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Sessional paper on urban housing renewal and regeneration policy

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, “public policy is government policies that affect the whole population.”

All governments around the world come up with policies to manage their affairs and review some of those policies from time to time.

In this analysis we are focusing on Nairobi County’s new policy on Urban Renewal and Regeneration. This will be a guide on how the city renews its old decaying housing estates in order to be able to accommodate the ever growing population.

The estates which will be affected by this policy include but are not limited to: Kaloleni, Jericho, Mbotela, Ziwani, Shauri Moyo, Kariokor, Uhuru, Bahati, and Uhuru.

The Urban Housing Renewal and Regeneration Policy was published on Thursday 20 December, 2018 and now it is due for public participation on Tuesday 29 January, 2019.

This policy document addresses several issues in the housing sector such as: the problem of decayed residential estates; drivers of urban renewal; approaches to urban renewal; land use planning and management; environmental considerations; Implementation strategy; issues surrounding urban renewal; dispute resolution; policy enforcement and the prevailing regulatory framework;

“The successful renewal and regeneration of Nairobi City County’s decayed estates requires the development and adoption of an overarching coherent policy framework that provides guidance to all actors regarding the specific tasks that need to be accomplished to ensure that the redevelopment projects are seamlessly and sustainably realized,” Charles Kerich, CEC lands, urban planning, urban renewal, housing & project management.

Page Description proposal Justification
10 Population density of 4,516.29 persons per square meters   Should be changed to “Population density of 4,516.29 persons per square kilometer” (to be confirmed)
17 The Nairobi City County Government (“the NCCG”) shall decide between which of the renewal approaches to implement on a case-by-case basis, The decision-making process should involve public participation  
20 – 21 The NCCG shall prioritise the following in all projects involving renewal and regeneration of the old estates: Include or add: – – ensuring the needs of people living with disability are taken care of by providing means for them to access all housing units. In most cases, the needs of people living with disability is never taken into consideration in most of the housing designs.
17 17 (c); local sourcing of construction materials; re-use and recycling of demolition materials; – during demolition and construction phase of the sites Add: that contractors should hire Kenyans in the spirit of local content. This is to avoid a situation where foreign construction companies such as Chinese companies win the tender and import their own people to do the work instead of hiring Kenyans;
21 19(a); encourage private sector participation in waste collection and transportation through a myriad of economic and development incentives; NCC should come with a policy to do away with cartels in garbage collection and disposal in the entire Nairobi City; Cartels lead to inefficiencies and underperformance in collection and management of garbage in the city;
21 20 (b) Encourage recycling of water The city should set a short term, medium and long term goals with an ultimate goal of “Zero Waste” by 2030 for instance. Proposed Strategies: Ban on disposable bags to promote use of reusable shopping bags; Make recycling mandatory for all businesses in Nairobi City; fines for non-compliance Improved enforcement of plastic bag ban by NEMA; Pursue waste-to-energy strategy; Instead of using single-serving plastic water bottles, encourage use of fillings stations for water Ban on reusable bags will cut down on the amount of litter reaching Dandora and other landfills;   This policy can be the starting point for Zero Waste Nairobi;
23 28 (b); promote energy saving technology and encourage the use of alternative/renewable energy sources in the redeveloped estates; The policy should be more specific by indicating who is responsible. For example indicate that all contractors are required to incorporate proposals or designs for particular alternative energy systems in all new buildings;   If this is properly implemented, it can lead to reduced costs of running the housing units;  
23 28(f) provide safe and secure pedestrian and bicycle lanes to encourage non-motorized transport. Introduce a statement to make this mandatory before all building designs or plans are approved by Nairobi City County; All housing designs should not be approved if they do not have this component to make it easy for pedestrians and bicycle users to travel to and from work and hence reduce on carbon emissions and ensure we have a healthy population;
34 Sec 11-14 Financing Urban Renewal …. NCCG shall explore creative ways of financing the urban renewal projects. This section is vague, it has only looked at PPPs but the policy should cover all other sources of funding and even put targets or percentage of public budgets which should be allocated towards Urban Renewal and regeneration. State when and where the “creative ways of financing” will be formulated. Funding is the key parameter which shows commitment from government. If the funding sources are not clear, then, it is obvious that Urban Renewal will never happen. NCC has to make tough choices on this matter. This policy document will not be complete until we resolve the issue of funding;
34 (15); The NCCG may establish an autonomous public corporation to implement and finance the urban renewal projects. Where appropriate, the NCCG shall establish separate corporations for each renewal project. Establishing corporations for each project is a waste of public resources. We propose that we have just one body responsible for urban renewal in the entire Nairobi City.   Running public corporations is never cheap. If this happens it will put unnecessary burden on taxpayers in terms of salaries, remuneration, offices among other expenses. If we have just one body dealing with regeneration, it will be cost-effective, unified efforts and efficient.
35 Bond financing, equity contribution of land, commercial borrowing; PPPs; All issues of financing should be put together in the policy for easy of comprehension Putting all funding mechanism together will make the document easy to read and understand; There is no need to jump from financing to establishment of public corporations and then back to financing. There is need for clarity in the policy document.
36 26 (b); sell the vision of the renewal project to the local residents; Why should NCC sell the urban renewal project to local residents? This is a reflection of lack of public participation in the formulation of this policy. Did the county consult the residents of the “decaying” estates? Is it a top-down way of making decisions? The policy making should have started from the estates up to ensure ownership of the projects. Any other way is rubber-stamping. Lack of proper public participation will lead to failure or creation of white elephants. The department responsible for urban renewal should have organized public forums to collect ideas on what they want to be done in the  name of urban renewal and regeneration;   It seems that the policy was drafted by a consultant who copy-pasted work from other jurisdictions. Every city has its uniqueness which has not been factored into the policy formulation process.   My advice to the Nairobi County government is for you to be open and willing to incorporate input from members of the public. The city is fortunate to have a highly literate population compared with many other counties across Kenya.
37 Participation in the planning and design of the renewal projects will give the residents the opportunity to influence decisions that will affect their daily lives. Public participation should start right from policy formulation and not just design and planning of the urban renewal projects. This is a gap which needs to be addressed. This is a good first attempt but the county should learn to involve its people right from the beginning.   Public policies affect everyone in the city and therefore their formulation, implementation and oversight should also involve everyone.
39 House Allocation NCC should have in place updated tenancy agreements with the existing tenants to ensure that the house allocation later on happens smoothly. Lack of up-to-date tenancy agreements will lead to allocation of housing units to the wrong people (crooks).
39 Land Acquisition What are we talking about here? Is NCC referring to private land in this section? If yes, why can’t the NCC start the process with county owned land and later after exhausting that expanding towards acquisition of private land? From the beginning the policy was clear that NCC will be renewing decaying County housing estates. I guess the land already belongs to NCC.   There is need for clarity on this section of the policy. Policy should be very clear to avoid ambiguity and confusion during its implementation process.
  The policy does not say anything on how the new occupants of the completed housing units will pay towards ownership of those houses. Is the county planning to sell the houses or just rent them out to Nairobi residents and use the money to compensate the private sector for their investment? This is key if NCC is to attract funding from private sector corporations.    

For additional information get access to the Sessional Paper on Urban Housing Renewal and Regeneration Policy from the Nairobi County Assembly website.

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