Nairobi’s City Park is set for rehabilitation at a cost of over $20 million (Sh1.7 billion) following the signing of a deal between the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and the government.
The 90-year-old park in Parklands has been run down over the years, with human and housing encroachment, pollution, poaching and illegal logging spoiling its appeal.
The deal signed Thursday proposes to restore the 62-hectare park through a six-year exercise involving environmental improvement, landscaping and creation of new facilities.
Once completed, the park will have an amphitheatre, swimming pool, football pitch, food courts and jogging tracks among other social and income-generating facilities.
“We are proposing a rigorous process to bring back the park to its pristine quality ensuring that it serves the current and future generations,” said Luis Monreal, the AKTC general manager. AKTC is one of the nine agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
“The process will not only restore the park, but ensure that it has the capacity to generate revenue, ensuring sustainability.”
Rehabilitation is to be done in phases, with the first being site survey and data collection on the physical, economic and conservational significance of the project.
Actual ground work at the park will follow, with the last phase being operation and management that will involve AKTC representatives, City Council of Nairobi and the National Museums of Kenya.
The park will remain open to the public as work continues.
The Aga Khan said the facility will help to improve the lives of poor people who go there to relax as well as preserve biodiversity. He added that recreational parks also offer health benefits for frequent visitors.
“The nature of health diseases in the developing world has been shifting away from communicable diseases to non-communicable ones mostly brought about by people’s lifestyles,” he said.
“Parks can help to improve their lives by providing space for exercise and also reducing stress levels,” he added during the signing of the project agreement at the Nairobi National Museum yesterday.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Local Government minister Paul Otuoma and Dr Idle Omar Farah, the museum’s director general, were among the dignitaries who attended the event.
“Restoration of the park will be an important lesson to the country on the need for us to preserve our natural resources,” said Mr Odinga.
The park will meet the needs of modern city dwellers with access to green space where they can relax. I hope it will turn out to be a model park on the continent.”
Pio Gama Pinto, a Kenyan journalist and politician shot dead in 1965, Joseph Murumbi, Kenya’s second vice president and his widow, Sheila, are buried in the park.
The AKTC has also rehabilitated 10 other parks and revitalised historic sites in cities such as Cairo, Bamako, Kabul and Delhi.
Funds for the Kenyan project will come from multiple sources, including the Aga Khan Development Network, grants, donor funds and other forms of project finance from reputable organisations.
An oversight committee comprising representatives from the Kenyan government and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, will be responsible for the management and co-ordination of various projects within the facility.