The Challenge Of Sustainable Land Uses In A Rural-urban Fringe: A Case Study Of The Nairobi-kiambu Corridor.
The development of the urban fringes is an inevitable consequence of urbanization given that as cities continue to grow, urban activities spread outwards in waves towards the rural areas. The rural-urban fringes of cities thus, are the exit points for residents relocating from major urban built areas, and entry points for rural migrants into the towns. The spatial development issues at the rural-urban fringes are many and varied. Firstly, rural-urban fringes are determined by two major factors; that is, administrative boundaries and the differences in the intensity of built up areas and the farmland. Secondly, policy and legal guidelines exhibit inadequacies in handling the dynamism of the fringes and thus the failure by planning agencies in managing the impending growth, resulting in the development of land in an un-sustainable manner. Thirdly, prospective land developers, businesses and communities fail to anticipate the results of development because they lack information on potential or approved development plans. This study applies urban development theories to explain the phenomenon at the rural-urban fringes. In this regard, this study draws heavily from a paper by Alonso and Wingo‟s explanations on the spatial structure in terms of how the market allocates space to users according to supply and demand; von Thunen‟s agricultural land use model whose building blocks are economic rent, distance from the centre and individual decision making explains how the urban structure is influenced by the locational behavior of households in the city. Systems theory as applied to cities reveals that the city is a dynamic system that evolves in response to many influences, processes and policies. The theory is applied in analysis of the urban areas which are viewed as systems with persistent human activities. A sample of 134 respondents, drawn from the five (5) neighborhoods located within the Nairobi-Kiambu development corridor informed the study. This was further informed by the rather heterogeneous nature of the neighborhoods in terms of physical characteristics, livelihoods and historical evolution. Observation, questionnaires, focus group discussions and interviews were the main methods applied in the collection of primary data. A synopsis of the findings reveals that, contrary to conclusions in studies carried out elsewhere in Africa that periphery development accommodates low income residents, the Nairobi-Kiambu corridor presents an area interspersed with low and high income households; land use is a function of livelihoods, that is, land has been put into different uses that translate into family incomes; that there is limited connection between land owners and the planning authorities and; that opportunities for planning for sustainable land use exist where there are huge swathes of agricultural land and open spaces. The study recommends that the new legislative frameworks and resources at the county level need to be directed to planning authorities and departments, in order to enhance their capacity to implement and enforce regulations on land use; development of a framework evolving from and based on the principles of partnership, dialogue and collaboration with the key actors in land use; and to build upon good practices unfolding in the settlements, for example resident‟s associations