K for Kitale


Concept: Participatory planning tools, Partnership.

Kitale is a city in Kenya known for planners as an example of participatory planning approaches. Kitale project took place in three slums in partnership between slum communities and the public, private and NGO sectors for the purpose of building local capacity to assess and address the needs of slum dwellers through slum upgrading. The implementing NGO created a toolkit of participatory urban planning based on the experience obtained in Kitale.

Key actors:

  • Kitale municipal council.
  • Intermediate Technology Development Group (NGO)
  • Local community.
  • University of Nairobi’s department for urban and regional plan.
  • Kenya institute of planners.
  • The Association of Local Government Authorities of Kenya
  • Kenya Local Government Reform Programme
  • The Local Authority Service Development Action Plan

The Methods used in the project:

  • Key Stakeholders’ analysis and inventory.
  • Stakeholder ranking.
  • Planning by people: neighborhood planning processes, (community mapping, data verification, visualizing the future, action planning and development of strategies, evaluation of alternatives, compilation of the plan, resources mobilization, project implementation).
  • Monitoring & evaluation.

 The project worked on the following methods;

  • Survey scanning of local institutions
  • Infrastructure interventions, and
  • Action planning and development of neighborhood plans


The pilot project focused on 3 slum settlements as pilot project to test participation tools, below are a brief introduction of the challenges faced in each of them, the methods used  and the final results:

1. Kipsongo:

Challenges: Immigrant tribes, conflicts over farming & grazing activities, threat to land tenure.


  • Strategic action plan build by the residents, prioritizing water and sanitation interventions and included future growth options. (Such as a women’s community centre, a health clinic and police post).
  • Joint implementation.
  • Future projects are being discussed (health service).
  • Security of land tenure is being discussed.

kkk12. Shimo la Tewa:

Challenges: Poor-quality housing,  inadequate access to water &sanitation, poor pedestrian accessibility.


  • The action planning prioritized building a 130- meter bridge to improve pedestrian connectivity.
  • Building in partnership and voluntary (skilled & unskilled) labour.
  • Shared funding and materials supply.
  • Shared responsibilities of maintenance.

kkk23. Tuwan

Challenges: Densely populated ‘slum’, threats to land tenure, lack of services.


  • Participation planning action prioritized access to water supply and sanitation.
  • Construction of a communal ablution block, comprising water-borne latrines, showers with provision for hot water, laundry facilities and a multi-purpose room.
  • Participatory design through design clinics.
  • Local production of materials, inclusion of most vulnerable groups (women) in shared material production.
  • Shared maintenance.

Video about  Kisumo:

Critical Views about Kitale Project:

There are some critical discussions about the participation process in Kitale and many studies were conducted on the methods used and the results. They can be viewed in the ‘further readings’ section below. Some are also elaborated in the short movies below:


Participatory urban planning toolkit based on the Kitale experience: http://practicalaction.org/docs/ia3/participatory-urban-planning-toolkit-kitale.pdf

Case study prepared for Planning Sustainable Cities, Global Report on Human Settlements 2009. (Developing Participatory Planning, Practices in Kitale, Kenya).


Further readings

Blog from UCL on Participatory Action Upgrading and Well-Being in Kisumu by Stephanie Butcher


Participatory Urban Planning and Partnerships Building: http://www.fig.net/pub/accra/papers/ts18/ts18_04_chege.pdf

Website of the NGO involved in the Project: http://practicalaction.org/


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