“Every second Kenyan urban resident lives in a slum,” said one of the speakers at the Planning meeting convened jointly by UN-HABITAT and UN-OCHA on strengthening coordination and advocacy for appropriate response to urban emergencies in Kenya. “In Nairobi, 60% of the urban residents live in slums while these slums cover only 5% of the residential land area,” he added.
Some 96 urban actors from international and local non-governmental organizations, community based organizations, and local authorities attended this meeting which was held at the United Nations Headquarters in Nairobi on 29 October 2009.
The urban actors strongly agreed that there was a humanitarian crisis taking place in deprived informal settlements in Kenya; with extreme urban poverty and urban vulnerability contributing to an urban (humanitarian) crisis that required immediate attention.
“We recognize that the slum is a social, political and economic problem that is deeply rooted in the urban centers, and that it requires a multi-sectoral approach, and an integrated program intervention in addressing the problem,” said one speaker from the Mukuru Slums Development Project in Nairobi.
Recent shocks in Kenya, for example the post election violence and consecutive failed rains have had a negative impact on grain production, leading to food shortages with the urban areas being the hardest hit. It is estimated that currently, over 150,000 children in the urban areas are malnourished and this could trigger an emergency status.
The meeting’s main agenda was to undertake a review of the current coordination structures on urban vulnerability in Kenya and identify opportunities for collaboration in order to improve response to urban vulnerability.
Specifically, the meeting aimed to amplify ongoing efforts to raise awareness about urban vulnerability issues in Kenya, learn from organizations and communities with long time efforts to raise awareness about urban vulnerability issues in Kenya, begin to jointly identify the most effective strategy for advocating for more appropriate and joint response on urban vulnerability, support greater information analysis sharing amongst stakeholders, and establish a committee to organise a workshop in February 2010 that would come up with modalities for collaboration on urban vulnerability issues in Kenya.
It is expected that the meeting will help to raise further awareness about the indicators that trigger urban humanitarian action, disasters and crises specific to urban areas and the impact of urban vulnerability on women, children and other vulnerable groups.