1. within cities is essential. As enshrined in


In the developing world, the most common form of
transportation for the urban poor is walking which accounts to about 70% of all
trips (UNHabitat, 2016). Low density horizontal urban development causes
further exclusion of the urban poor. Due to transport poverty, many residents in
the informal settlements cannot afford to travel to the city centres or to
areas where businesses, markets, educational institutions, and health services
are located depriving them of the full benefits offered by urbanization. This
is unfortunate as they spend a greater proportion of their time and income
getting to where they want to go (WBCSD, 2007). Therefore achieving better
physical accessibility of all households to opportunities such as employment,
services, and commerce within cities is essential.

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As enshrined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, for
cities to thrive, action is needed to ensure that urban areas and human
settlements are “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. In Africa, about 62%
of the urban population lives in slums. Spatial distribution in cities due to
income disparities calls for greater scrutiny of the underlying issue. This
pattern, with the current infrastructure in place, could further deepen the
inequality and poverty. In order to address these challenges, cities need to
prioritise affordable, low-carbon public transportation systems, enhance
non-motorized transport infrastructure.

Access can be enhanced in two ways. The first is through providing
transportation infrastructure or enhancing the current transport services in
order to reduce travel time, cost and congestion. Second is either to
facilitate housing schemes closer to the services or relocating the employment,
services and commerce. Understanding the interaction of land use and transport
and the dynamics over time of location decisions help determine optimal
measures to facilitate access.

Substantial research and studies that have been done on
access and mobility in the developing countries concentrate on traffic jams, road
safety and pollution issues while neglecting the issues faced by the urban
poor. This paper looks at how transportation infrastructure and policy together
with land use could be a way of alleviating poverty in the informal settlements
in Nairobi. We are going to look at key issues surrounding land use, transport
policies, regulations, politics, and investment as the stepping stone towards
achieving a more inclusive society through transportation infrastructure. We
are also going to look at the different options available that are in line with
the sdgs in terms of creating an inclusive society at the same time maintaining
sustainability principles

Problem Definition

Residents in Nairobi slums can be considered to be excluded
from the ongoing urbanization due subject poverty, living under a dollar day.
The little money they can come up with is barely sufficient to get the them to
the Central Business District (CBD) or affluent business and residential areas
all around Nairobi which are even further than the CBD to look for the
employment. As a possible solution, this paper is going to look att different
infrastructural options available to the dwellers of Mathare slum, proposing
the best option as well as possible funding sources. Lastly, we’re going to
look at the role of the government and how policy coupled with legislation and
regulation can maintain and improve the system with time.

Integration into society is vital to escape poverty. A number
of studies have been done to show the relationship between social exclusion and
poverty, transportation being a major factor (Goadard and Olvera, 2000). The
major problem inhibiting the urban poor from using available transportation
systems is the lack og money for the fare. Most slums in Nairobi are well
connected with roads, at least until the periphery where they could walk.

The resulting problem is thus that they move near places of
employment so as to walk to work.

definition of available transportation infrastructure options

although one of the fastest developing cities in Africa, is still seriously
lacking in adequate infrastructure facilities. Urban planning seems to elude
most planners in the country.

rail system

Figure 3: Map of Kibera with railway passing
on the outskirts of the slum (Source: Kibera.org.uk)

The government
did take measures to reduce the fare of the train from Ksh100 down to Ksh35. However,
the cost per trip is Ksh35 which is still far too expensive for the slum
residents who, on average live on about a Ksh110 ($1) a day. Taken they travel
to and fro the place of work, that accounts to about 70% of their income. A
survey done indicates that rental payment within the Kibera slum takes about
Ksh700 to Ksh1000. This translates to about Ksh33 a day (Bendiksen, 2008).
Those residents who do leave the slum daily to look for work thus have very
limited options of accessing the city other than walking or risk their lives by
clinging onto the train as it moves (Figure 4). The light rail however, is much
cheaper and more convenient when compared to public road transportation and
accesses most major slums in Nairobi including Kawangware, Dandora and Mathare.
Nairobi is notorious for its heavy traffic jams, hence the light rail option,
if made affordable could be the best option slum dwellers have of accessing not
only the city centre, but the entire urbanized and sub-urbanized regions around
Nairobi. This would be in line with UN’s sustainable goals, addressing
inclusion, resilience and sustainability in developing cities.

