The Dynamics and Implications of Sustaining Urban Spatial Segregation in Kenya: Experiences from Nairobi Metropolis
Olima, Washington H.A
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Urban spatial segregation is not a recent phenomenon in Kenya. Its origin in the Kenyan towns can be traced way back to the emergence of colonization. Initially, the attitude and response of national governments towards the self-initiative of urban low-income households consisted of active hostility or benign neglect (Zaghloul, 1994) and government measures ranged from passing tough, stringent regulations to exclude such settlements from any infrastructure extension plans to outright demolition (Cheema, 1993). Eventually, however, governments have been forced to acknowledge that “informal” settlements exist because of or in response to public policies (Dowall, 1991). The continued existence of urban spatial segregation has posed more questions than answers to scholars regarding the mechanism that has managed to sustain it in a modern metropolis like the city of Nairobi in Kenya. This is, particularly, so considering the complex interactions between land and housing market as well as the legal, economic and cultural forces at play. Considering the fact that the urban spatial segregation is a reflection of the existing social structure, this paper uses robust empirical evidence, documented data, and experiences based on land market perspective to gain a deeper understanding of the forces (social, economic, racial or ethnic divides, legal, political and cultural) that have contributed to urban spatial segregation. The consequences, dynamics and implications of sustaining urban spatial segregation as well as the ambiguities responsible for its sustainability and possible policy directions are highlighted. The paper concludes that land management is crucial for the achievement and promotion of effective functioning of urban settlements in order to sustain and boost the social, economic, physical and cultural well being of the people.