The Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) has been urged to enhance public participation in urban planning process to ensure sustainable development in the County.

This was the message passed to the County Government by residents during the 95th edition of the Kara Bi-Monthly Talk Series forum that was held in Nairobi on 28th February 2022 at Heron Hotel. The forum whose theme was “Achieving Sustainable Development through Effective Urban Planning” was addressed by Mr. Richard Mareri, Director Urban Planning at State Department for Housing and Urban Development and Mr. Sammy Shitedwe, Assistant Director, Urban Planning, Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).

Speaking at the forum, Mr. Mareri stated that urban planners direct the development of cities and towns and that a well-developed effective urban plan requires thorough research and input from numerous stakeholders, including citizens, landowners, and government staff. He noted that urban planners should think about their plans from the perspectives of all who will be impacted by their efforts. He added that urban planning touches on numerous city-life elements i.e. new and pre-existing land, buildings, roads, communal spaces, transportation, economic development, infrastructure, and the environment, among others. He explained the existing frame works that guide urban planning in Kenya such as The Physical Planning Act, The Kenya Vision 2030, Urban Areas and Cities Act and the County Government Act. He also explained the various types of urban planning concepts employed by the Ministry i.e. Strategic Urban Planning, Land-Use Planning, Master Planning, Urban Revitalization, Economic Development, Environmental Planning and Infrastructure Planning. He concluded by stating that urban planning takes a lot of work and when it’s done correctly at the city, county, and state levels it can have a positive, lasting impact on a community. Sustainable urban development

Mr. Shitedwe read a speech on behalf of General Mohammed Badi, Director General, NMS on the milestones that NMS has been able to achieve in the last 2years in regards to planning and urban development. Hestated that NMS has developed threedraft urban planning policies to provide better guidance in development management and land use planning, and to bring about transparency,accountability and responsiveness in processing of development applications. These include the Nairobi County Development Control Policy, Nairobi County Land Use Planning Policy and thePhysical Addressing and Street Naming Policy. He also noted that NMS has streamlined the building approval process through an online platform that takes only 14 days and this has enhanced ease of doing business in the building industry. On solid waste management, he stated that NMS under the kazi mitaani initiative mobilized youths to collect garbage that had piled in most estates and the CBD. He also explained that most residents in the city experiences water shortages due to poor and dilapidated infrastructures. He added that NMS is currently working with the Ministry of Water and Nairobi Water Company to ensure that through the African Development fund and the Worldbank, new piping will be established to increase water supply to the residents.

Panelists and participants at the event agreed that urban development should be guided by a sustainable planning and management vision that promotes interconnected green space, a multi-modal transportation system, and mixed-use development. In addition, policymakers, regulators and developers should support sustainable site planning and construction techniques that reduce pollution and create a balance between built and natural systems.