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Kisumu City Development Strategies

City Development Strategy: Bukoba | Entebbe | Homa Bay | Kampala | Kisumu | Musoma
Workshops:Entebbe | Kampala | Kisumu | Musoma| Meetings: Kisumu| Documents:Publications

Historical Background
Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya, is the headquarters of Kisumu District, as well as Nyanza Province respectively. It has developed progressively from a railway terminus and internal port in 1901, to become the leading commercial, trading, industrial, communication and administrative center in the Lake Victoria basin, an area that traverses the three provinces of Nyanza, Western and western Rift Valley. In addition, Kisumu serves as the communication and trading confluence for the Great Lakes region - Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The city has recently been declared the first Millenium City in the world by the UN Secretary-General Koffi Annan.


The vision of the citizens of Kisumu is to revamp the identity of Kisumu as the principal transport, communication and commercial hub of the Great Lakes region, while strengthening the service coverage and delivery capacities.

Kisumu CDS Process
The Kisumu City Development Strategy is, substantively, the result of rigorous stakeholders consultations that were carried out with the citizens of Kisumu over a period of 2 years. It captures their perspectives on the current and desired socio-economic development.

The strategy upholds the principles of increased productivity, equity and access, good governance and sustainability. The CDS has further been enriched by the incorporation of relevant ongoing development processes such as those embedded within the Local Authority Service Delivery Action Plans (LASDAP). Regional considerations have been introduced through experiences of Lake Victoria Region Local Authorities Cooperation (LVRLAC) in which Kisumu plays a central role, and other interventions through the Swedish Lake Victoria Initiative. Furthermore, the active involvement of the communities within Kisumu in developing the National Vision and Strategy for Management and Development of Lake Victoria Basin contributed invaluably to the enrichment of the Kisumu CDS.

"Boda Boda" - bicycle taxis are a common site in Kisumu   The rehabilitated Jomo Kenyatta Grounds in Kisumu

The Kisumu City Development Strategy is an effort by the citizens of Kisumu through coordination of the Kisumu City Council to assemble an array of strategic responses generated through consensus building and highly participatory processes broadly aimed at creating and sustaining Kisumu as a livable and highly viable City. Despite being endowed with massive potential in natural resource availability, Kisumu still registers one of the highest poverty levels in Kenya exacerbated by a rapidly growing informal sector against a backdrop of collapsing or retrogressing private sector growth. Infrastructure development and service expansion has not matched the rapid population growth registered in Kisumu, providing a great challenge to the city authority. Furthermore, the urban community has largely felt detached from the main frame of development activities in the City, admittedly as a result of limited information flow and to some reasonable extent, inherent perception on the traditional role of the local authority.

The manifestation and consequences of these factors have been largely recognized by the citizens of Kisumu, and in response generated consensus on the strategic way forward. An additional impetus is provided by the current shift in local governance from that of sole implementers to a more facilitating role, in providing room for ‘‘grassroots'' active involvement in implementation. A strong political will has provided an environment in which various strategic modes of public-private partnerships have been tested and registered marked success, increasing opportunities for development synergies.

It is against this background, and the timely support from UN-HABITAT that this document contains a presentation of the strategic development framework for Kisumu – The City Development Strategy.

Action Plans
The Kisumu CDS is being implemented through a broad stakeholders group, the Kisumu Action Team (KAT) that replaced the CDS working group but includes many former group members. The Constituency Development Fund (CDF), a fund which is primarily controlled by Members of Parliament, is funding some of the Kisumu CDS action plans.

Action Plans being implemented in Kisumu include:

1. Initiatives towards combating urban poverty. These include Kisumu Slum Upgrading Project and Street Traders Relocation Programme. A water borehole and solid waste projects are being undertaken in the slum areas while suitable land where the hawkers will be relocated have been identified and is being improved.

2. Water and Sanitation Initiatives. The newly formed Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (KIWASCO) is undertaking a 30 kilometer water pipeline to the Manyatta area and has started community managed water connection selling points in Nyalenda.

3. Solid Waste Management. In collaboration with Equator Bottling Company who donated litter bins, the council is sensitizing the public on street cleanliness and has placed the bins at vantage points in the central business district to where the public can dump the litter. The council is also undertaking demonstration dumping sites in the neighborhoods in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The council is undertaking a bigger project to integrate solid waste management with the support of Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), which will include relocation of the landfill site and promotion of recycling initiatives.

4. Urban Transport. The council is implementing Sustainable Urban Mobility in collaboration with the University of Nairobi that will involve promotion of non-motorized urban transport lanes for both pedestrians and cyclists. The council is also reviewing bylaws on commercialized and thriving bicycle taxing, locally known as boda boda.

5. City Planning Initiatives. Installation of Geographic Information System (GIS) is in progress as well as training the council staff to operate the technology.

6. Improving Governance Initiatives. After the Working Group finalized the CDS documentation, a smaller but representative group – Kisumu Action Team (KAT) was formed to assist the council in projects implementation. The council further facilitates in information sharing and dissemination through regular newsletter publication and exhibitions that explain the council activities.

7. Health Improvement. The council has established Health Management Committees with membership also drawn from the stakeholders to manage the council health centers. In addition, a HIV/AIDS project has been launched with the support of UN-HABITAT, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Commonwealth Development Cooperation (CDC) where the stakeholders have formed committees in the neighborhood to sensitize the public on HIV/AIDS and educate the affected on practices and programmes that may help prolong their health.