Expert meetings

From November 18-20, INTI will host a workshop and expert meeting in Nairobi as the kick-start to our New New Towns: Africa program. Nairobi is currently planning 17 New Towns around the capital, and these urban developments will have a huge impact on the city’s future. To address the challenges and opportunities associated with these plans, INTI will bring together local and Dutch university representatives to decide on the most urgent research trajectories for this dynamic region.

General goals:

A diverse group of professionals from the fields of anthropology, economics, urban planning, architecture, geography and architectural history will exchange ideas on the most urgent research trajectories for INTI’s New New Towns: Africa programme. After a series of presentations, brainstorm sessions and round table discussions, this group of experts will establish the joint modus operandi and research agenda. The participating parties include: Technical University of Kenya (TUK), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Centre for Urban Studies, CUST), University of Nairobi, University of Amsterdam (UvA), University of Groningen (RUG), Breda University of Applied Sciences. In the spring of 2014 students of these universities will commence work on the research themes. Progress and activities can be followed through INTI’s website.

The research themes that we are especially interested in include:

 1) The Formal and the Informal: The dynamic between planned and self-organized urban spaces. How do these two urban environments create a kind of symbiosis? What social and economic relationships can we see?
 2) Food Security: Land is being quickly snapped up for development. In some cases, this is arable land that would be more suitable for farming. How can Kenya deal with the challenge of food production for the city while simultaneously expanding urban areas?
 3) Land Rights: How are land rights resolved in and around Nairobi? What are the most challenging issues related land purchasing and resettlement for New Towns?
 4) Water Conflicts: Who controls access to water? (social focus) Where does it come from and where does it go? (ecological focus)
 5) Abandoning Nairobi: Kenya’s long-term development goals are clear, but does the government’s headlong pursuit of New Towns come at a cost for existing cities like Nairobi?
 6) The New Market: Who is the Kenyan middle class? Does the New Town model appeal to this target group or are developers going to face another version of the Chinese “ghost town” condition?
 7) International Finance: Who are the financial players in these projects and what are their investment strategies? What are their goals?

Note: these research themes will be adjusted and specified in the coming weeks.

Workshop program

Day 1:
November 18: OPENING

INTI gives a short presentation and will introduce the scope and ambitions of the New New Towns: Africa program, there will be a short round of introductions followed by an opportunity for networking during the drinks and tapas.

Day 2

Location: Go Down Arts Centre, Nairobi
The second day will start with an introduction of all participants, explanation of goals for the workshop by Sophie and Rachel. After that individual researchers and representatives from universities will give presentations. The day will be closed with a round table and ideas about collaboration.

Day 3
November 20: FIELD VISITS

Site visits by bus to potential research locations (informal settlements, urban fringes, agricultural areas and TBC with local academics).