The world in general has been urbanising at an alarming rate and with over 60% of the world’s population expected to be living in urban areas by 2030, cities are becoming important players in the fight against climate change. In Africa alone approximately 40% of its population live in urban areas and this has placed a lot of pressure on its already strained resources towards managing the growing population. African countries should aim at developing the rural areas through the dissemination of its resources to rural areas thus reducing rural to urban migration, which has made it difficult in ensuring proper urban planning strategies are implemented. Kenya therefore continues to face tremendous challenges towards ensuring the safety of its residents by managing the impacts posed by climate change such as rising sea levels, warming temperatures, droughts and floods. Cities and major towns in Kenya like Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu and Nakuru get to experience floods almost annually with devastating impacts to the environment, health, food, water, infrastructure, social and economic sectors.
to the weatherman extreme rainfall downpours are expected to continue until
June 2020 when the long rainfall season usually ends in Kenya. Coastal urban
areas in Mombasa have been earmarked as hotspots to floods due to their low
elevation making them prone to sea level rise. Cities have always been
considered as driving forces of development and innovation and with over 80% of
the world’s wealth being generated from cites, urban planning approach should
be centered towards adaptation and mitigation. Adaption measures should
therefore be geared towards integrating climate change ideas into urban planning
by building climate change resilience for the poor and most vulnerable in the
society, since they constitute over 60% of those living in sub-Saharan Africa.
On the other hand, mitigation measures should be enacted with the aim of
reducing greenhouse gas (Ghgs) emissions by shifting from a carbon energy
dependent country to a green energy dependent country, putting in mind that
over 70% of the world global Ghgs are emitted from cities.
These two strategies will play a key role towards contributing to the sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly goal 7 on “affordable and clean energy” and goal 11 on “sustainable cities and communities”. Some of the challenges that have faced the implementation and adoption of urban planning policies in Kenya involve the non-compliance to the laid down urban planning polices by the government, developers, investors and residents. Most people find ways of flouting building laws and end up erecting structures in unauthorised areas such as riverbanks, wetlands and riparian lands without genuine permits. Climate smart urban planning practices in Kenya should aim at adopting low hanging fruits to climate change such as growing plants on urban building rooftops, reducing Ghgs by making cities less dense so as to create space for the development of infrastructures that can encourage the use of non-motorized transport such as bicycles and the use of public transport as opposed to private transport. Through proper urban planning practices, the management of storm water and liquid waste will be made easy thus ensuring reduced impacts associated with floods. This is therefore a wakeup call for the government and all stakeholders involved to enact a strong climate change urban plan policy which will help in developing a climate smart urban network which is future oriented in view of the changing climate.