The streets of Kayole Soweto, a low-income neighborhood on the east side of Nairobi, bustle with activity. Market stalls line the main street as far as the eye can see. And yet, this neighborhood was completely isolated just a decade ago.
"We're in the capital here," explains Luci Njeri Murungi, a resident since 1991. "But back then, during the rainy season, we had to take off our shoes to get from one place to another because of the excessive mud. If someone fell sick or got injured, it was extremely challenging for vehicles to reach us and provide assistance."
Between 2011 and 2019, the KISIP project, financed by AFD and the World Bank, was implemented in 80 vulnerable neighborhoods across 14 counties, including Kayole Soweto. This project has brought significant improvements, from road infrastructure improvements to restored drainage systems, and expanded access to water and public lighting.
A Transformed Neighborhood
Rebuilt roads, repaired lighting, and renovated drainage systems have held strong for the past five years, and the novelty doesn’t seem to wear off: local residents still express their gratitude for the long-lasting impact the infrastructure has had on their lives.
"Since the roads became passable, new offices, supermarkets, and new buildings have emerged," says 72-year-old Humphrey M. Muhia. “This attracts more people, providing small traders with more customers and ultimately increasing incomes and investment in the area.”
Joyce Muthoni, who runs a small roadside stall, agrees. "Since we've had street lighting, the neighborhood has become safer, and we can now work after dark in shifts. Our sales have continued to rise ever since!"
What’s more, the project has also benefitted young people, says Françis Mbici, representative of the local youth group. "Young men and women were employed to work on the construction sites,” she says. “They gained valuable skills and now find it easier to secure employment based on their experience."
Continuing to Collaborate with Communities
But there is still much work to be done. Some residents mention, for instance, the 25 kilometers of road that couldn't be integrated into phase 1, while others highlight the absence of a nearby maternity ward.
Which is why a new phase of the project, KISIP 2, has recently been launched, to tackle these needs and cope with the increasing traffic in the area. Similar to phase one, it aims to improve the living conditions of the close to 1.3 million residents across 154 of Kenya’s vulnerable neighborhoods.
This will be achieved through the financing of infrastructure projects such as roads, drainage systems, water and sanitation facilities, solid waste management and street lighting. Additionally, land tenure security will be enhanced through the issuance of title deeds. The program is jointly financed by AFD (€45 million), the World Bank (€134 million), and the European Union, which has allocated a further €5 million to be implemented by AFD.
As part of this project, a pilot initiative called the Urban Fabric Initiative (UFI) will be implemented. "In practical terms, residents and communities will have the opportunity to propose and design projects they wish to see implemented in close collaboration with local authorities,” says Anthea Manasseh, Deputy Director of AFD in Kenya. “This allows them to take ownership of their neighborhoods and actively participate in decision-making. During our visit to the field, we witnessed the enthusiasm of the residents who expressed their appreciation for the positive impacts of KISIP."