Revised national urban development policy to enhance urban planning in counties


Until now urban development in Kenya has largely been taking place without a comprehensive national urban policy framework. Past sector policies did not adequately address urbanization as an evolving system that could foster development and economic growth and one that would integrate urban and rural development in a mutually beneficial relationship.

The draft National Urban Development Policy(NUDP) seeks to create a framework for sustainable urban development in the country and addresses the following thematic areas: urban economy; urban finance; urban governance and management; national and county urban planning; land, environment and climate change; social infrastructure and services; physical infrastructure and services; urban housing; urban safety and disaster risk management; and marginalized and vulnerable groups.

NUDP is guided by the Constitution of Kenya 2010, clauses 184 and 176 (2) that provide for regulation of urban areas and cities, clause 200(2), which outlines the governance of the capital city, other cities and urban areas and Vision 2030, which calls for a nationwide urban planning and development campaign.

proposed changes in the revised policy

County headquarters will be upgraded to municipal status, according to the revised national urban development policy developed by the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development, it seeks to create an additional municipality in every county, under guidelines for the classification of urban land uses and design.

Urban areas and cities were previously identified and classified without clear criteria, leading to skewed distribution of urban areas and cities and inequality in development. The document seeks to create metropolitan areas for effective cooperation and management, and develop a spatial framework for metropolitan planning.

It proposes mapping of informal settlements, harmonisation of policies, legislation and administrative frameworks for urban informal housing and establishment of inspectorate mechanisms in urban authorities to enforce informal housing laws. It also proposes severe penalties for invasion of public land.

The policy also seeks to promote compact residential neighbourhoods for optimal use of land and infrastructure and development of various types of housing including family and single person dwellings to address house shortage in urban areas. Apartment blocks exceeding four storeys will also be required to provide lifts, fire escape stairs, fire-fighting equipment and adequate parking space.

Land Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi has acknowledged that the country is experiencing unprecedented urbanisation.

“It is having a profound impact on the way people live, work, socialise and do business. Rapid urban development is expected to increase the urbanisation level from the current 40 per cent to at least 50 per cent by 2030,” said Prof Kaimenyi.

He said urbanisation offers a chance to bring about a concentration and socio-economic benefits that can spur economic development and eradicate poverty. naiHowever, if it is not managed well, urbanisation may pose governance, infrastructure, housing, environmental and resource challenges that can hamper development.

The policy aims to strengthen urban governance and management, development planning, urban investment and the delivery of social and physical infrastructure in urban areas throughout the country.

The Draft National Urban Development Policy can be found on the link below:


Sources: Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban development, Civil Society Urban Development Platform





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