Planning Implications of Informal Economic Activities in Nairobi South B, Residential Neighbourhood.
The need of this research came about as a realization that literature is extensive on the contribution of urban informal activities to the national economy without giving sufficient awareness to its associated impacts on already planned and existing land uses. Against this background, this research focuses on the planning implications of informal economic activities on a residential neighborhood in South B Estate, Nairobi County, Kenya. The research cross-examines the nature and location of informal sector activities in the residential neighborhood, their causes, their impacts and planning interventions. The study then uses a general approach method to arrive at its research verdicts drawing from both primary and secondary sources in the form of questionnaires, in depth interviews, mapping and observation undertaken in South B residential Estate. The process of appropriation of space in the residential estate are investigated through specific locations; Mariakani Road, Kapiti Road and Aoko Road, exploring the experience of informal livelihood operators and residents in the selected locations. The research gives insights into the socio-economic uniqueness of informal operators and the transformation in the economy and plans that have contributed to their involvement in the informal economy, through analysis of findings, the study area and the body of literature. The study mapped out the location of the informal sector enterprises along transport corridors, open spaces and plot frontages, with reasons pertaining to their location including availability of high human traffic/customers, accessibility, affordability and ease of set up. Socio-economic, physical and institutional factors are also highlighted as factors for the growth of the informal sector activities in urban residential neighbourhoods, while the manifestations of informal economic activities are highlighted to include insecurity, congestion, neighbourhood devaluation and alteration, as well as nuisance effects that include noise, air and environmental pollution. The study offers a synthesis of findings, which brings out the underlying problem issues in the study area. These include weak policy frameworks for managing the informal sector in urban areas, inefficiency of development institutions in the urban areas to direct or guide the development of the sector, and manage the externalities, inefficiency of the informal sector in terms of service delivery and sustainable wealth creation, and the vi multiplicity of the negative impacts/manifestations of the informal sector enterprises. The policy recommendations are therefore informed by these underlying problem issues and majorly focus on effective policy framework that recognizes the spatiality of the informal sector business activities and provides for guidelines that govern and control the operation of the sector, improving the effectiveness of the informal sector enterprises to enhance their competitiveness in local, regional and global markets, as well as to enhance their ability in sustainable employment creation and wealth generation. The research study also proposes the adoption of an integrated approach which incorporates the informal sector enterprises in the urban areas and cities‟ land use structure and neighbourhood planning, as well as the adoption of localized development control that employs the inclusion of community and local institutions‟ rationalities, so as to help minimize the externalities of the sector‟s activities in the urban areas.
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