Population explosion in Mathare slum settlements  and its impacts  on cleaning and maintaining Mathare River


Many countries have made river restoration their priority because of the increasing awareness of environmental degradation. Over the past 20 years, since the restoration of rivers began, many approaches have been considered, and they have ranged from the idealist objective to re-establish the pre-disturbance aquatic functions and related physical, chemical and biological characteristics, removing all human impacts to a more realistic approach that considers restoration to be the human-assisted improvement of river integrity (Gonza´lez, Garcı´a, & Roma´n, 2012). This is through the recovery of natural hydrologic, geomorphic and ecological processes, assuming the many financial, political, social, natural and scientific constraints that are unavoidable in human-dominated systems (Gonza´lez et al., 2012) According to (Kithiia, 2012) degradation trends in water quality within river systems worldwide are mainly due to changes and intensity in land use activities. These activities range from industrial, agricultural, transportation as well as residential uses. Informal settlements as a form of residential areas, chiefly contributes to the degradation of river waters in many cities of the world (Kithiia, 2012). This has therefore prompted governments of affected countries to take action with regards to the restoration and rehabilitation of riparian ecosystems in order to manage them. This problem stems from inadequate land use planning within river resources for better quantity and quality of water.

Spain underwent extensive economic development during the last 25 years with an associated significant environmental impoverishment (Gonza´lez et al., 2012). This lead to major landscape transformations such as the construction of many large dams implying significant river degradation caused by intensive flow regulation, river channelization and water pollution. The Spanish government through (Gonza´lez et al., 2012) the Ministry of Environment, prepared River Basins Management Plans (RBMPs) like the National Strategy for River Restoration in 2006. Several years later after the organization of this strategy, many actions and restoration projects were implemented with varying ecological relevance and degrees of success. During 2008–2010 the European research project FORECASTER (Facilitating the application of Output from Research and Case Studies on Eco-logical Responses to hydro-morphological degradation and rehabilitation) sixty restoration case-studies undergone in Spanish rivers were analyzed. The results showed a clear tendency of enhancing river structure (e.g., riparian vegetation or fish-passes) without considering other options addressed to ameliorating river processes (e.g., environmental flow regimes, enlarging dimensions of the active floodplain, improving land-use planning for better quantity and quality of water). Nairobi River Basin is a complex of several parallel streams that flow in an eastward direction and meet Athi River eventually flowing to the Indian Ocean 600 km away (Makathimo & Guthiga, 2010). The main rivers of the Nairobi river system are namely; Motoine/ Ngong River, Nairobi River and the Mathare River. The perceived open access of these riparian zones (Charles, 2006) triggers dense settlement devoid of supporting infrastructure whose ultimate effect on the receiving environment is degrading. The riparian reserves of these rivers are currently vulnerable to degradation as a result of human induced activities mainly driven by the settlement of human populations in these zones (UNEP, 1999).

A number of legislations in Kenya provide for the protection of riparian zones and riparian ecosystems. For instance, EMCA (1999) provides for the protection of rivers as crucial ecosystems by stipulating that a uniform width of 30 meters should be left from the bank of the rivers as a riparian reserve to enhance conservation of the river ecosystem. The Nairobi County Council (NCC) by-laws as well, withhold the principle of riparian ecosystem conservation by proposing that 30 meters width be left from the river banks of the rivers. Equally, the Physical Planning Act cap 286 and the Agricultural Act also provide for a 30 meter conservation width from the highest water mark of a river. In 1999, the government of Kenya and other stakeholders launched the Nairobi River Basin Program to “restore, rehabilitate and manage the Nairobi River basin’s ecosystem”. The Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan Development-which is none existent today-, the National Environmental Management Agency, the Ministry of Local Government, the Nairobi City Council, UN agencies and the private sector are among the organizations involved (Amnesty International, 2009).

In November 2008 the government announced that the latest phase of the program would involve a two-year river clean-up process. To achieve this, thousands of homes and businesses were to be demolished in a number of informal settlements within a 30 meters riparian reserve which included the informal settlements of Mathare Valley that is, Kosovo, Mathare No. 10, Mathare 3A, 3B and 3C, Village 2 and Kiamutisya. A number of schools, health centers and markets used by residents would also be demolished (Amnesty International, 2009).

However, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the affected members have not been adequately consulted by the government or other stakeholders and fears of eviction from this land only leaves them wondering where they would seek alternative accommodation and livelihoods. This only serves to trigger resistance to the eviction by the slum dwellers and the rejection of the entire cleanup program. Given this fact, and the fact that slums contribute significantly to the degradation of the river ecosystem, a major challenge to the clean-up of the Mathare River therefore presents itself (Musembi, 2009).

The Nairobi River-basin has over the years been heavily polluted leading to the degradation of the riparian ecosystem. Among the key agents responsible for the degradation is the presence of slums along the riparian zone. Mathare River is one of the most affected by the expanding slum settlements along the river to the extent of rendering it a dead ecosystem. The government’s efforts to clean up the river such as eviction of the slum dwellers, has yielded no tangible fruits yet. This is manifested by the current state of Mathare river waters which is choking with solid and liquid waste. This waste is coming from the slums which do not have solid waste management and sanitation services. The government’s approach in rehabilitating this river has not worked because of lack of participation and active consultation of the affected communities in decision making process and the in-exploration of other feasible alternatives to eviction such as the provision of essential services in the slums particularly water, proper sanitation and solid waste management services. The government must urgently address these issues if the river clean-up program is to be sustainable and compliant with international standards.

After a very long period of adopting streams and rivers as well as their catchments to agricultural, domestic, drinking water and industrial needs amongst others, people became aware of the damage being caused by these alterations (Verdnoschot, Lapinska, & Zalewski, 2008). A multitude of overlapping river water uses in urban areas interferes with river ecology and can lead to negative conditions for urban development. In addition uses have competing needs and spatial requirements. In the view of (Schanze,, Olfert, Tourbier, Ines, & Schwager, 2004) such conflicts for instance do exist between drinking water supply and wastewater discharge, flood protection and ecological functions, historic preservation and waterfront development as well as between recreation areas and river navigation locks. (Schanze, et al., 2004) further expound that societal demands can thus form effective obstacles for river rehabilitation enhancement activities demanding a high level of effort from all planning participants. According to (Kithiia, 2012) and (Verdnoschot et al., 2008) recently, physical stream restoration has become a priority for local, regional, national and international authorities.

In the Netherlands, only about 4% of the streams still have a natural morphology and a (more or less) natural hydrology. In Denmark, only 2% is more or less natural and in Germany the respective value is between 2 and 5% (Verdnoschot et al., 2008). Environmental awareness, concern for the loss of stream and floodplain habitats and biodiversity provided the (political) route for stream rehabilitation and restoration (Verdnoschot et al., 2008).

Approaches applied by governments in cleaning and maintenance of rivers

Verdnoschot et al.(2008) argue that from a scientific point of view, there are many possibilities for physical stream restoration, for example restoration of flood plain, restoration of meanders, removal of dams and bank fixation. New innovative approaches include the adding of coarse woody debris, the removal of sediment deposits in flood plains and various other methods to combat deep cutting of streams. Stream ecosystems are considered to be complex because their functioning is not limited to the stream itself and the banks but it stretches out all over the catchment. Stream restoration in Europe is rising very fast (Verdnoschot et al., 2008). For example in the Netherlands in 1991, 70 projects were performed, in 1993 this had risen to 170, and by 1998 it was up to 206 (Verdonschot & Nijboer, 2002).

A long history of extensive human interventions in rivers has shaped urban riverscapes. Today they are characterized by anthropogenic impairments and spatial constraints in an artificial environment (Schanze, Olfert, Tourbier, Ines & Schwager, 2004).River restoration and waterfront development are in the mode, ranging from Europe over the American continent to Australia (Schanze, Olfert, Tourbier, Ines & Schwager, 2004).Goals for stream enhancement projects vary both spatially and temporally(Booth, 2005). Against the background of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD), within enhancement, ecological conditions are considered of special weight. River restoration centers have been formed to offer assistance and guidelines (Adams, Perrow, & Carpenter, 2004). In France for example, the problem of mixed sewer overflows in the municipality of Grézieu laVarenne into the river La Chaudanne (tributary of the Yzeron River) was solved by a partnership developed for inter-municipal basin management. The surface and waste water systems were separated, and storm water retaining, treatment and infiltration structures installed. The SAGYRC (Syndicat d‟Aménagement et de Gestion de l’Yzeron –Cooperation board for the Management of the Yzeron river basin) presents an interesting organizational model for planning and implementing effective management and rehabilitation of water courses. This scheme already has proved its functionality in terms of reducing sewer overflow, though little definite can be stated about the ecological effects (Schanze, et al., 2004). This rehabilitation project was comprehensive in its approach in that it covered ecological and social, as well as security aspects, utilization of a reference and testing section. In Germany, in the course of the reuse of a degraded Elbe harbor facility in Hamburg, as a new neighborhood park, parts of the harbor basin were in filled. The head of the former shipping dock was turned into a sloping, green riparian zone. The success of this measure was put into question when residents started a public “Bathing in the dock” campaign that conflicts with the original goal of recreating a natural habitat. This project was carried out by the City board for Environment and Health, Hamburg (Schanze, et al., 2004).

