Participatory Urban Planning in Kitale

Participatory Urban Planning in Kitale



According to Michael Majale (2009), the world’s urban population is increasing at an immense rate then the current accumulative population of the world. Furthermore, the urban population development and progress in countries that are developing, is more than 90 per cent. Africa is the least urbanized region of the world, where urbanization is its most problematic and difficult challenge, Majale (2009). Local authorities in countries that are developing, encounter considerable challenges, attempting to deliver services, planning, and managing urban development. The urbanization of poverty is the combination of the critical issues they encounter, Majale (2009). Majale (2009) highlights that this case study examines the essential and important lessons learned in enforcing the project and moreover, the impact the NGO interventions have had, Majale (2009).

Problems and Purpose

Majale (2009) mentions that in order to improve the effectiveness of management, urban planning, city and municipal, the overall and general objective of the project is to highlight some of the imperfections and inadequacy of existing institutional and regulatory frameworks that have contributed to the development and progress of the slums, Majale (2009). Moreover, the projects aim is to provide and utilize a partnership approach, test, develop and expand the planning urban space with local institutions, Majale (2009).

Mathew Okello et al (2004) mentions that in order to improve access to basic infrastructure and services for improved urban livelihoods, mobilizing and creating synergy with local development institutions, development agency workers and local residents can help to demonstrate how locally available resources and experiences may be harnessed, Okello, M et al (2004).


Kitale is the administrative and commercial capital of Trans-Nzoia District, located about 380km to the North-West of Nairobi, Majale (2009). In addition, he acknowledges that Kitale serves as a frontier town for the dry and drought-prone in that region. Majale (2009) added that the municipality is historically well known for its hinterland that has high agricultural potential.

Due to the frequent drought in Northern-Kenya, Paul Chege et al (2005) points out the declining economic opportunities and circumstances in the outlying farmlands and migration journey into the town has gone beyond Kitale’s Municipal Councils (KMC) capacity to deliver infrastructure and other services and efficiently and effectively plan the growth of the municipality, Chege et al (2005).

Furthermore, its predicted population is 163, 209 and 65 per cent, as a consequence, do not have a way to access safe water, secure tenure, sanitation, decent shelter, employment opportunities and health services among other basic and essential needs, Chege et al (2005). He states that they are forced to live in informal settlements and slums, such as Kipsongo, Shimo-La-Tewa and Tuwan, Chege et al (2005).

Originating Entities and Funding

The UK’s Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) funded the action research project and funding also comprised of small-scale demonstration projects, Okello, M et al (2004).

Practical Action-Eastern Africa carried out and managed project activities in alliance and partnership with the Municipal Council of Kitale (MCK), individual community members and other essential and crucial stakeholders. Practical Action-UK had the overall management responsibility, Okello, M et al (2004).

Participant Selection

The project was carried out in three informal settlements namely: Kipsongo, Shimo-La-Tewa and Tuwan, Okello, M et al (2004). The three settlements in the municipality, through citywide ward based baseline surveys, were chosen from the 10 civic wards, Okello, M et al (2004).

Baseline Information: The City Wide Scan Survey

Okello, M et al (2004) says that in order to capture, supply and support the socio-economic indicators, a baseline information survey about the municipality was initiated. Primary data accumilation and analysis was involved at household and community levels to enable them to have a perspective on, and generate specific indicators throughout the municipality, Okello, M et al (2004).

In order to inform sector-based interventions within given wards, Okello, M et al (2004), points out that the information produced and created was both thematic and ward. This is the lowest administrative unit within the council, Okello, M et al (2004). Moreover, the survey recognizes the municipal councils volume and capacity to carry out effective and efficient services to all the citizens and the community growth and development priorities and difficulties, Okello, M et al (2004).

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

According to Okello, M et al (2004), he mentions that the project utilized Participatory Urban Appraisal (PUA) methods and tools that embraced and endorsed a Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) approach. He points out that society based indicators in addition have aided poor women, men and children living in informal settlements prepare and assemble spatial and settlement related neighborhood plans and recognize their development priorities, Okello, M et al (2004).

