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City planning in Nairobi The stakes, the people, the sidetracking Claire Médard Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is situated in the highlands of East Africa at an altitude of approximately 1800 metres. It was established in 1899 at the time of colonisation by the British and was linked the construction of the railway connecting the town of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean to Lake Victoria and Uganda. The city is located at the junction of the Athi River plateau and the escarpment that overhangs the great East African Rift Valley (the Kikuyu escarpment). To the northwest, the city is dissected by numerous streams and rivers. Once sources of pure and abundant water,1    through poor areas deprived of running water and have become open sewers. According to the statistics of the Kenyan census,2 the population of Nairobi has greatly increased since the late 1950s, as indicated in Table 1. TABLE 1: GROWTH OF THE POPULATION OF NAIROBI 3 1963 344,000 1979 827,775 1989 1,324,570 1999 2,143,254 Sources: Nevanlinna, op. cit   Z\^_    Q          Z\^_ ‘‰‘‰]Population Census 1979, 1989 and 1999, Republic of Kenya, 1979, 1994 and 2001. "           population of the greater Nairobi agglomeration,4 the statistics do show a trend of population growth that everyone highlights. The remarkable 1 The very name of the city originates from a Maasai expression “Enkare Nairobi” which means “The place of cold waters.” Nevanlinna A.K, 1996, ‘Interpreting Nairobi. The Cultural Study of Built Forms’, Bibliotheca Historia 18, Suomen Historalli Seura, Helsinki, p. 91. 2 The total population of Kenya after the last census stood at 28,686,607 inhabitants. The Republic of Kenya, 2001, Population Census. 3 To get an idea of the ethnic composition of Nairobi, one must rely on the 1989 census data: 32.37% of the population is Kikuyu, 18.49% is Luhya, 13.50% is Kamba, and 19.18% is composed of other groups. Ethnic data was withheld from the last census (2001) and will not be disclosed in the future. ‚        X    city’s population are restricted to the limits of the province. Some authors estimate Nairobi’s population to be 3 million inhabitants (Lamba, D. and Lee-Smith, D., 1998, Good Governance and Urban Development in Nairobi, Mazingira Institute, p. 18). 26 NAIROBI TODAY population growth and extension of the agglomeration have developed with the increased centralisation in the capital of both the political and economic sectors since Independence. Today, located on the main road between the coast and the Great Lakes region, which is more important than the railway, Nairobi is the primary economic region of Kenya. Reports on Nairobi evoke two contradictory pictures: is it a colonial city  =X    €* nature of a burgeoning city.5 Some allusions to the colonial city refer to the past splendour of a majestically planned garden city. Others underline the weight of a territorial set-up based on racial segregation between Europeans, Indians and Africans. The city belonged to the Europeans to the extent of marginalising, or even excluding other communities and “popular quarters”. For others, Nairobi evokes an ambivalent self-help city,6 a slum city where one must make do. For a long time Nairobi was considered one of the few subSaharan African cities to host large-scale shantytowns. Opposing this rather negative image of slums, one may refer to a more positive interpretation; that of the growing number of semi-legal activities that characterise the daily survival of urban life. These two portraits merge when its colonial heritage is held responsible for the poor development of the city. Beyond these over-         inherited territorial and land framework, but also its constant growth. Yahya, in his study of Nairobi planning,7 chose to begin this way. There exist legal          *X@ƒ  Kenyan History, Nairobi, East African Educational Publishers, pp. 44–67. 29 Gichuru, F.X., Sinda, P.M., 1997, Population Settlement and the Environment within Zimmerman, Githurai and Kimbo estates of Nairobi City (1970–1995), IFRA unpublished report, p. 26. CITY PLANNING IN NAIROBI 33 Ngong Road forest that it borders may itself serve as a border. In fact, even though the rich and powerful may not have the means to bend legislation in their favour, the limits imposed by the forest are able to keep the poor at a distance. If the popular areas of Kangemi, Kawangware and Riruta have  ?            the suburbs, into the old Kikuyu reserves from Dagoretti Corner, or along Kikuyu Road. This area still retains agricultural soil.30...


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