Urban ARK 18: Supporting community-led research on risks and creating policy platforms to enhance Nairobi’s governance for resilience
This briefing outlines the development of community-led research to promote urban governance for resilience and how impactful partnerships can be created within a research programme. Based on Urban-ARK’s work in Nairobi, it explores how detailed data collection on risks provided the basis for renewed community mobilisation, networking across informal settlements, and policy engagement with local officials. Nairobi’s informal settlements typically face several risks such as low-quality shelter or infrastructure, fires linked to hazardous illicit electricity, flooding, crime, and unresponsive local governance.
The briefing analyses three interlinked initiatives that highlight the aspiration to move from simply providing a database for decision support, to opening spaces for stakeholders’ critical reflection and collaboration building aimed at fostering resilience to multiple risks:
- The ‘Demand-Driven Resilience’ sub-programme for the Special Planning Area (SPA) in Mukuru and Viwandani, led by the Kenyan slum dweller federation, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, and Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT);
- Kounkuey Design Initiative’s (KDI) training and networking initiative in Kibera; and
- the Nairobi City Risk Partnership. Findings demonstrate how the research and capacity-building activities strengthened residents’ relations with government officials in Nairobi, while bolstering pre-existing initiatives and pathways for evidence-based risk management.
Reflections on the approach show that major social and political gains can be achieved using technical processes in which residents not only enhance their skills and data on risks, but also build vibrant networks and advocate collectively for future interventions.