Federation for
Housing and

Kisumu city and its environs: the way it is today

Kisumu city being one of the key administrative and industrial cities of Kenya faces a number of challenges which have been seen as catalysts to non-sustainable cities.

In the social perspective, Kisumu is characterised by dark streets and alleys, which pedestrians prefer not to use at night when they are alone. The existing parks and public places lack functional basic amenities like toilets and clean water. There is little or completely lack of public participation in the design of projects leading to low ownership. The planners have not considered need for recreational facilities within estate.


In terms of usage and activities, there in a common face of unprofessionally planned structures in Kisumu and surrounding urban centres, a good number being slums and risky for human inhabitancy. Urban dwellers have not exploited on kitchen gardens and other aspects of urban farming in order to subsidize for their daily food supplies. Buildings collapsing in the process of constructions are on the increasing trend, some have led to loss of lives. The existing design of Kisumu which is tangential to the lake left the city with its back facing the lake, making it hard to exploit the aesthetic of the lake, only leaving it as depository point for industrial wastes and sometimes as a car washing bay.


The image and comfort in Kisumu is on the declining trend, characterised by shrinking public’s spaces, sidewalks which have either been occupied by street vendors. The boulevards along the streets are characterised by vandalised bill boards and unmaintained flowerbeds. The common recreational parks are unsafe in the night and lonely hours. The core part of the city signifies proper pre-colonial planning leaving Kisumu surrounded by a belt of slums. There are little protection of monumental building and places of memories as desire to build up modern trend buildings is growing.


Proper access and linkages to Kisumu remains a bigger problem. This trend is replicated in other growing urban centres as well. The planners and road constructors have not done any planning for safe connectivity and movements of pedestrian. Kisumu has only two zebra crossing points. Currently there are major highways under construction but no fly overs or crossing points demarcated for pedestrians.


Our approach as independent association of young planners and evaluators has been to approach sustainability from the grass root level through civic education. Local communities migrate to urban centres, which later on become cities. By enlightening the local community on the required planning measures and modern trends in housing a change in behaviour and attitude can be reached effectively in the end. But this will happen only if this knowledge can be continuously dispensed in schools in order to cultivate a culture of responsible property owners and planners.



Joel Ochieng Agumba is a high school teacher of Chemistry and Mathematics, currently a Masters student in project monitoring of Maseno University.

Joal traveled around major world’s cities in Denmark, Sweden, Qatar, Turkey and also in Zanzibar, beside the neighbouring countries to Kenya, gaining personal experimental view on the planning trends in.

During his visit to Chalmers University, Sweden as an exchange student on deign for sustainable development, he attended the 56th IFHP conference in Gothenburg, as one of the students who assisted in the conference preparations. This inspired him to tilt his career to monitoring and evaluation with bias urban planning, housing and management.


For more information

Contact Project Manager, Viviana Rubbo: