Urban landuse and environmental damage: the case of Limuru town
Ndogoni, Kinyanjui L.
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The Kenyan urban areas have many environmental problems but one of 'the least understood is that of degradation of the physical environment resulting from conflicting land uses. This study therefore investigates this specific problem as it is related to land uses in Limuru town. Consequently, the roles played by each of the actors in the development of the town i.e the administration, industrialists and other entrepreneurs are examined ,in addition, the study explores the extent to which the residents of the town are conscious of the environmental problems confronting them. The contention here 18 that for effective environmental management and decision making about urban land uses. one must gain insight into how the public can more fully be involved in overall planning and development. The underpinning thesis in this study is that in Kenya where market operations play the leading role in resource Kenya where allocation must necessity create a physical landscape and a social relation aimed at profit maximization. in this process of creating space for production, various contradictions and tension emerge which are manifested through environmental stress. The survey data on various forms of land uses in Limuru town, the residents perception of the environment as well as the', historical development and planning of the area has been used in order to determine whether land use conflicts that have been identified have any relationship with the poor environmental quality in the town. The major findings that have emerged from the study show that primary environmental problems are the products of poverty. underdevelopment and poor living conditions. These problems are manifested in the forms of poor drainage. sewerage system and refuse disposal among others. On the other hand. secondary environmental problems are the by-products of conflicting land uses especially space competition. interference and encroachment as they negatively affect land. air and water. This study has also revealed that a majority of the town residents despite income inequalities and hence variations in the incidence of environmental Quality are aware of the deteriorating environment and are willing to contribute towards its protection given an enabling situation. The town council however. has been found to be wanting in terms of its revenue base as well as Lacking the mandate and the proper machinery to effectively enforce land use planning and environmental protection The empirical findings also support the central thesis of the study that land use and resource utilization aimed at capital accumulation has been a root cause of conflicts which are reflected through the destruction of the lands ecological balance and hence negative impacts to the environment. In order to mitigate these problems it has been shown that what is required is a conscious intervention in the current social-economic and production structures. Such intervention should be oriented towards correcting the mistakes or the past as well as making legislative provisions for preventing their future recurrence. To give every individual an equal opportunity to develop their personal potentialities and management of their living and working environment, it is strongly recommended that the material wealth and services must be more equitably distributed in the town. This will first and foremost liberate the poor (who are hard hit) from the struggles of satisfying their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and good health.In addition, the management of the environment, economic activities and all aspects of land use In the town must be considered simultaneously. What this calls for as recommended in the study,' is the preparation of a comprehensive plan of development.through which all the physical, social+economic political, ethical and ecological factors contributing to the development of Limuru town are rationalized and designed to harmonize the needs of development and environmental sustainability.