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CURI Newsletter

Mathare Zonal Plan a Collaborative Plan for Informal Settlement Upgrading

This report describes an ongoing project aimed at improving the lives and living conditions of slum dwellers in Nairobi through a partnership between Muungano Support Trust, Slum Dwellers International (SDI), the University of Nairobi, and the University of California, Berkeley. The project started in 2008, produced a report for slum upgrading for select villages in the Mathare Valley in 2009, and this report presents findings and recommendations for upgrading infrastructure across the entire Mathare Valley informal settlement. The Mathare Valley - one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi and East Africa - lacks basic services, including water, sanitation and electricity for a majority of its residents. Infrastructure improvements rank as the top priority of Mathare residents and our report aims to help ensure improved services are delivered to all villages in a timely and efficient manner. Despite recent national slum-focused planning policies, no comprehensive development plans currently exist that integrate physical and social planning for Nairobi’s large slums, including Mathare. This report is also timely, since Kenya’s new Constitution decentralizes governance and will require new processes and plan making by local authorities that include slum dwellers, community-based organizations and universities.

This report aims to act as a first draft of a community-led, comprehensive development plan for Mathare. This report recommends specific strategies, including:

  1.  Investing in comprehensive valley-wide trunk and household-level connections for water and sanitary infrastructure;
  2. Improving roads, pathways and drainage at the same time as pipe infrastructure;
  3. Ensuring each household can connect to electricity and the valley has adequate lighting for streets and public areas at night;
  4. Organizing a Mathare civil society network that includes the many community-based and non-governmental organizations working in the settlement to improve cooperation, political accountability and ensure infrastructure investments are implemented by and for community members, and;
  5. Ongoing, participatory monitoring of the physical, social, economic and public health impacts of infrastructure upgrading.

Kiandutu Settlement Profile, Thika Kenya

Informal settlement profiling is a development-oriented strategy that seeks to establish more rapid, innovative, and broad based understanding to the challenging situation underlying informality. Profiling is crucial for obtaining more comprehensive settlement information and to thereby enable effective decision-making on which developmental responses are appropriated for different settlements. As outputs for benchmarking, the profiling of settlements sets the stage for their inclusion in municipal/urban development plans and investment that will enable the availing of services and infrastructure to acceptable standards.

The challenge posed by informal settlements is one that calls for synergy and back-stopping of the diverse strategies in seeking solutions. Given the scale of informal settlements, their complexity and the limited human and financial resources available, profiling seeks to facilitate practical and achievable pathways to sustainable upgrading. Thus, it is of utmost importance that this approach is widely shared and appreciated by all those interested in settlement upgrading as an area of intervention.

Annual Report 2013

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