Throughout Nairobi’s history, urban poor communities have been targeted by containment measures—for racial reasons, out of public health concerns, for economic purposes, or for political gains. This project compares current containment measures to combat Covid-19 with this history. It looks at poor residents’ responses to containment both historical and current, and how containment measures are affecting poor peoples’ abilities to partake in city making— their ability to shape their own neighbourhoods and communities in political, social, economic, or spatial ways. These communities’ participation in city making have been intrinsic to the development of Nairobi, and we argue that their continued participation in urban developments is crucial to a sustainable future Nairobi. For this purpose it is important that we understand the ramifications of current Covid-19 related curbing measures on these communities. We therefore ask the following: What are the effects of Covid-19 related containment measures on peoples’ abilities to partake in city making in poor communities and neighbourhoods, and how does this compare to the city’s history of containment and distrust? These, and related questions, provide for an historical analysis of containment and city making efforts in urban poor neighbourhoods and allow us to create possible future scenarios that highlight the implications of current Covid-19 related restrictions on city making from below. Based on this, strategies can be suggested for how to handle containment measures, while allowing us to investigate the usefulness of scenario planning for crises in cities where lack of data and statistics make quantitative projections difficult.
Head of Research and Development, Urban-A
Associate Professor of Urban Geography, London School of Economics and Political Science
Community Design Architect & Affordable Housing Specialist, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Research Assistant, Urban-A