Agenda calls for an increase in public spaces such as sidewalks, cycling lanes, gardens, squares and parks. Sustainable urban design plays a key role in ensuring the liveability and prosperity of a city.

Implementing the Urban Agenda Means:

  • New Urban Rules and Regulations– The outcomes in terms of quality of an urban settlement is dependent on the set of rules and regulations and its implementation. Proper urbanization requires the rule of law.
  • Improved Urban Planning and Design- Establishing the adequate provision of common goods, including streets and open spaces, together with an efficient pattern of buildable plots.
  • Municipal Finance– For a good management and maintenance of the city, local fiscal systems should redistribute parts of the urban value generated.
  • National Urban Policies- These establish a connection between the dynamics of urbanization and the overall process of national development.

It is for the above reasons that The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) has partnered with Safaricom to organize a residents dialogue forum on 14th September 2017 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Nairobi. The theme of the discussions will be: “Opportunities for effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Kenya”

To find out more about the implementation of the Agenda visit: https://habitat3.org/the-new-urban-agenda/


Omar, Shahbal face off in Mombasa gubernatorial debate

mbsa debate

Mombasa gubernatorial candidates Omar Hassan Omar, (Wiper Democratic Movement – Kenya) and Suleiman Shahbal of the Jubilee party (R) during the gubernatorial debate at the Pride Inn Hotel, July 26, 2017.


The biting issue of uncollected garbage rocked the Mombasa gubernatorial debate, that saw only two candidates taking part. Incumbent Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho, his rivals Hezron Awiti of the Vision Democratic Party (VDP) and KADDU Asili’s Dan Muunga skipped the debate that was attended by Suleiman Shahbal of the Jubilee party and Omar Hassan Omar, of the Wiper Democratic Movement – Kenya. The debate was organised by the Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (Kara) on July 26, 2017, at Pride Inn Hotel.

The two participants sold their agenda during the debate, with Shahbal saying Mombasa used to be a model tourist city but had now been turned into an eye sore for residents and visitors who have been forced to keep up with the horrific sites of mountains of garbage and foul smell, terming the city as a dumpsite.

“The situation will however change and my promise to you is that i will end this problem within 100 days once you elect me to office. A clean and beautiful environment is paramount for all of us. That is why we must remain responsible by maintaining our environment.”

Shahbal who is vying for the second time, said he will will improve the business environment in Mombasa to allow local businesses to grow and attract investors, hence creating more jobs.

“I have created employment for over 3,500 people in Kenya, brought investment of over 12 billion dollars into Kenya. I have the humility, competence and experience to turn Mombasa into a metropolis,” said Shahbal.

On his part, Omar who is also the Wiper Party secretary general, said if elected, he would ensure corruption has no place in the coastal city, besides making sure sure that the garbage menace is resolved, for the county’s development and good health for the people.

Source: dickens luvanda: https://dickensluvanda.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/omar-shahbal-face-off-as-joho-and-two-rivals-skip-gubernatorial-debate/








How to Organize a Residents Association

2016-10-18 11.21.47.jpg

A resident association is a group of neighbors who get together, share their ideas, thoughts, feelings and work cooperatively to make their neighborhood a better place to live. Before you ask your neighbors to organize, you have to convince them of the benefits of forming such neighborhood association. Having a recognized neighborhood will give you a voice and an advocate.

Neighborhood associations greatly improve the two-way communication between the city and its residents. Your neighborhood will have a clear, organized way to speak to city government with a guarantee you will be heard. You will have a tool for relating directly to both your elected local leaders and the county government. This increased communication can be a resource for upcoming meetings or other community opportunities that may benefit you and your neighborhood. Moreover, you will be put in touch with your neighbors, people who share your fondness for and frustrations of your area.

When does a neighborhood need to develop a resident association? Various issues help a neighborhood to acquire a sense of identity and feel a need to organize and develop a neighborhood association; for example:

  • Land use issues (location of a new school, shopping center, library, highway, etc.)
  • Neighborhood improvements (additional street signs or lights, repair of a sidewalk).
  • Urban design issues (developing of architectural themes for public & recreational spaces).
  • Dealing with crime and other disturbances.

Before organizing a new neighborhood association, check for existing associations in and around your area.

To discover the names and boundaries of existing associations and contact information within these organizations, check with The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) at 254-020-3873828. KARA is the umbrella body that represents the voice of residents associations across the country. If there is an active resident association in your area, consider joining it!

If you and your neighbors decide to organize your own neighborhood association, consider the following:

  • Identify meeting time and place for the first organizational meeting.
  • Widely distribute information throughout the neighborhood about the new association’s first meeting.
  • Include everyone living or owning property within the association’s boundaries as a potential member.
  • Keep everyone informed about association activities. A newsletter or a Web site are two ways to inform your neighborhood about the association’s activities.

It is also important to remember the organizational structure that works for your neighborhood now may change in the future. Resident associations change over time as they grow, mature and respond to the needs of their members.

To bring together a quite diverse group of people to reach a common goal is a difficult task. To get started, you will need to form a small group of committed neighbors who share your aspiration to form a neighborhood association. This small group of individuals is referred to as the core group. Members of the core group should share a common vision regarding important issues affecting the neighborhood. Be sure to keep the size of the core group at ten or less people. If the core group gets too large, it will become unmanageable and result in low productivity.

Who should be a part of your core group? People whose views are respected by other members of the community:

  • Homeowners
  • Business owners
  • Apartment residents, managers, owners
  • Church leaders
  • School teachers or administrators

Once the members of the core group have been identified and a meeting time and place have been established, develop a well-planned agenda for the first meeting. Nobody likes to attend meetings that are unproductive and a waste of time. During this initial meeting the core group will need to:

  • Determine the boundaries of the neighborhood.
  • Develop a complete list of neighborhood residents.
  • Discuss each person’s ideas concerning the problems and needs of the neighborhood.
  • Discuss goals, projects and concerns.
  • Discuss strategies to achieve common goals.
  • Identify current and potential leaders.
  • Determine special skills, talents and willingness to participate.
  • Determine a convenient time and location for members to attend meetings.
  • Determine how frequently members would like to meet.

The core group has to meet several times before it will be ready to hold meeting with the entire neighborhood. Once the entire neighborhood is involved the core group should continue meeting as an advisory board for the newly formed resident association.

For more information on resident associations’ formation, contact KARA:

Email: info@kara.or.ke


Urban land use: Zoning


What is zoning?

Zoning is the practice of allocating different areas of a Town, or City different uses. Zoning is an explicit and legal way of ordering land uses and is the basic tool of urban planning today. Through zoning, local governments have the legal obligation to relate every piece of private property to all others and to be concerned about the health, safety and well being of the community.

Types of zoning
There are several types of zoning codes in use today and combinations thereof. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the “types” of codes and their respective “formats” or “techniques”, so all will be discussed here to some extent

Residential zones
a) Single Detached Residential Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for single family housing.

b) Low Density Infill Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for retaining single family housing, while allowing some duplex development.

c) Low Density Redevelopment Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for single family and duplex housing while allowing some apartment or row housing with up to four units.

d) Residential Small Lot Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for single family housing with attached garages on smaller lots.

e) Planned Lot Residential Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for single family housing on smaller lots and accessed by a rear lane.

f) Semi-Detached Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for primarily semi-detached and duplex housing.

g) Row Housing Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for relatively low to medium density housing, such as row houses or town houses.

h) Medium Density Multiple Family Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for medium density housing, such as row houses or town houses that may have separate second storey units.

i) Low Rise Apartment Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for low rise apartment buildings up to four storeys.

j) Medium Rise Apartment Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for medium rise apartment buildings up to six storeys in height.

k) High Rise Apartment Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for high rise apartment buildings.

l) Rural Residential Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for permanent single family residential development in a rural setting.

m) Urban Character Row Housing Zone

  • This zone provides for medium density Row Housing in a manner that is characteristic of urban settings and can include more intensive development in the form of, but not limited to, smaller yards, greater height, orientation to a public street, and greater attention to architectural detail. This zone is intended as a transition zone between low and higher density housing.


Commercial zones

a) Neighborhood Convenience Commercial Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for convenience commercial and personal service uses, intended to serve the day-to-day needs of residents within the neighborhood.

b) Shopping Centre Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for larger shopping centres intended to serve a community or regional area. Residential, office, entertainment and cultural uses may be included in this zone.

c) Low Intensity Business Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for low intensity commercial, office and service uses located along arterial roadways that border residential areas.

d) General Business Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for businesses that require large sites and a location with good visibility and accessibility along, or adjacent to major public roadways.

e) Commercial Mixed Business Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for medium intensity commercial development near capacity transportation nodes.

f) Highway Corridor Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for high quality commercial development along roads serving as entrance routes to the City.

g) Commercial Office Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for medium intensity office, commercial and residential development in the inner city, around Light Rail Transit station areas or other locations offering good accessibility by private automobile and transit.

Industrial zones

a) Industrial Business Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for industrial businesses that carry out their operations such that no nuisance is created or apparent outside an enclosed building, and the use is compatible with any adjacent non-industrial zones.

b) Light Industrial Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for high quality, light industrial developments and limited accessory outdoor activities. Any nuisance factor associated with these uses will not extend outside an enclosed building.

c) Medium Industrial Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for manufacturing, processing, assembly, distribution, service and repair uses that carry out part of their operation outdoors or require outdoor storage areas. Any nuisance associated with these uses should not extend beyond the site.

d) Heavy Industrial Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for industrial uses that due to their appearance, noise, odour, risk of toxic emissions, or fire and explosion hazards are incompatible with residential, commercial, and other land uses.