In Addis Ababa Ethiopia, the Addis Ababa Environment Protection Bureau, Urban Planning Office, and local partners initiated a project proposal on Sustainable use of River and Riverbanks in 2008 for four years. According to (Tigabu & Girma, 2008) the objective of the project was to improve the environmental conditions and encourage sustainable usage of Addis Ababa‟s river and riverbank area. The activities (Tigabu & Girma, 2008) included to; develop a comprehensive river environment plan, in coordination with residents, local businesses, that adequately deals with existing usage; awareness creation, capacity building, sensitization of all actors, regulations development and Build soil and water conservation structures and greenery and plantation. Kenya implemented its own river restoration program in 1999 under the name Nairobi River Basin Program (NRBP) (Kithiia, 2012) and (Charles, 2006). The vision of the program was „a restored riverine eco-system with clean water for the capital city and a healthier environment for the people of Nairobi‟ while its objective was to rehabilitate, restore and manage the Nairobi River ecosystem in order to provide improved livelihoods (especially for the poor) enhanced biodiversity, and a sustainable supply of water for domestic and industrial, recreational and emergency uses (Kuria, 1999). NRBP as an initiative was launched by UNEP as a three-phased program as follows (Kuria, 1999);

Phase I (October 1999 to March 2000) constituted a situation assessment of water quality, a preliminary public awareness and education campaign, community outreach through pilot income generation projects, and capacity building amongst stakeholders. It also developed an Environmental Management Information System (EMIS)

Phase II (June 2001 to December 2003) was a pilot initiative focusing on a tributary of the Nairobi River system – the Motoine/Ngong River. Pollution monitoring and assessment was limited to a section of the Motoine/Ngong River basin 22 km upstream of Nairobi Dam, the Dam itself, and 25 km downstream to the confluence with the Athi River. The aim of this phase was not only to address the problem of pollution in Nairobi’s rivers but also to put in place community education and information programs to enable capacity building amongst key grassroots stakeholders.

Phase III (January 2005 to December 2008) recognizes the benchmarks laid down by NRBP phases I and II as pillars to achieve its long-term vision.

In November 2008 the government announced that the latest phase of the program would involve a two-year river clean-up process. This would involve the demolition of homes and businesses in a number of informal settlements within a 30 meters riparian reserve which included the informal settlements of Mathare Valley that is, Kosovo, Mathare No. 10, Mathare 3A, 3B and 3C, Village 2 and Kiamutisya (Amnesty International, 2009).

Increased housing development and the challenge it poses in cleaning and maintaining rivers

Although water shortage is a major threat, water contamination and pollution poses a more immediate serious problem (Duraiappah, 1996). The author further comment that in the past human waste was deposited in natural systems but with increasing populations, the load of human waste has far exceeded the natural systems absorption and cleansing rate. Therefore, without modern sanitation systems to help relieve the natural systems, it is only logical for the natural systems, including water, to become degraded. High rural-urban migration rates have placed existing inadequate and antiquated sanitation and waste disposal facilities in cities in many developing countries under stress (Duraiappah, 1996). By and large, the water contamination problem caused by human waste is an urban problem and has been largely ignored in (Chan, 2010) many developing countries because policymakers do not recognise slums as legal entities. The status of illegality then relinquishes policy makers of any obligation to provide adequate sanitation facilities (Duraiappah, 1996). Similar to industrial waste, if human waste is dumped in amounts excessive to the cleansing rate of the systems, it can only result in an accumulation of waste to toxic levels as well as the deterioration of the water system of its cleansing properties (Chan, 2010).

