Kenyan policy makers meet, demand more action on spatial planning

By on 04/09/2019

Nairobi, 8 April 2019 — Over 30 policy makers drawn from Kenya’s various counties recently met in Nairobi where they agreed to promote spatial planning at the county level. The participants who are chairpersons of Land and Physical Planning Committees said they would do this by way of stronger advocacy at the county assemblies and promoting measures of ensuring spatial planning processes are accomplished from the formulation to the monitoring and evaluation stage.

The third of its kind in a series of trainings on county spatial planning, the course was the brainchild of UN-Habitat, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Council of Governors (CoG), County Assemblies Forum (CAF), the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning (MoLPP),  and the National Land Commission (NLC).

In his opening remarks, Remy Sietchiping, leader of the Metropolitan Planning Unit of UN-Habitat observed that the agency had been supporting capacity development of technical staff from the county government on spatial planning. He however noted there has been clear requests to enhance the knowledge and skills of county assemblies in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of spatial plans including how to integrate them with other county, national and international planning instruments.

FAO representative Hussein Wario urged the trainees to ensure counties allocate more resources to county spatial planning it guides use of land as a factor of production, hence a critical component in ensuring food security in the country. Similar comments were echoed by Mr Augustine Masinde, the Director of Physical Planning at the Ministry Lands and Physical Planning in Kenya. In a speech read on his behalf by Mr Sut Mogeni, he observed that only 20 per cent of the country’s land is productive making the need to plan and coordinate land use at the counties more important than ever. This is particularly so considering the immense climate change risks and related disasters in Kenya and around the world. Mr. Geoffrey Omedo, the UNDP representative asserted the ‘need to anticipate climate events as planners and undertake measures to fix them’. UNDP has been supporting county spatial planning that is climate responsive in Kenya.

The need for comprehensive land information data and adoption of local knowledge to realise more functional spatial plans for counties came out as a key concern from the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development.    In her opening remarks, the chief guest Rebah Wabwire, who is also the County Assembly Forums organising Secretary requested county assemblies to actively support the executive in spatial plans formulation and implementation by ensuring they allocate enough resources and ensuring they effectively undertake their oversight roles.

Training participants shared county specific experiences, spatial plan status, achievements, mechanisms and processes they have used to develop the spatial plans. Drawing experiences form counties such as Makueni and Lamu, challenges and possible solutions in spatial plans formulation were discussed with participants.

At the end of the training, the policy makers adopted a communique as their common position as stakeholders involved in county spatial planning and developed a roadmap for taking the initiative forward. Some highlights on the roadmap include developing a training curriculum for all chairpersons in charge of land and physical planning committees within the county assemblies to enable them appreciate the importance of spatial planning and ensure adequate budgetary allocations towards the spatial planning process; conducting joint forums between the county executives and policy makers to discuss county spatial planning processes and budget allocation; developing a mechanism to link county development budgets to the county spatial plan; and recruitment of adequate qualified planners at the counties as per to the County Spatial Planning Guidelines. Furthermore, participating counties resolved to take initiative in requesting the organising partners to conduct capacity building in their respective counties.

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