Mombasa County is a strategic location within the Northern Economic Corridor (NEC), connecting to the rest of East Africa, and thus a key player in commerce and tourism. Nonetheless, the port city is facing many challenges such as water, sanitation, transportation and waste disposal.
To understand challenges and provide solutions, COMRED with other partners; County Government of Mombasa, eThekwini Municipality (Durban, South Africa), University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa), Macquarie University (Australia), Kenya Marine & Fisheries Research Institute (Mombasa, Kenya), ilab Africa (Strathmore University) and UN-HABITAT through the Miji Bora project aims to co-creatively examine the city systems and design practical pathways to becoming a smart and sustainable coastal city.
The project will examine the planning & governance processes related to energy (sources, consumption and efficacy), water, sanitation and waste disposal, urban environmental processes (ecological footprints), transport and digitalisation. The project will also conduct hands-on peer to peer learning exchanges between Mombasa and eThekwini Municipality (Durban).
Thanks to the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) through the Cities & Coast Project that gave life & support to the Miji Bora Project.
The city’s main challenges with respect to water and sanitation are inadequate clean water supply, treatment and distribution; lack of modalities for storm water management and recycling and; inefficient/ageing sewage infrastructure. Identify the sources of water, estimate supply coverage, analyse water quality (especially of the boreholes), follow the flow of wastewater to establish loses, and establish the social and environmental impacts of the solid waste disposal. Use the lessons learnt from eThekwini Municipality to come up with strategies to address the problem.
Miji Bora is a transdisciplinary action research project with a project team drawn from researchers and city officials in both Mombasa and Durban. It is supported by Coastal and Marine Resources Development (COMRED) in Mombasa and funded by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Sciences Association (WIOMSA) within its Cities and Coasts programme. The aim of the Miji Bora project is to develop and prototype smart and sustainable solutions for a climate resilient County Government of Mombasa (CGM). The peer to peer (P2P) learning component of the Miji Bora project seeks to develop and test a framework for “P2P learning between cities”, critically assessing the efficacy of the CGM experience. P2P learning between cities protocols have been established within the Durban Adaptation Charter’s Hub and Compact Approach to Adaptation since 2011
The first peer to peer learning exchange between officials of eThekwini Municipality and the County Government of Mombasa took place from 11 – 13th November 2019 in Mombasa, Kenya. These two coastal cities share many similarities and challenges, and both have committed to improving the functioning of their governments and addressing climate change through engaging in a series of learning exchanges. The November exchange focused on sustainable solutions to climate change-related challenges in the Water, Sanitation, Solid Waste, Environment, Transport and Energy sectors and was convened as one of the key activities of the Miji Bora action research project.
The first exchange visit coincided with unusually persistent rainfall in Mombasa. The so-called short rains of October and November were remarked, by many, to resemble the long rains of April to June. This was due to the state of the Indian Ocean Dipole (analogous to the better known El Nino event). The increased rainfall served to highlight challenges around transport and drainage, which in of itself was useful, but was also an impediment to visiting sites. For example, access to the new landfill site is not possible during persistent rains, and some CGM officials were not able to attend meetings due to not being able to make it to the venues. Despite these challenges, there was a real commitment from, and an interest shown by the CGM officials in the peer learning process, and the meetings exceeded expectations in terms of highlighting topics and projects for the main exchange in Durban early next year. The exchange visit culminated in a visit to the Mombasa County Government Committee Clerk’s office and the opportunity to present to the Environment, Solid Waste and Energy Committee.
Global warming represents one of the greatest challenges that the planning profession has ever faced. As we saw earlier, addressing the twin challenges of exponential population growth and climate change will require planning approaches which fall outside the usual neoliberal planning paradigm of economic efficiency and rationalisation. While this does not necessarily call for new institutions, it calls for new thinking. In view of this fact, this project will assess the city’s existing policies, development plans, vision documents and institutional arrangements in order to establish their relevance and effectiveness in the face of climate change.
The project will evaluate the need to utilise geospatial capabilities to help in the management of both natural and capital intensive infrastructure, enhance response to natural disaster and inform the sustainability management of a vibrant community with a strong and diverse economy. Among other specific activities, we will identify and map vulnerable areas, establish mechanisms of transitioning from disaster preparedness to increase effectiveness in coping with hazards. We will also embed geospatial technology and spatial prioritization tools in the planning and monitoring framework. The overall idea is to establish ways in which Mombasa city can be transformed into a smart digital city.
We will identity the sources of energy in Mombasa city, but more importantly we will evaluate its efficiency and conservation.It is an established fact that more reliable and affordable energy can help reduce vulnerability to acute hazards and increase communities’ capacity to cope with the impacts of those hazards. Therefore, energy efficiency has tangible impacts on resilience. We will characterise energy consumption in the city, identify energy efficiency gaps and potential solutions, evaluate costs and benefits of potential solutions, analyse implementation barriers and peak demand constraints and evaluate the codes and practices on energy regulations for building.