Nairobi, September 20, 2010—The World Bank and the Kenya government today launched a US$165 million Kenya Municipal Program to improve service delivery in Kenya’s cities and municipalities.
The program includes Bank funding of US$100 million approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on May 4, 2010. It will strengthen physical infrastructure, local governance and institutions to improve the viability of the 15 largest municipalities, including Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Kisumu.
“Kenya’s municipalities are critical to economic growth and regional equity but are operating far below their potential due to infrastructure bottlenecks, weak finances, and poor management,” said Johannes Zutt, the Country Director for Kenya. “Rapid urbanization has left Kenyan cities with huge unmet demand for critical infrastructure and basic services, which has constrained the productivity of businesses and negatively impacted the quality of life of residents.”
The program is significant following the approval by Kenyans and subsequent Presidential promulgation in August of a new constitution, which established devolved counties with decentralized policy and funding. It will support Kenya’s Vision 2030, which identifies urbanization as one of the key development challenges, and will deepen the reforms that the government has undertaken since 1996 to strengthen accountability by local authorities.
It will also strengthen the capacity of municipalities to cope with the rising demand for quality services arising from the rapid increase in the urban population. Kenya’s recently released census showed that in 2009 about 12.5 million people or 32 percent of the country’s population resided in cities. This is a growth of 2.5 million people during the past ten years. The five largest cities, including Nairobi and Mombasa, account for a third of the urban population. It is estimated that the urban population will continue to rise at a rapid pace during the coming years to reach 23 million people or 50 percent of the population by 2030.
“The urban transition in Kenya will play a critical role in determining the country’s growth prospects and social stability,” said Sumila Gulyani, Task Team Leader for the Program. “The government recognizes that the quality of life in cities cannot improve without the strong performance of the level of government that is closest to citizens,” she said.
The Bank funding is part of the total amount being invested in the program by the government and development agencies. The other partners in the program are Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD)—the French international development agency.
The program is the first in a planned series of projects that will underpin the transformation of the urban and local government sector in Kenya.