Figure 4: Nairobi Commuters hanging
precariously on the train bound for city centre (Source: Daily Nation, June


includes mainly walking and cycling. Majority of the people from the slums
cannot afford to pay for public transportation hence decide to walk. A toal of
47% of Kenyans walk to their points of interest (UNEP, 2015). I. Unfortunately,
and shockingly, regardless of the high number of Kenyans who go to work
walking, there is very little provision for NMT infrastructure. Investments in
infrastructure have continued to focus on road infrastructure to move cars,
rather than people. This brings attention to the urban transport planning
authority, as well as the government to adequately provide for such
infrastructure. In 2014, Nairobi City Council revealed data reporting about 723
fatalities of pedestrians and cyclists, 507 of which were pedestrians. A lot
more could be done to ensure safety.

of the two most common forms of transportation

Since the
vast majority of the slum dwellers walk, and taking into account that majority
of the sums are around the city, from 2 to 15km in radius, it only makes sense
to invest in non-motorised traffic infrastructure. This will ideally include
sidewalks, cycle lanes and tracks, tighter regulations on protecting
pedestrians and cyclists, being given the right of way, providing extra safety
features along pedestrian walk ways, segregating it from motorised traffic
ways, pedestrian crossings with the rail improved and maintained for the ones
who can afford the train. These are all low cost measures that have incredibly
high returns. Kenyan government could also promote the bicycle industry within
the country to provide affordable cycles to these people. Such systems will not
only provide infrastructure for the slum dwellers making them feel included, it
will also reduce traffic congestion as cycling perhaps will look more
attractive to the MT users and also importantly it will reduce pollution
reducing greenhouse gases hence being 
more environmental sustainable.

Moving our
attention to the public transport system, it is vital that the government looks
for ways of reducing the fare, especially for the light rail. These forms of
transport should be affordable and desirable by the majority of slum dwellers.
The most common public transportation system in Nairobi currently are the matatus,
privately owned minibuses that shuttle people all over the city. They, however
have serious limitations. Not only are they expensive for the vast majority,
they are unsafe and create havoc in the city’s already congested roads. This
led the government to draft a mass rapid transit plan (Government of Kenya,
2008) to cater for the overwhelming majority who find public transport either
too expensive, uncomfortable or inconvenient. The Government can definitely
learn from the successful implementation of NMT, metro rail and BRT implemented
in the cities Addis Ababa and Dar-es-Salaam.

A survey
done by


action point, to reduce the need for mobility would be laldn use planning as
well as the provision of critical facilities near the slums to provide urban
services. It is on the government to locate where there is insufficient
transportation constraints to provide required solutions where the government may
give subsidies to offset the transportation cost and allow the children to go
to school. Aid efforts should also aim to provide critical services such as
schools and clinics within the precints of the slums. One such measure is being
undertaken by an NGO called SHOFCO who are building schools and clinics in
Mathare and Kibera. However they may be insufficient to cater for all the
hundreds and thousands of slum dwellers hence the need for support.

solutions can therefore be obtained by successfully integrating access through
transportation together with land use planning. There no one size to fit all. Different
solutions need to be formulated for different circumstances, geographical
locations among othet many factors

and Regulation

On the
bright side, sizeable steps are being taken to integrate NMT to the modern
transportation infrastructure in Nairobi, with a policy being developed by The
Nairobi County Council, United Nations Environmental Programme as well as Kenya
Alliance of Residence Association, partnering to ensure a safe network of
footpaths, cycling lanes, green areas among others. The county government will
commit 20% of all funds allocated to roads to construction of NMT and public
transport infrastructure. Majority of the slums are within a sizeable radius
for walking, although with time this gets tiring and time consuming, commuters
spending an average of about 2 hrs walking. The development of the policy was
supported by strengthening adaptation and resilience to climate change in kenya
plus (StARCK+) Programme by the Department for International Development (DfID)
and the UNEP Share the Road Initiative developed with the FIA foundation for
the Automobile Society

and Conclusion

Such public
transit systems can go a long way towards removing mobility barriers especially
for Nairobi’s poorest residents. Access to opportunity creates hope and
prosperity of successful. The design of the transit systems need to take into
account of the poor as a target group and to find innovative ways of making the
system affordable for them without compromising system-wode financial stability
(Salon & Gulyani, 2010).




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