Publication: Cities of Hope? Governance, Economic, and Human Challenges of Kenya's Five Largest Cities

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World Bank
After many decades of stagnation, Kenyan economy started to grow from the early-2000s. Much of this growth has been attributed to total factor productivity improvements in Kenyan economy arising out of many factors. A large share of this growth originated in urban areas, in the service and manufacturing sectors. These gains also paralleled reduction in poverty and higher enrolment in primary education. Yet, it has been argued that Kenyan cities, especially Nairobi, are not realizing their potential to contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction. Rapid urbanization has left Kenyan cities with huge backlogs in critical infrastructure and basic services, resulting in sprawling, overcrowded and impoverished informal settlements. The management of these cities has been dogged by fragmentation in responsibilities, lack of accountability at the local level, and weak capacities of key institutions. Within 20 years or so, the majority of the Kenyan population are expected be living in urban areas. This scale of urbanization will pose further socio-economic, environmental and institutional challenges for Kenyan cities. The Government's vision 2030 has highlighted rapid urbanization as one of four key challenges for the country alongside income inequality, unemployment and low savings. Despite their notable demographic and economic weights of urban centers in Kenya, there is no single study that gives a comprehensive overview of the urban landscape in Kenya. The objective of this sector work is to fill that gap by documenting and analyzing the situation in Kenya's five largest urban centers. The study aims to provide data and analysis regarding the state of these cities to help inform the evolving urban agenda in Kenya and to provide inputs into the preparation of the Kenya Municipal Program (KMP).
World Bank. 2008. Cities of Hope? Governance, Economic, and Human Challenges of Kenya's Five Largest Cities. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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