>>BY BRAMWEL CHENG’WALI>>
Approximately seven million Kenyans in urban areas are living in informal settlements.
While launching the first urban forum in Kenya at Naivasha, Nakuru County, President William Ruto said Kenya is urbanizing at the rate of five percent annually.
“Kenya is urbanizing at the highest rate in the world. Approximately 34 percent Kenyan population live in urban areas,” said President William Ruto.
With such a high urbanization rate, many of the cities are faced with the challenges of planning and sustainably providing the social and economic needs of the increasing population.
“The projections show that by 2050, 50 percent of the Kenyan population will be living in urban areas,” said the President.
The head of state called on stakeholders to engage in robust discussions to find solutions to rapid urbanization challenges that lead to unbearable pressure due to inadequate housing, lack of water, power, and other infrastructures.
“It’s our role to transform urban centers into avenues that are well governed and easy for the authority to provide services to citizens,” the President said.
The head of state highlighted that urbanization is important in the economic transformation of the country revealing that Nairobi city alone contributes to about 21 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product.
Further, he insisted on strict measures to be taken against Environment malpractices such as the discharge of untreated industrial effluents and poor solid waste disposal in urban Areas.
“As we look into the future of urbanization of Kenya the influence of urbanization on climate change must be put into consideration,” urged President Ruto.
The President used the platform to defend the controversial three percent housing levy, arguing that it will help solve the housing problem in cities and towns while at the same time providing job opportunities for the youth.
The forum aims to assemble stakeholders and partners into a coalition that collaboratively and innovatively tackles urbanization to transform from haphazard urbanization to livable towns and cities.
Among the key stakeholders in the forum were the county governments, United Nations Habitat, the World Bank, the Ministry of Land, and private investors.