Rapid Urban Sprawl in Mavoko Sub-county

Athi River Town

Urban sprawl is the physical expansion of urban areas as a consequence of socio-economic development. The rapid urbanization leads to landscape transformation, which further alters the structure and function of ecosystems. In its basic form, urban morphology is developed on the basis of a number of urban components including natural and man-made structures, road network, architectural styling, landscaping, and human enterprise activities.

It’s predicted that two-thirds of the world population will be living in urban areas by 2050. See more https://bit.ly/2KSXido. There is an increase of human movement from rural areas to the urban. Sub-Saharan African cities are experiencing raping urbanization.

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Mavoko sub-county is the westernmost constituency of Machakos County and a picturesque Peri-urban fringe of Nairobi City. It also neighbours Nairobi’s landmark assets, namely the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Nairobi National Park. Purely by this geo-location together with its massive limestone geological basement, it has attracted massive investments in extractive and light industries, housing and other infrastructure. As a consequence, Mavoko has sucked in Nairobi’s exploding population which has burst from its previous boundaries and jammed neighbourhoods.

Landsat time-lapse series ,Athi River 1984-2020

Only in the last two decades, Mavoko sub-county was expansive range-land teeming with wildlife and free grazing livestock surrounding Athi River rail station outpost. Athi River started off as a small railway station in the 1920s as well as a trading and resting centre for the Akamba poultry traders. Mavoko was mostly covered by the group ranches established by the government in the 1960s . Their purpose was to improve the pastoral livelihoods and maintain the environment. However, mismanagement, drought and increased the population led to the dissolving of the ranches. Consequently, subdivisions and immense privatisation had ripple effects on dispersal areas and migration routes for wildlife have reduced and changed.

Mavoko’s rapid growth is due to the industrial expansion and availability of affordable housing. For instance, the Kenya export processing zone has greatly attracted skilled and semi-skilled workers to the companies. Originally this area had regions dived for residential purposes, but the growing population of foreign companies led to a rise in land rent and housing. Mavoko has had haphazard growth in most of the residential areas with no plan.

Today Mavoko is a beehive of activity with scores of light industries, extractive cement industries, and impressive middle-class housing facilities. Major developments are on transport,i.e the expansion of the Mombasa Highway, the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway line. The sub-county (Mavoko) at large has experienced extreme land cover change.

While this urban expansion to Mavoko sub-county might seem like a good thing, there is a concern that Mavoko is attracting the formation of informal settlements. In addition, this booming population raises yet another concern if Mavoko is on sustainable development trajectory. Read more in https://landpages.co.ke/a-peek-into-rapid-urbanization/ttps://bit.ly/2yeCOJI

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