According to the scientists at the National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute, a staggering 70% of the available water in India is polluted (Nagdeve, 2002). Sewage generated from 25 heavy polluting cities and towns account for about 75 per cent of the pollution load in the river. The Yamuna with 200 million litres of untreated muck being dumped in it every day by Delhi’s Sewerage System has become one of the most polluted rivers in the world (Nagdeve, 2002). Due to the blinding eye given to the mushrooming of informal settlements and other forms of developments by city planners in the third world countries, lack of or inadequate provision of essential infrastructure within such these informal set-ups has led to almost ninety per cent of sewage being discharged directly into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters without being treated (Sango, 2007). The 50-year-old sewer system in Cairo originally built to serve 2 million people is completely inadequate for the current 11million (Miller, 1998). The third world has got its slum dwellers accounting for about 17 per cent of the world population who have no choice but to use the soiled river or lake water for bathing, washing and even drinking (Sango, 2007) with slum settlements in Zimbabwe’s city of Harare adding to this statistic. Slums therefore present a challenge in cleaning and maintaining rivers given their current status.

In the poor suburban zones of Kenya’s Nairobi city, indiscriminate disposal of municipal solid and liquid waste at the river side is common (Mutisya & Yarime, 2011). Nairobi River and Nairobi Dam have been victims of MSW pollution from the slums surrounding them such as Kibera (Henry, Yongsheng, & Jun, 2006). The same scenario is witnessed in Mathare River with the adjacent Mathare slums dwellers using the river to get rid of their uncollected solid and liquid waste. The riparian reserves of the three Nairobi Rivers (Mathare, Ngong, and Nairobi) feature numerous informal settlements (Charles, 2006) without adequate sewerage and sanitation services. More often than not, the rivers are used for discharging raw sewage. This further illustrates that the development and growth of slum settlements brings forth a significant challenge in cleaning and maintaining rivers given the dynamics of slum settlements.

The practicality of restoring and maintaining a the thirty meter riparian zone given the presence of housing development pressures

River restoration has developed significantly as a process and/ or tool for improving degraded watercourses (Mant & Janes, 2008). According to Armin, Roulier, Schager, Weber and Woosley, (2008), the aim of river restoration projects is often not to return rivers to their original condition, but primarily to restore the essential processes and elements of the degraded riverine ecosystem. The degree of success depends among other things, on the extent to which the goals were formulated at the beginning of the project. The authors further argue that in addition to stakeholder involvement, political acceptance and establishing services for the society, however, restoration projects should have sufficient ecological goals.

An assessment of the River Thur Project of Switzerland revealed medium success (Wolsey et al., 2007). Observable success included among others, the recovery of the degraded riparian zone in terms of the width and degree of naturalness (vegetation, soil composition). There was also a marginal improvement on the degree and type of anthropogenic modification, which according to the project proponents, was a large success (Armin et al., 2008). The core drivers of the degradation effect on the entire riparian ecosystem of the Thur River was the wide-ranging engineering works over recent decades which sought to transform rivers and streams into straight, embanked ecosystems. The most obvious consequences for streams were that interactions with the riparian habitat and the groundwater were lacking. In addition, the streams became fragmented by numerous migration barriers for aquatic organisms, specifically for fish species with poor swimming and jumping abilities (Armin et al., 2008) However Redmond (2004) argues that restoration is not practically possible. In her thesis, she records that “there are practical and theoretical objections to the concept of restoration – whether it aims in this case to restore the „natural‟ functioning of a river, or to recreate a historical river course. To call these activities restoration is rather optimistic; most would more properly be defined as „rehabilitation‟ – the partial return to a more natural state. ”The return to a historical channel course in urban areas is rarely possible because of the restriction imposed by nearby homes and businesses (Nolan and Guthrie, 1998, Eden et al, 1999 cited by Redmond M, 2004). For example, the River Restoration Project (RRP) in its 1994 document considered „the term restoration to be important in the sense that it conveys a visionary target of pristine rivers that are wholly returned to an undisturbed state. In practice, this target will rarely be achievable and restoration will comprise a sustainable balance between the essential needs of people and the natural environment. In practice restoration will comprise a programme of rehabilitation and enhancement‟(quoted in Eden and Tapsell, 2000 and cited by Redmond, 2004)

Bettess and Bain, (2005) are also of this school of thought, in their report on „Decision Support Framework for Assessing and Managing River Rehabilitation‟ they claim that the term river rehabilitation is used rather than river restoration as it may not be possible or desirable, within the constraints of an urban environment, to return the river to its natural state, as is implied by the use of the term „restoration‟. Instead, rehabilitation aims to improve particular aspects of the river, so a rehabilitation project may aim to improve the morphology, water quality, ecology, amenity, aesthetics or flood conveyance functions of the river. Therefore in conclusion restoration of the entire river ecosystem is not practically possible instead focus should be on river rehabilitation whose Common drivers are to increase the value of the land in close proximity to the river (riparian zone) and also to increase the amenity in an urban space and improve the quality of living for the urban community. This scenario suites the Mathare River case Cleaning and Maintenance programme.

