January 24, 2019
In Kenya, poor populations are disproportionately harmed by natural disasters such as floods, as well as chronic risks, including recurring smaller-scale events like fires and spontaneous collapse. Unregulated settlements, which make up approximately 70 percent of Kenya’s cities, are often located in areas prone to such hazards and their informally constructed houses tend to be highly vulnerable to climate and disaster risk. This is exacerbated by the fact that extreme weather-related hazards are becoming the “new normal” across the region.
To address this challenge, the government of Kenya is striving to put in place appropriate legislation, policies and strategies to increase the resilience and safety of the built environment. Well-designed and locally specific building regulations are central to this effort: building regulations translate safe practices for design and construction into a set of rules and laws which govern and specify minimum agreed levels of safety and resilience for buildings.
The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the World Bank are supporting the government of Kenya in strengthening its disaster risk management framework. This support includes a $200 million World Bank disaster risk management financing package with a catastrophe deferred drawdown option (Cat DDO), which provides immediate liquidity if the country declares a state of emergency after a natural disaster. Part of this project focuses on strengthening building regulations within Kenya to reduce the underlying risk in the built environment.
“With the support of the World Bank and GFDRR, Kenya is moving quickly to ensure buildings are reliable, liveable and safe, even when disasters strike. No more lives should be lost in Kenya due to the collapse of buildings,” said Moses Nyakiongora, Secretary of the National Building Inspectorate, Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works.
On January 24, 2019, the government of Kenya hosted a workshop in Nairobi focused on strengthening building regulation and land use reform. The workshop was led by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works and facilitated by the World Bank. Over 50 government representatives attended the workshop and participated in lively discussions.
“Natural disasters affect many lives, assets and cities – cities that we have worked hard to build over decades. Resilient buildings and cities are an important foundation for livelihoods and economic growth, said Hirotaka Ishikawa, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan in Kenya, during his opening remarks at the workshop.
The workshop was an opportunity to present and discuss the results of the Kenya Building Regulatory Capacity Assessment (BRCA) and identify priority areas for building regulatory reform. The BRCA was conducted by the World Bank and GFDRR Building Regulation for Resilience Program and drew on the insights of over 100 stakeholders in Kenya from the public sector, private sector and academia.
The assessment provides an in-depth examination of the laws, policies, regulations and local implementation mechanisms in place to administer building and land use regulations and provides an analytical base from which to launch building regulatory reform. The assessment was supported by the Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries, administered by GFDRR.
Based on the assessment and outcomes of the workshop, over the next three years, the World Bank and GFDRR will provide targeted technical assistance to support the government of Kenya in this important agenda.
Here are some of the main takeaways from the workshop:
Urbanization is resulting in the rapid accumulation of risk
The country is at a relatively early stage of urbanization, with around 27 percent of Kenyans living in urban areas, yet projections suggest that by 2050, about half the population will be living in cities. This urbanization has the potential to improve economic opportunities and living conditions for all Kenyans.