Mjadala V: Working together to Reclaim, Develop and Protect Public, Community Spaces

Elijah Letangule Deputy Director Advocacy, National Lands Commission
Robyn T. Emerson Regional Director, RE/MAX
Elijah Agevi Technical Advisor, Safe Nairobi Initiatives; Governing Council Member - KARA
Renee Ngamau Co-host - Capital in the Morning, Capital FM

In spite of the existence of major reports, policy and legal frameworks, resolving political, legal and ethical issues around land in Kenya remains a huge challenge. The menace of land grabbing and related injustices continues to stalk both State and citizens, resulting in loss of land earmarked for urban development and expansion, state corporations and protected areas like forests and wetlands. Grabbing has also led to loss of land set aside for public utilities like roads, police stations, dispensaries, and even schools. In spite of a moratorium set by the Transition Authority on transfer of public assets in the transitional period, there are concerns that public utilities including prime public land have been and continue to be transferred fraudulently into private hands.

As cities and suburbs transform into concrete jungles, poor planning, non-enforcement of building codes and haphazard, uncoordinated construction have all resulted in the approval of housing development projects especially within low-to-middle income neighborhoods that do not adequately provide for open public spaces. Community parks, children’s playgrounds, nature parks and recreational facilities essential in building inclusive, shared communities as more people are able to go to somewhere local, green and inspirational beyond their own homes. They are also essential building blocks for safer, child-friendly neighbourhoods.

Structured around a moderator and discussants, this SID Mjadala Series brought together key leaders, land experts, planners, property developers and civic actors to reflect on strategies to reclaim, secure develop and better utilise shared public spaces. Some of the key questions we explored were:

  • *What value could well-designed, inclusive public spaces generate for citizens in the Counties?
  • *What accounts for the haphazard planning/development experienced in our neighbourhoods?
  • *What contributes to our current poor national record of prosecution of land grabbers and reclamation of public utilities?
  • *How could resident communities/associations organise better to protect, develop and utilise public spaces within their neighbourhoods and Counties?