Theoretical Framework

Integrated water resource management theory

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) can be described as the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources to maximize the resulting economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems (Roy, Jane, & Venema, 2011). This theory was advanced by UNEP-DHI Center for Water and Environment and popularized by the Dublin principles adopted at an international conference in Dublin in 1992. It promotes a participatory approach to integrated resource management on a watershed basis and promotes the recognition of the economic benefits of managing water and related resources. IWRM is one form of the ecosystem approach as a strategy for the integrated management of land, water, and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005 quoted by Roy et al., 2011). Ecosystems are dynamic complexes of plant, animal, and microorganism communities and their nonliving environment, interacting as a functional unit. Ecosystems vary enormously in size, and can range from microorganisms to large international ocean basins (Roy et al., 2011). According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the ecosystem approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. IWRM, as described by the Global Water Partnership, highlights the interdependence of natural and social systems and provides a practical framework for such integration on a watershed basis.

Al-Jayyousi and Bergkamp (2008) explain that the ecosystem approach in watersheds is based on the notion that water, biodiversity, and environmental protection require establishing interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral and inter-institutional initiatives. They note that these initiatives define strategies for actions and investments based on the needs and priorities of watershed inhabitants. The IWRM theory can be applied to ameliorate the current environmental degradation problem in Mathare River. Inter- disciplinary and inter-sectoral coordination is necessary for the proper management of the Mathare River ecosystem. Community participation in the project is also necessary to ensure its success. This would lead to the maximization of the resulting economic and social welfare in an equitable manner. According to Roy et al. (2011) the strengths and weaknesses of the theory are as follows:

Strengths and Weaknesses of the IWRM Theory


  1. It recognizes the economic benefits of managing water related resources in an integrated manner through the provision of high level of Ecosystem Services.
  2. It is an important Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
  3. Provides additional social and economic benefits including local livelihoods and alleviating poverty within river basins


  1. Implementation is costly as it requires a substantial investment in both institutional framework and infrastructure which can be overwhelming for developing countries
  2. Inter-sectoral integration may be hampered by differing sector specific goals

The ecosystem modelling theory

This theory relies on the development of suitable system models to achieve restoration of ecosystems (Zedler, 2005). According to the author, in many cases these models focus on structural components- what people want to see- while in others, the focus is on the function. System models are therefore used to guide stakeholders in specifying the desired outcome of restoration. Therefore models are developed for restoring rivers and their ecosystems. For example, for the Ayuiquila River Valley in Jalisco, Mexico, a community based restoration effort involves treating sewage before discharge to the river and reforesting river banks by planting trees. The multiple objectives are to please the adjacent land owners, stabilize the banks to reduce erosion and slow eutriphication, shade the river to cool the water and improve water quality for downstream communities who depend on the river for subsistence (Allen, 2004). Functional goals (water quality improvement) outweigh appearances (Zedler, 2005) Therefore the ecosystem theory suggests that a degraded site can be designed and modified to mimic some model. Suitable models can be based on historical information (Egan & Howell, 2001) and on data from remnants of naturally occurring ecosystems, also known as reference sites (White & Walker, 1997). A suitable reference site (model) typically has little evidence of perturbation plus attributes that are desirable, such as high species richness, an abundance of rare species, high water quality (very low turbidity levels) as well as very low riparian encroachment levels for the case of rivers.

The model must recognize and embrace environmental variability across space and time (Simberloff, L, Trombulak, M, & D, 1999). In some cases the model is a sophisticated simulation of how species composition and productivity will change once restoration is underway (Zedler, 2005). This theory can be applied in the cleaning and maintenance programme of Mathare River, through the use of the success story of the 2.5 kilometer pilot stretch between the Museum Hill roundabout and the Racecourse bridge as a reference site (model) in the NRBP.


Approaches applied in cleaning and maintaining Mathare River

The NRBP is a multi-stakeholder project involving the government, private sector, NGOs and the members of the community each with specific roles. The Nairobi County government however plays the key role of initiating all physical processes that were involved in the river rehabilitation and the maintenance of the desired outcome. The government’s role through the MEWNR was mainly tasked to secure grants and the procurement of services for the project. The private sector and donor agencies were involved through the provision of various grants and monitoring their use to ensure integrity of the whole project. Members of the public, which included residents within the riparian community, were involved through the provision of both semi-skilled and unskilled labour in the restoration process. This multi-stakeholder approach is therefore commendable as far as the sustainability of the project is concerned.

