Omamo: Proper urban planning will save Africa's peace

Saturday February 12 2022
Raychelle Omamo

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG


Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Raychelle Omamo has called for the inclusion of urban planning and development into the national security agenda for countries in Africa.

Speaking while chairing the 1063rd open session of Peace and Security Council on Urbanisation, women peace and security Ms Omamo, noted that the rapid urbanisation poses a major risk of insecurity as most people living in Africa’s cities are poor and unemployed.

The session was seeking to explore the role that sustainable urbanisation and effective cities and local governments can play in amongst others preventing escalation of conflicts, extremism and proxy wars.

Data from the UN Habitat shows that Africa’s rate of urbanisation rose from 15 percent in 1960 to 40 percent in 2010, and is likely to rise to 60 percent in 2050.

This urbaniation, will however not be driven by industrialisation, a recipe for jobs scarcity and reduced income generating activities even as the cities populations grow.

This will in turn fuel growth of informal settlements in urban centres leading to an increase in ungoverned spaces that government and security agencies struggle to monitor.


The virtual session was attended by AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and security H.E. Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, AU special envoy on Women Peace and Security Ms Bineta Diop and the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

“The unplanned and fluid circumstances in sprawling urban settlements mean women are susceptible to amongst others human trafficking, slavery and sexual exploitation as well as radicalisation and violent extremism.”

“For this reason, urban planning and development needs to be elevated to a national security issue and should be gender sensitive,” she said.

Africa’s urban centres are often the epicentres of political violence as seen in recent political chaos in Kenya in 2008 and 2017, and Uganda during last year’s election campaigns.

The continental body discussed protection of women and girls in cities where crime and violence is common.