One out of every three Kenyan live in urban areas implying that out of the 38.6 million total population, 32.3% or 12.5 million Kenyans live in urban areas (2009, National Census). Kenya’s development blue print, Vision 2030 estimates that by the year 2015, the level of urbanization will have reached 44.5%, and eventually the percentage is set to reach 54% by 2030 with nearly 30 million people living in urban areas.
CSUDP’s preceding programme phase under a host organization was a response to the realization that urbanisation in Kenya has been so rapid that it outpaces the construction of infrastructure, services and housing. This unplanned and uncontrolled urbanization is associated with discontinuous and scattered urban growth, as well as poor living conditions primarily in urban informal settlements. The majority of Kenya’s urban population live in slums and informal settlements, estimated at 55%. Three years after the introduction of devolution, Kenyan informal settlements are still characterized by extreme congestion, poor sanitation, poor infrastructure and access to services, insecurity, gender-based violence and hopelessness among unemployed youth.
CSUDP’s ambition is to set the scene for a new paradigm in research, development and innovation, embracing the complexity of the grand challenge of urbanization and bridging the innovation space from strategic research to implementation. Its Strategic Plan embraces thematic priorities which add to the development of essential urban issues such as Vibrant Civic Competencies, Improved Urban Economies, Urban Sustainability and Resilience, Knowledge Collection and Retention, Accessibility and Urban Governance & Participation.
CSUDP supports a knowledge oriented supply of innovative products that has percolated the service delivery regimes of national and county agencies alike. One of its Strategic Plan’s objectives is to support development and uptake of innovative and scalable urban service delivery models especially for informal settlement upgrading in order to increase uptake, especially by State and private sector, of CSOs innovative products; and improved access to basic services amongst the disadvantaged urban majority. Strategic partnerships with reputable institutions such as the Centre for Research and Innovation (CURI) and the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi and Maseno University have already been established. These are now set for firming up with formal Memoranda of Understanding and expansion through networking with other institutions that include the Centre for Urban Research (CUR) in Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology (JKUAT).
In addition to these partnerships, CSUDP plans to broaden its niche definition around organizational and programme capacities by strengthening its research and innovation arm through leveraging on social entrepreneurship as a sustainable model for supporting the urban poor to dignify their status in society and, through Programme partners, front the Platform as a potential incubation house for budding social entrepreneurs. To support this niche redefinition, CSUDP will build on its Programme phase experience to make accessible to urban stakeholders a strategic information and knowledge depository. The organization has also identified the facilitation of building of resilience to climate and socio-economic variability amongst the disadvantaged urban majority to reduce their vulnerability to unfavorable urban conditions as one of its most critical objectives that will armor informal settlement communities with safety nets against recurrent urban shocks.
The organization is in the process of building an accessible knowledge portal on urban vulnerability assessment information relevant to informal settlements that will support development of livelihood and entrepreneurial skills amongst the informal settlement women and youth towards socio-economic resilience and empower communities with appropriate skills and awareness to take first line of response on climate induced disasters. Towards this end, CSUDP will establish and maintain a framework of cooperation and strategic partnership with agencies and institutions that support women and youth development.