Public consultation was however not adequately done. A good number of the community members did not feel sufficiently involved in the project right from identification all the way to implementation. This has since triggered sense of resistance in some members of the community with regards to the approaches proposed in order to achieve the goals of the NRBP. In addition to this, the members of the community are indifferent on the effectiveness of the approaches applied so far in the attempt of rehabilitating Mathare River. A considerable number of the respondents that is, 48% of them were of the opinion that the approaches were ineffective. Therefore the strategies employed in the project need to be enhanced or changed completely if the cleaning and maintenance project on the river is to gain the complete support of the public hence achieve success. The state of the environment is presently still very poor despite the interventions put in place so far. The river is still chocking with raw sewage and other forms of liquid waste in addition to solid waste. This has led to the sharp deterioration in the aesthetic and ecological value of Mathare River ecosystem. This ultimately has had a direct negative bearing on its economic value as well.

The project has however currently stalled for a number of reasons. Chief among them is the absence of clear stewardship which largely rests on the shoulders of both the national government as well as the county government. The project as the researcher found out, was never a government project but an initiative launched by UNEP. The lack of commitment on the side of the government and the restructuring of the national government ministries are therefore chiefly to blame for the current situation. Other reasons blamed for this current stalemate include but are not limited to the absence of active engagement of the community members, corruption and funding limitations.

Challenges the Mathare slums pose to the cleaning and maintenance of Mathare River

Conditions in Mathare Valley slum settlements in particular Kosovo, Village 2, Villages 3A, 3B, 3C and No. 10 do pose a significant threat to NRBP with regards to Mathare River. This is through the following ways;

 The indiscriminate encroachment into the riparian zone by the settlements due to a number of reasons such as lack of awareness, high rural-urban migration, the escalating levels of poverty in the area, corruption, lack of enforcement of the law by responsible authorities and so on.

 The community is reluctant to accept the changes from the status quo (NRBP secretariat)

 The community’s waste disposal mechanisms that is, through the river, are a major challenge due to lack of adequate facilities for proper waste management.

 Diffuse pollution from households located outside the riparian zone is equally a big challenge.

 The fact that 32.3% of the riparian community find the river beneficial is also a challenge as some of the economic activities they derive from the river are unsustainable such as,  chang’aa brewing (mostly in Mathare No. 10), small scale agriculture within the riparian zone, charcoal and brick making.

Possibility of rehabilitating and maintaining a Thirty meter riparian zone

Stakeholders seem to agree that rehabilitation is possible; however some factors may hinder the realization of this goal. They include factors such as, the fact that human population within the riparian zone is already too big to be displaced which is protected by the constitution, the challenge of relocating this population, social-political challenges and some members refusing to relocate for one reason or the other. This means that very creative as well as practical intervention measures have to be implemented given the limitations above if the Mathare River ecosystem rehabilitation is to be sustainable and meet international standards. Another factor that may hinder the rehabilitation of the riparian land and subsequently the entire Mathare River ecosystem is the issue of attachment to the land by the members of the community for one reason or another. The study showed that the longer a resident had stayed in the slum, the less willing he or she was to vacate the land should it be mandatory to do so. This further illustrates the need for the adoption of feasible alternatives to eviction for the rehabilitation goal is to be achieved.


This recommendation made here seeks to highlight feasible alternatives to the approaches already implemented and others that are yet to be implemented such as forced evictions and subsequent demolition of homes and businesses within the thirty meters riparian zone.

Table: Alternative interventions proposed for the cleaning and maintenance of Mathare River

 Alternative Purpose Implications
Integrated Village-Level Land Use Planning To facilitate infrastructure improvements within the slum settlements/ villages. Focus being on village-level priorities and needs. The infrastructure include roads and pathways, improved water connections, drainage, trunk sewer lines, latrines or community latrines, garbage disposal facilities, improved housing and flood protection. Significant Monetary investment/allocation Improved harmonious co-existence between the human and ecological environments
Integration of EIA and subsequent EA into the slum improvement infrastructure To maximize on the benefits of proposed physical enhancement projects and minimize any potential negative impacts Related costs of the study Ensures the participation of the slum dwellers

Saves costs of development through identification of alternatives while ensuring sustainable urban


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