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FEATURE STORY March 2, 2020

Supporting urban development in Kenya through quality infrastructure investment principles

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Story highlights

  • Tokyo Development Learning Center organized its first country-specific, operational Technical Deep Dive (TDD) in Kenya, translating insights into actionable strategies.
  • Topics included quality infrastructure investment (QII), transit-oriented development, affordable housing and solid waste management — all applicable to World Bank–financed urban projects in Kenya.
  • Key takeaways included the importance of mixed-use affordable housing and inclusive solid waste management and the potential for development along Kenya’s existing rail network.

March 2-6, 2020

A new format TDD to support ongoing development projects in Kenya

The government of Kenya, in collaboration with the World Bank’s Kenya urban team and Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC), organized the Kenya Urban Development Workshop March 2–6, 2020 in Nairobi and Naivasha. Kenya is committed to addressing urban development challenges and has been an active participant in TDLC’s knowledge acceleration program, Technical Deep Dive (TDD). This workshop, designed at the behest of the government of Kenya to support ongoing World Bank projects, represents a step forward for TDLC — its first country-specific, operationally focused TDD.

The workshop focused on three core topics relating to ongoing development projects: affordable housing, transit-oriented development (TOD), and solid waste management (SWM). Cutting across all topics was an emphasis on quality infrastructure investment (QII) principles and their application, in order to promote economic efficiency, social and environmental inclusion, resilience, and effective infrastructure governance.

In addition to technical sessions, participants visited World Bank-financed sites, including Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway stations, an upgraded Naivasha informal settlement, the Gioto dumpsite, and a sanitation social enterprise in Naivasha; participants also rode in a matatu (the minibuses that are widely used in Kenya as public transportation).

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Kenya government officials presenting on the Park Road Project, an affordable housing project in Nairobi, to Japanese QII experts and participants from other Kenyan counties. Photo: World Bank Group

About 60 people participated, including representatives from Kenya’s State Department of Urban and Housing Development; directors responsible for departments of planning, housing, transport, urban development, and SWM from eight counties; Kenya Railway representatives; and the private sector. Joining from Japan as speakers and observers were officials from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, as well as private sector experts in construction, real estate, renewable energy, and building materials.


"Existing projects, such as the Nairobi Metropolitan Services Improvement Project, Kenya Urban Support Program, Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project, and new projects can further incorporate resilience and other QII principles."
Dr. Joseph Karago
Kenya State Department of Housing and Urban Development

Translating TDD knowledge and insights into concrete action

Through this operational TDD, Kenya’s existing railway system was identified as a key entry point for station-level TOD and corridor-level TOD, including opportunities for increasing ridership and utilizing public land along the rail tracks. Mixed-use housing near transit nodes has the potential to improve livability and spur economic growth. Meanwhile, access to housing finance and an online clearinghouse for housing stock would foster an active and transparent housing market.

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Site visit to the Gioto dumpsite in Nakuru County during the Kenya operational TDD. Photo: World Bank Group

SWM is also important for development, and particular attention should be paid to inclusive planning that integrates the informal waste pickers who are an essential part of waste management in Kenya. The country can build on and scale successful projects, such as the recent Mitubiri sanitary landfill project, which can be documented and serve as an example for other regions.

This new-format TDD was also a chance to reconnect with past TDD participants and for the national and county governments in Kenya to share the status of World Bank–financed urban projects, such as the Nairobi Metropolitan Services Improvement Project (NAMSIP), the Kenya Urban Support Program (KUSP), and the Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project (KISIP1) — and to identify just-in-time and post-workshop technical assistance opportunities.

Building on its flagship knowledge acceleration program Technical Deep Dive (TDD), TDLC’s Operational Support draws on its network of experts in Japan and the Bank’s global practice to provide tailored expertise and technical assistance to address complex urban development challenges in developing countries.



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