, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 20 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said rapid urban growth in the country poses grave challenges to government’s efforts to provide adequate and affordable housing.
Noting the urban growth is at an annual rate of 2.4 percent every year, the PM said the unregulated growth is evidenced by rapid emergence of slums, shortage of decent housing, low provision of infrastructure , poor urban transport, traffic jams, rising crime and vulnerability to disasters such as fires and collapsing buildings.
The PM was speaking today when he presided over the official opening of the 46th. International society of city and regional planners (Isocarp) Congress at the UN complex Gigiri, Nairobi.
He went onto say that the 2009 National Population and Housing census released recently indicated that 32.3 per cent of the country’s population resides in urban areas with Nairobi alone having a population of three million people as opposed to 1960 when the city’s population was 250,000 people.
Saying this rapid urban growth was partly due to rural-urban migration; Mr Odinga said the problem presented critical challenges which must be addressed through sustainable spatial planning for both urban and rural areas.
He said, “As a government we have now realized that sectoral approach to national development has not succeeded in addressing the problems of inequality in our country. Under vision 2030, spatial planning has been recognized as the framework on which National Development Planning and Management will be premised.”
The PM urged the conference to advise on the most rational manner of resource allocation to enable cities leap frog from poverty to newly industrialised status that promise high quality of livelihood for the citizenry.
In this connection, he called on city and regional planners to provide the framework for suitable resource utilisation to ensure that the society does not sacrifice short and medium term economic benefits of resource utilisation on the altar of long term ecological stability.
“Planning is about people,” he said, “indeed city development should be viewed as an opportunity to implement policies and programmes for improving the quality of life.”
“The citizenry’s view of a high quality of life is an environment of reduced poverty and squalor, bridging inequality, promoting better housing and provision of standard infrastructure in human settlements,” he added.
Mr Odinga emphasised the importance of planning saying it is the key to solving the problems experienced in the country and it is the key to preventing their occurrence. “Planning and sticking to our plans is key to our future as a nation and as a race,” he said.
“In Kenya, planning is going to be particularly critical as a driving force to the realisation of the benefits of a new Constitution and our vision 2030,” he added.
He went on to say that planning is going to be critical in provisions like equality of sexes, the right health care, accessible and decent housing and sanitation, freedom from hunger and access to adequate food, clean environment and access to justice.
He reminded professionals to adhere to professional ethics, saying acquisition of technical know-how is not enough.
He said, “Article 10 of the constitution of Kenya enumerates values such as patriotism, national unity, democracy, human dignity, good governance, social justice, human rights, integrity as well as sustainable development as binding on all persons.”
Other speakers included the President of ISOCARP Mr. Ismael Fernadez Mejia, the Director of global division-UN habitat Mrs. Axumite Gebre-Egziabher and Cabinet Ministers James Orengo, Chris Obure, Njeru Githae and Soita Shitanda.