Exclusion, Contradiction and Ambiguity in Planning Laws and the Proliferation of Urban Informality in Kenya

  • Jeremiah Ayonga University of Nairobi
Keywords: Exclusion, and contradiction, in planning laws, proliferation, informality


The Town planning practice, which began in Europe and North America towards the end of the 19th century, was also exported to Kenya during colonial rule. Due to racial discrimination, the said laws facilitated planning in European and Asian settlements but excluded the African areas. Paradoxically, the component of exclusion was retained by post-colonial governments, implying that the planning laws continued to facilitate a duality of spatial patterns. Exclusionary planning during colonial and post-colonial regimes, therefore, created formal and informal space realms both in the urban and rural areas of Kenya. The review of literature shows that there was no effort in the early years of post-colonial era to either reverse informal development in areas where it occurred or accelerate planning in colonial era-formal zones. However, there was systematic effort to exclude some areas hitherto viewed as well-planned from the planning bracket. Further, laws that facilitated effective development control during colonial era were later weakened or expunged from the statutes during post-colonial era. Post-colonial policy approaches have, thus, led to ineffective development control in areas hitherto considered well-planned. The result is that Informality increased in magnitude in former African areas, while the same informality also crept back to the formerly well-planned European and Asian settlements. The result is that both former informal-African and formal-European settlements appeared to coalesce towards one huge informal settlement.