The role of non state actors in the transformation of urban livelihoods: a case of un-habitat in Kibera, 1963-2003
Kilonzo, Philip Ondere
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This study examines the role of non-state actors in transforming urban livelihoods. It uses the case of UN-HABITAT to demonstrate the transformation of Kibera slum between 1963 and 2003. Within the framework of dependency and underdevelopment theory, the study explores the role of external factors in development of urban centers in developing countries. It points out that aid has in one way or another contributed to underdevelopment in the developing countries‟ urban centers. The study further demonstrates the weaknesses of the theory in explaining the role of the state and other local forces in urban development. It begins by taking an in-depth analysis of the role of the state in Africa after independence. It examines how the years of the early 1960s saw the barriers of colonialism thoroughly cast down. After 1963, Kenya set its development agenda as a priority. However, independence did not effect a major ideological break with the colonial state. Instead, the independent state expanded colonial administrative and economic infrastructures. The study outlines an informed reflection on Africa‟s current deep disappointments with the nation state which has led to increased poverty and dependence on aid. It traces and assesses the emergence and growth of Kibera. In the first decade of independence, Nairobi, just like other cities elsewhere in Africa witnessed the emergence and growth of urban informal settlements. This challenge was adequately explained by taking into account the long term goals of African nationalism which included complete Africanization of the political and socio-economic settings. The study examined how the Kenyan state failed to perform its dominant role of urban development because of lack of funds, expertise, poor governance and technology. This was the genesis of non-state actors in the transformation of Kenya‟s urban spaces. The study examined the role of UN-HABITAT as a non state actor in the transformation of livelihoods in Kibera. It evaluated some development programs of the UN-HABITAT in Kibera such as housing, poverty reduction, health and sanitation. The study demonstrated how non state actors collaborated with other development stakeholders to achieve their developmental objectives. The non-state actors pursued political agenda aimed at benefiting from the prevailing circumstances. It demonstrated that while external factors and international considerations are critical to urban development, domestic and local forces also play an important role in shaping the outcome. Using an integrated approach, the study demonstrates how the lives of the urban poor in Kibera can be transformed and how best internal and external forces can bring about change. The study relied on primary and secondary sources of data. The former was collected through oral interviews while written materials were scrutinized and sieved to minimize subjectivity. In analyzing the data collected, the study employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches for the purposes of accuracy, uniformity and logical historical work.