Tools utilized during this project:

  • Thematic FDGs covering issues like health, security, social amenities etc.
  • Stakeholders’ inventory
  • Venn Diagrams (to show intersection of stakeholder’s interests and interactions), Okello, M et al (2004)

Members of the community are given opportunities to envision the desired future of their settlement through neighborhood planning, Chege et al (2005). He highlights that this methodology is primarily based on the identification, acknowledgment and fact that various different settlements have diverse and dissimilar needs, Chege et al (2005).

The core facilitating team comprising of planners and other professionals, interpret and explain the community members articulated views, into strategies and projects for implementation, Chege et al (2005).

Stage 1: Community Mapping

The essential participants at stage 1 are the facilitating team and the community key informants/opinion leaders, Chege et al (2005). They create and produce a detailed listing of the community’s infrastructure services and facilities and recognize the stakeholders within that settlement, Chege et al (2005).

Stage 2: Data Verification and Validation: Community Feedback Sessions

Stage 2 then certifies and confirms the data that has been composed and accumulated previously in the studies and data collection exercises, Chege et al (2005). The principal purpose of this stage is to share all the data collected from the exercises and combine the information gathered, Chege et al (2005).

Finally, in an open forum, the maps and reports of gathered data are presented for the community to edit, authenticate and enrich Chege et al (2005).

Stage 3: Visualizing the Future: Community Visioning

In an open forum, community visioning is initiated e.g. representative community workshop meeting. SWOT or PEST analysis and vivid understanding of the ward, the selected participants design a desired settlement vision. Chege et al (2005) says, “It represents the end state from a less desired to the desired future settlement status.”

Stage 4: Action Planning: Developing Strategies, Programs and Projects

Chege et al (2005), states that the aim of stage 4 is to accomplish and attain the agreed upon society vision by preparing the road map towards that. Furthermore, the societies stakeholders and community representatives then transform the vision, into programs, activities and strategies. In order to discuss what needs to be done, small groups are created; too successfully achieve the highlighted and featured goals with the resources available, Chege et al (2005).

Stage 5: Evaluation of Alternatives: Agreeing on Options

They elaborate and discuss the alternative strategies and arrive at a decision on the best option reached. This is done in a live discussion, Chege et al (2005).

Stage 6: Compilation of the Plan

Chege et al (2005) indicates that the final plan is assembled and accumulated by a core facilitation group. It entails the core group to write up the plan, document the method, sort, collate and synthesize all views from the above stages and support and authorize the plan through society members and stakeholders. At the ward level, feedback sessions are arranged. The plan is adopted and confirmed by civic leaders and the community, Chege et al (2005).

Stage 7: Resources Mobilization: Planning for Projects Implementation

In order to raise funds, the strategic ward action plans are utilized, from different funding agencies and organizations as shopping lists for project implementation, Chege et al (2005). Chege et al (2005) highlights that “SIPs identify specific projects, the target areas, estimate project budgets and the actors/financing mechanisms.”

Stage 8: Project Implementation

Prioritized community projects are then implemented as planned, drawing its mandate from other stakeholders and from the local community. This is done under the stewardship of Projects Implementing Committee (PIC), Chege et al (2005). Relevant professionals and the community members, undertake periodic audit, to ensure good governance practices for prudent financial utilization and quality assurance, Chege et al (2005).

In Kitale, the following strategies and approaches were utilized to implement the projects:

  • Community contracting
  • Labor based contracts
  • Public-private sector joint contracting

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Building in Partnerships

As a way to engage and involve the local institutions and address the key challenges, the project formation was based on partnership, Okello, M et al (2004). According to Okello, M et al (2004), the powerful partnerships between Practical Action and the Municipal Council of Kitale (MCK), successfully changed the livelihoods of the urban poor in Kitale, Okello, M et al (2004).

Various and different actors in Kitale, through the partnership model utilized, allowed them to gain access to each other’s resources and skills, help advance capacity creating of partner groups and make sure that stakeholder’s have an equal voice in the development and growth agenda, Okello, M et al (2004). Furthermore, he asserts that “it would boost urban governance, better service delivery, decrease the demand gaps in the supply of goods and services, and finally improve and enhance the achievement of project goals,” Okello, M et al (2004). Moreover, he indicates that they also envisioned that this would evaluation of project activities and enable realistic monitoring.

