SUSTAINABLE HOUSING DENSIFICATION IN KILELESHWA: NAIROBI, KENYA BY KIAI, SAMUEL KINYUA

The world is rapidly urbanizing. Many nations all over the world are struggling with the critical
challenge of planning urban systems that can accommodate and manage the dynamic processes
associated withurban development change. The high level of urbanization has meant that many
cities are facing enormous pressure to keep up with the needs of their swelling populations.
In Kenya, the rising urban population has brought along a number of challenges that are
manifested in terms of urban sprawl, congested infrastructure, pollution as well crowding and
densification of existing development.
Several studies have been undertaken on the various models of city growth and the merits and
demerits that are associated withboth compact citymodel and the horizontal city. The process of
urban sprawl outward places enormous pressure on government to keep up with the
infrastructure needs. There are also associated ecological foot prints, and this has made
governments to promotehousing and planning policies aimed at achieving urban densification or
urban consolidation. This is in an attempt to halt the spread of populations outward into fringe
suburbs, by focusing on rejuvenating and revitalizing existing buildings, roads and public spaces
closer to the citycentre in such a way to accommodate higher densities. This factor underlies the
rapid transformation of Kileleshwa neighbourhood in Nairobi from low density high income
zone to high density middle income zone within the last few years.
At the same time, the high property values closer to the city centre has put intense pressure on
government and local authorities to enhance the density standards so that developers can be able
to recoup their investments by increasing their output in terms of housing units per unit area of
land. Two recent studies have been done in Nairobi’s Zone 3, 4 and 5, in 2006 and 2011.
Subsequent to these studies, areas such as Kileleshwa which falls under zone 4 have experienced
increasing densities that in some instances are not even in accordance with policy. The resultant
developments have strained infrastructural services which have not been expanded to support the
growth. The negative impacts associated with the current densification programmes in our urban
areas are a cause of concern that call for further study to establish the extent to which such
programs do promote sustainable development as provided in our constitution as one of the
national values and principles of governance. This study was undertaken to determine the extent and nature of housing densification in
Kileleshwa and examine the physical and ecological impacts of the densification process.
Further, the study went to investigate the role of green designs and strategies in promoting
sustainable development and the extent to which integrating these strategies within the
development control framework can guide our cities towards sustainable housing densification.
This was with the aim of developing an alternative intervening policy which can be advanced to
guide sustainable densification process in Kileleshwa.
The studyhypothesized that the current housing densification in Kileleshwa is unsustainable and
requires alternative low impact strategies. The study objectives were thus: to determine the
extent and nature of the housing densification in Kileleshwa; to examine the physical and
ecological impacts of the densification process; to investigate the extent to which green designs
and strategies can be used to mitigate negative impacts of densification process; and finally to
develop an alternative intervening policy which can be advanced to guide sustainable
densification process in Kileleshwa.
Sources of primary data included personal observation, land use survey, household surveys, key
informant interviews, photography and mapping. Secondary data sources included journals,
research materials, text books, government reports as well as internet sources. The data from the
questionnaires was analyzed using statistical data analysis software, SPSS and consequently
conclusions and recommendations were derived based on the study findings
The study found out that there is both vertical and horizontal housing density expansion in
Kileleshwa. The densification process has significant physical and ecological impacts on the
environment which include; water shortage, power shortage, traffic congestion, pollution,
flooding and encroachment on riparian. Others include land use conflict, loss of urban green and
insufficient community facilities. The study further found out that the City Council and NEMA
as the main regulatory bodies lack sufficient legal, financial and human capacity to enforce green
strategies suitable for sustainable densification programmes. The study recommends that the Nairobi County Government should integrate green design
strategies as mandatory requirements within the development control framework for all
upcoming developments in the study area. It further recommends that development control in
Kileleshwa should be streamlined and enforcement of planning regulations strengthened. Lastly,
the study recommends that existing infrastructure in the area should be upgraded to
accommodate the increasing population capacity.

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SAMUEL KINYUA KIAI B63-64138-2010.pdf28.4 MB

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