Community Planning: Making Planning Work

Casestudy 14Kenya
Participation for neighbourhood plans in Kitale

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This case shows the importance of diagnostic tools in addressing deficiencies in order to express a public vision for a place. Lessons can be learned from situations where the need for strategic action is recognized.

© Mansoor Ali

In Kenya, the Local Authority Service Delivery Action Plans (LASDAP) programme aimed to get the community engaged in identifying their priorities for investment in service improvement. Plans created in this process were meant to determine the allocation of funds and identification of strategies. However, in many cases, the programme did not go low enough. It stopped at the electoral ward level, where it tended to get hijacked. In other cases, community consultation and collaboration easily became politically driven and lost transparency. Local authorities often involved representatives of only a few powerful community organizations and the large number of the poor lost out.

In response to shortcomings in implementing LASDAP at a local level, Practical Action, a UK-based charity, formed a partnership with Kitale Municipal Council, community groups and NGOs to ensure that the consultation process included low-income and informal communities.

In 2001, a systematic scan survey was conducted to identify and map needs for a wide range of services across all 10 wards of Kitale. An inventory of all stakeholders was developed to identify potential partners and areas of collaboration. The survey identified the informal settlements in greatest need and three were prioritized. A participatory neighbourhood planning approach in each settlement produced development and investment plans and guided the formulation of innovative solutions to sanitation, transportation and other issues. Furthermore, collaboration provided key changes to help efforts towards:

  • understanding needs and priorities of the urban poor;
  • mainstreaming the voices of the urban poor through better communication;
  • developing sustainable partnerships, leading to resolution of issues such as land tenure;
  • partnering with organizations of the poor and NGOs working in the area;
  • assisting communities in mobilization, supporting local management and collective organizations;
  • developing specific neighbourhood plans and linking them to ward- and city-level planning processes;
  • influencing the allocation of financial resources in favour of community priorities.
Efforts in Kitale have provided an opportunity to use similar approaches elsewhere and have gradually removed the barriers that restrict the use of such approaches. The project developed and tested a number of generic approaches to conduct neighbourhood-based planning with the involvement of community groups. Experience has been gained on developing effective partnerships and linking neighbourhood planning to the ward and town levels.

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Mansoor Ali
Mansoor Ali

International Urban Programme Manager Practical Action (ITDG)
Bourton on Dunsmore
CV23 9QZ
This special feature sponsored by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)


Last updated on:14 April 2009