Tuesday, 02 November 2021 13:46


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A Swedish-funded initiative undertaken through the partnership of the Council of Governors (CoG) and Sweden’s Association for Local Authorities (SOLAR) is set to come to an end in December after a successful roll out in seven counties.

The SymbioCity Kenya project dubbed Miji Endelevu, Swahili for progressive towns, was conceived in 2015 to test integrated urban solutions and strengthen the planning capacity in participating towns in the selected counties.The partnership saw the execution of projects in Homa Bay’s Mbita town, Kisumu’s Ahero, Kitui’s Kwa Vonza, Meru’s Ontulili, Nakuru’s Njoro, Trans Nzoia’s Kiminini and Kkamega’s Butere town. CoG visited the seven pilot counties from September 27 to October 8, 2021, to review progress made in the quest to empower local residents economically through the creation of innovative urban solutions towards sustainable and green urban cities as envisioned under the SymbioCity framework of cooperation.

Projects implemented include the construction of an Eco-Toilet at Butere Eco-Park, a Mini Park at Kiminini, a mixed-use integrated market in Ontulili town, installation of a Cold storage Facility in Homabay County and a high mast in Kisumu’s Ahero Town to enhance security for the local community within River Nyando.Other projects executed are; the construction of rain Water Harvesting systems in various schools across the counties including Masaba Primary and Secondary Schools, St Brigid Primary School, St Vincent Secondary School, and Kiminini Primary School in Trans Nzoia County.

The SymbioCity project also sought to deescalate risks presented by the degradation of the environment in most municipalities and towns largely driven by poor waste management and sustained pressure on resources owing to growing urban populations. The project has addressed the challenges through the provision of environmentally friendly solutions.

For instance, Kisumu County has installed a bio digester machine that utilizes all waste obtained from the waste material recovery and sorting facility in Ahero Town through an industrial application process known as anaerobic digestion. The result is methane gas, a valuable commodity in day-to-day activities such as cooking and organic-rich fertilizer, which doubles up as an insecticide in agriculture.All other counties involved in the first phase of the SymbioCity Kenya project have also implemented effective waste management systems for eco-friendly urban development.

With the programme’s implementation duration coming to an end, one question remains: What guarantees the long-term sustainability of these projects post the pilot implementation phase across the 7 counties? All stakeholders, be it project coordinators, National and County Governments, actors in the urban development space and development partners, should collaborate in ensuring the successful completion and localization of all projects within those Counties that have hosted pilot exercises, wider replication and adoption of similar urban development projects across the country.

In addition, CoG and SALAR should jointly develop exit strategies for retaining the experience and competence gained in the Urban Support Team for future capability to support such programmes. Given the disparities in the seven pilot counties, strategies aimed at facilitating a seamless transition and handover of the projects to County governments should be tailored to the needs, potentials, pre-conditions, and risks within a particular county. Further, a review of the pilot exercise can be conducted to establish lessons learnt and identify aspects, methods, tools and approaches that can be institutionalized. Public participation plays a pivotal role in urban development. Based on the key principles of planning for people and with people, the SymbioCity Kenya projects should embrace an integrated planning approach to ensure the projects stand the test of time to benefit the generations to come.

While significant efforts have been made towards the successful implementation of the Quick Win and Change Projects, all key players in the urban sector should be champions of the SymbioCity Kenya projects to enable successful replication and sustainability of these projects in other counties.


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