Challenges facing coastal urban sustainability in Africa are considerable. Mombasa, like many other coastal cities in the world, is facing a myriad of challenges including urban poverty, urban inequality, high demand for services and climate change.
These challenges are made more worrying by the rapid changes resulting from the convergence of fundamental shifts across sectors, not least those associated with high population growth and climate change. The impacts of climate change threaten to derail the development of these coastal cities, thus preventing them from becoming economic engines in the global network of cities, capable of delivering adequate services and high quality of life for their growing population.
We are implementing a new project, dubbed Miji Bora (Swahili for Better Cities or Smart Cities), which aims to co-creatively examine systems and co-design practical pathways towards the sustainable port city of Mombasa so that these can be extended or adapted to other regional coastal cities. The project is facilitating exchange learning, co-generation and co-creation of knowledge among policy-makers, urban researchers and other stakeholders.
The project has three broad objectives; namely, 1) to conduct a situational analysis of the key drivers of urban form, 2) to predict future trajectories based on business as usual scenarios and 3) to envision, prototype and mainstream smart and sustainable future pathways for Mombasa.
The Miji Bora project is being carried out with the County Government of Mombasa (Kenya), eThekwini Municipality (Durban, South Africa), University of Kwazulu Natal (South Africa), Macquarie University (Australia), University of Witwatersrand (South Africa), Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (Kenya), and other local universities in the region – with funding by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) under the Cities and Coast Project.