World Bank Group

06/10/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/10/2021 15:09

Urban Institutional Reforms Transform Service Delivery to Kenyans in Municipalities

NAIROBI, June 10, 2021-With more than 27% of Kenyans living in urban areas, investing in urban institutional reforms has enhanced opportunities for inclusive growth. Modern markets, organized parking, street lighting and drainage infrastructure have transformed sleepy urban centres into thriving commercial hubs with livable residential neighborhoods.

Among those who have benefitted from these changes are residents of Ngong town in Kajiado County, where better infrastructure and expanded spaces for business have improved prospects for small business operators.

'Businesses in Ngong town thrived along the main roads which limited rental space, resulting in high rents that kept away starters like me,' said John Kiarie, who owns an animal feeds business in the town. 'But since 2019, the town is expanding fast, and shops are more accessible and affordable.'

The government, with support from the World Bank, has scaled up investments in municipalities across the country, enhancing the contribution of micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to national growth and shared prosperity. These reforms, undertaken through the Kenya Urban Support Program (KUSP), are anchored on the 2010 constitution that devolved power and resources to 47 county authorities with their own governance and management structures.

Like in Ngong town, Kenyans countrywide are enjoying the benefits of organized urban development under the oversight of county governments. For Tala town in Machakos County, the major interventions include construction of storm drains, parking spaces and street lighting.

'It was difficult to do business in Tala during the rainy season due to frequent flooding. Today, the water drains out when it rains,' said Catherine Mutua, a local resident. 'Traffic management has improved and my walk home in the evening is safe because my area is well lit.'

Even an urban park and vegetable market have been created for Wote municipality in Makueni County through KUSP-supported institutional reforms. The two facilities generated about $60,000 for the county government in the first year of operation. Improved solid waste collection in Busia and Kikuyu municipalities is projected to raise $6,000 and $15,000 respectively in user fees annually, while in Limuru town, more than 500 parking lots and a bus park earned more than $200,000 in revenue for Kiambu County government in the past year.

KUSP was built on the foundations of the Kenya Devolution Support Program (KDSP), a $200 million program-for-results that has supported institutional capacities of counties in public finance management, planning, monitoring and evaluation, human resources management, sector performance, intergovernmental relations, civic education, and public participation. Both KDSP and KUSP, a $300 million operation which supports the government to strengthen urban institutions for improved service delivery, are underpinned by incentives and rewards.

'The World Bank's technical and financial support has enabled the national and county governments to establish functional municipal structures with oversight boards driving their development policies,' said Charles Hinga, Principal Secretary, State Department Of Housing and Urban Development. 'Our endeavor is to enhance the readiness of our municipalities for Kenya's rapid urbanization.'

The share of Kenyans living in urban areas is projected to rise to 50% by 2050, and municipalities are under pressure to expand opportunities for sustainable growth. Transparency and accountability are enhanced through defined constitutional and legal structures of public participation.

KUSP has also supported the establishment of or contributed to:

  • 63 urban municipalities and boards as per the Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Act of 2019
  • Improved basic water supply, sewerage and solid waste management, enhanced connectivity, improved resilience, and disaster management
  • Spurred the creation of local jobs across the 45 participating counties and improved municipal revenues
  • Construction of 200 km of roads and non-motorized transport that have improved urban mobility, economic efficiencies, and pedestrian safety
  • Completed construction of more than 1,000 parking slots and eight bus parks which are addressing urban traffic management issues
  • Construction of more than 84 km of storm water drains in 17 municipalities, helping to reduce waterborne and communicable diseases, improve resilience, personal safety, dignity, and well-being
  • Developed 11 recreational parks which provide inclusive community spaces for people to rest, have fun and improve their physical and psychological well-being
  • Completed 15 markets with modern social amenities, including toilets and garbage disposal facilities for over 10,000 traders
  • 10,000 temporary jobs for youth and women centered around SMEs, supplying affordable building and construction materials for use in delivery of urban investments
  • Installation of more than 1,200 streetlights and 38 high masts to improve public safety and security in municipalities, and link markets and commercial business areas through integrated lighting designs

The improved business infrastructure enables residents to engage in diverse activities in safe and conducive spaces in what were hitherto quiet, uncompetitive areas.

'KUSP has greatly contributed to improved livelihoods for Kenyans living in urban areas,' said Abdu Muwonge, World Bank Senior Urban Specialist and Task Team Leader. 'Deepening institutional reforms will improve the business climate, attract private sector investments and promote inclusive growth.'