The city of Nairobi celebrated the first annual ‘Safer Spaces and Streets Day’. There were calls to upgrade and reopen open spaces and sports fields in low income neigbourhoods and to hold monthly Safer Spaces and Streets Day events every last Saturday of the month at different neighbourhoods. The celebration took place during the week of Nairobi Africities Summit which is hosted by the Government of Kenya and organized with close collaboration with UN-HABITAT.
The main celebration, a festival involving competition of artistic talent from various slum areas in Nairobi with the theme “Artists United For A New Nairobi: Safer Open Spaces Towards Africities 2006” was held at St. John’s school in Korogocho. The guest of honour Cllr. Joe Aketch, Chairman of the Sports Stadia Management Board and a former Mayor of the city of Nairobi, launched plans to upgrade sports grounds in low income neighbourhoods in Nairobi with support from the City Ccouncil of Nairobi, the private sector and UN-HABITAT.
During the event, the UN Director of the Millennium Campaign Mr. Salil Shetty said that the local communities have a crucial role to play in the achievement of the Millennium Goals. Fr. Daniel Moschetti of St John Korogocho Parish and Secretary of the Kutoka/ Exodus network, the Catholic Parishes Network in Informal Settlements highlighted the important role of slum dwellers in the achievement of the MDGs but noted that Nairobi’s slum dwellers had been sidelined in the Africities Summit. The network therefore planned parallel sessions during the summit to highlight issues facing the urban poor.
The coordinator of UN-HABITAT’s Safer Cities Programme Ms. Laura Petrella informed of UN-HABITAT support for sporting activities and the upgrade of sports fields through the Safer Nairobi initiative. The initiative promotes young people’s access and ownership of the city’s public open spaces especially in low income and marginalised neighbourhoods. “Sport as an essential tool for social inclusion and for bringing together fragmented, minority and marginalized groups especially among the urban poor in slum areas”, she explained. The event was attended by two mayors from Senegal and Joseph Ogidi, a renowned Hip Hop artist and a UN-HABITAT messenger of truth.
Celebrations were held in different parts of Nairobi: Korogocho, Huruma and Dagoretti. Activities included education and entertainment by local communities in parks, sports grounds, streets and other local amenities to demonstrate the vital role that these facilities provide to residents. This day is part of the implementation of the City Council of Nairobi’s Crime Prevention and Urban Safety Strategy which is supported by UN-HABITAT and UNDP.
The Safer Spaces and Streets Day was created as one of the key flagship activities of the Safer Spaces and Streets Campaign, launched in March 2006 by Musikari Kombo, Kenya’s Minister of Local Government, as part of the city council’s beautification programme. Spearheaded by the private sector, the campaign is a communications strategy for upgrading the city’s public spaces that have been abandoned or neglected over time. It aims to enable, co-ordinate and propel the efforts and resources of a range of strategic urban actors as part of the implementation of a citywide safety strategy. Private sector initiatives that target improvement of public spaces in Nairobi such as market development, lighting, and upgrading of recreation facilities are linked up through the campaign.