“Our goal is to provide Nairobi with the capacity and policy framework that enables a shift from crisis response towards integrated development planning for enhanced disaster risk preparedness and management.”

Nairobi’s population of 5m is growing at a rapid pace of 4-5% each year. Half of this population lives in informal settlements, or ‘slums’, which occupy just 12% of the city’s land area. Meanwhile, Nairobi is one of Africa’s economic hubs and home to leading international institutions on environment and risk-related issues, including the UN Environment Programme and UN-Habitat.

Nairobi’s development is threatened by multiple hazards, exacerbated by shocks from changing environmental and climate conditions, and  the rapid expansion of its population and infrastructure. Floods, collapsing buildings and fires are prevalent, and the city is at risk of larger scale disasters from earthquakes. The combined impacts of these major hazards over time create and compound various day-to-day hazards within slums, relating to health, sanitation and traffic accidents, and trap people in cycles of poverty through social, environmental and economic disintegration.
These multiple hazards and their impacts slow the city’s economic development and aspirations for meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. In response, the Nairobi County Government has prepared a County Disaster Management Act that mandates the Directorate of Disaster Management to prepare a disaster management plan. In addition, the City Government has recently begun engaging various stakeholders through Special Planning Area (SPA) initiatives, aimed at facilitating an integrated approach to disaster risk reduction within slums.

As rapid urbanisation continues, these multi-stakeholder and policy activities provide a window of opportunity to influence Nairobi’s approach to disaster risk reduction, through more integrated and inclusive disaster risk planning and management.

Research objectives

The Nairobi City-Hub will utilise interdisciplinary research as a tool for convening stakeholders from across sectors and local communities to facilitate collective action towards addressing the drivers and impacts of multiple hazards. Our programmes of work will seek to establish a new integrated evidence base on the city’s most prominent hazards and risks, their drivers, uncertainties, root causes and potential solutions, as well as to build greater capacity for collecting and applying this evidence in disaster risk management.  

Specifically, our impact objectives are to:

  1. Apply interdisciplinary research evidence to convene and strengthen the emerging community of practice around disaster risk reduction, facilitating a more integrated informed and inclusive approach.
  2. Support the incorporation of co-produced disaster risk reduction measures in new action planning initiatives in informal settlements, to benefit poor and vulnerable residents.
  3. Support the design of a risk-sensitive urban development policy framework, informed by new multi-hazard science and a more proactive approach to management of risk accumulation.
  4. Provide compelling examples of multiple interacting risks and how they can be co-managed by state and non-state actors