Urban Services zones

a) Urban Service Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for publicly and privately owned facilities which provide institutional or community services.

b) Public Utility Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for a system or utilities that are used to benefit the public, such as water, sewage disposal, electric power, heating, waste management, drainage, public transportation and telecommunications.

c) Public Parks Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for an area of public land for recreational uses.

d) Natural Areas Protection Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for the conservation, preservation and restoration of identified natural areas, features and ecological processes.

e) River Valley Activity Node Zone

  • This zone provides the opportunity for limited commercial development for recreation and tourism uses within designated areas of parkland along the river, creeks and ravines.

Benefits of zoning

  • Stabilize and increase property values, particularly residential properties,
  • Relieve and check congestion in the streets and neighborhoods,
  • Increase safety and enhance security and administration of security services in buildings and residential neighborhoods,
  • Make business more efficient by ensuring there is order, and
  • Make life healthier by increasing the quality and aesthetic values of a locality, neighborhood, city or town.

We need planned cities to cater for pedestrians and motorists


Most people would agree that Nairobi is one of the most pedestrian-unfriendly cities in the world.

It is a city built for the motor vehicle, not for people who ride bicycles or walk.

Few of the new roads that have been built have pavements or bicycle paths alongside them.

Yet, pedestrians and cyclists comprise the majority of road users in the city.

If Nairobi were a place that catered to the needs of most of its residents, there would be more pavements, bicycle paths, public parks, and playing fields in the city.

The irony is that, despite having more roads in the city, traffic in Nairobi has reached nightmare proportions.

This contradiction was predicted some years ago by Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of the Colombian capital, Bogota, when he gave a public lecture at the University of Nairobi.

Penalosa said that expansion of the road network in many cities had shown that instead of reducing vehicular traffic, it actually increased it.

This could explain why, despite the construction of several bypasses on Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway remains the most congested artery in the city at all hours of the day. (It takes an average of two hours to get from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the Westlands roundabout via Uhuru Highway — I know because I use this route regularly.)

The former mayor said that instead of making more room for cars, cities should make more room for pedestrians, cyclists, and rapid transit systems.

This would encourage residents to use alternative forms of transport, which would lessen traffic on the roads.

When he was mayor of Bogota between 1998 and 2001, Penalosa created a bus rapid transit system featuring bus-only lanes. (Wouldn’t it be great if Nairobi had matatu-only lanes? It would create order on the roads — that is, of course, if traffic police officers do not take bribes from matatu drivers who veer into the wrong lanes.)

Penalosa will be remembered for building an extensive network of bicycle paths and pedestrian-only streets at a time when cities such as London and Paris had not even thought of them. (Now both London and Paris are emulating the Bogota example.)

The former mayor says that today’s cities need to be totally re-designed to cater for motorised transport.

In an interview with the online Citiscope magazine, he stated: “For 5,000 years we designed cities for people without cars. When cars appeared, we should have begun designing totally different cities. We did not. We just made bigger roads.”

Penalosa is also a great advocate of public parks and playing fields.

He notes that New York City created Central Park in 1860 when the city was much poorer than it is today, and that London, a heavily built-up city, has 1,500 public football fields that are open and free to all residents.

(In contrast, Nairobi county Senator Mike Sonko has suggested that Uhuru Park be turned into a matatu stage and land grabbers have attempted to steal playgrounds in Nairobi’s public schools.)

He also looks down on the new trend of shopping malls, which he says prevents city dwellers from walking in and enjoying their city.

Local neighbourhood shops disappear as the rich flock to enclosed malls.

City streets were once the great levellers where the rich interacted with the poor.

Not so any more. The shopping mall has created social apartheid between the urban rich and poor.

One of the pitfalls of devolution is that urban areas may suffer under a system where devolved funds are used to cater mostly for rural populations in the counties rather than the needs of urban dwellers.

While this is understandable, given the marginalisation of several regions under the previous centralised system, neglecting cities and towns may come to haunt us in the future.

Perhaps there is a need to create a national urban authority whose main aim would be to ensure that the country’s urban areas are managed, planned, and designed in a way that promotes equity, sustainability, and aesthetics.

Rescuing cities and towns would also mean rescuing the economy — urban-based economic activities generate more than half of Kenya’s GDP.

Which brings me to another question: why are the roads in Nairobi’s industrial area — the nerve centre of Kenya’s manufacturing and industrial activities — among the most dilapidated and pot-holed in the city?

BY: Rasnah Warah

Source: Nation:  http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/We-need-planned-cities-to-cater-for-pedestrians-and-motorists/440808-3443224-iq975oz/index.html