mombasa city scape 1

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Africa which was long considered the dark continent so to speak has transformed itself in ways beyond the expectations of many in less than a hundred years from the days of harsh colonial times. Now, while there may be some who may not agree that  Africa has not pulled itself from the challenges of the past. (Yes there are challenges, but there is also huge potential for growth in almost any sector, we choose to focus on the bustling communities in the African continent to base our argument). Africa is maturing in ways that give the world optimism. The top ten most promising economies are in Africa, we are buzzing with potential. Rich in natural resources, a hardworking population, and huge gaps and opportunities for anyone who wants to succeed in business.

More than half of all human population currently live in cities. By 2050, two-thirds of all humanity—6.5 billion people—will be urban. But our cities are still at where we may call them sustainable.  Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. Kenya and especially cities like Mombasa, have become the economic and transport hub of East Africa, Although poor infrastructure continues to hamper Kenya’s potential for economic growth, the country still ranks highly in Innovation, 36th, and Investor Protection, 80th, this places Kenya 15th on this list from a Forbes report in 2017

The rapid growth of cities—a result of rising populations and increasing migration—has led to a boom in mega-cities, especially in the developing world, and slums are becoming a more significant feature of our urban life. Slums are a new phenomenon for the African communities people. Many of our ancestors had large swathes of land for community affairs such that thinking of living in a slum then is unbearable.

According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals. There is a comprehensive set of 17 interrelated goals which aim to address development challenges to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all are underpinned by a set of 169 targets to be achieved by 2030.

Next year will mark 5 years since the SDGs were established, and this is not a small task. Making cities sustainable means creating career and business opportunities, safe and affordable housing, and building resilient societies and economies. This involves investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning and management in participatory and inclusive ways.

How far we are from this path is still uncertain, but a clear one is that we only have 10 years before the journey is complete and with success marks. What can be done, and how does the African population handle such a task? Comparing the output of our African population to the well developed west may even be harder to imagine, but there is still hope. Lots of it.

Fourteen out of 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals can easily get integrated into student  engagement experiences to ensure success. Just like in all life goals, the win starts in the mindset more than in the actual fulfillment. By integrating the SDGs as a philosophy  anyone undergoing training should inculcate the goals in their learning.

Consistent efforts towards supporting goals 1, 8, 9, 10, 11: poverty alleviation; decent work and economic growth; industry innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; and sustainable cities and communities. The UN SDGs are not going to be achieved without the efforts of many individuals, companies, NGOs, and civic organizations around the world and that is importantly what private entities should come along to achieve. The UN says that the identified goals cannot be achieved by governments alone. Extensive global collaboration across a broad range of stakeholders and institutions – including educational ones – are required to make progress.

Now, back to the sustainable cities and communities, it is the individual and collective effort that African can go back to nurturing. The old adage of it takes a village to raise a man comes in once again – this time round – it takes an individual to lead the way. As Africans, the leaders may be the political, religious or other quasi leaders in our spaces that call the shots, but the real leader is in all of us. We can only get the cities and the communities we desire when we consciously purpose and work towards them. As an example, the Mombasa Sustainable Forum and the Dar es Salam based Ushahidi Instittute which are tagged on the UN SDGs is a good example of small teams starting out and influencing change, innovation and leadership. Let our choices be built on the firm foundation of self leadership towards building the communities we desire.


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