Settlement Development and Its Implications on Nairobi River Riparian Zone, Nairobi City County, Kenya
Poulman, Omusisi Aineah
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A balance between the aquatic ecosystem such as a riparian zone and human settlement is vital for the socio-economic growth of urban areas. Human settlement is one of the primary element that characterizes urban development in developing countries. The rapid growth of human settlements in urban areas and cities has adverse effects on the relationship between natural and human environments. The capital city of Kenya, Nairobi, has witnessed rapid human settlements resulting in the degradation of Nairobi River riparian zone. Efforts to rehabilitate and restore the riparian zone have been futile since 1999. The purpose of this study was to determine how urban development has impacted on Nairobi River riparian zone. The objectives of this study were to assess human settlement developmental trends and its spatial distribution, determine the extent and nature of Nairobi River riparian zone, and assess efforts to reclaim Nairobi River riparian zone. The study employed descriptive research design through purposive sampling to identify and interview key informants from government agencies using prospective evaluation method. Landsat images between 2000 and 2020 were processed and analyzed using Google Earth Engine and ArcMap to detect land use changes as well as encroachments on Nairobi River riparian zones. The findings show a negative correlation between settlement development and Nairobi River riparian zone. The study concludes that Nairobi River regeneration plan for rehabilitating and restoring Nairobi River riparian zone has partially achieved its objectives. However, it faces challenges witnessed by presence of formal and informal settlements in the riparian zone. The study recommends that, future interventions, such as the delineation of Nairobi River riparian zone by marking its extent, enforcing development control rules and guidelines on new and existing settlement developments plus other policies on riparian conservation are necessary. Finally, there is need to ensure existing and new settlements along Nairobi River do not encroach the riparian zone for sustainable management.