The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is to be the first in the East Africa region to offer a Masters degree programme in Urban Studies.
In a memorandum of understanding signed between the institute and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the two partners pledged to work together to develop the programme, which will be on offer from September and which will enable students to undertake advanced studies in this important field, equipping Kenya with a future generation of urban planners.
UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos signed on behalf of the agency while the Vice Chancellor of JKUAT Prof. Mable Imbuga penned on behald of the university.
The signing took place at the University at a ceremony, attended by faculty members of the Department of Architecture and Building Sciences, students and several representatives of government including the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Public Works Dr. Gerald Mulungyi and a representative of the ministry of Higher Education, and the Kenyan Permanent Representative to UN-Habitat Dr. Martin Kimani.
Speaking at the signing, Dr Clos emphasized urbanization provided an opportunity for countries such as Kenya because of the economic and social benefits that it provides. “You cannot have development without urbanization,” he stressed, “nor urbanization without development…The productivity of the cities comes from the proximity of the factors of production”.
As part of the agreement, UN-Habitat pledged support to the University in the development of the programme and in the creation of an Urban Studies Centre – unique to Kenya’s academic institutions. In addition, students of the programme will be able to apply for dedicated internship positions at the organization, allowing them to put into practice skills learnt during the course.
On her part the JKUAT Vice Chancellor said that urban planning was becoming more and more important, especially in countries such as Kenya, where one-third of the population already lives in towns and cities and this is growing rapidly.