Experts drawn from urban planning, local government, local organisations and private sector service providers are meeting in the West of Kenya to discuss a vision for the future of their city.
At the Kisumu Rapid Urban Planning Studio, organised by UN-Habitat and hosted by the Mayor of Kisumu, the emphasis was firmly on realistically planning for growing urban populations with increased demand on space and public services.
Presenting his vision for a new urban planning paradigm, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos, said: "We think of the most productive cities in the world as being very capitalistic but in Manhattan, New York, 30 per cent of the land is actually street and in total 50 per cent is public space. By investing in public spaces and the streets you increase the value of land and private investment will follow. Good planning is very cheap and actually generates wealth."
He continued: "The Mayor has expressed to me that he wants the Kisumu of the future to be a knowledge capital, a city with a lot of activity which creates a lot of jobs for young people through tourism. The challenge is how you want this to be achieved. City building is about the local people who live in the city. That is how you keep the character of city which is very important."
In his introduction to the workshop, Samuel Okello, Mayor of Kisumu, said: "The product that will come out of this process will be a modern concept, ring-fenced so that it will have political support but not political interference. It will also be a case study for our country. I wish to thank the government, donors, and UN-Habitat for their support but this should not be the end. We will have a roadmap for the future. We hope that you will stay and work with us on the implementation of the plan."
At the same time, Mayors from around the world were also meeting in Kisumu to finalise a "Planners Handbook" that outlines the concepts discussed and makes them available to planners.