The three informal sites were utilized as pilot areas for developing, testing and disseminating partnership approaches. Okello, M et al (2004), says that this encouraged and aided stakeholder partnership and participation in crafting appropriate intervention strategies and in evaluating and determining real user needs, Okello, M et al (2004).

Okello, M et al (2004) points out that the detailed participatory needs evaluations that are conducted in each of the three informal settlements informed the creation and growth of neighborhood plans that joined gender needs and help advance access to infrastructure and opportunities for micro and small enterprise (MSE) development, Okello, M et al (2004).

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The project encountered a number of difficulties and issues, especially in its early stages following the dissolution of the Council by presidential decree in September 2001, Chege et al (2005). However, a number of important lessons can be learnt from implementing this project, Majale (2009).

Importance of Political Will

For participatory urban planning, political will is required to proactively implement and create the institutional framework, Majale (2009). To overcome resistance to devolution of power to local governments and society, Majale (2009) highlights that political assurance and support at all levels of government is important and vital. If political will is mobilized, Majale (2009) mentions that correcting of institutional and regulatory frameworks for urban preparation and growth will be attainable. This project displayed and showed this.

Participatory planning remains an elusive concept to many local authorities and leaders

Majale (2009) indicates that participatory planning is normally misunderstood by local authorities to mean failure and a lack of success on their part to deliver services or interference in established and well-known institutional structures and decision-making processes by ‘outsiders’, Majale (2009).

It is essential that we raise awareness among, civic leaders and local authority staff in participatory urban planning and partnership work, Majale (2009).

Need for improved institutional and regulatory frameworks for participatory urban planning

Current institutional and regulatory frameworks do not sufficiently identify the promising offering of civil societies, especially communities in the slum, and the worth their partnership can bring to preparation and growth methods, Majale (2009). Furthermore, there is need for institutional and regulatory correction to facilitate and support participation and partnership plans at all levels, Majale (2009).

The relation through local effort and formal government at all level is important

The connection between local and central government and community level governance structures is essential; and challenges of legitimacy, representation and long-term viability need to be resolved, Majale (2009). So, too, can widespread community partnership in mobilizing and supporting funding and growth, Majale (2009).

Communities will remain interested only in the expectation of tangible results

Resource allocation is a huge part of planning. Participatory planning methods frequently raise communities’ expectations, and should consequently result in tangible outcomes. If not, it leads to disappointment, Chege et al (2005). Moreover, he asserts that there should be an investment plan that highlights the resource requirements, the expected contribution of each actor and completion targets, Chege et al (2005).

Poverty remains a major challenge to participatory urban planning and development

In order to make sure that development and growth interventions are suitable and within their means and power to act and manage them, Chege et al (2005) says that participatory urban planning needs an understanding of community priorities and needs and in addition the resources they have, Chege et al (2005).


Secondary Sources

Chege, P. Majale, M. (2005). Participatory Urban Planning in Kitale, Kenya. [pdf]. Available at [Accessed on 10/04/2016].

Majale, M. (2009). Developing Participatory Planning Practices in Kitale, Kenya. [pdf]. Available at [Accessed on 07/04/2016].

Okello, M. Oenga, I. Chege, P. (2004). Participatory Urban Planning Toolkit Based on the Kitale Experience. A guide to Community-Based Action Planning for Effective Infrastructure and Services Delivery. [pdf]. Available at [Accessed on 04/04/2016].

External Links

Available at: [Accessed on 05/05/2016].

Available at: [Accessed on 04/04/2016]

Available at: [Accessed on 09/04/2016]

Available at: [Accessed on 02/04/2016]

Available at: [Accessed on 07/04/2016]

Case Data


Kitale , RV
Rift Valley KE


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The UK’s Government’s Department for International Development (DFID)
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Practical Action-Eastern Africa
Municipal Council of Kitale
Practical Action-UK
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