Nairobi Public Space Distribution
Nairobi Public Space Distribution

UN-Habitat and the Nairobi City County Government released the Nairobi City County Public Space Inventory and Assessment Report this month revealing the status of the city’s public spaces.

“The pandemic has exposed critical gaps in the accessibility, flexibility, design, management and maintenance, connectivity and equitable distribution of public space in Nairobi,” it says

The report shows that only 19.8 per cent of the 826 public open spaces in Nairobi have inclusive infrastructure. Despite the fact that over 47 per cent of Nairobians meet their daily commute needs by walking, only 75 of the 826 public open spaces have dedicated walkways connected to them.

This report highlights the gaps in the distribution, accessibility and quality of public open spaces in Nairobi, and provides a starting point to develop an evidence-based strategy and policy for the protection, revitalization, creation, enjoyment, and restoration of the city’s image as the ‘Green City in the Sun’.

Public spaces in Nairobi largely remain under-protected, underdeveloped and inaccessible especially by people with disabilities, women and children.

A mere 46 of the 826 public spaces are in the 130 informal settlements where over sixty per cent of Nairobians live. Just under half of all public spaces are too noisy or dirty from uncollected garbage to be places of serenity.

All of Nairobi’s green public spaces together is still 10-15 per cent less than the global average for successful cities.

“We cannot leave this to the Environment Ministry, Nairobi Metropolitan Services and the County Government of Nairobi to fix,” said the authors.

With the amount of urban land used and experienced as public spaces currently standing at 3,106 Ha, the report has called on Nairobi Metropolitan Services, Nairobi City County Government in collaboration with other national government agencies to urgently initiate an in-depth audit of all lands in the city county to establish the ownership of public spaces.

“It is imperative that the idea of public space is anchored at the core of urban planning, air quality and wider climate action, urban regeneration, slum upgrading and regeneration of Nairobi river,” it says.