Eldoret, 04 October 2016 – UN-Habitat organized a two day workshop on urban planning for technical officers from different Ministries and line departments of County Government of Turkana. The workshop took place in Eldoret Town and contributed to strengthening the technical capacity of county government officers from different sectors.
The workshop addressed the importance of integrated urban planning in the county and the link with other the sectors, political leaders, policy makers, planners and the public. The county government was urged to ensure good coordination and management of all the relevant sectors during planning as a prerequisite for sustainable formulation and implementation of plans.
Officers attending the workshop benefited from knowledge on approaches to local economic development, integrated urban planning, public space, street planning good urban governance and implementation of plans. The workshop made reference to Kakuma and Lodwar towns to contextualize practicality of various concepts.
By highlighting approaches for sustainable urban planning, the workshop combined presentations featuring case studies and examples from other cities in the world, with practical exercise to demonstrate the importance of creating efficient spatial structures and urban patterns which allow cities to sustainably grow and address the impeding challenges in urbanization. UN-Habitat emphasized adequate space for streets, high density, mixed land use, social mix and limited land use specialization, as vital principles of sustainable planning that will help cities to achieve compactness, integration and connectedness.
This was done practically through sketch drawing exercises to illustrate the existing urban conditions and resources, growth patterns, possible areas of urban extension, and streetscape planning exercises to demonstrate adequate provisions for street design. Given that streets provide space for: infrastructure utilities, formal and informal businesses, transportation (motorized and non-motorized) and greenery etc., the participants were trained on how to plan for effective and efficient streets with reference to Kakuma and Lodwar towns.
The workshop also had extensive discussions on municipal financing and local economic development. The county government was tasked with the duty of managing urban areas, raising revenue to support development projects and provision of services and amenities. To meet these demands, the county will need to, among other strategies, create an attractive investment environment, balance revenue enhancement with deficit financing for service delivery and creating income generating centers for local communities.
The county officers were encouraged to make plans which address local economic development and hence, provide mechanisms for leveraging the potentials for economic development.
Good urban governance and implementation of plans were covered in the last session of the workshop. Aspects of integration, participatory planning and inclusivity, institutional capacity, and monitoring and evaluation of plans were centre stage. It was elucidated that planning fails at the implementation stage because of various factors such as: inadequate institutional capacity, weak legislative and financing framework, inappropriate policies and plan recommendations, poor governance and lack of a good political will. Effective implementation of plans should not be seen as a process of public-sector technocrats and the political power holders only, but it incorporates other stakeholders, inclusivity, responsiveness, democratic participation and accountability.
UN-Habitat is strengthening the institutional capacity for urban development in Turkana County, supported by the Government of Japan. In following discussions, UN-Habitat was invited to develop a more long-term support to the county in the areas of urban planning and development.