The City - Water Interface: Evaluating Land Use Issues In Kisumu
Waterfront development has been an issue of wide concern and extensive discussion since the 1970s, especially in the Western countries where waterfront (re)development has been an established practice for decades. Cities in Africa have only recently rediscovered the potential of their waterfronts. Some of the projects have caused drastic social changes, developing the waterfronts from some of the poorest urban neighbourhoods to the most exclusive places in the city. This study was on Kisumu City - waterfront land use issues because of the significance of the waters of Lake Victoria in the establishment of Kisumu City itself. The specific area of focus was that designated as SPA 1 and SPA 2 in the Kisumu CIDP. SPA 1 is defined by the land fronting the lake, while SPA 2 is the CBD which is also the city’s historic core. SPA 2 is bounded by Achieng’ Oneko Road, Oginga Odinga Street, Obote Road and Otieno Oyoo Street. The study investigated the urban waterfront land use issues in Kisumu. The study also examined the existing policy, legislative and institutional framework and identified the gaps and challenges that affect land use issues in Kisumu. Data was collected in two sets as per the SPAs mentioned above in recognition of the fact that SPA1 has direct physical contact with the water while SPA 2 does not. A total population of 481 was used in this study with 30 being for SPA 1 and 451 for SPA 2. Through stratified and systematic sampling, sample sizes of 25 and 48 were used for SPA 1 and SPA 2 respectively. The 3 public open spaces and 5 public institutions were all analyzed being in a different category of public purpose land uses. A total of 8 key informants drawn from various government departments were purposively identified. Primary data was collected through field observations, photography, interviews and structured questionnaires; while secondary data was collected through literature review, base maps and internet sources. The data was analyzed and presented in the form of frequency distribution tables, bar charts/graphs and pie charts. The results revealed that city is negatively oriented to the lake by turning its back to it. The waterfront is characterized by inaccessibility, is topographically isolated, blocked by highways, cluttered with dirty industrial plants and municipal treatment and waste disposal facilities. Idle cargo handling sheds and warehouses occupy the waterfront. These existing land uses deny the v waterfront the round-the-clock activeness. Further, the building typologies are opaque as opposed to more porous typologies that embrace such concepts as shopping arcades which encourage pedestrian access. The buildings themselves have no connections to the water but instead have blank walls facing the waterfront effectively turning the waterfront in to a backyard. As a result, the city is not realizing the full benefit of its local and regional strategic location by the lake. The port for instance only has a port Manager, a wharf supervisor and a driver, hardly receives any passenger ships and only 2 to 3 cargo ships in a month while the waterfront “dies” as early as 7 p.m. when it should be operating on a 24 – hour basis. It is the recommendation of the study that the city be oriented to the lake by improving access to waterfront land, quality of access routes, enhancing vitality i.e. increasing the diversity of activities and creating a special quasi-public entity to manage the waterfront. This entity will draw the plans and guidelines for the waterfront development. Finally, a “phased model” is explored as a “prototype” of waterfront development strategy, ideal in realizing the heavy investment required for waterfront developments, which the municipal government lacks. This model shows the government being the main source of initial investment but gradually reducing and private investment rises. The study therefore provides a basis on which other urban centres and cities can take advantage of their waterfronts to realize their full potential and the possible ways of doing this. Some of the benefits associated with this include reduction in environmental degradation both in the immediate surroundings and on the greater catchment areas, improved health and sanitation, improved public access and amenities, urban regeneration, improved land values in relation to waterfronts, tourism and the economic potential of the urban waterfronts. Specific to Kisumu is the potential to regain its previous position of the transport and trading hub of the western Kenya as well as the great lakes region.
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