Over the course of COP26 over the next few weeks, our team on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Sustainable Urban Economic Development programme, will be sharing a series of pieces of work on how the programme has embedded climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience at the heart of its work to develop sustainable towns and cities across Kenya.
In this first of their climate insights, the team outlines how they are working with municipalities to ensure that their development plans have, at the heart of them, measures for climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
SUED is funded by the UK Government and Managed by Tetra Tech International Development. Atkins Global is Tetra Tech’s partner in the development of the urban economic plans.
Delivering on the SDGs
Within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 aims to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Through SUED, the UK Government is supporting 12 Kenyan municipalities to meet this goal. SUED’s work has yielded nine out of twelve climate smart urban economic plans in the past three years. These nine plans, the first-ever municipal-level economic plans in Kenya, provide actionable economic strategies that merge climate mitigation and adaptation with economic growth and development.
Integrating Climate adaptation into urban economic planning
Many resources have been developed to help local governments integrate climate resilience into city planning, including UN Habitat’s guidebook ‘Integrating Climate change into city development strategies’. While they have helped government officials determine how to plan for climate change, few offer a long-term path approach that marries economic priorities with building climate resilience. SUED is working at both county and municipal level with an approach that integrates factors including demographics, economy, infrastructure, environment, and climatic conditions, into urban economic planning.
Below are some of the areas where SUED has helped the municipalities integrate climate adaptation best practices in urban planning:
In our recent blog, we shared how SUED has worked closely with municipalities to optimise their land use in a manner that enhances the utilisation of their urban spaces while incorporating environmental considerations and reducing their climate vulnerability. By working closely with government officials to see how they can plan their physical land use to adapt to the effects of climate change, we have helped identify possibilities to minimise their exposure to climate hazards. For example, our work in Eldoret municipality was aimed at developing an action plan that would help the municipality to introduce climate-resilient infrastructure along the River Sosiani to address seasonal flooding that destroys property, livelihoods and threatens the economic development of the municipality. The plan includes a land management approach that reduces the damage and disruption from flooding.
Critical to SUED’s work is the need to identify practices within the municipalities that have demonstrated their resilience and adaptability to climate-change related events such as more frequent and more intense flooding. In Mandera municipality, we have helped the local officials identify ways in which stormwater management infrastructure could be improved. Our approach included water management and water efficiency measures such as effective rainwater collection, storm water retention and harvesting techniques as well as wastewater recycling. These sustainable water cycle solutions are helping Mandera municipality adapt to climate change.
Solid Waste Management
SUED advocates for municipalities to enhance their solid waste reduction initiatives as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from open burning of waste. In Kerugoya-Kutus municipality, our team has integrated a strong resource efficiency model within its urban economic planning support. This entails the minimisation of solid waste by establishing a circular economy that encourages the utilisation of waste products in other economic activities. Further, SUED has helped the municipalities develop a solid waste management strategy that will ensure waste is collected and transferred to designated dumpsites for recycling. In doing so, the programme is introducing a waste to value (W2V) aspect through which municipalities are able to process solid waste into commercial outputs enabling sustainable sanitation solutions.
Our team embeds environmental assessments in urban economic development processes to better understand the municipal context and the climate-risk factors. By understanding various ecological zones and how conducive their environment is, we are better able to design value-chain specific initiatives. These initiatives incorporate insights on which economic activities would be the most useful for the area while adapting to the changing climate conditions, in an effort to ensure that the value chain projects identified are climate-resilient. In Eldoret, the programme proposed urban environment improvements that were geared towards improving the agri-processing practices within the municipality.
Local Economic Development Strategies
Urban sustainability and climate change are interlinked. The creation of income generating activities must be responsibly done to ensure that, as value-chain projects are identified, their sustainability is safeguarded. We have supported the municipalities to incorporate climate vulnerability assessments within development processes. The adaptation measures that result from these assessments and developed are designed to ensure urban resilience. In Eldoret, Kerugoya-Kutus and Mandera, SUED ensured that the infrastructure projects identified are adaptive to climate change. In Isiolo, the development of climate-resilient infrastructure along its river will help provide a sustainable flood-management solution.
Establishing an agri-processing sector in Eldoret
The Eldoret UEP identifies the need for a new industrial agri-processing area. Concentrating agri-industries in one place is an efficient way to use by-products generated by the industrial cluster. We have applied these circular economic principles in Eldoret which will reduce negative environmental impacts, and – due to cost-free inputs and the benefits of synergies – will attract other industries into the designated new space.