Inclusive Infrastructure Case Study Nairobi, Kenya

Global Disability Innovation Hub, Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, Kounkuey Design Initiative
Nov. 3, 2022
Case Studies and Reports

Nairobi is a city with a population of 4,397,073 people and the capital of Kenya. This case study explore the current state of the infrastructure provision - and makes recommendations for opportunities to embed accessibility and inclusion.

Nairobi is experiencing rapid growth and investment in infrastructure which offers great potential to embed inclusion. The city has complex urban development challenges with roads and transportation commonly cited as major challenges. More than half of Nairobi’s residents live in the informal settlements in the city which are areas of high-density, poor-quality accommodation and lack basic infrastructure such as roads, water and sanitation infrastructure and power. Many persons with disabilities live in these communities due to reinforcing cycles of disability and poverty. However, there is vision and ambition in Nairobi to generally improve urban conditions. There is also a good policy basis to make progress towards disability inclusion. It is important these two agendas are coordinated.

Kenya has a strong legal framework to create inclusive cities and further disability inclusion and there is clear appetite from Government to take action represented through these legal frameworks. A major barrier for inclusive design delivery in the city is around good implementation, for which accountability and knowledge of inclusive design across project teams is important. Policy and practice stakeholders must be collaborative for more effective delivery.

The built environment is a vital part of creating access to AT and ensuring seamless use. In turn, AT must be designed to be fit for purpose for the environment and context of its use. Championing local production and local innovators in AT can help here, as there are working directly in the communities the AT is for.

Nairobi is a city of innovation - business opportunities and the start-up ecosystem is vibrant. Innovation must be inclusive and ensuring basic support and access to livelihoods must not be forgotten. 

An inclusive city is an accessible, healthy, resilient, gender-inclusive, agefriendly, child-friendly, sustainable city. Inclusive city aspirations intersect with many other global goals as set out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda and it is evident that disability and accessibility are cross-cutting issues across the SDGs. This is clearly seen in Nairobi where we see accessibility, health, climate-resilience and livelihood problems intersecting. Inclusive design is a tool for participatory urban development that can support action across diverse development targets and while delivering cobenefits through inclusive infrastructure that supports diverse disadvantaged groups, particularly due to the intersectionality of disability.