Archive for the ‘Population’ Category

Karen – From Grace to Grass

Written by Sande Dengal,
Edited by Gloria Auma N.

Karen is one of the much sought after leafy suburbs of Nairobi, being rivaled only by areas like Muthaiga and Runda. The Nairobi residents of this upmarket area have enjoyed its quiet and serene environment for quite a long time.


Taxis lined up waiting for customers at the Karen Shopping Center outside a makeshift extension to a building.

The Karen suburb is located within the Northern Nairobi area and got its name from renown Baroness – Karen Christenze von Blixen –Finecke, a Danish author (17.04.1885 –07.09.1962) who lived in the area from 1914 to 1931. She is best known for her book ‘Out of Africa’, which is an account of her life while in Kenya. The book was adopted into an Academy Award winning film. She also established the Karen Coffee Company.

Karen is a low-density, single-dimensional development area, characterised by large residential subdivisions, very good amenities and lower crime rates. Over the years it has been home to both wealthy and prominent people in Kenyan society.

In the recent past, however, it has attracted many a good number of people seeking to settle within its bounds. This has led to a high demand for, and establishment of shopping malls around the area. This pits the benefits to individuals against broader social and environmental concerns.

Karen Shopping Center  is located at a-round-about serving both Ngong Road and d and Langata Road. In many situations, strip or ribbon development takes place when extensive commercial development occurs in a linear pattern along both sides of major arterial roadways. Like other aspects of urban sprawl, it is viewed as ugly and as a cause of traffic congestion caused by old matatus parked on both sides of the road, mushrooming roadside kiosks, people trading second hand cloths, stagnant water in non functional drainage systems as well as  a constant barrage of disorderly foot traffic from shoppers and workers entering and exiting the street.

“This aspect of urban sprawl has led to the insecurity of the area.” Said Ronald Musengi, a Commissioner at the National Police Service Commission and a long time resident of Karen.  

The 2014 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects UN report says rapid urbanisation brings opportunities for governments to improve access to important services. “Providing public transportation, as well as housing, electricity, water and sanitation for a densely settled population is typically cheaper and less environmentally damaging than providing a similar level of services to a predominantly rural household,” it says.


Mushrooming commercial establishments have increased the foot traffic along the Karen roads.

The residents of Karen acknowledge that growth is inevitable but are asking the Nairobi City County government to intervene. The residents would like the government to address the situation by expansion of available facilities to cater to the new populations and have Karen reclaim its former glory. Would Nairobi City County take up the request and embrace this evident opportunity to improve access to the important services – public transportation, water and sanitation for the shopping center?

UK – United Kisumu the Millennium City

The UK of Kenya, Kisumu city on the shores of Lake Victoria – in 2006, was designated the first United Nations Millennium City in the world by UN-HABITAT.

UN-HABITAT outlined the broad development strategy for Kisumu. The outline takes note of the fact that the challenge was to translate the vision into a reality adding that an MDG- based plan would provide the focus to achieve this and that the major hurdles in Kisumu include water and sanitation.

Kisumu city stands again among the eleven (11) cities in eight (8) African countries under the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI). The MCI helps selected sub-Saharan cities accomplish the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the eight universally endorsed targets focused on poverty eradication, health, education, gender equality, environmental protection and global partnerships. MCI’s social sector and investment-related research gives these regional capitals the information they need to generate comprehensive, integrated city development strategies aimed at ensuring the delivery of social services and attracting job-generating investment.

The city founded in 1901 with the coming of the Kenya – Uganda Railway. Its population has since grown to over half a million people, some 60 percent of whom live below poverty line. It lies a few kilometers South of the equator and this makes it a tourist attraction. One feature is Kisumu’s sunset – often magnificent or better. In Kisumu, the days are always around 12 hours long and sunset is always between 1840h and 1900h. If you are in UK, find a good spot on the Lake Victoria or a high place with a good view of the Western horizon.

Nairobi a city and home to over 3 million Nairobians!

Nairobi was founded in 1899 just as a simple rail depot between Mombasa, Kenya, and Uganda railway.  It is the capital and largest urban hub of Kenya. The name “Nairobi” originates from a Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which means “cold water“. The Maasai name of the Nairobi river, which flows through the suburbs and across the business district  and in turn lent its name to the city – Nairobi – also popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun”.

By 1907, Nairobi quickly expanded to become the capital of British East Africa and eventually the economic hub – capital of republic of Kenya in 1963.  Nairobi is also the headquarters of the Nairobi County – former province.

The green city in the sun is the populous city in region, with a current approximated population of over 3 million. According to the 2009 Census, in the administrative area of Nairobi, 3,138,295 inhabitants lived within 696 km2 (269 sq miles). Continent-wise, according to United Nations World Urbanization Prospects report, Nairobi is ranked the twelfth [12th] largest city in Africa.

Nairobi – the city is an established hub for business, transport, education, culture among others. Nairobi plays hosts to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over hundred major international organisations, including the United Nations Environment Programme by 1972 and the main coordinating and headquarters for the UN in Africa & Middle East, the United Nations Office in Nairobi.

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