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Barriers to Spatial Planning for Intermediary Cities in Kenya – The Case of Kisumu and Homa Bay Counties


Year published: 2023
Categories: Articles
URL Link: https://isocarp.org/app/uploads/2023/05/ISOCARP_2022_Kola_ISO81.pdf

Author / Authors:

  • Kola, M.
  • Bretelle, L.
  • Chanin-Morris, R.
  • Gitau, H.
  • Rovira, A.



Smaller urban centres (referred to as intermediary cities) are playing a key role in urbanisation in the Global South, including Sub-Saharan Africa. Effective spatial planning has been identified as crucial to unlocking the potential of these settlements, yet the barriers these areas face to effectively implementing plans have been largely overlooked. The study aimed to shed light on this issue through the case studies of Kisumu and Homa Bay Counties in Kenya, which certain emerging intermediary cities, and have been facing barriers to implementing regional and local spatial plans as per the mandate under Kenya's devolution agenda. Through the analysis of the semi-structured interviews and multiple focus group discussions, the paper highlights that the primary barriers include the lack of legal framework to implement plans; weak political support leading to the under-resourcing of planning departments; political interference in the planning process; inadequate land registry systems; and cultural practices around land use. Based on these results the paper draws conclusions about the need to strengthen the technical tools required to implement planning effectively in Kenya. It also opens avenues for further research regarding the importance of effective planning implementation in achieving healthier more competitive intermediary cities in sub-Sahara Africa.

Intermediary cities, spatial planning, plan implementation, devolution, Kenya, Sub-Saharan Africa



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