Peoples' Plans Into Practice (PPP): Kisumu and Kitale


Country: Kenya
Dates: October 2008 - September 2013
Partners: Shelter Forum, KUAP
Funder: Comic Relief 
Locations: Kisumu (Manyatta and Nyalenda), Kitale: Tuwani, Grasslands, Sokoni

The city of Kisumu on the banks of Lake Victoria is Kenya’s third largest, with a population of around 500,000. It is also among the poorest. A UN-Habitat study in 2005 found that 48% of the population was living in absolute poverty compared with a national average of 29%. The sewerage system reaches only 10% of residents and clean water supplies, only 40%. As is common in Kenyan cities, 60% of the residents live in informal settlements (see this Situation Analysis).

At the same time, the city is home to many initiatives to try to improve the situation. It was named the first UN Millennium City. It has attracted attention from agencies such as AFD (on improving the city’s water treatment), UN-Habitat (on waste management), SIDA (on building the capacity of NGOs). There are grassroots savings and credit organisations active in some areas linked to the Slum Dwellers International Federation.

What contribution is Practical Action making?

We asked ourselves why, despite these various initiatives, things are not improving much for the residents of the city’s informal settlements? There are three inter-linked problems:

  1. Plans are drawn up, but there is not enough attention to actually implementing them. People are getting tired of participating in another planning exercise without any follow-up.
  2. Initiatives take place in isolation of each other both at the city level, but even more so in terms of how communities experience them on the ground. To them, interventions are sporadic, disconnected and bear little relation to the priorities they themselves have drawn up.
  3. When it comes to improving infrastructure and basic services there is very little technology choice for the communities. They are not presented with a range of options and helped to understand the pros and cons of each. Instead they are presented with a single solution, and asked to participate in making it work.

Practical Action has built up our experience in the smaller town of Kitale where since 2001 we worked in a participatory way with communities to draw up Strategic Ward Action Plans, and direct decentralised government funds and resources of NGOs and others to delivering those. We worked hard on choosing the right technologies with communities, and as a result, infrastructure has been sustained and well-managed. We estimate we have brought clean water to 60,000 people (among other types of infrastructure).

In the PPP project, we want to build on that experience. We will continue to work in Kitale, taking the planning and implementation process further. We will transfer the lessons we’ve learned there to the more complex situation of Kisumu. We will work at both the community and the city level to try to ensure that it is the people’s own plans and priorities that take precedence, that implementation is driven by them, and that they are fully involved in choices around technologies and solutions. We aim to leave behind empowered communities, and a more co-ordinated system, as well as improvements in the lives of tens of thousands of residents.

The project aims to achieve 5 main things:

  1. Poor people in informal settlements have more say in decisions that affect them.
    Effective partnerships established in which poor people and their institutions have the capacity to engage with local authorities / utility and their staff who have built pro-poor attitudes, practices in planning and service delivery.
  2. Improved coverage and access to better services (community and household levels).
    Poor households have access to improved sustainable infrastructure services developed / built in collaboration between local people and service providers; used and managed (where appropriate) by the poor slum dwellers and their institutions.
  3. Better housing / tenure.
    The slum residents of informal settlements (two in Kisumu and two in Kitale) have more security as a result of clearer land tenure and invest in improved housing while the residents of Kipsongo settlement in Kitale have fully secure tenure.
  4. Increased incomes.
    Households have increased disposable incomes and access to micro-credit through improved skills, engagement in small enterprises, and improved savings culture at the household-level.
  5. Models of pro-poor service delivery mainstreamed and adopted. Pro-poor policies, decentralised service delivery models and technologies mainstreamed in Kisumu and Kitale; these experiences, approaches, tools and methodologies, are documented and shared for adoption by other local authorities in Kenya and the region. 

The project will benefit approximately 190,000 people (the total number of residents in the 5 settlements) with  improved planning practices. Within this, there will be 22,500 people in Kisumu and 23,055 people in Kitale with improved water, sanitation or waste management services. Two settlements will have improved security of tenure, and 100 households will have improved their housing. 20 waste enterprises (approx. 100 people) will have benefitted, along with 10 trained artisans and a further 100 young people through training and work placements. The project will contribute to the construction of 20 springs or shallow wells, 5 boreholes, 106 stand-alone toilets (100 for households and 6 for schools), and 8 community sanitation blocks. It will provide 5km of improved drainage. 

Peoples' Plans into Practice (PPP) Video from pppteam on Vimeo.

Peoples' Plans into Practice project in Kisumu and Kitale, Kenya is implemented by Practical Action, Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programme (KUAP) and Shelter Forum and is funded by Comic Relief UK.

Participatory Urban Planning toolkit based on the Kitale experience (PDF, 19.4MB)
A guide to Community-Based Action Planning for Effective Infrastructure and Services Delivery by Mathew Okello, Isaack Oenga and Paul Chege. This toolkit has been developed based on empirical project work in Kitale. It is targeted at social workers, planners, development workers, community groups and development agencies operating at the micro-level through existing government structures, in this case the local authority.


Partnerships in Urban Planning: A guide for Municipalities, by Nabeel Hamdi and Michael Majale. Available from Practical Action Publishing.

Photographs of Manyatta (Kondele) ward taken by Caroline Cage, PhD student from London South Bank University.

Photographs of Nyalenda ward taken by Caroline Cage

Blog from UCL on Participatory Action Upgrading and Well-Being in Kisumu by Stephanie Butcher

Paper on the 'Multiple benefits of improved groundwater for low-income urban communities in Kisumu Kenya.'  Presented by Practical Action at the 36th WEDC International conference. 


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