Institutions of higher learning as drivers of urban development: a case study of university of Eastern Africa, Baraton Nandi County-Kenya
Okongo, Victor Herbert O.
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The Geographic distribution and Demographic expansion of Universities in Kenya exponentially increased during the last two decades. The increasing number of universities invariably alters human settlements and influences urban processes. Following this realization, this study sought to analyze how the institutions of higher learning become drivers of urban development in the areas they are located. To achieve this quest, the researcher adopted three objectives seeking to analyze the policies guiding urban development in Kenya and their application on university and college towns; the trends in land use in areas of university allocation, and the impact of the land use change on the physical infrastructures, sociocultural, economic and environmental spheres. The product of this research is development of a proposed site plan seeking to redesign Baraton centre which is a culmination of the effects of location of University of Eastern Africa, Baraton in Baraton community. To achieve these objectives, this study employed case study and descriptive research designs. Both primary and secondary data were used. Primary data were collected from the field through use of questionnaires, interview schedule, observation and photography. Secondary data involved getting information from literary materials such as books, newspapers, reports, maps, journals and relevant internet websites. The study found out three main issues with the policies: one, the policies and legislative frameworks governing urban development in Kenya-Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011 and that of establishment of universities in Kenya-The Universities Act 2012 which are the instruments guiding urban development and university formation, have not addressed the chances of formation and development of university towns. This has opened a flood gate for sporadic formation of not carefully planned small urban centres in places of university allocation. Second, these policies are applied in isolation yet they influence each other thereby causing disharmony in operation. Three, the implementing agencies of the policies are not keen to enforcement. The research established that universities are important impetus for development which do not only provide opportunities for higher education but also influence greatly the physical and the socioeconomic environments around their locations. They form the magnets for local development in the areas in which they are located by pulling large populations which demand commensurate urban structures and services to enhance the livelihoods of the populace. The land use therefore changes to adapt to the new trends of utilization which are more urban oriented with settlements, market place, garbage dump sites, businesses, transportation services and other utilities. Baraton centre is one of such upcoming urban areas formed as a result of University of Eastern Africa, Baraton (UEAB). Its locality-Nandi County is basically agricultural zone for both crop and dairy farming, due to increased demand for housing and commercial goods and services, the area experiences increasing built up environment contrary to the earlier land use of grazing and farming. The road network has improved with the main spine road-Chepterit/Baraton Road being upgraded to tarmac road. Piped water is available to the community courtesy of UEAB, telecommunication services have improved, more schools have been constructed, churches, more banking services, business opportunities, health services, security among others have improved. The intercultural interaction has also led to more intermarriage among the university fraternity; the environmental impacts have also been realized with wanting waste management which is a health hazard. Finally, this research developed a proposed site plan that zoned the specific activities for a signed land uses whose development requires the input of structural developers and physical planners to improve the views and design of the upcoming urban center.