Environmental Sustainability in Informal Settlement Upgrading Projects in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu Cities in Kenya
Muthoni, Purity Njeri
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The phenomenal growth of urban centres in developing countries makes cities important sites for engaging with environmental issues. The prevalence of informal settlements in cities and its implication on environmental sustainability has become a growing concern. Metabolic processes of these spatial units significantly shape the urban ecological system and define quality of life in cities. However, the significance of this space in the environmental sustainability function has not been adequately considered. Policy makers and urban planners have often failed to recognize informal settlement upgrading projects as conduits for integration of environmental sustainability in cities. As a result, the upgraded settlements do not sufficiently contribute to improved urban environmental quality. In this regard, this study sought to establish the environmental sustainability performance of government led informal settlement upgrading projects in Kenyan cities so as to recommend measures that can be taken to improve environmental quality in the upgraded settlements. It assessed the environmental performance of 11 upgraded informal settlements, the existing environmental sustainability integration pathways and analysed the impact of institutional arrangements on environmental sustainability integration in informal settlement upgrading programs in Kenya. A list of 16 environmental sustainability indicators was developed based on the theoretical and empirical frameworks. The indicators were grouped into four categories: resource consumption, waste management, environmental quality and community organization. The study adopted a case study research design. Household and key informant interviews, observations and focused group discussions were used to collect data. A total of 600 households were sampled from the eleven settlements through multistage method involving cluster and systematic sampling. These households were distributed equally between Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa. The 200 households in each city were distributed proportionately among the selected settlements. A scoring system was devised to help determine significant differences in performance between the three cities. The highest environmental sustainability score in the upgraded settlements is 61.4% while the lowest score is 37%. The scores vary significantly between cities. Upgraded settlements in Nairobi have higher scores than those in Kisumu and Mombasa. Environmental quality indicators have the highest predictive ratio for environmental sustainability performance of an upgraded settlement. Government led informal settlement upgrading programs indicate significant achievement in the use of green enterprises, clean technologies, community based institutions and environmental education to integrate environmental sustainability in upgraded settlements. Environmental infrastructure and environmental impact assessment have achieved minimal environmental outcomes. Housing tenure is not a significant environmental integration pathway in informal settlement upgrading. Institutional structure and functional reconstruction poses both challenges and opportunities for environmental integration in informal settlement upgrading processes. Informal settlement upgrading programs have not been adequately utilized to diffuse environmental sustainability in the urban space. The study recommends improved actor coordination; broader stakeholder engagement, institutionalizing an environmental unit in the ministry in charge of informal settlement upgrading and multi levelled environmental education in the implementation of upgrading programs.