Geography of Nairobi
Nairobi is the administrative and commercial capital city of Kenya. It is located at the equator at 6000ft above sea level, latitude 1.2833333’ S and Longitude 36.8166667’ E. It covers an area of 684 km2. The population of Nairobi stands at 3.2 million people majority of whom live in slum areas (See Annex) Other Kenyan provinces are central, Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western, Eastern, Coast and North Eastern. Nairobi province is bounded by Rift valley to the West and South, Eastern province to the East, Central province to the North and North East (GoK, 2001, 2003). Nairobi is a varied city, with rapid urbanization amidst deteriorating economic, environmental and health conditions, with features and facilities of a modern city on one hand, and extreme pockets of poverty and destitution on the other hand (Ikonya, 1991; Gathuru, 1990; Wachira, 1994 and GoK, 1985). For instance, it has Kibera, Mathare and Korokocho as major slums, among others, where about 2 million residents live yet occupying only 5% of the municipal residential land (JICA, 1998; GoK, 1994a, 1994b). Kibera prides in being the largest slum in Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 25% of the Nairobi population confined in only 250 hectares of land (GoK, 2003 and WSP, 2005).
Nairobi is administratively divided into divisions or administrative units. These are Mathare, Westlands, Starehe, Dagoreti, Langata, Makadara, Kamkunji and Embakasi. By 1999 population and household census (GoK 2001), there were 3,079,000 people distributed in 649,426 households. These are distributed as follows in the Nairobi administrative divisions. There is a general disparity of incomes as well as population densities in Nairobi. The people living in the western suburbs are generally the more affluent while the lower and middle-income elements of society dominate the eastern suburbs. Nairobi displays a complex surface structure, making it difficult to decipher the distinct land uses of the city surface. Inevitably, there are wide variations in population density reflecting different land use patterns of six distinct land use divisions, namely; the Central Business District (CBD); Industrial Area; public and private open spaces; public land; residential areas; and undeveloped land. The spatially divided internal structure is based on land uses and income levels (Olima 2001, cited in Mitullah, 2003).
The city is littered with lots of garbage, the bulk of which comes from residential sites. The kind, level of solid waste management (SWM) service desired by, as well as the service gaps experienced households remain unclear, making it extremely difficult to improve service delivery (Annex 1). Poverty levels are particularly high in the informal settlements. Water and sanitation facilities in the slums are scarce, and education and health facilities are overstretched. The informal settlements are characterized by high population density (up to 63,000 persons per kilometer) and have a history of neglect by public authorities due to their legal status. Other issues of concern include unaffordable and unsustainable energy resources, unsustainable urban agriculture and environmental degradation. Additionally poor health, insecurity and violence, lack of appropriate entrepreneurial skills as well as poor governance and corruption were identified as critical issues of concern and this really influenced the need to come up with Regional Centre of Expertise for Greater Nairobi (RCEGN)