UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka on Wednesday launched the Residents Convention for a Safer Nairobi for All and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Local Government to make the capital safer and replicate the project in other Kenyan urban centres.
At a ceremony attended by senior government officials, city fathers as well as donor agency representatives, Mrs. Tibaijuka promised to support the initiative by building on UN-HABITAT’s international experience and sharing the lessons learnt from other cities committed to tackling causes of crime through prevention interventions. (See: http://www.unhabitat.org/programmes/safercities/ )
The ceremony was held prior to the City Residents Convention Week 7-13 November - an open forum where residents, leaders and other stakeholders will share views on safety and security problems and offer solutions on how to combat them. The initiative has its origins in the unsafe and insecure Nairobi that led to a victimization survey commissioned by UN-HABITAT and funded by UNDP and carried out by an NGO, ITDG in 2001.
The survey showed the various forms of crime and circumstances under which they occurred, and formed the basis under which the safer cities project came into being. During the convention, the City Council will present its city-wide crime prevention and urban safety strategy and propose a two-year action plan to residents. The principles of the strategy are that it is city-wide, comprehensive, consultative and coordinated.
Kenya’s Minister for Local Government Mr. Musikari Kombo thanked UN-HABITAT for its support in fighting crime in Nairobi and said the government was embarking on an ambitious scheme to rid the city of street families. He warned that handouts given to such people encouraged them to stay within the Central Business District.
An assistant Minister for National Security, Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, calling the UN-HABITAT initiative a novel idea, said that with the encouragement of neighbourhood policing, provision of security would no longer be the preserve of the police but of all citizens.
Nairobi Mayor, Mr. Dick Wathika, said the city council would use the convention week to initiate an Annual Achievers and Mayoral Awards with the support of the private sector and media owners to recognise community initiatives that have enhanced the feeling of security in estates and on the streets.
“To nominate the groups, the city council of Nairobi will work closely with UN-HABITAT technical support programmes to ensure that we truly award good practices that communities can replicate on a sustainable basis,” he said.
Speaking at the launch, Mrs. Tibaijuka appealed to the organizers of the convention to focus on providing security for the most vulnerable, especially those living in the Kibera slums and other informal settlements. She said the largest number of victims of crime and of the fears it generates were to be found in such areas.
“In this way it will define a concrete, sustainable way forward that has the support of the vast majority of the Nairobi residents. The convention must come up with proposals that represent the views and opinions of the widest possible body of opinion in Nairobi,” she said.
The Executive Director challenged the convention to develop initiatives that improved the livelihood of the youth and their feeling of purpose and belonging. She cited as an example the recently launched UN-HABITAT Messengers of Truth initiative where hip-hop artists from around the world including Kenya’s own Gidi Gidi Maji Maji gave a performance at the Second World Urban Forum in Barcelona last month. (See http://www.unhabitat.org/wuf/)
“The MoU that we are signing should help to pave the way for strategy implementation and the expansion of this experience to other urban centres in Kenya,” she said.