Associations of Residents are Crucial in Sustainable Development

By Khalifa Hemed
Published December 26, 2017

Prof Judi Wangalwa Wakhungu, Kenya's Minister for  Environment and Natural Resources, says associations of residents are crucial in helping alleviate the envisaged environmental, social and economic challenges of urbanisation.As the number of humanity living in urban areas is expected to hit the 70% mark in 2050,organisations of voluntary members living within the same neighbourhood are needed to assist in urban governance.

Prof Judi Wangalwa Wakhungu, Kenya’s Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, says associations of residents are crucial in helping alleviate the envisaged environmental, social and economic challenges of urbanisation.

Urban areas, she argues, may present an opportunity to share resources and space sustainably. However, most cities and urban areas are currently experiencing management and capacity challenges and this constitute a serious setback to environmental sustainability and human well-being. For instance, she says, rapid urbanisation has led to the informal settlements, while zones previously designated as rural settlements are now part of urban settlement.

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Such areas not only experience acute shortage of public services but rapid urbanisation has taken place against background of weakening capacity of local government. Hence the emergence of neighbourhood associations of residents to compliment efforts of local government.

Such associations of residents, Wakhungu says, are instrumental in addressing issues related to security, communal facilities, water supply and garbage disposal.

Judy Wakhungu says organisations of voluntary members living within the same neighbourhood are needed to assist in urban governance.“Some Associations have initiated youth programmes, created channels through which they could tackle anti-social behaviour, champion social entrepreneurship and address financial exclusion”, Wakhungu said during the Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) Annual Resident Associations Excellence Awards ceremony in Nairobi on December 2, 2017.

Noting that social cohesion is critical if societies are to prosper, Wakhungu observed that it is fundamental for communities to forge ties and coalesce around common goals.

“The existence of resident associations is not only the precursor of good management but also the key to sustained socio-economic development. Areas that have a long tradition of resident associations develop faster compared to those regions where these groupings are absent” Wakhungu said. “Resident associations are a dimension of civic society that is neither political nor economic, but one that interacts with both to promote the welfare of the people.”

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Associations of residents may not only serve as reconciliatory bodies but can also be used in resolving minor internal disagreements.

Wakhungu said sustainable development is a national value enshrined in Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya whose Article 42 provides a right to a clean and healthy environment to every Kenyan and obligates the state to take measures to ensure that sustainable development is attained in Article 69.

Associations of residents, Judy Wakhungu says, are instrumental in addressing issues related to security, communal facilities, water supply and garbage disposal. The minister called upon resident associations to focus on the following six measures that she described as being urgent:

  • Making sustainable transportation choices through walking or riding your bike whenever possible; using public transportation; consolidate your trips; carpool to school or work
  • Making sustainable food choices such as choosing local food whenever possible; choose organically grown fruits and vegetables; grow your own fruits and vegetables
  • Making sustainable energy choices such as turn off lights and electronics when you are not in the room; look for small changes that can lead to big energy savings; use renewable energy such as solar; use natural lighting instead of electricity; use energy saving cooking devices
  • Reducing, reusing and recycling through re-use of items whenever possible; buy reusable items; choose items with minimal packaging; recycle everything that you can; don’t litter
  • Keeping chemicals out of the water supply by use of fewer and environmentally friendly chemicals; avoid use pesticides and herbicides; dispose of toxic waste properly; conserve water, and
  • Getting involved and educating others by learning about the major polluters in your area; aim to change the daily habits of people by creating awareness of personal responsibilities to our common future in relation to pollution control.