Policy Networks for Sustainable Transport and Land-use in Nairobi: Opportunities for Change

Author(s): Klopp, Jacqueline
All authors:
Klopp, J.
Host organisation: CoE New York, USA
Country: Kenya
Publication year: 2011
Published in:
Working paper
Research theme: Change Processes and Institutional Innovation, Mobility and Access, Policy and Planning
policy networks, sustainable transport, land-use, Nairobi
Nairobi strikingly illustrates why Africa's growing cities must embrace and adapt innovations in transport and land-use. Transportation policy focused on road building combined with high rates of urbanization, liberalization of car imports, growth of automobile use and the absence of integrated and holistic land-use and transport planning is causing predictably severe problems including oil dependency, traffic congestion and environmental degradation. Concern exists that these problems may ultimately undermine Nairobi's potential for economic expansion and social improvement and hence the government's aim of making it a regional and global hub. Yet, this is not the whole picture. Kenya is in the midst of monumental political, institutional and policy change linked to a complex democratization process of its state and society. This has culminated in a new constitution and a current state of institutional flux that has the potential to radically shape the future of its rapidly growing cities like Nairobi. While Nairobi's transport and policy arena seem locked into policy inertia and negative dynamics, this paper draws on policy network theory to suggest that given the current critical moment, creative and strategic networking can turn this around and that new frames, mental models and practices around urban transport are possible. The new constitution in Kenya along with the existing hard won freedoms to organize, discuss and lobby for change provide invaluable opportunities for addressing some of the problems with the current closed and privatized nature of transportation planning and the lack of coordination between land use and transportation. This paper starts with an overview of theory behind urban sustainable development and policy networks and uses this to present a preliminary analysis of the institutions and politics of decision-making in the transportation sector in Kenya and explain why more holistic and innovative approaches are currently not part of transportation planning and practice in Nairobi. At the same time the aim is to examine institutional shifts that present new opportunities and reveal some avenues for changing the problematic status quo. Finally, using lessons from current policy network theory, it suggests concrete strategies for bringing in new approaches in this policy realm.
June 2022
Upcoming Events
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
v22      1 2 3 4 5
v23  6 7 8 9 10 11 12
v24  13 14 15 16 17 18 19
v25  20 21 22 23 24 25 26
v26  27 28 29 30      


Invitation to submit an Expression of interest in writing a think piece: gender informed mobility planning. Pdf, 622.2 kB. (Pdf, 622.2 kB)

This invitaton is an opportunity for scholars in sub-Saharan Africa to write a think piece on the theme of “Gender-informed mobility planning, governance and policy in African cities: status, barriers, ways forward.” Through this invitation, VREF welcomes expressions of interest (EoI) for a commissioned work on this theme.

Read more here....

Deadline: 15 May 2022


Catalysing Curriculum Change at Universities in SSA 2022 Pdf, 1.3 MB. (Pdf, 1.3 MB)

This Call is an opportunity for scholars and teachers in sub-Saharan Africa to contribute to
renewing university-based education, while also strengthening knowledge and capacity among the next generation of SSA researchers and practitioners.

Deadline: 15 June 2022


The VREF invites PhD students and researchers in early stages of their career to apply for a Study Visit Grant to be supported with up to SEK 30 000.

MOBILITY GRANT 2022- MAC-MG 2022 Pdf, 447.1 kB. (Pdf, 447.1 kB)

The VREF invites PhD students and advanced master students from Sub-Saharan African (SSA) universities to apply for a Mobility Grant (MG) to support a visit to another SSA university with up to SEK 25 000.

Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarships for Sustainable Transport and Energy Efficiency targets supporting the momentum of Lee Schipper’s contribution to the international policy dialogue in these fields.

This yearly award is aimed at supporting young individual researchers and students in is pursuance.

Call deadline now extended to: April 4, 2022 .


Blog! Blog! Blog!

Global Mobility Research

This Meeting of the Minds' blog monthly releases interviews of global transportation researchers from the VREF's Future Urban Transport Program Network.


This CityFix series, produced by the WRI (World Ressources Institute) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and supported by the VREF, discusses walking and cycling in cities with a special focus on low- and middle-income countries.

About VREF

The Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) inspires, initiates and supports research and educational activities through the Future Urban Transport Programme - How to deal with the complexity of urban transport (FUT). 

Our Vision: Sustainable transport for equitable access in urban areas


© Copyright VREF