The Nexus Between the Built Environment and Counter Terrorism Measures in Urban Areas, a Case Study of the City of Nairobi Since 1998
Odipo, George O
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Nairobi and other major cities of the world are facing significant threats from international and local terrorism. The previous attacks show that crowded places like open air markets and public buildings remain attractive targets. Consequently, the built environment, which includes buildings, infrastructure and land use, becomes the stage upon which these heinous acts of terrorism are planned and executed. Any anti-terrorism effort must therefore create safer places and buildings that are less vulnerable to terror attack and in case of any attack, lives and properties are protected from its impact. The guiding principle is that the more a bomb or an improvised explosive device is separated from the building or target, the lesser the effects are felt. The main objective of the study is to analyze the resilience of the built environment against the global threats of terrorism in urban areas with particular emphasis on the city of Nairobi, Kenya. The study has adopted frustration aggression theory while specific objectives of the study include: to explore the relationship between the built environment and counter terrorism measures in urban areas; to highlight the exposed nature of urban areas to threats of terrorism under the currently non resilient structure; and to identify current and future resilience features of the built environment to threats of terrorism in the Nairobi City. The research design used in this study was descriptive survey method. The study adopted an interview schedule. Data has been mainly derived from secondary and primary sources. The interviewees were the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and The Nairobi City County (NCC), specifically the Director City Engineer’s Department, City Planning Department and the Housing Development Department (Development Control). The concept of a resilient built environment is a recent social construct that includes buildings, infrastructure and land use that can offer inbuilt protection to users. In the fight against terrorism, questions have been asked regarding the role of professionals in the building industry like architects, engineers, urban planners and quantity surveyors among others. It is possible for engineers to design building structures that can either withstand or reduce the impact of detonated bombs. Architects can also design buildings that can delay either the attacks or discourage sustained attacks. However, the input of these professionals has never been sought in the fight against terror; leave alone the need for a resilient built environment. This study highlights the connection between the built environment and the fight against terrorism. Some of the key findings are that the increasing problem of traffic jam, construction of commercial complexes and office blocks in residential zones, the absence of buffer zone of some distance between the security check point and most public buildings in Nairobi, lack of building bylaws touching on threats of terrorism and even lack of enforcement of the already existing ones are all creating very fertile targets for terrorist attacks The study recommends that the county government of Nairobi must enact building bylaws aimed at reducing terrorism, its effects and threats. Areas that must be looked at are design of public buildings like malls and traffic jam.
University of Nairobi
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