Urban Studies: Nairobi City

Historical Evolution

Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya, and it is the largest city in the country. The city was founded by the British in 1899 during the colonial period. It came into existence as a Railway depot that was being used to link Mombasa and Uganda. In 1907, Nairobi had grown to become British East Africa’s capital.  Nairobi became the centre of focus for the colony’s sisal, tea and coffee industry. An abundant of these raw materials used to be derived from the country. Favorable climate and fertile soils was among the things that intrigued European settlers to settle in the country (Torres and Inc ebrary, 2010). Most of the citizens dueling in Nairobi during this period were forced to work in the European firms for minimal wages.

When Kenya gained independence in 1963, it became the capital city of the country. Ever since, the city has been growing both economically and population wise. The current estimated population is over 3 million people (Torres and Inc ebrary, 2010). This statistics make it the most populous city in East Africa. Most of this population is found in the city’s suburbs.  A recent survey has indicated that close to 55% of these population duel in slums that are located in the suburbs (Ombretta and Kerstin, 2012). The administrative area is approximately 700km square. In recent times, Nairobi has come to be recognized among the elite cities in Africa. This is due to its prominence both financially and politically.

The rapid urban growth experienced in the country has been catalyzed by presence of major international organizations and companies in the city. They have been viable sources of employment hence steering the improvement of living standards among the individuals residing in the city. Nairobi also hosts Nairobi Stock Exchange, which is one of the largest in Africa. It is the 5th largest in terms of Market Capitalization and 4th largest in terms of trading volumes (Ombretta and Kerstin, 2012).

Special Features

Nairobi has several features that make it more viable. Among them is the Central Park and Uhuru Park located few meters away from the Central Business District (CBD). These parks are common for recreational purposes. Over the years, they have also been used as platforms for holding major political rallies. National parks are also among the special features in the city. The city hosts the Nairobi National Park and the Central Park among others. Being close to the city makes these parks more appealing to tourists. Among other attractions are the large predators like leopard, lion and cheetah among others. There are aggregations of large herbivores and walking trails at hippo pools. Presence of the Orphanage and safari walk adds to these attractions (Ombretta and Kerstin, 2012). There is also presence of spacious picnic sites with an ability of accommodating many tourists. Presence of these features has been vital in the city’s growth since tourism forms a significant part of the country’s GDP. Nairobi also has several five star hotels that suit international tourists’ needs.

Urban Challenges and Problems

Nairobi suffers from various urban challenges just like many cities. Among the urban problems being experienced is pollution. This entails noise, water and air pollution. Noise pollution emanates from vehicles, and hawkers trying to make a living along the streets. Water and air pollution on the other hand emanate from manufacturing companies emitting waste materials in the environment (Handelman, 2011). A good example is the Nairobi River which takes in waste products being derived from various factories. This has resulted to the outbreak of water borne diseases for people living along the river.

Congestion has also come to be a major challenge in the city. Traffic congestion has been on the rise in the recent years. This has been attributed by increased vehicles in the roads. Economic development has been the key contributory since many people can now afford to buy their own mode of transport.

Social vices such as crime and prostitution have been on the rise too. Poverty among the city dwellers is among the key contributories to the existences of these social vices. Most youths are moving from the rural areas to the city in search of greener pastures. Increased population growth rate, results to high unemployment levels (Handelman, 2011).

Recommendations to Solve the Problems

There are several ways on how these problems can be curbed. Among them is for the government to increase employment opportunities in the country. This would include encouraging several companies to set up their businesses in rural areas. This would restrict rural-urban migration hence limit the population in the city. Some of the individuals in Nairobi would also be attracted to migrate to the rural areas. It would help in reducing the population levels hence reducing unemployment levels in the city (Handelman, 2011). In the long-run, this aspect will help in reducing social vices such as crime and prostitution in Nairobi city. It will also minimize congestion due to reduced population.

Introduction of pollution taxes would also help in minimizing the level of pollution in the city. This should mostly apply to companies that are involved with manufacturing. These companies will have to reduce their pollution levels since the more you pollute the more one stands to pay.



Works Cited

Handelman, Howard. The challenge of Third World development. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River,    NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.

Ombretta, Tempra, and Kerstin Sommer. “Nairobi Urban Sector Profile.” Urban Profiling for        Sustainability 5.3 (2012): 79. Print.

Torres, Deyssi, and Inc ebrary. Nairobi today: the paradox of a fragmented city. Dar es Salam,      Tanzania: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers in association with French Institute for Research in      Africa, 2010. Print.

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